Friday, August 24, 2012

Going Gluten Free

Over the past few months, I have been having some health issues.  I knew that something was wrong.   After going to see a few different doctors, I finally had a definitive diagnosis: I have Celiac Disease.  The good news is Celiac Disease is very treatable, and going on a gluten free diet is a lot easier than it was 5 years ago.  The bad news is gluten hides everywhere, not just in obvious culprits like pasta and baked goods.

After doing a bit of research on my own, I came to the very unhappy conclusion that I need to throw away the majority of my lipstick.  While women don't ingest 6 pounds of lipstick a year the way the internet might suggest, the fact is women do ingest some of their lipstick.  Trace amounts of gluten can cause a lot of problems for someone with Celiac Disease.  Do you need to throw away all of your skin care, your cosmetics, and go completely gluten free?


There are many schools of thought about this.  A lot of people have a skin condition associated with Celiac Disease called dermatitis herpetiformis.  This is usually associated with diet, not topical products.  However, some people who suffer from Celiac Disease believe topical products containing gluten can cause a flare up.   The Mayo Clinic suggests that, unlike people with a soy allergy, people with Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance do not need to avoid all skin care and cosmetics that contain gluten, just a few key pieces.  Soy particles are much smaller than gluten, and can absorb into the skin.  However, several friends of mine who suffer from Celiac Disease respectfully disagree with the Mayo Clinic and avoid gluten in all products they use.

Some skin care and cosmetics companies recognize that Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance can be very serious, and they take very good care in spelling out on their website or in their packaging if their products are gluten free.  A lot of these companies do not.  I emailed a large list of companies over the past week, asking if their products were gluten free or if they had a list of products that are gluten free.  According to these companies, Bliss Spa, Boscia, California Baby, Peter Thomas Roth, and Juice Beauty do not use gluten.  Bliss Spa's Lemon and Sage shampoo and conditioner contain gluten, as does Juice Beauty's Hydrating Mist.  Too Faced (with the exception of their Borderline Lip Pencil), NARS, and Lancome are gluten free. Benefit Cosmetics reformulated their products to no longer contain gluten, but older products that may still be in stores could still contain it.

The fact is, just because a certain product by a company does not use ingredients containing gluten does not mean that it is gluten free.  Cross contamination can happen in the manufacturing process.  Even more unsettling is that many companies receive ingredients from an outside source which could contain gluten.  As of right now, there is no regulation to test for the absence of gluten.  For those people with Celiac Disease who are trying to avoid gluten 100% in everything they use, your best bet is to find a company that ensures they do use gluten in their products.

Your best bet if you aren't sure about a product is to call the company.  Gluten hides everywhere (even in tocopheryl acetate, also known as vitamin E!). For myself, I have decided to change out my lipsticks for ones from gluten free companies.  That means giving up my favorite Yves Saint Laurent lipstick.  My shampoo and conditioner are already gluten free.  I also am going to continue to use my face wash, the Bliss Fabulous Foaming Face Wash, which is gluten free.   All of my other cosmetics I'm going to continue to use--for now.