Life can be pretty tough if you’re living with a gluten allergy, intolerance, or Celiac Disease. With wheat, barley, and other glutinous products all over grocery stores, finding a snack is already troublesome, but then we add skincare into the mix– tons of skincare products contain gluten or gluten byproducts, and the consequences of accidental use or ingestion can be harmful. To find the best products for your gluten-free skincare routine, check out our comprehensive guide below:
How does Gluten Affect the Skin?
Gluten is a common moisturizer and exfoliator, but for people with gluten sensitivities like Celiac Disease and Gluten Allergies, there may be side effects. In general, skin exposure to gluten products may not cause any initial problems for people with Celiac disease. However, accidental ingestion will allow gluten into the bloodstream and trigger an autoimmune response. Fortunately for most people, gluten concentration in skincare products tends to be minimal. Unless you have an extreme gluten allergy, it’s more likely that gluten skincare products won’t have much effect– this is because skin contact with gluten won’t absorb it into the bloodstream.
People with gluten allergies and Celiac Disease may encounter skin rashes, itchiness, and cracked skin when exposed to skincare products containing gluten. Dermatitis herpetiformis, a skin condition also characterized by rashes and itchy skin, may also appear upon exposure.
Products that Often Contain Gluten
Many skincare products contain gluten or gluten byproducts since gluten is a popular active ingredient for its volumizing, exfoliating, skin-softening, and moisturizing properties. In addition, gluten is also great for thickening mixtures, making it an effective inactive ingredient for lotions, creams, sunscreens, and moisturizers. Many creamy cosmetic products use gluten or gluten byproducts to achieve that perfect texture. Since gluten is a plant-based compound, it’s also easy to find gluten or derivatives in your organic or botanical cosmeceutical products. We’ll touch upon what ingredients to avoid in just a moment.
Active Ingredients to Avoid
The best way to avoid skincare products with gluten is to read the labels on your products. An easy way to tell a product contains gluten is to look for ingredients that mention wheat, barley, oats, or rye. Anything containing wheat/barley/oat/rye/malt extracts, oils, complexes, or flours will contain gluten. However, not every ingredient list uses common names for these ingredients. Many ingredient lists use scientific names, which are great for lab classification but harder to decipher for the average person. When shopping for your skincare products, some things to avoid are listed below:
- Avena sativa extract
- Malt extract
- Hordeum vulgare extract
- Triticum lipids
- Triticum vulgare
- Phytosphingosine extract
- Samino peptide complex
- Secale cereale seed flour
A lot of these ingredient names use the Latin term for the plant. Avena sativa is oats, Secale cerale is rye, Hordeum vulgare is barley, and anything within the Triticum family is a form of wheat.
Fortunately, tons of gluten-free options are available for anyone looking to avoid gluten in their skincare routine, regardless of allergies or sensitivities. Many gluten-free products, especially cleansers and exfoliators, contain different antioxidant mixtures that may reduce inflammation, redness, or signs of hyperpigmentation. These antioxidants (and the lack of gluten) may also help people struggling with psoriasis, eczema, or rosacea since they are better for soothing irritated skin.
What to Look For
Gluten isn’t the only thing that can make your lotions extra creamy. Other ingredients can also act as moisturizers and thickening agents. Aloe vera is a common gluten-free alternative often used in soaps and lotions as a moisturizer. Other active ingredients that will help you stay gluten-free are Antioxidants containing vitamins A and E, Ceramides, Hydroxy Acids like Glycolic Acid and Salicylic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid, and Glycerin.
Shopping for gluten-free products can be challenging, but it doesn’t mean the end of your skincare journey. Prioritizing gluten-free products above others by reading ingredient labels and researching manufacturers is essential to avoid any potential cross-contamination or accidental ingestion of a product. Ultimately, tons of active ingredients play similar roles in cosmeceutical products, leading to a wide range of options for people of all skin types and medical needs.