Gluten-free personal care products deserve your attention and concern, as well as a conclusive set of guidelines for the gluten-free community at large to follow. Currently, there is no one definitive answer or set of rules regarding the use of topical products containing gluten, and when you ask this question, you will typically get two different answers.
One camp will say that in order for gluten to cause a problem for those with celiac disease, it must be present in the digestive tract, therefore, using topical products containing gluten will probably not be problematic unless you have dermatitis herpetiformis. However, the other camp says that anything you put on your body is absorbed and enters the blood stream. If you are intolerant to gluten, this absorption factor can be problematic and you should avoid gluten in personal care products.
It’s important to do your research as well as consult your physician for guidelines on using topical products that contain gluten, but even if you’ve been given the green light by your doctor, it’s still recommended to proceed with caution and monitor your reactions to the products you choose to use. Wheat-protein, for example, is commonly used in products such as soaps, bath gels, shampoos, conditioners, mascara, cosmetics, and moisturizers. The wheatprotein may not affect the intestine directly, but may produce symptoms in those who are highly sensitive, particularly if the case is dermatitis herpetiformis.
Bottom line: Those who react negatively to digesting gluten can also be sensitive to gluten when applied to and absorbed in the body via topical products. Exercise caution and decide for yourself what works and doesn’t work for you topically. And if you’ve been following a gluten-free diet and feel great, but feel lousy after using a topical product containing gluten, it’s possible you’re reacting to the gluten or something else in the product and should discontinue use.