gluten free skin care
  • Clean beauty
  • Lifestyle

Do you really need gluten-free skin care?

So that you know exactly what you are putting on your skin we’ll be running a series of myth-busters to help you face the facts when it comes to choosing personal care products that suit your lifestyle choices. In this article, we’re getting under the skin of gluten-free skincare.

By Alexandra Julian

7 Minute read

Taking the first steps on the journey to clean beauty can be difficult to navigate. Whether you’re giving your make-up bag an organic, cruelty-free or gluten-free make-over, it can be hard to know what products are right for you. Here at Green People UK we don’t gloss over the ingredients we use.

100% gluten-free beauty from Green People

You can be confident about what you are putting on your skin with Green People, as all of our beauty products are gluten-free.

Why is gluten used in beauty products?

Gluten is a protein that is commonly found in foods containing wheat, barley or rye[i].

A potential allergen, it is made up of molecules that are too big to be absorbed through the skin but, because research has linked wheat protein to increasing skin firmness and restructuring damaged hair follicles[ii], it is often added to cosmetics and skincare products in the form of Hydrolysed Wheat Protein (HWP) but can also found under a variety of other names.

How can I tell if there is gluten in my skin care?

Unsure If your skin care contains gluten? Take care to read the label thoroughly as many commonly used skin care ingredients can be a source of gluten.

To be sure your product is gluten-free, check the label for the following sources of gluten.

  • Amp-Isostearoyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
  • Avena Sativa
  • Avena Sativa (Oat) Flour
  • Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Protein
  • Barley-derived Ingredients
  • Disodium Wheatgermamido PEG-2 Sulfosuccinate
  • Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract
  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten
  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein PG-Propyl Silanetriol
  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch
  • Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
  • Oat (Avena Sativa) Extract
  • Oat Beta-Glucan
  • Oat Flour
  • Phytosphingosine Extract
  • Rye and rye-based ingredients
  • Rye Flour
  • Samino Peptide Complex
  • Secale Cereale (Rye) Extract
  • Secale Cereale (Rye) Seed Extract
  • Secale Cereale (Rye) Seed Flour
  • Sodium Lauroyl Oat Amino Acids
  • Stearyldimoniumhydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
  • Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Flour Lipids
  • Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract
  • Wheat Amino Acids
  • Wheat Bran Extract
  • Wheat Germ Extract
  • Wheat Germ Glycerides
  • Wheat Germamidopropyldimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
  • Wheat Protein
  • Wheat (Triticum Vulgare) Bran Extract

What beauty products can contain hydrolysed wheat protein (HWP)?

HWP has smaller particles than gluten and this makes it easy to add into hair care and skin care formulas as well as water-based make-up products such as foundations and lipsticks.

Is it safe to use gluten in skin care and cosmetics?

The amount of gluten used in cosmetic formulations is so small that it is often thought that the ingredient poses little or no risk to people with a sensitivity or an allergy to gluten[iii].

Whilst the risk of a product causing an allergic reaction is minimal, there have been cases of people developing urticaria (an itchy rash commonly known as Hives) as a result of using products containing HWP.

In 2013, it was reported that a form of HWP used in a Japanese facial soap caused as many as 1,900[iv] people to experience allergic reactions and such incidences have led researchers to review the safety of the ingredient.

Research has since suggested that not only can some forms of HWP trigger allergic reactions in those with a previous history of gluten intolerance, but that it also has the potential to cause people with no medical history of an intolerance to react to dietary sources of wheat including wheat flour and wheat gluten.

Who is at risk of developing a reaction to products containing HWP?

Anyone can be at risk of an allergic reaction to HWP but diagnosed Coeliacs and those with a known sensitivity to gluten are perhaps most vulnerable.

There are also increasing concerns that people affected by Coeliac disease or gluten-intolerance can be vulnerable to gluten cross-reactivity. This is when antibodies, produced to help protect the body from gluten, react against proteins used in food and cosmetics that have a similar make-up to gluten.

For this reason, it is advised that people conduct a patch test before using products containing HWP and consult their GP if they do experience irritation[iii].

The benefits of Quinoa: an alternative to HWP

The good news is that there is a natural alternative to HWP. Green People researched extensively to find an ingredient that could replace WHP and use 100% natural Quinoa protein, that is grown specifically for use in cosmetics, in its place.

Gluten-free and packed with amino acids and vitamins E and B, Quinoa’s natural properties have been found to help protect the skin and repair damaged hair follicles. Oats are another possible alternative as they contain Avenin which, although closely resembling gluten, can be tolerated by many Coeliacs[v].

However, some Coeliacs may still react to Avenin and, as some oats can be processed in the same environment as gluten, many Coeliac prefer to avoid foods and cosmetic products that contain Avenin.


  • Improved skin elasticity, leaving it soft and nourished
  • Forms a protective barrier to maintain skin hydration
  • Increases the absorption of other beneficial plant nutrients
  • Soothes irritation and helps regenerate damaged skin


  • Penetrates the hair cuticles to strengthen and boost shine
  • Locks in and enhances colour for those with dyed hair
  • Improves manageability, increases volume and adds softness
  • Soothes scalp irritation

Shop gluten-free beauty

Have you removed gluten from your skin, hair or make-up routine? Let us know the difference it made to you at @GreenPeopleUK.

[ii] Challoner NI. et al. Cosmetic Proteins for Skin Care. Cosmetics & Toiletries 1997, 112 (12): p 51-63.

[iv] Teshima R. Food allergen in cosmetics (original article in Japanese). Yakugaku Zasshi 2014, 134(1): p 33-38


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