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  • Yvonne (Vonnie) Mostat, RN

    Did You Know? Gluten in Cosmetics, Lotions and Makeup

    Yvonne (Vonnie) Mostat, RN

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Alessio says, originally the rash was thought to be a psychiatric condition because of an association with suicide. When we did not know what was going on, many people with DH attempted suicide because nothing gave them relief.

    Caption: EpiLynx makes a variety of gluten-free lotions, creams and cosmetics.

    Celiac.com 12/20/2019 - A recent site reminded me again to check my cosmetic drawer, or as my husband calls it, “my chemistry set". Have you researched your make-up ingredients for the possibility that some of those creams, powders, oils or gels contain gluten? I did this briefly about ten years ago, but I was lax with it because the ingredient lists were so small in size, in another language, or had some "weird" ingredients that I could not even pronounce, let alone find out if they contained gluten. Now we have the Gluten Free RN Web Site, and the author is working hard to separate the cosmetics into two separate areas “Safe for the Celiac,” and an area that covers products to avoid. 

    The Gluten Free RN answers a simple "Yes" to the query about whether these cosmetic products should be avoided. She also states that most common cosmetics DO contain some form of gluten and can cause symptoms, especially for people that are very sensitive or have the dermatitis herpetiformis (DH).

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    I will do a little refresher course for regarding DH. The cause is the body's immune system reacting to a protein that is found in wheat, barley and/or rye. Ingestion causes the rash to develop, but along with the rash may come a sense of feeling unwell, bloating stomach, headaches, and of course the intense itch, which comes from the blistery rash that begs to be scratched. But if you should take the scab off (from your last foray itch), it can sting so badly that will you beg for help! 

    After contacting some of the major cosmetics companies to see if their shampoos, they confirmed that hair spray, mascara, lipstick, eye shadow, makeup, etc., might contain wheat, rye, barley, or oats. For those who are very sensitive even small amounts can cause symptoms. 

    Another concern for those with DH is phosphates in shampoo, which wreaked havoc on my scalp and caused sores.  I have checked with other DH patients and they have had the same issue. Once I switched shampoos my scalp began to heal. 

    Cosmetic Ingredients that May Contain Gluten:

    • Cyclodextrin, Dextrin
    • Dextrin Palmitate
    • Hydrolyzed Malt Extract
    • Hydrolyzed Oat Flour
    • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
    • Hydrolyzed wheat Flour
    • Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten
    • Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch
    • Secale Cereale ((Rye) Seed Flour
    • Tritidcum Vulgare (Wheat Germ Extract)
    • Triticum Vulgare
    • (Wheat) Germ Extract
    • Triticum Vulgare (Wheat Gluten)
    • Triticum Wheat Amino Acids
    • Wheat Germ Glycerides
    • Wheat Germanidopropalkonium Chloride
    • Wheat Protein
    • WheatgermamidopropylI Ethydimonium Ethosulfate
    • Yeast Extract

    If any of your cosmetics contain any of the above ingredients it could cause further DH outbreaks or other issues. The skin is porous, but even more concerning are the mucus membranes around your lips, mouth and nose, where you could be applying small amounts of gluten directly onto your skin and hands. 

    Cosmetic Companies like EpiLynx, Joelle Cosmetics and Menave claim to be 100% Gluten Free and celiac disease friendly. They have mineral makeup and are dedicated to providing good quality gluten-free products.

    These gluten-free cosmetic companies are going to be more expensive than Walmart, Fred Meyer etc., but it comes down to how much is your health worth?  Dr. Fasano tells us of  a woman named Tania Fleming, of Springfield, Pennsylvania who developed the rash nine years ago. Dr. Fasano wrote in the Allergic Magazine Then while taking a long road trip vacation, the itching became unbearable. "It was extremely uncomfortable. That is what sent me over the edge", she says. "It itched insanely"." Her description is no exaggeration, Dr. Alessio says, originally the rash was thought to be a psychiatric condition because of an association with suicide. When we did not know what was going on, many people with DH attempted suicide because nothing gave them relief.

    Obviously if gluten in cosmetics has the potential to cause such extreme issues in those who are sensitive, then those affected should seek gluten-free versions just to be on the safe side. Although gluten-free cosmetics may be more expensive, the alternative of using products that may not be safe for you just isn't worth it. Why risk getting sick, or even worse outcomes when gluten-free versions are readily available? 

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    On 12/24/2019 at 10:14 PM, Pframpton said:

    Is this a surprise to gluten-free people? Your shampoo, lotion and soaps do as well! 

    It actually took me 6 months after my diagnosis to figure it out! (I didn’t think about it until I got really sick after putting on chapstick and decided to check the ingredients and nearly had a heart attack when I saw wheat germ oil.) It doesn’t always cross everyone’s mind, especially since there are so many health sources (looking at you, WebMD) that post articles saying that people with celiacs do not need to avoid gluten in personal products because it iSnT iNgESteD. My DH on my elbow that I thought was psoriasis went away after making my personal products gluten free and I stopped getting as sick as often :). But yeah, this can definitely be a surprise to gluten free people, it sure was for me!! 

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    Thanks , cosmetics and skin creams and gels are something I didn't even think about having Gluten in them. Usually I am very cautious of everthing.

    Thanks from Catherine

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    Guest Epilynx gluten-free skincare


    On 12/23/2019 at 2:11 PM, Corinne D. said:

    Among cosmetic ingredients very likely to contain gluten there's also Hordeum vulgare, i.e. barley.

    Indeed, we also find that some of other ‘Safe’ seemingly gluten-free extracts can contain traces of barley etc.

    Plus for people with psoriasis (and gluten allergy, I.e. all autoimmune diseases) gluten definitely affects inflammation not just in your gut but also on your skin.

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    I am confused. As a recently diagnosed celiac patient I was under the impression that products needed to be ingested for a celiac reaction and its subsequent damage to the small intestine. Does this posting refer to non-celiac gluten intolerance or celiac disease?

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    Something to think about here, how often do you touch your hair, skin, or face before say taking medicine, having a snack, fixing food, etc.? How often does a few strands of hair blow into your mouth on a windy day?
    If you have gluten in your skin care, lotions, or hair products you will consume some tiny mounts via cross contamination eventually. And the level of damage and symptoms will vary by individual.

    Best to play it safe and just go with Gluten Free versions of everything.

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  • About Me

    I am a freelance journalist. I am a retired registered nurse. I write regularly for the Celiac Journal of Gluten Sensitivity which publishes in the United States and British Columbia. I write under Dr. Ron Hoggan out of Victoria. I write for several secular magazines, and also five or six religious magazines, both Protestant and Catholic. Since retiring as a nurse, journalism, my second major in University, has been a life saver for me, both my poetry and articles. My husband and I recently arrived home from an all inclusive holiday to the Mayan Riviera, The Grand Sirenis Mayan. The Assistant Manager was unaware of celiac disease, but he was very interested in learning about it. I had my "Safe" and "Sorry" list translated into Spanish before we left home and several sheets of information laminated. I was so impressed at how they handled my meals I wanted to write about it. My Gluten Free Canada FREE Magazine.

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