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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

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

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Photo: CC--cerromijares

    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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    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.

    Gluten can be absorbed through the skin.

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    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 gluten-free 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.).

    I found a lip gloss that is gluten free....Nude Balm by L'Oreal. It's Wonderful.

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    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?

    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!!!

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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