Have you ever been standing in the health and beauty section of the store, looking at all your options, trying to figure out which brand will actually be the best for you? I know I have and it can be really overwhelming and frustrating! This month, we will be continuing our journey to uncover the secrets hidden in those cosmetic labels and sharing all details about gluten and soy. Check out last month's blog on parabens! Seeing things like "gluten-free" and "soy-free" on a cosmetic label can be confusing. Aren't those words on labels for food allergies? Well, yes and no! We want you in the know so you can make the best decision for your body!
What is gluten? Gluten is a compound found in cereal grains, most commonly wheat. This substance is the ingredient responsible for the sponginess of bread and pastries, and allows foods like pasta, to stick together and not crumble. Living a gluten-free lifestyle is becoming more and more popular for a variety of reasons. Some people have allergies to gluten while others are simply intolerant. Others might choose to avoid gluten because it can trigger an inflammatory response and cause other symptoms.
Why is gluten in cosmetics? Hydrolyzed gluten is often added to certain non-food products as an emulsifying agent, meaning it allows for thorough mixing of ingredients and minimizes separation. It also helps to stabilize the product, giving it a longer shelf life. Hydrolyzed gluten is manufactured from wheat flour by separating the gluten protein from wheat starch. This protein is then enzymatically broken down into small, soluble proteins and peptides before drying.
Should I avoid it? Gluten allergies and intolerances can widely range in severity: from celiac disease (severe) to minor intolerances manifesting as indigestion or worsening acne. If you have celiac disease, we recommend avoiding contact with any product containing gluten. Even if you don't experience a skin reaction, touching your hands to your mouth after coming in contact with the product can be enough to trigger a reaction in some cases. If you suffer minor indigestion after ingesting gluten, you might be fine using a cosmetic product containing gluten. We always recommend testing a new product on your skin before using it more widely. You can do this by applying the product to the inside of your wrist and waiting 24 hours to observe any reactions. If you avoid eating gluten as a lifestyle choice, it is up to you whether you use cosmetics containing gluten. Research shows that if you don't have a gluten allergy, there are little or no risks in using cosmetics containing gluten.
What should I look out for? Most cosmetic labels will not clearly list gluten as an ingredient. If you are trying to avoid products containing gluten, you have to know what you're looking for! Ingredients listed as "wheat", "barley", "malt", "rye", "oat", "tritium vulgare", "hordeum vulgare", "secale cereale", and "avena sativa" are likely to contain gluten or traces of gluten. If you have celiac disease or a severe allergy, we recommend purchasing products without any of these ingredients.
What is soy? Soy products are derived from the soybean plant, native to East Asia. Soy is extremely popular and well known in the food industry, but lesser known in cosmetics.
Why is soy in cosmetics? Soy found in cosmetics can come in a variety of forms including soybean oil and soy acid. These ingredients can be added as an emollient, an emulsifying agent or a cleansing agent. Soy is commonly used as a plant-derived alternative to other fatty acid ingredients.
Should I avoid it? Soy ingredients are not typically irritating to the skin if you do not have a soy allergy. If you do have a known soy allergy, avoid products containing soy ingredients or test a small amount on the inside of your wrist before using more widely. Similar to gluten, practicing a diet free of soy is becoming more common because of claims that ingesting soy can effect hormone balances in humans. However, there is little evidence suggesting that using soy ingredients topically has the same effects as ingesting processed soy products.
What should I look out for? If you avoid soy in your personal products, keep an eye out for these ingredients on the label, "Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil", "Hydrogentated Soybean Oil", "Soy Acid", and "Soy Extract", as these are some of the most common. Unlike gluten, soy ingredients are a bit easier to spot. Most of the time, they contain familiar words like "soy" or "soybean".
What About Secret Garden Products?
Here's the good news! Almost all of our body products are gluten- and soy-free! Our Hand Soaps contains oat extract and therefore cannot be deemed 100% gluten-free. And our Room & Linen Sprays are made from a soy base. We chose to use a soy base as a plant-based, natural alternative to other deodorizing chemical bases. Everything else is free of both gluten and soy!
Brys Secret Garden's In-House Blogger