Gluten, gluten, gluten. Years ago, you probably didn’t know much about this protein, but now you can’t avoid it. Restaurants and cafes often offer gluten-free substitutions on their menus, and food and beauty products now market themselves as “gluten-free”. To some, this awareness is life-saving—people with celiac disease and gluten allergies can’t eat gluten without becoming very ill. To others, the overwhelming presence of gluten-free labels can feel unnecessary—what difference does it make if you have gluten-free shampoo and conditioner?
To understand the issue of gluten in our food and beauty products, it’s important to learn a bit more about what it is, and the medical issues commonly associated with it. Gluten is a combination of proteins often found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale. These proteins help food maintain their shape, giving them an elastic quality. According to Celiac Disease Foundation, common foods with gluten include more than just bread and baked goods—soups, salad dressings, malt, and even food coloring contains gluten.
So why does that matter?
Put simply, about 1 in 100 people suffer from a condition known as celiac disease, though many don’t know that they are affected. It’s an autoimmune disorder that causes significant damage to the small intestine if gluten is ingested. For people with celiac disease, ingesting gluten is dangerous, and a gluten-free diet is necessary. The Gluten Intolerance Group also highlights wheat allergies as a common condition in the United States. Allergies to wheat are in the top eight most common food allergies, and as gluten is present in all wheat products, this is often considered a gluten allergy. However, people with a wheat allergy can consume gluten in non-wheat products, like rye and barley. In addition to celiac disease and wheat allergy, many people suffer from gluten sensitivity, which means that they don’t process gluten well, and a gluten-free diet may help a variety of symptoms.
How do I know if I am negatively affected by gluten?
If you think you might have celiac disease, a wheat allergy, or gluten sensitivity, it’s important to get diagnosed by a medical professional. It’s recommended to not start a gluten-free diet until going through the diagnosis process. The most common symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity are mental fatigue, also known as “brain fog,” fatigue, gas, bloating, abdominal pain and headache. Wheat allergy symptoms can be more severe, with chronic digestive issues, irritation of the mouth and throat, hives, rash, and difficulty breathing. Celiac disease is similar, but may also include joint pain, osteoporosis, anxiety and depression and anemia. We recommend explaining your symptoms to your doctor, who can help you with a gluten sensitivity diagnosis, or refer you to a gastroenterologist for celiac diagnosis, or an allergist for wheat allergy testing.
So why is gluten even in hair and beauty products?
Given that so many people have issues with gluten, it seems strange that it’s a common ingredient in hair products. Gluten is known for its ability to hold and provide elasticity, which makes it a helpful ingredient in hair sprays and other products. Fortunately, removing gluten from shampoo and conditioner is possible, and nutrient-rich substitutes ensure that gluten-free products—like our Color Protecting Shampoo & Conditioner—work just as well as products containing gluten.
Do I need gluten-free hair products?
Although gluten-free products are most important in food and beverage consumption, many eczema-sufferers have noticed that their skin and scalp are less irritated when using gluten-free hair products. For products that sit on the scalp for more time than shampoo, such as permanent hair color—including our Radiant Cream Color—it’s especially important that they’re free of gluten for sensitive scalps. Although it’s unlikely that you’ll ingest your shampoo and conditioner while in the shower, removing gluten from the products offers peace of mind.
Gluten-free products at Madison Reed
If you think that you might have an issue with gluten and using gluten-free products is the right choice for you, look no further than Madison Reed. Our entire line, from shampoo and conditioner to styling products, is completely free of gluten, making it easy to find everything you need for your hair, without ever having to worry about the ingredients.