When I adopted a completely gluten free diet, it was quite an adventure making sure that every product that I bought did not contain any gluten. Gluten is a composite of proteins found in wheat. And let’s face it. It can be quite sneaky. Imagine my surprise, for example, when I discovered that wheat was one of the ingredients in my favorite lipstick!
Is gluten lurking in your cosmetics bag? And do you really need to ditch all of your makeup if it is? Read on to discover what my research turned up after I did a little digging on this topic.
The Danger of Gluten
If you suffer from celiac disease (CD), even the smallest amount of gluten consumption can be harmful. Research has shown that the consumption of as little as 1/64 of a teaspoon of gluten can cause small intestinal inflammation and damage. To read more about the devastating effects of celiac disease, click here.
Gluten ingestion can be harmful to other people as well. I personally do not have celiac disease. However, I have been diagnosed with a wheat allergy and suffer from eczema, and I also have many of the symptoms associated with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). See here. People with NCGS can suffer many of the same symptoms as a celiac patient but without the intestinal damage.
So, for those suffering with CD, NCGS, or a wheat allergy, it’s vitally important to know where the gluten is lurking.
Is Gluten Lurking in Your Cosmetic Bag?
Alice Bast, the founder and president of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), observes, “Lipstick, lip-gloss, mouthwash, toothpaste—they can all trigger a reaction in people with celiac disease…Even if you don’t experience any symptoms, you could be doing damage on the inside.”
Bast makes clear that those who suffer from CD, NCGS and wheat allergies should steer clear of gluten-containing lipstick. If the label does not specify gluten free, check with the manufacturer.
What About Cosmetics Other Than Lipsticks?
Since gluten cannot be absorbed directly through the skin, those with CD and NCGS don’t have to worry about most makeup (unless, of course, the makeup does contain gluten and somehow makes its way into the digestive track). This is possible if applied to the face, especially around the mouth. It is always important to wash hands to avoid accidently ingesting any makeup.
However, those with a wheat allergy may have more of a problem. Gluten-containing makeup applied directly to the skin could potentially cause an allergic reaction.
For people with wheat allergies, the skin often reacts to surface contact with gluten. For example, studies have revealed that atopy patch tests can be used to determine if someone suffers from a wheat allergy: see here and here. Since I have a wheat allergy, I have decided not to buy any beauty products that contain gluten on the ingredients list.
Not all people with CD and NCGS have this external sensitivity to wheat, but gluten may not be the only reason why you should consider buying a new brand of cosmetics.
What Other Dangerous Compounds and Chemicals Could be Lurking in Your Makeup?
This wasn’t unique to my lipstick. A study by Katherine Hammond, professor of environmental health sciences at the University of California at Berkeley, “found traces of cadmium, cobalt, aluminum, titanium, manganese, chromium, copper and nickel in 24 lip glosses and eight lipstick brands.”
Lipstick is not the only culprit. This article from Time shares the findings of two journalists who investigated the cosmetics industry in their 2010 book No More Dirty Looks. They reveal, for example, that “mascara contents may include mercury, a neurotoxin, and coal tar, a carcinogen; eye shadow can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, linked to cancer.”
A Healthy (and Beautiful) Solution
After discovering the ugly truth of the makeup industry, I felt heartbroken. I’d always enjoyed browsing through Sephora, and I loved playing with eye shadow and eyeliner. I might step out of the house without putting on all my makeup, but never without at least a touch of lipstick.
What was a girl to do?
After researching online and taking a trip to my local health food store, I found out that there are lots of gluten-free and all-natural cosmetics brands to choose from. One of my favorites became Gabriel Cosmetics. Their 100% natural, pressed mineral cosmetics are certified gluten-free, and they have a lovely range of lipstick colors to choose from.
Since adopting a gluten-free diet, my eczema has cleared up considerably. And now when I put on my makeup, I can have peace of mind. No poisons. No gluten. Just a dash of color and fun.
Is your lipstick gluten free? What are your favorite all-natural makeup brands?
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- Gluten Free Dining at Colors Restaurant, NYC - January 28, 2015