Lack of information about cosmetic ingredients could expose celiac patients to gluten

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cosmetic ingredients

A new study has found that using some cosmetic products on the lips, face and body could unknowingly expose celiac patients to gluten – an ingredient they need to avoid.

Washington-based scientists announced their findings in their study, ‘Information About Cosmetic Ingredients is Difficult to Obtain: A Potential Hazard for Celiac Patients,’ which focused on the top 10 cosmetic companies in the United States in order to evaluate the availability of information about cosmetic ingredients and the accessibility of gluten-free products.

"While information on the ingredients of food products has become increasingly available, recent reports have revealed that the use of some cosmetics, including products used on the lips and face, can result in unexpected exposure to gluten,"​ said researchers Marie L. Borum and Pia Prakash of George Washington University.

Difficult to determine

The lack of readily available information about cosmetic ingredients led the researchers to identify the top cosmetic companies in the United States and subsequently visit the official website for each company and search for "gluten" and "gluten free" to determine products specifically manufactured without gluten.

Additionally, the ingredients for each cosmetic were also researched using an independent website.

According to the study, only two of the top ten cosmetic companies in the United States offered detailed ingredient information, however no gluten sources were identified.

The independent websites offered ingredients from five companies, and again no gluten sources were identified. Ingredient information was unavailable for four companies and none of the cosmetic companies specifically offered gluten-free cosmetic options, according to the study findings.

"The findings are alarming because gluten-containing cosmetics can be inadvertently obtained by the consumer and use of these products can result in an exacerbation of celiac disease,"​ said Dr. Prakash.

Info not readily available

"This study revealed that information about the ingredients, including the potential gluten content, in cosmetics is not readily available."

Prakash added that while smaller companies may specifically advertise gluten-free alternatives, "top-selling manufacturers should indicate whether their products can be safely be used by individuals with gluten sensitivity."

The research was prompted by one of Dr Borum’s patients complaining of exacerbation of her celiac symptoms, including gastrointestinal complications and a recurring skin rash after using a body lotion advertised as ‘natural’.

"It was difficult to determine whether gluten was contained in the product she was using,"​ commented Prakash. "But once she stopped using the body lotion her symptoms resolved. This case highlights the fact that celiac patients face a huge challenge in trying to determine whether cosmetic products contain gluten -- and a risk of unknowingly exposing themselves to gluten."

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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