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What is Gluten Free Grooming?

A gluten free diet is one thing—and beneficial to people with Celiac disease, but should you be avoiding wheat based products in your grooming routine? Especially when ingredients like oat and beer are some of best for your skin and hair. It’s a thought and one we posed to founder and CEO of the popular “sustainable beauty website” O & N Collective, Michelle Witherby, who lets on about just what gluten free grooming is and why, sometimes, it can be confusing.

The Manual: What exactly is Gluten Free Grooming?

Michelle Witherby: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye & barley. Gluten-Free Grooming would be grooming products that are “free” of ingredients containing this protein and where raw ingredients used within grooming products have not been exposed to cross contamination of gluten during the manufacturing process.

TM: What are the ingredients I should look for if I’m concerned about not using gluten in my products? What ingredients do they use to replace them?

MW: In speaking with health experts & manufacture’s in the past, many ingredients containing gluten are simply left out of the manufacturing process, instead of being replaced. For example oat. Oat bran & oat protein (which both contain gluten) was longed revered as a skin healing ingredient, but with so many other natural healing/soothing ingredients available these days, oat isn’t as common as it once was. You simply don’t find it being used that often any more. Vitamin E (Tocopheryl Acetate) is the exception however. Much of the Vitamin E found in personal care products is derived from wheat, which contains gluten. Find a trusted brand or resource (store) where you can confirm that a product you want to buy has Vitamin E sourced from cold pressed rice bran instead of wheat. A full list of ingredients containing gluten can be found here on my blog,


TM: Are gluten free products meant only for people who should avoid gluten or are there other benefits for everyone?

MW: Truly GF products are for anyone …especially those that are conscious of their health and looking to avoid the addition of chemicals. However, grooming products containing gluten can pose serious health risks for people suffering from celiac disease or gluten intolerance & sensitivity.

TM: Are some products more important to get gluten free – like lip balms as opposed to face wash?

MW: Many people in the wellness and medical fields say that products containing gluten can really only affect you if swallowed. So naturally this would then apply to oral care (toothpaste/mouthwash) but also lipsticks, lip balms, face wash. But from personal experience, I have spoken to quite a few people who have suffered from what is called contact dermatitis after topically using products that contained gluten. My recommendation would be to simply use products that are gluten free, all the way around.

TM: What would you say to the guy who is rolling their eyes at “gluten free grooming” right now?

MW: Honestly, I would say “I get it”. It may seem to some or even many that this is just yet another issue to worry about. But here’s what we know for sure. Gluten is an allergen and does have an adverse affect on many people’s bodies. We have over 2 million people with celiac disease here in the States in addition to a substantial number of people with gluten intolerance e & gluten sensitivity. Bottom line, it’s an ingredient that doesn’t mix well or play nice with our bodies. If you are someone that’s never experienced any reaction to gluten, bravo. But for many, the more we can become aware of how to avoid this protein compound the more our health will thank us for it.

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