HEALTHY LIVINGSKINCARE • By Carole Aponte, MD
Stay Healthy with Gluten Free Skin Care Products
Gluten-free recipes and foods have been getting lots of attention lately, both in social media and news outlets, but what about gluten free skin care products? If you have celiac disease or a wheat allergy, chances are you’ve already done your fair share of research on how to avoid gluten in your foods. But it may be less likely that you’ve considered what may be getting through your skin via your skin care products. Even if you don’t have a known allergy, many people may be allergic to wheat or other grains, which can cause adverse skin reactions. But because there’s still much research to be done on the potential effects of gluten that may be lurking in your skin care products, you’re likely to find some conflicting advice on the subject.
So let’s break it down.
What Is Gluten, Anyway?
The term “gluten” actually refers to any of the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale. Think of gluten as a glue. It works to hold foods together and help them keep their shape. Some of the most common foods that contain gluten are breads, pastas, and cereal, although the tricky part is that many other foods can often contain gluten without your even realizing it.
For most people, eating gluten isn’t a problem, and these foods can actually be quite healthy for you. But for almost 1 percent of the population worldwide, ingesting gluten can pose great health risks. Those with celiac disease cannot properly digest gluten, which is why it can be so crucial for some people to eliminate foods containing gluten from their diet. (Celiac Disease Foundation)
So What About Gluten-Free Skin Care Products?
Here’s where there can be some conflicting information out there, because few studies have been done on the subject of whether or not gluten found in skin care products can trigger adverse reactions in those with celiac disease. However, most evidence that we have so far suggests that gluten molecules are too large to be able to be absorbed by the skin. But as it turns out, the puzzle is more complicated than that.
While most experts believe that applying gluten-laden skin care products to your skin won’t aggravate the symptoms of celiac disease, it could very well cause adverse skin reactions due to wheat or other grain allergies. Further, products like lip balms and glosses that contain gluten could be very harmful for those suffering from celiac disease, because these products are applied to the lips and could be accidentally ingested. Other medical experts argue that by using a gluten product on your hands, you could trigger a reaction if your hands then touch the food that you eat. (Gluten-Free Living, Mayo Clinic, The International Dermal Institute)
How to Choose a Gluten-Free Skin Care Product
It can be a bit tricky to choose 100 percent gluten free skin care products, simply for the fact that many cosmetic products don’t list gluten as an ingredient. However, looking for things like wheat, barley, or rye on the product’s list of ingredients can help you decide if it’s gluten-free or not. If you take a look at the ingredient list for our PREP lip gloss, you won’t find any of these gluten ingredients. Even if you don’t have celiac disease, you could be gluten intolerant or have another gluten allergy, so making sure your lip gloss and other lip products are gluten-free can help prevent any unwanted side effects.
The Bottom Line
While gluten molecules themselves may not be able to penetrate the skin, there’s plenty of evidence available that shows gluten in skin care products can still cause negative effects, especially for those with very sensitive skin or who are sensitive to gluten (Mayo Clinic). Because your skin is by far the largest organ of the body, it’s a good idea to take every precaution possible when choosing products to apply to it. And as with all skin care products, establishing healthy choices and routines as a pre-teen or teenager can lead to a lifetime of healthy skin.
carole aponte, md
Founder & Chief Medical Officer