Going gluten-free?

Friday, 18 October 2013 - 11:19am IST | Agency: DNA
It's not just your food that you need to be careful with, as beauty products too can trigger a reaction. Find out more about gluten-free cosmetics.

For those suffering from Celiac disease there’s typically no cure, but eliminating gluten — a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye as well as many common food additives — can help. Most food brands today have realised the need for gluten-free foods and stock a wide variety of products for customers. However, experts believe that making dietary changes isn’t enough.

Gluten is present in the make-up and toiletries most of us regularly use. While some feel these beauty products are not an issue unless they’re accidentally eaten (like we often do with lipsticks), others feel they’re best avoided altogether. From lipstick and gloss to mouthwash, toothpaste they can all trigger a reaction in people with celiac disease. Keeping this in mind, cosmetic brands have become more diligent in listing ingredients. Those like Maybelline offer a list of ingredients, while others like BareMinerals, Nars, Smashbox generally specify which of their products are  gluten-free.

A big business
Virginia Holmes, co-owner and co-founder Fat Mu Make-Up says currently people are becoming much more aware of new products and also aware if they are intolerant to ingredients like gluten, which has led to a demand for gluten-free and ‘healthier’ make-up in general. “There are certain companies that ensure all their products really are gluten-free. In fact, gluten-free beauty products are a big business abroad. One of the most celebrated beauty bloggers on this topic is www.glutenfreemakeupgal.com as she suffers from allergies herself so has tried and tested lots of brands and products,” explains Virginia.

The tricky part, however, she says is knowing what’s in a product. “It’s not just make-up, but shampoos, toothpaste, mouthwash, body creams and of course food that can contain gluten.  L’Oreal has created a long list of ingredients for the consumer so if you really want to be precise about what you buy then you can take it every time you shop. However, the problem comes when cosmetics manufacturers don’t even know where their raw ingredients come from. For example, much of the vitamin E used in cosmetics is derived from wheat, which contains gluten.”

Possibility of a reaction
Gluten-free cosmetics are a requirement for patients suffering from Celiac disease says Dr Shefali Trasi-Nerurkar, MD Dermatology, Trasi’s Clinic. “There are chances that whenever these patients come in contact with products containing gluten an allergic rash can flare up. However, there is still a debate amongst experts, as some feel that the gluten content in cosmetics is too small to trigger a reaction,” says she. Gluten generally used in make-up and toiletries acts as a binder to help the ingredients stick together and to add moisture to products through gluten-derived oils. “There is a good range of such products available in the markets abroad, but in India, many are still not aware of gluten free cosmetics.”

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