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.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?

READ 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…).

READ 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 which contain lists of food ingredients to avoid. There are a few websites (such as 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