Should celiac and gluten-sensitive people use gluten free shampoo and conditioner? In this article, we explore why you should stick to gluten-free hair care products, how to determine if yours are gluten-free, brands you can trust, and tips for visiting the salon.
Also be sure to check out our step-by-step guide on starting a gluten-free diet.
- Why gluten free shampoo and conditioner are important
- Gluten Free Shampoo and Conditioner Ingredients to avoid
- Safe Gluten free Shampoo and Conditioner Brands
- Tips for a Gluten Free visit to the Salon
- Check out my Favorite Gluten Free Personal Care Products:
Why gluten free shampoo and conditioner are important
1. Gluten particles become sticky when wet.
An unfortunate truth about the gluten protein is that it becomes sticky when wet. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to use your own cleaning sponge in a shared kitchen space. It’s also super important that you wash your hands really well with (gluten-free) soap after touching a contaminated surface.
If your hair is covered in sticky gluten proteins that don’t completely wash away, touching your hair will transfer the gluten to your hands. Then your hands will transfer the gluten to your food, your face, your toothbrush, or whatever else you are touching.
It may be a small amount, but why risk the chance and the paranoia when it’s so easy to find gluten-free shampoo and conditioner?
2. You won’t need to worry about shampoo getting on your face or in your mouth
Some of us rush in the shower, others of us belt Celine Dion into the shampoo bottle for 20 minutes. Either way, carefully massaging our head and avoiding any possible shampoo water splashing onto our face is NOT the priority. Why worry about anything other than rocking that American Idol audition?
3. Some people react when gluten touches their skin
Celiacs and gluten-sensitive people often report that their skin becomes itchy, dry, or they get a rash when they touch gluten. A rash on your scalp? Yeesh no thanks.
4. Purchasing gluten-free shampoo and conditioner supports companies that are thoughtful about their ingredients and gluten-sensitive people.
I will happily take any opportunity to spread gluten-free awareness or support a company that is thoughtful of my needs. Wouldn’t you?
Gluten Free Shampoo and Conditioner Ingredients to avoid
Here is a list of gluten containing ingredients you want to avoid:
- Wheat starch
- Wheat gluten
- Wheat protein
- Hydrolyzed wheat protein
- Steardimonium Hydroxypropyl (hydrolyzed wheat protein)
- Laurdimonium hydroxypropyl (hydrolyzed wheat protein)
- Wheat germ oil
- Triticum vulgare (wheat)
- Avena Sativa (oats)
- Hordeum vulgare (barley)
- Malt extract
- Secale cereale (rye)
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (may be wheat-based)
- Dextrin palmitate (starch, may be gluten-based)
- Beta glucan (may be derived from barley or oats)
Please know that even if your shampoo and conditioner do not contain the above ingredients, ‘fragrance’ can sometimes include gluten-containing or derived ingredients.
While the following ingredients may be derived from gluten, it is usually a minor ingredient that has minor cross-contact with gluten. I do not feel the need to call the company about these ingredients unless it is a product that I will eat or put in or on my mouth (like lip balm or toothpaste).
- Vitamin E
That’s a lot to look for, right? I prefer to simplify the process by choosing only shampoos and conditioners that are made by companies that clearly list when gluten is present.
Safe Gluten free Shampoo and Conditioner Brands
This brand from Costco pleasantly surprised me by including a gluten-free label on several of their shampoo and conditioner products!
Dove and Suave
Dove and Suave, branches of the Unilever company, produce many of the personal care products I use at home. While Unilever is not explicitly gluten-free, the company assured me that they clearly label when gluten is present. For example, if a fragrance is derived from wheat, the word ‘wheat’ will be listed in parenthesis beside fragrance.
These wonderful smelling shampoos and conditioners are gluten-free labeled. Desert Essence even has a gluten-free section of their website where you can explore 100% gluten-free hair care, skin care, dental care products and more!
Tips for a Gluten Free visit to the Salon
1. Call your salon or stylist ahead of time
A few days before your appointment, call your salon to inform them you are “allergic” to wheat, oats, and other grains. Ask which shampoo, conditioner, hair color, and other products and brands they will use. If you feel self-conscious about calling, know that you are probably not the first to ask.
Research the products to make sure they don’t include the “Ingredients to Avoid” listed earlier in this post. If the ingredients are not safe, move on to the following tips.
Note: Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, and NOT an allergy. However, many hair care specialists are accustomed to working with allergies but may not be knowledgeable about celiac disease. I use the term “allergy” to improve understanding of how to accommodate my needs.
2. Bring your own gluten free Shampoo and Conditioner
Call ahead and explain that you have allergies to ingredients in shampoo and conditioner and let them know that you will bring your own. Some salons have regulations against this, but most are more than happy to accommodate you.
3. Get your hair cut dry, or rinse with water only
As someone with straight hair, a dry cut usually looks nicer in the end. I wash and dry my hair ahead of time and just show up for the cut.
I have also had my hair cut after rinsing with water only. This works if you have undamaged, easy to manage hair.
Having a safe gluten free shampoo and conditioner eliminates unnecessary risk of gluten-exposure and will help keep you 100% gluten-free. For new gluten-free people, I recommend getting a well-labeled (like Dove or Suave) or a known 100% gluten-free product (Kirkland Signature or Desert Essences) right away so you can focus on finding 100% gluten-free food. Later, when your diet is clean and you feel up to it, you can begin calling your favorite products and examining ingredient labels.
Need support with your gluten-free lifestyle?
Check out my Favorite Gluten Free Personal Care Products:
& see more gluten-free favorites in the VgF Shop!
With love and gratitude,