Hair styling products: Must they be gluten-free?
If you have celiac disease, do you really need to worry about ingesting gluten from hair styling products? Let’s take a logical look at this issue.
Remember that parts per million of gluten is a proportion—ppm tells you how many parts out of a million parts are made up of a contaminant (e.g., gluten). If a product (food or hair wax) contains 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten it contains close to 0.6 milligrams of gluten in each ounce of product. If a product (food or hair wax) contains 100 ppm gluten it contains close to 3 milligrams of gluten in each ounce of product. But remember, you presumably do not eat hair wax. If you do (joking of course!), the wax probably would impact your ability to breathe long before it caused a gluten reaction.
If you are still concerned you can do what I did during a recent morning and look at the products you use in your hair. In my case—a shampoo, “defrizzer”, and styling wax. Using the styling wax as an example—it is a 1.5 ounce container. It probably lasts me at least 30 days (maybe 60). At 20 ppm gluten, the entire container would contain about 0.9 milligrams gluten. Divided by 30 (days), the amount of gluten used in my hair from this product would be 0.03 milligrams. At 100 ppm gluten, the entire container would contain 4.5 milligrams of gluten. Divided by 30 (days), the amount of gluten used in my hair from this product would be 0.15 milligrams. Now assuming I evenly spread product throughout my hair the amount that would be on any area I touched would be truly microscopic. The amount that would be transferred to my fingers and stay put until I either put my fingers directly in my mouth or touched something going into my mouth would be infinitesimal (never mind that all of us should wash our hands before sticking our fingers in our mouth or preparing food).
Also, keep in mind that Thomas Grace and I recently tested six lipsticks, glosses, and lotions containing various gluten-derived ingredients. Products were tested in duplicate using both the sandwich and competitive R5 ELISAs. In other words each product was tested four times. All tests conducted on all products were below the lower limit of quantification for gluten (5 parts per million of gluten for the sandwich and 10 parts per million of gluten for the competitive).
Individuals with celiac disease have a lot to be concerned about when it comes to gluten. Hair styling products should not be one of them.
For more information on gluten and personal care products, please see http://www.glutenfreedietitian.com/newsletter/personal-care-products-do-you-need-to-worry-about-gluten-update/
© May 15, 2013 by Tricia Thompson, MS, RD. All Rights Reserved.
This article may not be reposted, reprinted, or republished, without the express written permission of Tricia Thompson