Beware the Hair!!

After two and a half years of leading a very strict gluten-free lifestyle, I really thought that I had completely eliminated all traces of gluten from my daily food and beauty regimen.


I recently ran out of my usual Bumble and Bumble texture creme and had to dig waaaaay back in my bathroom closet (which, BTW, I had gone through TWICE to purge gluten containing products). I found what I though to be a suitable substitute and happily used it for a few weeks. But I kept feeling mysteriously icky… I wasn’t getting full blown symptoms all the time or anything very obvious. I’d just occasionally feel like crap (tired, bloated, anxious, diaharea, etc.) and couldn’t figure out why! I kept thinking it was cross contamination from my boys bringing in crumbs from the “real” world of food they eat outside the house…. Or that maybe one or more of my usual safe foods had changed manufacturing practices and may have been contaminated. I kept throwing sponges away … washing hand towels every other day… washing EVERY surface I could think of with throw-away wipes…. But I kept feeling this low-grade ick.

Until I ran out of my backup hair lotion.

So I went to my salon but after all this they were sold out of my usual creme. Grrr… So I stood there for a good 15 minutes reading ingredients, looking for a suitable new hair styling product. Gluten… gluten… not good for colored hair…. And then I saw my old standby backup lotion. And without realizing I was doing it, I quickly ran through the ingredients.

And there it was: wheat. Plain as day, one of the last ingredients was gluten. My jaw literally dropped. I could NOT believe it. I left without purchasing anything, ran home to check my empty bottle. Surely the formula had changed. Surely my cute little purple bottle couldn’t be the reason for my unexplained ick. Surely I couldn’t have been *that* stupid! But there it was. Wheat.


Some people will argue that skin and hair products don’t need to be gluten-free because you don’t eat them. Well, I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree.

Think about it. You make a nice GF corn tortilla wrap, prepared in your totally gluten free kitchen, and you wrap it to take to a lunch with friends. At the restaurant, you wash you hands right before eating, politely turn down an offered sample of a friend’s salad (“but it doesn’t have any croutons!”) and unwrap your healthy GF Hummus and Veggie wrap. But you’ve unknowingly used a wheat-containing lotion on your hands. When you pick up the wrap, a bit of lotion gets on it. All your hard work goes down the drain and your lunch becomes contaminated and makes you sick for days.

Or you use a gluten hair styling product and run you hands through your hair before picking up the same wrap. Or you drive with the windows down and a piece of hair whips into your mouth (that’s soooo me!! No wonder….!).

Or you rub your tired eyes while eating and a few tiny clumps of glutteny mascara or a light dusting of gluten-filled eye shadow join the contamination party.

People will argue that the tiny trace amounts found on the end of the strand of hair that finds it’s way into my mouth or the fingertip of eyeshadow can’t be enough to cause a reaction. But who’s to say what’s enough for each individual? Why can a speck of peanut send on allergic person I to anaphylactic shock and make another a little phlegmy? It depends on the person’s level of sensitivity. Maybe having the product in my hair didn’t cause the contamination. Maybe it was just that I didn’t wash my hands after I applied the lotion to my hair. Who knows…..

All I know is that I’ve had way to many unexplained icky days lately and now I believe I know why: wheat protein found in my TIGI Bed Head Superstar Blowdry Lotion. And now that it’s been 7 days since I’ve used it, I’m starting to wake up out of the brain fog and am not running to the bathroom all the time.

So I vote to avoid gluten in beauty products at all costs. It’s just not worth it.


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2 Responses to “Beware the Hair!!”

  1. Sara Nickel 02/04/2013 at 9:35 PM #

    Hi! I came across your website after doing a search on Tigi products and whether or not they are gluten-free. I switched up my usual non-gluten containing shampoo and conditioner for Tigi’s Bed Head shampoo and conditioner when I ran out on vacation. I started feeling sort of “blah” and had mild symptoms, but assumed it was from contamination from the holidays. I continued using Tigi since I had full bottles from holiday vacation. Low and behold, symptoms continued, and even worse my scalp has been super irritated. A similar situation happened last year when I bought Fredrick Fakai shampoo and it all clicked after reading your post. Thank you for the information! I am ditching the Tigi and going back to my safe shampoo and conditioner.

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  2. Jeanne Dickson 09/13/2012 at 2:50 PM #

    I am right there with you on the hair products! I get nice blisters if I miss the gluten in the ingredients. I am sure it effects my mood also!

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