What Are Gluten-Free Cosmetics?

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  • Written By: Natalie M. Smith
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2018
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Gluten-free cosmetics are intended to improve the appearance or odor of products that are typically made without gluten. While these products might not always be widely available in average stores, they are increasing in popularity and can be found at many online retailers. Individuals with gluten sensitivity or other conditions that require them to eat a gluten-free diet might prefer gluten-free cosmetics. Doctors report that sensitive patients need not be overly concerned about most gluten-containing cosmetics, however, as they cannot exacerbate existing health problems unless swallowed. Wheat components, particularly gluten, are used in many nonfood items like cosmetics because their properties can enhance these products.

Adults often use several cosmetics a day, such as makeup, deodorant, and lotion, with many of these products contain dozens of ingredients, with gluten sometimes being among them. Gluten is one of the four classes of proteins in wheat and it is used in many food and nonfood products for its binding and strengthening qualities. For instance, gluten might be used to give long-lasting lipstick its staying power. Increased awareness about celiac disease and similar gluten-sensitive conditions, as well as the popularity of gluten-free living, has in turn encouraged more cosmetic companies to produce gluten-free products.


If rising sales and searches for gluten-free cosmetics are any indication, they are as effective as their gluten-containing counterparts. Specialty grocers and retailers are likelier to offer these products than general retailers, and they are also widely available online. Despite increasing availability, it can still be difficult to discern gluten-free cosmetics. While product safety regulators, such as the United States' Food and Drug Administration, require cosmetic manufacturers to list their product ingredients, certain loopholes might allow them to withhold some ingredients. As such, buyers should be cautious and contact manufacturers directly to ask whether a cosmetic contains gluten.

Food, not cosmetics, tends to receive the most attention where gluten is concerned because gluten-sensitive conditions require a strict gluten-free diet. Celiac patients experience intestinal inflammation and damage if they eat gluten, and individuals with wheat allergies can suffer deadly allergic reactions upon exposure. Since ingesting gluten is what makes these patients ill, doctors advise that cosmetics with gluten are not generally cause for concern because they are not meant for consumption. Lip and dental products, however, can be inadvertently ingested, so gluten-free cosmetics of this type are sometimes recommended.

Conditions that require a gluten-free lifestyle should only be diagnosed by a doctor. While switching from gluten-containing to gluten-free cosmetics might cause no harm, people who experience an adverse reaction after using a gluten-containing cosmetic should neither assume that they have celiac disease or related ailments nor place themselves on a gluten-free diet. Such reactions can be caused by a less complicated condition or an allergy to a cosmetic ingredient that is not wheat-based. Doctors can perform several routine allergy and sensitivity tests to determine the source of the problem and advise patients on how to best proceed.



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