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Gluten-Free Skincare: Ingredients to Watch Out For

Beauty companies don't list gluten sources on the labels, so keep this ingredient list handy next time you are shopping for skincare.

New celiac, gluten sensitivity (GS) and gluten intolerance (GI) cases have been on the rise over the last few years and will continue to grow as doctors learn more about these conditions.

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Gluten-Free Skincare: Ingredients to Watch Out For

Switching to a gluten-free diet is the primary treatment for Celiac, GS and GI but where does skincare fit into the picture?

As a cosmetic chemist, formulating gluten-free products has never been a concern because the studies and medical journals that I read point out that gluten needs to be ingested to be harmful. So why worry about it in skincare?

MORE: Most cosmetics don't specify gluten in the ingredient list

It may be possible to ingest trace amounts from a lip product or from hand-to-mouth ingestion from your favorite hand cream—important concerns because gluten allergies are molecular and sensitive to even the tiniest triggers.

Plus, I realize that there is still much to learn about these conditions and new studies may very well reveal that other tissue besides the intestines could trigger negative symptoms when exposed to gluten. 

As a result of the mounting concern about gluten, cosmetic chemists have been asked to do one of two things: review current products and reveal ingredients that could potentially contain gluten or (re)formulate gluten-free products. This can be a rather daunting task since the natural trend in skincare has really taken hold of the industry (yet another reason of why I am against the “natural products are better and safer" philosophy, but I digress…).

MORE: Does going gluten-free give you better skin?

The first thing we look for are ingredients that have been derived from wheat, barley, rye or oats (oats can be cross contaminated as they are usually processed with the same equipment as wheat). As chemists, we have access to the composition and origin of the ingredients to find out if the gluten protein was used to create the ingredient. Consumers may not have direct access to the literature like a chemist does, but you can still find out whether an ingredient is gluten-free or not thanks to the websites (such as celiac.com) which contain lists of food ingredients to avoid. There are a few websites (such as glutenfreern.com) that list cosmetic ingredients to avoid and suggest brands that are gluten free.

As a general rule, the list below indicates ingredients that contain gluten. This list is not exhaustive, but it is a list of the most common ingredients found in skincare products. I would use this list as a guide, but be sure to contact your doctor or the product manufacturer if you have any doubt or questions about a particular ingredient. Also feel free to leave me any questions in the commets section below!

Amp-Isostearoyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein

Barley Grass

Barley Hordeum vulgare

Disodium Wheatgermamido Peg-2 Sulfosuccinate

Hordeum Vulgare Extract

Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten

Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein

Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Pg-Propyl Silanetriol

Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch

Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein

Semolina Triticum

Stearyldimoniumhydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein

Triticum aestivum

Triticum carthlicum

Triticum durum

Triticum polonicum

Triticum spelta

Triticum turanicum

Triticum turgidum

Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Flour Lipids

Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract

Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil

Wheat (Triticum Vulgare) Bran Extract

Wheat amino acids

Wheat Bran Extract

Wheat Germ Glycerides

Wheat Protein

Wheat Triticum Monococcum

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