Gluten-Free Skin Products And Cosmetics

I just returned from the International Association of Culinary Professionals Conference in Portland, OR with @foodblogga (she was at the conference, I was just there to eat Voodoo Doughnuts). One of the hottest topics in food now is the gluten-free diet.

Gluten sensitivity isn’t new; it was first described in the first century AD. Celiac disease (the medical diagnosis for gluten-sensitive patients) was known in the 1880’s.

Despite the recent attention, true gluten sensitivity is uncommon and affects < 5% of the population. People who are sensitive to gluten develop an autoimmune reaction to wheat, barley, rye and other grains which leads to inflammation of their small intestine. Some gluten-sensitive people actually develop a rash called dermatitis herpetiformis (we derms love the big names, don’t we?).

Being the only dermatologist at this food conference (weird, huh?), people wanted to know: “If someone is gluten sensitive, must they also avoid applying cosmetics or using products that contain gluten?”

No.

Gluten sensitivity is specific to your intestines; applying gluten to your skin will not trigger a gluten reaction. You can trigger a reaction if you eat your cosmetic, which is not that crazy when you consider that lip balms or toothpaste can contain gluten.

Other gluten-free products including shampoos, conditioners, makeup, etc. are unlikely to have any significance. If you develop a rash from your cosmetics, then see your physician — allergic contact dermatitis to fragrance or preservatives might be the cause for your rash.

If you develop a rash after eating several Maple and Bacon Voodoo Doughnuts, it was the gluten.

Photo: Bern@t (flickr)

18 thoughts on “Gluten-Free Skin Products And Cosmetics”

  1. I love their Maple and Bacon doughnuts!!

  2. Bacon. YUCK! I’m allergic to pork and would be happy if pigs were to go extinct.

  3. I didn’t know this. Thanks for the quick and interesting read!

  4. I am disagree. My partner has gluten and milk intolerance, and his body will also react to any kind of skin contact with cosmetics containing even tiny amount of substance developed of gluten containing source. It is not just about eating gluten products. His skin will develop serious rush after shaking hands with a person who hasn’t wash hands after applying aftershave lotion (most of them contain alcohol (ethanol) which is produced of grain products) talk-less of using any moisturisers and perfume himself or me as his partner. Thus I believe there are people of really high sensitivity to gluten products and cosmetics who must avoid also skin contact with these products.

  5. Gluten sensitivity is a lot more common than most people think it is. However, since most Gluten Intolerance (not Celiac) doesn’t have an immediate or severe reaction it is much harder to pinpoint it as the cause of many ailments today. I was in a car accident and 3 years after I thought my aching joints would just not heal because of the severity of the accident, though my doctor told me I was healed. Less than few weeks after going off the gluten, all my joint pain disappeared, and it only returns if I get into something with gluten in it. No one would have suspected it was from the gluten that my joints hurt. The most recent research indicates that up to 40% of the population is suffering from gluten intolerance, with varying degrees of severity. So it may not be a big issue when you are in your 20s, but because of the progressive nature, it could become a big problem, and full blown Celiac, by the time you are 50.

  6. Thanks for sharing this information, it is very useful especially for people like me.

  7. I have experienced reactions from skin care products that contain gluten. I cat attest to this. After shave, shampoo and conditioner with gluten, moisturizer etc. Also i was made sick from the lubricating strip on my razor blade….SO, the after shave can carry right into the skin after shaving..”

  8. These are the same reactions as with ingesting gluten. Thank you,

  9. YES, skin care products that contain gluten are harmful to people with gluten sensitivity.” I can attest to this i meant— LOL.

  10. I’m afraid this article is misinformed. Gluten is a very serious problem and It only takes 20 parts per million to make someone sick. Skin care products have to be factored into becoming gluten free. You rub your eyes, nose, mouth etc, it gets into your system one way or another…The Skin is the bodies largest organ- treat it well!”

  11. @Susanna
    YES, skin care products that contain gluten are harmful to people with gluten sensitivity.”

  12. I disagree with this article as well. Firstly, celiac disease is actually estimated to be about 1 in every 100 ppl in America now. That’s not rare. Almost as prevalent as diabetes!! (http://www.mayoclinic.org/celiac-disease/).
    Secondly, as an example of what you should NOT put gluten products on your skin if you are sensitive/intol/allergic/celiac… I put MAC’s cleanse off oil on the back of my hand to try it and for 3 days afterward experienced my gluten symptoms. Turns out it had wheat germ oil in it. Sinks right into your skin as most lotions, washes, creams, oils will do! Also, you can ingest it via steam – if I cook a bot of noodles – I will have my gluten symptoms by inhaling the vapors.

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  14. Love it. To the point, articulate, and interesting. Best post I’ve read today. Thanks.

  15. FYI ANYTHING THAT TOUCHES YOUR SKIN GOES THROUGH YOUR LIVER! THIS IS A FACT, NOT MY OPINION. ALLERGIES / INTOLERANCE TO ANYTHING ARE VERY DIFERENT FOR EACH PERSON. I HAVE 73 FOOD AND CHEMICAL ALLERGIES / SENSITIVITIES! MOSTLY DUE TO THE FACT THAT I HAVE VERY EXTREME LYME DISEASE! THIS IS COMMON IN LYME PATIENTS, THOUGH 73 IS A BIT HIGH! JUST THOUGHT I’D PUT THAT OUT THERE!

  16. Did you know that in spite of the apparently lower pesticide residue found in organically grown products, an “organic” label does not eliminate all risk. In fact, organic food still contains some residue that likely comes from invariable environmental contamination from previous pesticide use, or by a “drift” of sprays blown in from neighboring non-organic farms.

  17. I didn’t know that exists intolerance to gluten. Thanks God that I don’t have this sensitivity, because it’s pretty hard to avoid this substance.

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