We’ve already shared some surprising places where gluten lurks in your daily life. But one that may have a larger effect on you than you realize is hiding in your purse and in your medicine cabinet: cosmetics. Gluten is in scores of cosmetic products, including mascara, lotion and even shampoo, and could be the cause of your unexplained rash or skin reaction.
Despite some of the recent reports in the media, celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are real conditions that affect the health of millions of Americans each year. Even if you’ve gone totally gluten-free diet wise, there’s a chance that you may still be affected by trace amounts of gluten in the products you use. Take the story of Afton Jones, the blogger behind Gluten Free Makeup Gal, who found that her eyes were swollen, heavy and watery each time she wore eye makeup. Afton, who has celiac disease, eventually realized that the mascara she was using contained trace amounts of gluten:
“After that, it all fell into place and I went on a massive hunt for gluten-free cosmetics. A rash I’d had on my face went away, and my eyes didn’t feel weighed down and exhausted anymore.”
Your risk factor, of course, depends on your sensitivity. I eat largely gluten free, but I don’t think that small amounts of gluten in makeup or other products has much of an effect on me. I could very well be wrong, though: Alice Bast, founder of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, said:
“Lipstick, lip-gloss, mouthwash, toothpaste—they can all trigger a reaction in people with celiac disease. If you’re sensitive to gluten, you should be using gluten-free cosmetics and toiletries. Even if you don’t experience any symptoms, you could be doing damage on the inside.”
Experts are divided, though: some think that the amount of gluten in cosmetic products is so small that it can’t possibly be an issue. Others think that’s smart to avoid using gluten-containing products, whether you’ve had a reaction in the past or not. One thing they all agree on, however, is that more research is needed.
The article also points out that you might not be as affected by gluten in cosmetics if you only wear makeup occasionally. But if you regularly wear a full face of makeup, investing in good gluten-free cosmetics may be worth it.
You should always read the label before purchasing any kind of cosmetic product. But frequently, gluten isn’t listed in product ingredients. Alice Bast explains that knowing what to look for can help you in the makeup aisle:
“Avoid those containing wheat, barley, malt, rye, oat, triticum vulgare, hordeum vulgare, secale cereale, and avena sativa. It’s also smart to contact the manufacturer to confirm whether a product contains gluten. It’s time-consuming, but once you find a brand that works for you, you can stick with it. There’s homework that needs to be done to keep yourself healthy.”
If you’re concerned about possible gluten in your makeup or body care products, I’d also recommend contacting the manufacturer to inquire about equipment used, ingredients, and packaging. Better safe than sorry, right?