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What You Need to Know About Gluten-Free Makeup

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Whether it's by choice or by necessity, more women are opting for a gluten-free lifestyle than ever before. While many major food and alcohol brands now cater to the trend, the latest to join the party is the makeup industry. But this new option to purchase g-free makeup has sparked many questions. So that you don't have to troll Internet comments for the answers, we asked dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D. and gastroenterologist Peter Green, M.D., director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, and author of Gluten Exposed, to help us break it down.

You may be asking yourself, Um, makeup has gluten? This may seem like a random ingredient, but there is a practical reason for it: Gluten serves as a binder in a whole host of beauty products (including your foundation, lipstick, eye makeup, and lotions) helping ingredients stick together. In addition, there are some other skin benefits. "Gluten-derived ingredients in cosmetics, which include wheat, barley, and oat extracts help calm and soothe the skin," Zeichner explains. And, products with Vitamin E (a common ingredient in face and body moisturizers, anti-aging products, and lip balms) are often wheat-derived too. (Check out the benefits of keeping gluten in your diet. Yes, they exist!)

The good news is that unlike say, a peanut allergy which can cause a reaction when someone simply touches peanuts, this isn't the case with gluten. For those with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack the small intestine when gluten is ingested, or those who suffer from gluten sensitivity (which studies say may not actually be a thing) won't have a reaction if gluten is applied to the skin topically, Zeichner explains.

Soooo.....Why even have gluten-free makeup? Well, for individuals that are extremely intolerant to gluten, ingesting even a small amount of lipstick from licking their lips can cause a reaction, like an itchy rash, Green explains.

So if you're tossing gluten in other aspects of your life, should you make the cosmetic swap? "For those who aren't suffering from celiac disease, there is no benefit to using gluten-free makeup," Zeichner says. "There's no evidence of gluten-containing makeup causing breakouts, nor reports of it causing any harm at all."

Green agrees: Gluten-free makeup is simply a trend, and if you don't have an intolerance, it's completely unnecessary to make the switch, he says. If you do have celiac disease, a doctor may encourage you to wear gluten-free lipstick to prevent any potential ingestion. (For makeup-loving celiacs, it's important to note that while some brands have removed gluten from their products, they may still have other additives—like wheat germ oil—that are derived from gluten.)

Mystery solved.

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