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As anyone with a gluten allergy can attest, it can feel impossible to avoid the ingredient in regular food items that the rest of us take for granted. It turns out, it’s not just what we eat that can trigger this type of sensitivity — several lifestyle products like makeup and lotions also contain gluten. Even something like mascara can cause an uncomfortable reaction for someone with celiac disease or other gluten allergies.
If you’re surprised to find out gluten can hide in beauty products, you’re not alone. Afton Jones, founder of Gluten-Free Makeup Gal, describes her experience as someone with celiac disease discovering just how sneaky gluten can be on her website:
Once upon a time, not very long ago, there was a gluten-free gal who couldn’t figure out why some days her eyes felt swollen and heavy and other days they didn’t. She was annoyed with the way the breakouts on her face seemed to rise and fall at random times. She was frustrated with how badly her hands itched sometimes and the odd bloody scabs that randomly appeared on her scalp.
Upon investigation of her beauty products, Jones realized her mascara and lotions were to blame. Wheat-based components are often added to makeup as a binding agent, but the ingredient lists are so full off long, unpronounceable names that most people are completely unaware. According to US News and World Report, obscure names like triticum vulgare, hordeum vulgare, secale cereale, and avena sativa are all gluten-based ingredients despite sounding more like strange science experiments in a lab. Other more obvious ingredients that are also used include barley, malt, and rye — all terms we’re used to seeing in the grocery store, but not in the makeup aisle.
As you can see, it’s worth it to do a little research before boosting your lashes if you’re sensitive to gluten. Products like Zuzu Luxe Mascara ($17.60, Amazon) and E.L.F. Volumizing Mascara ($2, Target) are certified gluten-free, but there are plenty others to choose from if you’re looking for a more specific type of mascara or makeup product. Whatever you choose, it will be a relief to not worry about your beauty products causing painful breakouts.