June 21st, 2012 10:14 EST
Celiac Disease and Cosmetics: Can that Fabulous Shade of Red Lipstick Be Harmful?
You walk away from the cosmetic counter after purchasing that fabulous shimmering red lipstick, perfect for your upcoming girl`s night out. When you glance at the label, you find yourself skimming over the ingredients list, but brush it off figuring if it`s on the market, it must be safe. What you don`t know, is that those ingredients in lipstick can pose a risk for someone living with celiac disease.
Ingredients in lipstick and lipgloss can contain small amounts of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye that can bring out a myriad of symptoms in individuals with celiac disease or a sensitivity to gluten. There has been more attention on celiac disease in the past few years, and the focus is mainly on the foods to avoid. However, there are many sources of hidden gluten " including some in your everyday cosmetics.
According to Alice Bast, President and Founder of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (CeliacCentral.org), celiac is an autoimmune disease that attacks the body`s digestive system when the individual ingests gluten. One in every 133 Americans has celiac disease, but it is estimated that 95% are undiagnosed. There are more than 300 symptoms of celiac disease, including lesser-known signs like migraines, fatigue and depression, which Bast has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about in order to diagnose quickly and correctly. And now she wants women to understand the role of gluten in cosmetics.
The danger lies in cosmetics and skin care products that have a high likelihood of being ingested. Lipstick, lip balm, toothpaste and mouthwash should be examined carefully to ensure they do not contain gluten.
Nancy Patin Falini, MA, RD, LDN, a celiac expert dietitian and NFCA Scientific/Medical Advisory Board Member, notes that individuals should consider their specific health needs and talk to a doctor or dietitian about gluten in cosmetics.
"When counseling patients as a registered dietitian, in order to form lipstick advice, I take into account the following: the patient`s individual clinical scenario, the frequency in which lipstick is applied and the patient`s personal preference," she said. "Lipstick containing gluten ingredients will have gluten in parts per million. But if used in moderation, taking into account that only some lipstick may be ingested the concern for gluten may not likely be significant."
Individuals with celiac disease should also wash their hands after applying lotions, such as hand creams and sunscreen, especially if they plan to eat something with their hands. Some hair styling products pose the same risk, furthering the need for persons with celiac to wash their hands too after its application.
When it comes to other skin care products, such as shampoo or conditioner, the risk is lower. Currently, experts indicate that gluten cannot be absorbed through the skin, unless a deep skin injury exists. Research has shown that gluten must be ingested in order for intestinal damage to occur. Still, some individuals choose to purchase all gluten-free cosmetics and skin care products to eliminate any risk of exposure to gluten.
At this time it`s difficult to decipher which lipsticks may contain gluten. However, more cosmetic and body care companies are developing products that are labeled "gluten-free". Bast advises that women read the ingredients label thoroughly before using any product, including ones that bear a "gluten-free" label.
For more information and free resources related to celiac disease and the gluten-free diet, visit CeliacCentral.org.