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Gluten in Cosmetics: A Threat to People with Celiac Disease?

Celiac.com 12/09/2011 - Gluten in lip, facial or other body products may be a threat to people with celiac disease, according to a new study.

A research team from George Washington University evaluated products from the top ten American cosmetics companies. They found a troubling lack of information about product ingredients. Only two of the ten companies featured clear, detailed ingredients, and none of the companies offered products that were gluten-free.

Photo: CC--cerromijaresThe study findings were revealed at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Washington, D.C.

The results are worrisome, because cosmetics that contain gluten can "result in an exacerbation of celiac disease," said researcher Dr. Pia Prakash. "This study revealed that information about the ingredients, including the potential gluten content, in cosmetics is not readily available."

A number of smaller cosmetic companies produce gluten-free alternatives, said Prakash, who added that larger companies should take steps to inform consumers
with gluten sensitivity whether their products are safe for those individuals.

The study came about partly because doctors had seen a 28-year-old woman with celiac disease who suffered a worsening of symptoms, including gastrointestinal complications and a skin rash, after she used a "natural" body lotion.

The doctors and the woman had a hard time trying to figure out if the lotion contained gluten. However, Prakash said, "…once she stopped using the body lotion her symptoms resolved."

Such cases highlight the huge challenge faced by people with celiac disease in trying to determine if their cosmetic products contain gluten.

Because the results of the study were presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be considered preliminary until peer-reviewed and published in a medical journal.

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15 Responses:

 
Amy
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said this on
12 Dec 2011 11:48:25 AM PST
It would be nice to know the names of the companies that were evaluated.

 
Cecilia Grech
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said this on
12 Dec 2011 1:21:09 PM PST
I have personally experienced this. I am a very sensitive gluten intolerant following a very strict gluten free diet. I had bought an oil for my nails which I had been applying for quite a while and I wasn't feeling well at all. After a while I realized that when I applied the oil I felt unwell. Looking into the ingredients this oil contained wheat germ. Sustaining your article.

 
Spruenik
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said this on
12 Dec 2011 4:23:29 PM PST
I've known this for over ten years, and it's so frustrating. I'm very symptomatic, and not intolerant or allergic to any other food substance but gluten. I've given up using daily cosmetics (and am depressed about it), except on holidays and special occasions, knowing I will suffer gut symptoms for days afterwards. I've been diagnosed with rosacea, and I have no idea what to use for it. I use clear soft soap and coconut oil, which aren't enough to treat rosacea. I read somewhere that if a substance is crystal clear, it can't have gluten. Gluten gives a cloudy appearance. But does anyone really know whether say, iron oxides (and zinc, titanium) contain any wheat as filler?

 
Just Jenn
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said this on
13 Dec 2011 9:02:34 PM PST
Spruenik, you can still wear lipstick at least on the holidays (or everyday) without making yourself sick. Check out Zuzu Luxe by which makes a GF lipstick! I've felt a lot better since I switched. (And no, I don't work for them but am just really happy I can wear makeup that won't make me throw up.).

 
Donna
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said this on
12 Sep 2015 3:27:38 PM PST
I found a lip gloss that is gluten free....Nude Balm by L'Oreal. It's Wonderful.

 
Roz
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said this on
23 Dec 2011 1:22:31 PM PST
I am also gluten intolerant suffering with rosacea. I have been using MetroGel for some time now and have not noticed any adverse symptoms. It does not rid me of the rosacea but controls it from spreading.

 
Naomi
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said this on
23 Apr 2012 10:29:39 AM PST
I was considering permanent makeup and am even more determined now! (Permanent makeup tattooed on you by a professional certified permanent makeup artist- NOT the tattoo shop down the road! And no, you won't look like a clown, do a lot of research and look at photos!) But I read that gluten can't be absorbed through your skin??? Burt's bees and Red apple create lip balm/stick that is gluten free, I was killing myself with regular chap sticks.)

 
Theresa
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said this on
14 Aug 2012 4:31:41 AM PST
Gluten can't be absorbed through your skin but if you apply makeup with your fingers/hands and lotion as well, you can ingest the substance from your fingers when you touch your mouth. Lipstick especially gets ingested all day long! Organix makes a line of lotions and other products with Coconut oil that are gluten free.

 
Terri
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said this on
21 Dec 2013 10:13:16 PM PST
Gluten can be absorbed through the skin.

 
Grace
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said this on
19 Oct 2016 9:40:03 AM PST
Have you tried rosewater for your rosacea? I have heard of very good results with it. I am a cosmetologist and have been working in a hair salon for the past three years, and experiencing a mysterious (until reading this article!) major increase in intestinal issues. I self diagnosed my gluten intolerance in high school, and was doing great until the past few years. SO GLAD I read this article!!!

 
Donna
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said this on
12 Dec 2011 7:17:18 PM PST
As an individual with gluten sensitivity, it would have been better if you had mentioned some of the gluten free products.

 
Christine
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said this on
12 Dec 2011 7:23:12 PM PST
What I want to know is which companies and products contain wheat gluten. Is this too much to ask? It scares me to know that the cosmetics that I use may contain wheat gluten, which when I eat anything with wheat, I get really sick to my stomach, suffer cramping, diarrhea and constipation. What cosmetics are ok for me to use, and I have been all over the internet researching it. And where can I purchase the cosmetics, other than the internet?

 
Coloradosue
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said this on
12 Dec 2011 10:30:59 PM PST
Not surprising to read about this problem. I have emailed Avon, Clinic, several other high priced as well as average over the counter makeup companies and the only response I ever got from any of them that their products were proprietary therefore will not be divulged to the public. Kinda like what the big pharmaceutical companies say about their drugs up until they lose their rights to a drug that goes generic. So I stick to Johnson and Johnson baby products for most skin care and makeup that I've tried and had no visible reaction to my skin. And I react very quickly to glutenous products on my skin. Otherwise "Au naturale" is a daily makeup I use.

 
Sharon
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said this on
14 Dec 2011 12:20:22 AM PST
Try Merle Norman cosmetics. I am most concerned with lipstick being a problem and the sales girl was able to call their head office and get a list of which of their lipsticks are gluten free. I imagine they can do the same for the rest of their product line.

 
Stephani
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said this on
14 Dec 2011 6:38:19 AM PST
Why is there more information about the author than the names of the cosmetics tested? Thank you Coloradosue for giving some names of a couple. I appreciate it. I was going to throw out that since I got rid of all lotions and bath washes and started using pure coconut oil, I have had NO issues whatsoever and my skin looks and feels great. I also eat 2 tbsp of it each day to heal from the inside out. I feel a million times better. I get my coconut oil at www.tropicaltraditions.com because you can buy it in bulk and they always have some sort of special. Mineral oil is also something you have to watch out for.... so look for products that don't carry mineral oil.




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