Opinion seems to be mixed on whether coeliacs need to avoid gluten in beauty products, such as shampoos and moisturisers. Any thoughts?

Am also unsure as to whether it is necessary to replace kitchen equipment. Obviously I can see the necessity of having a gluten-free toaster, but do I really need to buy new chopping boards, wooden spoons, sieves, colanders etc?

Would very much welcome any advice.

Thank you!

10 Replies

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  • Hi Coeliacvegan - I am currently writing a blog post about problems with topically used products at this at the moment. There are various reports online. Experts explain that the molecules of gluten particles are much larger than the pores of the skin and so cannot enter healthy skin. They also believe that it is unlikely that gluten molecules that penetrate through broken skin and rashes will be able to get into the bloodstream - although as far as I am able to ascertain no tests have been carried out to confirm this. One of the main concerns expressed appears to be transference or cross-contamination. In other words if using products containing gluten then it is unwise to touch yourself and then put fingers/hands near to the mouth or eyes or prepare food without thoroughly washing the hands. If using solid soap bars make sure that they do not contain either wheat or oat derivatives and check liquid soap for wheat or oat germ oils, etc.

    I would advise that wooden utensils will pass on gluten so either never use them or have separate ones. Chopping boards: these depend on whether you have dedicated ones for vegetables but if there is a universal one or ones that are used for bread, cakes or any other grain products then this also should be separate. No matter how meticulous a cook may be there will always be the chance of a tiny amount of gluten could be left in colanders and especially sieves unless you have dedicated ones purely for vegetables.

    There is a Vegan Coeliac Network for around the world link that you may also find useful, with recipe shares etc.

    veganaroundtheworldnetwork....

  • Just to add to this, some coeliac have issues with gluten in cosmetics and our skin is the largest organ our body has.

    Afterglow products are gluten free

    afterglowcosmetics.co.uk/gl...

    Here's a link to GFG archives where this came up in Feb 2012 :

    glutenfreeguerrillas.health...

  • Hi Jerry,

    Have been wondering about this, because I have read that gluten can't be absorbed by the skin (or that it can only cause problems if absorbed directly by the gut), yet, as you say, the skin is our largest organ, and the products that we use on it are designed to work expressly because they are absorbed into the body.

    I rarely wear make up, but do moisturise my skin and, obviously, use shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. I am especially interested to learn if gluten in shampoo can have an effect, as I suffer from an itchy scalp, which is one of the few things that doesn't seem to have improved since I removed gluten from my diet.

    To go slightly off at a tangent, how soon do most symptoms resolve on a gluten free diet? I have only been gluten free for a couple of months, but found most of my health problems cleared up within the first few weeks. Other things (like the itching) seem to be taking a bit longer to go...

    Thanks again for your help. I am so glad I joined this group!

  • Hi Coeliacvegan, this may interest you:

    glutenfreefaces.com/forum/t...

    Now how soon do symptoms resolve this is so variable, so for me I was diagnosed in October 95 and I was very anaemic, between Christmas and the new year I was outside and it was very cold and crisp and I had this sense of warmth inside and a sense of well being and I knew that my diet was working for me. I saw my Gastro after 6 months told him this and they booked me in for a follow up endoscopy which showed that my villi had recovered and a blood test showed the the anaemia had gone.

    Now please remember we were all diagnosed once so can relate to newbies and have empathy with all other coeliac. And it's great that you joined GFG and are interacting as many coeliac join and don't have the confidence to ask question so just lurk in the background and if you ask Fiona who started GFG what she would like the most it would be for new members to interact.

    So for those of you who have recently joined please take a leaf out of Coeliacvegan's book and ask away. I mean this is what a forum is for so well done for joining us and interacting, we're also glad that you joined us.

  • Thanks, Jerry. Will definitely check out the link.

    Can totally relate to your experience where you 'knew' diet was working, as weeks into going gluten-free I realised I could never remember having felt so well. I have more energy than ever before, and just feel comfortable in my body. It's quite amazing... And that is yet another reason why I am so enjoying the forum, as it's great to connect to others who have had or are having the same experience and simply to talk about the whole thing. Am sure my friends and family must be getting so bored of hearing how brilliant it is to be gluten-free!

  • Hi coeliacvegan, re you question regarding hair products, I have found a website called

    'handmade naturals' which I use for oils, shampoo and conditioner. They might be worth

    you checking out on the web.

    Regards allergies

  • Thanks, will certainly have a look!

  • Gluten has to be ingested to cause any coeliac issues...fact. To be affected by cosmetics or shampoos one needs to bet more pro-active in asking why? is there something else? its not all coeliac related.

  • CoeliacVegan

    We tend to take a pragmatic approach in the GFG treehouse. As most current research & Coeliac Society advice is - as you say - not to worry about things that can't be ingested. So when I was first diagnosed I started;

    Phase 1: by reviewing all my food & drink and gave away to friends any that contained gluten so I wouldn't use it by mistake or get tempted to eat a chocolate cookie.

    Phase 2: I then reviewed my utensils and areas of cross contamination i.e from shared chopping boards and toasters. I believe getting a separate toaster is useful and as most supermarkets do them as value items at around £9 you can't really go wrong. In terms of other utensils most plastic / metal items are fine as long as you wash them properly if you also use them on gluten foods for others. Wooden chopping boards/ spoons etc pose as risk as they can sometimes crack and harbour gluten in the grain / gaps. I ditched mine to be on the safe side. You don't need to buy new sieves and colanders as these can be washed very well by hand or via a dishwasher machine. But if you are worried just keep one for normal pasta and one for GF pasta etc.

    Phase 3: then I still had symptoms from gluten so I rummaged through my make up bag. Out when my lovely Clinque lip glosses as they all contained wheat germ oil. Instead I found that if you ask at Bobbi Brown & Mac as they're American brands they often have a book with the exact ingredients in them and they can guide you on the best lipsticks and glosses to buy that are gluten free. My itchy head came and went and re-appeared on a GF diet. I realised that some shampoos had wheat germ oil / wheat in them and just swapped these to others that didn't. I also swapped to Green People who do a great 'irritated' scalp, gluten free shampoo. It doesn't mean that all shampoos with gluten in will cause a reaction. But I've often found those that do often have harsher chemicals and other perfumes that can irritate sensitive scalps. So with this it's a case of trial and error.

  • Thank you for your comprehensive reply, Fiona. The three phases you identify are particularly useful as they seem to correspond to my own experience.

    So far, I have done as you did and replaced my wooden spoons and chopping board, although I haven't bothered to buy another toaster as I have yet to find a vegan and gluten-free bread that suits me.

    I am now on phase three and have discovered my usual shampoo and conditioner did indeed contain wheat. Now that I have replaced them with gluten-free versions I am hoping my itchy scalp will resolve. I don't tend to wear make up, but am currently checking out my skincare products to make sure they don't contain any nasties.

    While I appreciate there isn't - as yet - a scietific basis for avoiding non-ingested gluten, I think it makes sense not to take any chances when it's your health at stake. And there is certainly plenty of anecdotal evidence from people who claim that it has made a difference to them.

    Thanks again for your help and support.

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