Gluten can also be found in hair products, lotions, make-up etc. gluten-free ingredients for beauty products can have different names than food items’ trouble ingredients that we all have to learn for label-reading. I still read ingredient labels to the extent that I don’t see anything that I know is harmful before purchasing something, but it can be confusing when there are additional harmful ingredients not found in food items.
it’s also helpful if you can find a company who labels other allergens, because that adds another layer of certainty that they probably identify the top eight allergens. for instance, if a product warns at the end of an ingredient list that it contains soy, and you can’t find any gluten-containing ingredients as you read through them, it likely doesn’t contain gluten or they probably would’ve specified. again, to be sure you can always call. I’ve seen Aveda products list wheat or barley in parenthesis after an ingredient that’s made from it, so I feel fairly confident that if they didn’t label anything as wheat, barley, or oats, that it’s probably ok. and as always, if you call their hotline, you can be sure.
some people pay attention to beauty products more than others. some people are really sensitive and their skin would breakout or burn with the wrong products. mine doesn’t generally, but just to be sure that it isn’t harming me, I choose to take the conservative route.
with shampoos and conditioners, I usually stick to the most natural brands (like those found at Whole Foods or co-ops), not only because it’s easier to spot gluten-based ingredients, but also because they’re more natural and don’t have other harmful chemicals.
lotions can also be tricky. again, I stick with the more natural brands on these. one of my favorites is Desert Essence. they don’t feel all oily and sticky, and they smell so delicious. there’s a Pumpkin Hand Repair Cream that I’ve gotten lots of people hooked on. again, I’ve seen this brand at Whole Foods and several co-ops. their website actually has a lot more products than just lotion~ shampoos, cleansers, lip balms, etc. I wrote the company, and they said that all of their products are gluten-free. however, only their Desert Essence Organics line actually labels its products as gluten-free, because those are the only products made in a dedicated GF facility.
here are some helpful links to gluten-free cosmetics and beauty products:
some people find out that their chapsticks, lip balms, or lipstick contain gluten when their lips start to burn when they put it on, so watch out for that.
Avon‘s gluten-free products (updated July 2008): http://delightfullyglutenfree.com/2008/07/26/avon-gf-list/ .
Neutrogena‘s gluten-free products (updated July 2005): http://www.healthyvilli.com/docs/NeutrogenaGlutenFreeList.pdf.
when I made the transition of going through my beauty products post-diagnosis, I first went through what I already owned. first I’d read through for obvious allergens. and then whenever possible, I’d search for my products I already owned pre-celiac diagnosis at a store and read the ingredients there, since I’d long thrown away the containers that mine came in. to be conservative, you should start fresh or consult either the company, their website, or the last updated list (in that order of importance) of the products you already own.
for further help, I believe that the product guide on the CSA’s website (Celiac Sprue Association) lists a lot of these non-food products that are gluten-free. it can be very helpful, especially to start.