Should you be Using Gluten Free Hair Products?
If you have a gluten intolerance it’s common sense to stop eating gluten containing products. It’s simple enough to find gluten free pasta, bread, cereals and all kinds of food that help you avoid gluten and stay healthy.
Surprisingly though, gluten is also a major ingredient in many hair care products. As gluten is a protein, it is used to strengthen hair and provide volume. As vegans not only avoid animal-based food products but they also avoid beauty products if they have been tested on animals, should people with a gluten intolerance also avoid gluten containing skin and hair products?
A gluten intolerance can be an immune system reaction, so by exposing your skin or hair to gluten you can be risking a reaction. If you use standard skin care that contains gluten but have an intolerance you could react by breaking out in acne on your body or have an itchy scalp that becomes highly sensitive. Rosacea (redness on your face) can also be caused by using gluten products. Gluten products can also cause people to start experiencing eczema, even if they’ve never had it before.
One worry lots of people have is that a gluten free shampoo won’t be able to match their current product. A good shampoo ensures that hair looks healthy, shiny, frizz-free and strong. There’s no reason why a gluten free shampoo won’t be able to outperform any other products on the market. In fact lots of gluten free products are offered by the leading brands; you just need to be able to read the labels to check.
Watch Out for Hidden Gluten in Shampoo
If you want to go gluten free with your hair and body care you need to start checking a wide variety of products. Anything from body moisturiser, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, foundation, and face powder can contain gluten.
As with food products, it can be hard to identify gluten free shampoo, as the ingredients list aren’t always clear on beauty products. Most good cosmetic companies will highlight any gluten containing ingredients, but it’s good to be on high alert and recognise the most common ingredients so you know what to avoid. Some ingredients obviously contain gluten, such as barley extract, malt extract, or hydrolyzed wheat protein. Others, however, can be harder to spot.
Here’s a list of ingredients to avoid if you have a gluten intolerance:
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
Vitamin E (this can be derived from wheat)
Triticum vulgare (wheat)
Beta glucan (frequently derived from wheat)
Wheat germ oil
Avena sativa (oats)
Triticum vulgare (wheat)
Hordeum vulgare (barley)
Secale cereale (rye)
Not all of these gluten containing ingredients will cause a reaction if you have a gluten intolerance. But as someone with gluten intolerance, I do sometimes wonder if an itchy scalp is caused by one of these ingredients on my skin. It may be even more apparent to someone who has a full wheat allergy (and I’d love to hear from you in the comments!).
Finding the Right Gluten Free Shampoo
It’s a very personal process and involves a lot of trial and error before you find your holy grail products that don’t cause any reactions and still make your hair and skin sparkle.
Some of the better known gluten free hair products include (with links to purchase on Amazon):