Gluten is a protein that occurs naturally in many types of grains, including wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten ingredients include several grains or grain-derived ingredients that are potentially problematic for those diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder known as Celiac disease. These people should not consume any source of gluten as their digestive system is unable to tolerate it, which leads to chronic damage.
When gluten-containing ingredients are used in cosmetic products meant for application to the lips, some amount of them will be ingested. Oral intake of gluten ingredients is not a problem for the majority of people, only those diagnosed with Celiac disease or suspected of having a gluten intolerance, medically known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). The difference between Celiac disease and NCGS is that the former has an autoimmune component that damages the lining of the small intestine, while the latter does not.
If you have Celiac disease or a sensitivity to gluten, should you avoid cosmetics (skin care, makeup, hair care) that contain gluten ingredients? The general advice is no, as gluten ingredients applied topically cannot penetrate skin and affect the small intestine. However, applying gluten products to lips means some amount of ingestion occurs, so you should seek to avoid lip-care or lip color products with gluten ingredients. Parents of children with celiac disease may want to avoid applying leave-on skin-care products (such as body lotion) with gluten as there's a risk the child will get the product on their fingers, and kids have a tendency to put their fingers in their mouths, which would be the entry point for the gluten ingredient getting into the child's digestive system.
Some people with Celiac disease are also allergic to wheat ingredients, including when they're applied to skin (via skin care) vs. consumed as part of their diet. In such instances, avoidance of cosmetics with wheat or other gluten ingredients is advised.
According to a September, 2012 analysis published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, "individuals with celiac disease should not be concerned about products applied to the hair or skin, especially if the individual washes his or her hands after use. Individuals who are concerned about gluten in cosmetics that are applied to the lip or may be ingested should avoid products that contain “wheat,” “barley,” “malt,” “rye,” “oat,” “triticum vulgare,” “hordeum vulgare,” “secale cereale,” and “avena sativa”.
The following ingredients are a source of gluten. Those in bold text are more common in cosmetic products. *Technically oats are not a source of gluten, but can become cross-contaminated when processed in a facility that also handles wheat, rye, or other gluten-containing grains.
Amp-Isostearoyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Avena Sativa (Oat) Flour*
Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Protein*
Disodium Wheatgermamido PEG-2 Sulfosuccinate
Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract
Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein PG-Propyl Silanetriol
Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch
Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Oat (Avena Sativa) Extract*
Rye and rye-based ingredients
Samino Peptide Complex
Secale Cereale (Rye) Extract
Secale Cereale (Rye) Seed Extract
Secale Cereale (Rye) Seed Flour
Sodium Lauroyl Oat Amino Acids*
Stearyldimoniumhydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Flour Lipids
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil
Wheat Amino Acids
Wheat Bran Extract
Wheat Germ Extract
Wheat Germ Glycerides
Wheat Germ Oil
Wheat Germamidopropyldimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Wheat (Triticum Vulgare) Bran Extract
Additional sources: www.celiac.org and www.mayoclinic.com.
hydrolyzed wheat protein
wheat amino acids
wheat germ glycerides
wheat germ oil