If you suffer from celiac disease or are simply gluten intolerant, should you switch to gluten-free skincare products?
Makes sense: if you can’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your skin, right?
Wrong. Eating gluten and putting it on your skin are two different things. And there’s no proof the latter affects celiac disease at all.
Shocking, I know. Here’s what the science says…
What Is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is a disorder that affects the small intestine. When it comes in contact with gliadin (a gluten protein found in cereals like wheat, barley, and rye), it triggers an inflammatory response that wreaks havoc on your body.
Symptoms include abdominal pain, chronic diarrhoea, and ulcers. It ain’t pretty. Worse, there’s no cure. The only treatment is to follow a glute-free diet.
Does that mean you need to follow a gluten-free skincare routine, too?
Do You Need Gluten-Free Products If You Have Celiac Disease?
Good news: most gliadin proteins are too big to penetrate the skin.
You know what this means? You can use a cream with wheat or barley on your skin without affecting your celiac disease. Your body doesn’t react the same way it does when you’re eating them. Phew!
The catch? Be careful not to ingest it!
I know you wouldn’t eat your moisturizer. But you may accidentally swallow a lip balm or even toothpaste that contains gluten.
Even so, the risk of it causing a problem are minimal. According to Coeliac UK, “Even if toothpaste did contain gluten, it would be very unlikely that you would swallow enough of it to cause a reaction.”
Bottom line: Gluten only causes problems when you eat it, not when you put it on your skin.
Can Gluten-Containing Skincare Products Cause Any Problems For Your Skin?
Just like any other ingredient in your skincare products – including water and green tea -, wheat proteins and other gluten-rich actives can cause irritations and allergies.
This has nothing to do with celiac disease. The ugly truth is that anyone can become allergic to something at any time – even after years of regular exposure!
Some experts think that people with celiac disease are more likely to experience contact dermatitis when using skincare products with gluten.
According to a 2012 study, 5 out of 14 patients with Celiac disease experienced contact dermatitis after applying a gluten-containing emollient cream, bath, or face powder. As soon as they stopped, their contact dermatitis disappeared.
The catch? There was no control group. The gluten-containing cream was never tested on people not affected by Celiac disease. Could it be these 5 patients were reacting to something else?
P.S. It’s always a good idea to patch test every skincare product on a small area before using it all over your face. Just in case.
Related: How To Do A Skin Patch Test
The Truth About Gluten-Free Products
What if you decide to avoid gluten-free products for your own peace of mind? Science says they’re safe, but you may want to play it safer and steer clear.
That’s cool. Your skin, your choice. Just don’t be fooled into paying more for skincare products labelled “gluten-free.”
The truth is most skincare products don’t contain a drop of gluten. Check the ingredients, not the marketing claims.
Related: Top 7 Misleading Cosmetic Claims
The Bottom Line
You don’t need gluten-free skincare. Skincare products with gluten don’t harm people with celiac disease, unless accidentally swallowed.
What’s your take on gluten-free skincare products? Share your thoughts in the comments below.