When it comes to figuring out the cause of a skin condition, sometimes it’s best for a client to trust his or her gut. While it is widely known that a healthy diet and healthy skin are related, today’s savvy spa-goers know they must not only look at what’s in the food they eat but also what’s inside their skincare products. Gluten, found in wheat, oats, rye, and barley, is one ingredient that many people are cutting out of their diets—and their skincare routines. “Gluten-free has become a major buzzword and a hot topic of conversation,” says Lisamarie Garguilo, vice president of sales and education at Luzern. “With food sensitivities rising, many are avoiding certain foods and ingredients internally and externally.”
According to Beyond Celiac, a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness of celiac disease, one in 133 Americans suffer from celiac disease, a genetic autoimmune disease that can damage the lining of the small intestine and interfere with the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from food as it passes through the system, causing health problems like bloating, fatigue, joint pain, and other issues. In addition, 18 million Americans have a non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which is six times the number of Americans who have celiac disease. Because gluten sensitivities and allergies come with a spectrum of severity, any interaction can be problematic.
“There is a desire to minimize the likelihood of gluten in cosmetics causing an allergic reaction,” says Ali Linderman, cosmetic engineer at PH Simply. “While these allergic reactions typically need the gluten to be ingested, the possibility of getting it on the lips or eyes has led to the development of gluten-free cosmetics. There is also a portion of the population that suffers from skin allergies to wheat and other grains. Furthermore, eliminating gluten is important, because it filters out one less toxic and reactive ingredient. Avoiding gluten limits other toxins that are part of the grain-harvesting process.”
According to Garguilo, some of the most common products that gluten-sensitive spa-goers are especially drawn to are lipsticks and balms, as they are applied in close proximity to the mouth and are more likely to be unintentionally ingested. Also popular among gluten-sensitive clients are hand and nailcare products for this same reason. Also, products that absorb into the skin like lotions, moisturizers, face masks, serums, soaps, scrubs, face cleansers, toners, face creams, shampoos, conditioners, and eye serums should be avoided by anyone with an extreme gluten allergy. “The easiest way to tell if gluten-free skincare will improve your skin health, or health at large, is to test out gluten-free versions of products that you use regularly,” says Morgan Krause, director of marketing and creative at Au Naturale Cosmetics.
Because gluten sensitivities come in many forms, anyone with gluten allergies or sensitivities should consider using products that are gluten-free. While many experts argue that the impact of gluten in skincare and makeup products is not a problem, because gluten can’t be absorbed through the skin, it can pose an issue if ingested accidentally.