Gluten Is Not Just In Your Food

Homemade lotion

One of the things I never thought about when doing my gluten-free trial or when I first went gluten-free was the gluten that hides in personal care products.  It wasn’t until I read Living Gluten-free for Dummies by Danna Korn and skimmed through sections of The G-free Diet by Elizabeth Hasselbeck that I gave it any thought.  It was interesting that both women have somewhat opposite views on gluten in personal care products.  I fall in the middle.

I realized that I truly do have a problem with gluten in personal care products about 6 months after going gluten-free.  I had some lotion in my bathroom cabinet that I stored until I was done using another bottle.  I stored it before the change in diet.  For 3 days I felt sick – fatigued, bowel issues.  I kept thinking to myself that I felt like I was glutened, but I knew I didn’t ingest any food with gluten in it.  So I was baffled.  I started thinking, what changed 3 days ago?  Oh, right.  The lotion.  I checked the ingredients against those listed in The G-free Diet for personal care products.  Yup.  Gluten in my lotion.  Jergen’s.

I tossed it out and went back to making it myself again.

I did a trial without the Wen Cleansing Conditioner I was using because it had hydrolyzed wheat protein in it.  As soon as I used it again, I was sick, no matter how careful I was to not let it get near my mouth.  It made me a bit more sad than all food I can never eat again.  It was the only hair cleansing and conditioning product that prevented the static I get in the Winter and kept hair from falling out as much as it normally does with other shampoos and conditioners.  This is hair loss unrelated to my hypothyroidism. I still have the unused bottle for guests to use who do not have issues with gluten.  Someone might as well enjoy it if I can’t!

I know some people seem to be so sensitive to gluten that any contact with it on the skin causes problems.   My problem is with anything that does or could potentially come into contact with my mouth.  This means any lotion, soap, facial scrubs, face masks, makeup, shampoo, and conditioner.  I could be missing something.

I make my own:

  • Lotion – I started this back in 2003, but stopped doing it for a while
  • Sugar scrub and face mask to exfoliate.
  • Soap – I start back in 2004 and haven’t stopped
  • Bubble bath
  • Facial toner/astringent
  • Hair wash and rinse – baking soda to wash and apple cider vinegar to rinse

I use:

  • Bare Minerals makeup
  • Aloe vera gel for scalp moisturizer and as a styling product (when my hair will cooperate)
  • If I have to use shampoo and conditioner, I use Aveda
  • Kiss My Face shaving lotion

My homemade list is a little longer than my store-bought list.  Most of the items take only a few minutes to make with items you already have in your pantry and can save you money.  I like using lavender water for my toner.  It is a by-product when extracting the oils for lavender essential oil.  You can make it yourself by using dried lavender in water and letting it sit for about 2 weeks, then straining out the lavender.  Or you can use witch hazel.

Lauren-Lucille Vasser, aka The Celiac Diva, has several lists of gluten-free products on her FAQ page.  Check them out and her videos.  She really is as spunky in person as she is in her videos.  A cutie patootie to boot, too!  The G-free Diet has a list of gluten containing ingredients used in personal care products as well as listings of some products that are gluten-free.

If you are eating gluten-free and still feeling sick, check your personal care products!


  1. I’ve been using and making hard lotions and lip balms lately with the products from Made On ( I also made some as gifts for family this past Christmas. They’re three ingredients. Coconut oil, shea butter and beeswax. I love it, my family loves it, and all is happy in the gluten free world.

    I’ve also been using Everyday Minerals which is a gluten free makeup. I do have some Lancome eye shadow and even some MAC lipstick I wear occasionally (from my undestanding, it is a Matte lipstick which is gluten free).

    I’ve really switched to a lot of natural, basic ingredient products for body care. My boyfriend is into the not-so-natural stuff, but I do watch out for wheat and other ingredients like that in his body wash and toothpaste. I don’t need to be cross contaminated by him. Aveeno uses so much wheat in their products, and other brands have begun to as well. I suppose it makes them look “natural.”

    • Oh great reminder, Amanda. I’ve been making my own lip balm for years, too. 🙂 I usae almost the same ingredients and use essential oils, too. When I started making all this stuff, I did the Christmas baskets, too. I even did treat bags for my best friend’s wedding shower for everyone using her favorite EO blend of mine.

      Chaz uses a lot of natural based products, too. But he buys them and doesn’t use my homemade stuff. LOL

  2. I had not thought about gluten in my personal care products. Oddly enough though, late this fall I started using coconut oil for a skin moisturizer and stopped using regular shampoo. Instead I either use baking soda or my Dr. Bronner’s soap.
    After reading this post, I will be going through everything I have that is fancy/storebought and checking it out.
    Thanks for the info!

  3. Holy smokes, I had no idea about this! How scary. My mum and grandma are wheat-intolerant rather than gluten-intolerant, so we’ve never had to be as careful of this. Well done for investigating!

    • It’s amazing how many people don’t know about it, Hannah. VERY scary, indeed. Do they know about wheat used in medications as fillers, too? Or even just medications that may be wheat-free but produced in a facility with other wheat containing products. I can’t do it. Makes me sicker than sick.

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