Should all celiac sufferers opt for gluten-free cosmetics? There isn't one right answer. "It's a very personal decision people need to make," says registered dietitian Nancy Patin Falini, who serves on the NFCA's scientific and medical advisory council. "There's not any defined science on it yet. Some people want to be absolutely certain that whatever they're putting on their lips is gluten-free, perhaps because their immune systems are hypersensitive. For others, it isn't as great of a concern."
When making a decision, consider how often you wear makeup. Refuse to step outside each day unless you're done up? Going gluten-free might be a more worthwhile investment than if you only pull out the lipstick for special occasions. A handful of companies have begun catering to the celiac disease and gluten allergy community. Brands like Hourglass, Lavanila, and Alterna, for example, offer gluten-free products at Sephora. And all products by Afterglow Cosmetics are gluten-free—founder Kristin Adams' mother and sister both have celiac disease, and she firmly believes in the importance of gluten-free products.
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If a product isn't explicitly marked gluten-free, read its label thoroughly, since gluten can appear in many different ingredients. Avoid those containing wheat, barley, malt, rye, oat, triticum vulgare, hordeum vulgare, secale cereale, and avena sativa. It's also smart to contact the manufacturer to confirm whether a product contains gluten, Bast says: "It's time-consuming, but once you find a brand that works for you, you can stick with it," she says. "There's homework that needs to be done to keep yourself healthy."
Even if you don't make changes to your makeup kit, you can take steps to protect yourself. Wash your hands after applying any type of cosmetic or toiletry product. And call your dentist about a month in advance to make sure he uses gluten-free toothpaste and mouthwash, Bast suggests. Otherwise, the visit could trigger a flare-up.
"When you live with something every single day of your life, you tend to figure things out through excruciating trial and error," Jones says. "It really is up to the individual to decide whether gluten-free cosmetics are for them. For some people, it's a choice. For others, it's a necessity."