Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

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Monday, August 09, 2010

Gluten-Free... Nail Polish. What?

Case #1874 from the files of mothers who develop allergen-free products for their kids involves Natalie Bauss and Katy Scheffler. "Scheffler has to pay close attention to ingredients because her family has a wide range of food allergies, including lactose, gluten and yeast," wrote Shandra Martinez of The Grand Rapids Press in an article found on

So they "channeled their passion for organic ingredients and concerns about food allergies into the Keeki Pure and Simple line of products: lip balm, nail polish and polish remover."

Wait. What? Why does nail polish or polish remover have to be gluten-free? (Is there any nail polish that isn't?) Even lip balm. There are some allergens that could produce a reaction from single touching, but I don't believe that even licking all the lip balm off one's lips could provide enough gluten to have a reaction. Even assuming that lip balm contains gluten normally.

And that raises an interesting question. Does any lip balm contain gluten?

You can quickly find sites that say yes.

Suite101: A Gluten Free Diet: There Are Many Benefits To Eliminating Gluten

Also, cosmetics such as lipstick, lip balm, and chapsticks may contain gluten.

Hidden sources of gluten
Lip stick and lip balm contain gluten.

But what kind of lip balm? Which brands?

Searching brings up dozens of brands that claim to be gluten-free. Blistex, no. Carmex, no. Burt's Bees, no. Aveeno Essential Moisture Lip Conditioner, no. ChapStick, no. Ecolips, no. The Merry Hempsters, no. Nivea, no. Savonnerie, no. Badger Balm, no. Boston America, no. Some of these contain warnings that the ingredients may come into contract with gluten or other allergens in the manufacturing process.

Remember, however, that skin contact with gluten is not an issue. Only swallowing a sufficient quantity of gluten is.

So that brings me to Bonne Bell. Most of its brands contain no gluten. However, some do. Here is the list that was given on the Gluten Free Betsy website of gluten-containing products.
Original Lip Smackers
Sun Smackers (Including Clip N Go)
Megastar Lip Smackers
Kool Aid Lip Smackers
F’lip Styles
F’lip Glosses
Lip Lites Glossy Tints Balms
M&M Lip Smacker Balms (New Formula with Castor Oil)
Dasani Balms
Pinky Lip Smackers Balms
Skittles Lip Balms (New Formula with Castor Oil)
DPSU Lip Smackers
All Starburst Lip Balms
Color Kiss Lip Balms
Lip Smackers w/SPF

The Savvy Celiac blog reported a study that states that "The smallest amount of gluten which has been shown by a biopsy to cause damage to a celiac is 0.1 gram per day (Catassi et al.)." On the other hand, the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center sets a higher risk standard,"As little as 1/8 of a teaspoon of flour is enough to set off this abnormal response." That's about 0.3 grams. Both those numbers, while small, are likely larger than the amount of gluten in any one application of lip balm, especially if you don't swallow it all.

The point is a subtle one. Most cosmetics that are applied to skin don't matter if they contain gluten. Gluten does not get absorbed through skin. It must go through the digestive system. Nail polish shouldn't be any worry unless you lick and suck all the polish off.

Lip sticks, or lip balms, or lip glosses, or lip conditioners are more likely to be licked and swallowed. Many brands can be found with no gluten at all. Of the brands that do contain gluten, an occasional application shouldn't be cause for worry, especially if you allow them to flake off.

Gluten-free is mostly a gimmick, selling you products by announcing that they don't claim an ingredient that very few contain in the first place. But that's marketing for you. Making a virtue out of something you never had is an ancient sales technique. Green vendors may be rediscovering its effectiveness, but it's really an evergreen, old as the hills.

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Anonymous said...

This man does not understand celiac disease or the frequency with which we women reapply lip products. It is absolutely not safe for a celiac to use lip balm with gluten. And nail polish could chip off and fall into food, it's on your hands. Please take care of your health fellow celiacs, ignore this man, clearly he is only lactose intolerant and does not understand that our autoimmune disease is far more serious than his simple food intolerance.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Anonymous!
I totally agree with everything you said! He does not understand!

Anonymous said...

Whoever wrote this is oblivious & ignorant!

Anonymous said...

I have a son who has celiac issues and he watches his diet closely. My husband and two grandchildren are lactose intolerant. Several other members of my family have severe food allergies and intolerances, red dye, nsaids, corn syrup, strawberries etc, etc. That said I think a lot of the people who worry about beauty products and other products being saturated with gluten are just a little bit wacky.

Anonymous said...

I am a celiac. I can tell you that once I was on a gluten free diet I felt a million times better- yet, despite eating clean I would have episodes. Come to find out I am also allergic to gluten- if it is on my skin- as in lotion, lip balm, make up, shampoo or any other product I have a severe reaction. So please don't make broad sweeping statements- a new celiac may or may not know an those ppm- are too much for some- including me.

Steve Carper said...

From the Mayo Clinic web site:

I have celiac disease. Do I need to be concerned about sunscreens, shampoos and cosmetics that contain gluten?

Answers from Michael F. Picco, M.D.

No. Gluten-containing skin care products and cosmetics aren't a problem unless you accidentally swallow them. For this reason, avoid using such products on your lips or around your mouth. Also, avoid using gluten-containing dental products, such as certain mouthwashes and toothpastes. If you're uncertain about whether a product contains gluten, check the ingredient list on the product label or contact the manufacturer.

Some people develop a form of celiac disease called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), which causes an itchy, blistering rash. This skin disorder is also linked to gluten intolerance. But although it involves the skin, DH is caused by ingesting gluten, not by skin contact with gluten. So, eliminating gluten from your diet will help clear up DH as well.

You don't have to believe me. But you need to believe the entire medical community.