The Final Phase of Gluten Free: Beauty Products

I transitioned to gluten free eating almost seven years ago. It was a revelation! I suddenly had my life back. A year or two into my new diet, I vaguely remember someone asking me if my makeup is gluten free. In a panic, I googled by Burts Bees Pomegranate lip balm and discovered that I was safe, and that’s where my search ended. I figured if it wasn’t on my lips and I wasn’t getting rashes, I was probably fine.

As some of you may know, I’m getting married in August. A good friend of mine is a cosmetologist, and she’s agreed to do my makeup for the wedding. Always conscientious, she started our planning conversation by asking if I use gluten-free makeup. I said, “I’m not really worried about it,” but in the back of my mind I began to wonder. Now that I have a better understanding of exactly how sensitive I actually am, and how pervasive gluten is, I became curious about just how much gluten is in my daily regime. The sad news? A lot. It’s in my shampoo and conditioner, which is no big deal, except that I definitely touch my hair and my face during the day. But set that aside, because it’s possibly in my face cleanser. I say possibly because it’s not really clear if it is, or if it isn’t. And that’s just the beginning! When I actually listed out all of the products I use on a daily basis, I identified half a dozen products that make contact with my skin every day—and several of them either contain gluten, or may contain gluten.

I’ve been devoted to The Body Shop for years, so I did some research and found lists of their gluten-free and gluten-contaminated products. I was dismayed to discover that most of my favorite products weren’t on either list. Fortunately, when I contacted The Body Shop they responded quickly, and most of what I’ve been using is safe. I’m just grateful they know what’s in their products, because so many companies don’t have a clue. Honestly, I’m one of those celiac folks who accept some cross-contamination as a matter of course. I know that I don’t have the ability to remove all gluten from my environment no matter how hard I try. But if I’m using multiple products every day that contain gluten-based ingredients, I’m fairly certain that I’m ingesting a little bit along the way. I have some mild symptoms that I haven’t been able to eradicate, and now I’m suspicious that my face cleanser and eye cream are the cause of these nagging symptoms. (Vitamin E oil can be derived from wheat, just so you know!)

Eliminating gluten from my diet was a big step. Although the extent of the issue can feel overwhelming, I’ve made the decision that I need to care about my skin care and beauty products, too. It’s just too much risk and not enough reward. I’m a little sad to leave behind the face cleanser I’ve been using for years, but what’s the point of being so intentional about eating gluten free if I’m literally washing my face in it? A few small changes could have a big impact on my health, so it’s definitely worth it.

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