Should we be worried about gluten in products we use everyday as well as the gluten in food? After all gluten is widely used in lipsticks and lip balms as a binder to hold the other ingredients together. It is also used in other products – holding flavouring ingredients together in toothpaste is a case in point.
Some people say yes while others say no and both sides of the argument seem pretty reasonable and persuasive so who should we believe?
Let’s start with the no arguments.
Gluten cannot be absorbed into the intestine through the skin so coeliacs should be ok. Gluten cannot be absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin either. To finish the argument, many products do not contain gluten. Most major toothpaste brands for example are gluten free although they may not claim themselves as such in case the manufacturers of the ingredients change their recipes.
So, as long as you select gluten free lipstick and lip balm, make sure that your toothpaste really is gluten free then you should be ok, yes?
Well not so fast. Coeliac disease and gluten intolerance or Non Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity are frequently linked to skin conditions where the skin becomes broken or inflamed. If you suffer from psoriasis or an eczema related problem you should avoid applying products containing gluten to these areas.
There are also concerns suggested by some that we could be making ourselves ill by ingesting airborne gluten from the products we are rubbing on our skin. If you are reacting to gluten in such minute quantities then you must be very sensitive but while it seems unlikely we are in uncharted waters and just don’t know if it is a problem or not.
There is also the possibility that you may be reacting to something other than gluten in the products that you are using. While a lot of products are gluten free, hydrolysed wheat protein is widely used in cosmetics, soaps, lotions, conditioners and much more. See the Poor & Gluten Free Blog Spot here for lots more information.
Hydrolysed wheat protein is manufactured from gluten by a kind of chemical digestion process. The gluten is boiled in sulfuric acid for several hours before lye (sodium hydroxide) is added to neutralise the mixture.
In this process the gluten is converted into glutamin and glutamate which are not gluten but can still trigger zonulin production which leads to leaky gut problems – see post here.