Should Your Hair Go Gluten-Free Like Your Diet?

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
When it comes to beauty and hair-care products, ingredients matter. We all have different necessities when it comes to hair products, but many people forget that individual health concerns ought to have a big impact on the choices we make. Gluten intolerance is a health concern that may be necessary to take into account when you're shopping for products. 

First off, what is gluten?
Gluten is a protein that is found in numerous grains, especially wheat. It acts as a sort of glue to hold foods together and is responsible for the elasticity of dough. Gluten is quite prevalent in beauty products, especially hair-care products.

Should you go gluten-free?
According to Mayo Clinic, there is no scientific evidence to prove that gluten can negatively affect those who are gluten intolerant or sensitive (i.e., those with celiac disease) when applied topically. Unless there is a high likelihood that you will ingest a product, such as a lipstick or hand soap, by accident, then you should be fine using products formulated with ingredients that have gluten. 

On the other hand, it would probably be a good idea to invest in gluten-free beauty products for your gluten-intolerant children, as they would be more likely to accidentally ingest lotion, body wash, and shampoo via their hands coming into contact with your hair or skin. According to celiac disease and gluten-free expert Jane Anderson, if you're avoiding gluten in hair products, keep an eye out for the following ingredients, which contain it:

Triticum vulgare (wheat)
Hordeum vulgare (barley)
Secale cereale (rye)
Avena sativa (oats)
Wheat-germ oil
Hydrolyzed wheat protein
Stearyl dimonium hydroxypropyl (hydrolyzed wheat protein)
Laurdimonium hydroxypropyl (hydrolyzed wheat protein)
Colloidal oatmeal
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (may contain wheat)
Dextrin palmitate (starch, possibly gluten-based)
Vitamin E (frequently derived from wheat)
Malt extract (usually barley)
Beta glucan (frequently derived from wheat)
Vegetable protein (may contain wheat, barley, rye, and/or oats)    

You may or may not remember all of these ingredients, so the safest, fastest way to identify gluten-free products is to seek out those that are advertised and clearly labeled as such. My recommendations include Jason Organics Gluten Free Shampoo & Conditioner, SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque, and Madison Reed Color-Enhancing Shampoo.

Do you use gluten-free products? Have you noticed a positive difference in your beauty regimen?


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