Skin Deep

June 23, 2014

Gluten-free beauty

Read labels to determine if gluten is being used in your cosmetics.

“Gluten-free” is a hot topic these days. Although this diet has become trendy thanks to celebrities touting it as a way to lose weight or even a “cure” for autism (which I will not believe until I see valid research proving otherwise), a gluten-free diet is imperative for controlling celiac disease, a chronic condition that damages the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing vital nutrients.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and other grains, and avoiding this protein is essential for controlling celiac disease and preventing permanent damage to the small intestine. Though it can be extremely difficult, it’s possible to avoid gluten in foods by educating yourself and reading food labels. Committing to a gluten-free lifestyle can also mean taking a closer look at the ingredients found in skincare products, especially lip products that can possibly be ingested.

Many doctors say that gluten in skincare should not be a concern unless it is swallowed, but many patients report otherwise. There is a form of celiac disease called dermatitis herpetiformis that results in an itchy, blistering rash. This condition has been definitively linked to gluten intolerance, though it is still unclear whether it is caused by ingesting gluten, or the result of gluten coming in contact with the skin.

Either way, gluten is the root cause of this skin reaction. Anyone who experiences dermatitis herpetiformis may want to steer clear of skincare products with gluten. And since we ingest roughly 70 percent of the lip products we apply, I’d say it’s a good idea for anyone with celiac disease to read their lipstick and lip gloss labels and opt for gluten-free products.

Fortunately, many skincare and cosmetic companies are jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon, so you can easily swap out your current products for gluten-free alternatives. For skincare, check out VMV Hypoallergenics, which is not only gluten-free but also free of all of the major allergens that cause skin reactions. They also offer a full line of bath and body products, as well as cosmetics. On the makeup front, Tarte Cosmetics is all about the latest colors and formulations without the use of gluten. As the awareness about gluten grows, companies that offer gluten-free products are proud to label their offerings as such. To mirror all other skincare decisions, start reading your labels and choose accordingly.

Dr. Leslie Baumann is a board-certified dermatologist and CEO of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute in Miami.

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