Question: I’m a coeliac so am completely gluten-intolerant. I have recently seen TV adverts for gluten free shampoo – do I need to use this? I wasn’t aware shampoo had gluten in, how can I tell if my shampoo is gluten free or not?
Answer: Hi, Declan. We have seen these commercials too and, as far as we are aware, advertising shampoo as gluten free is little more than a marketing gimmick. We have had a lot of queries on this subject recently – most likely the result of such widespread marketing of the products.
People with the autoimmune disorder, coeliac disease are intolerant to gluten when it is ingested – so when it is consumed orally. Obviously, shampoo is not for drinking and when used as intended it is only actually on the scalp for a matter of minutes, in this case it is also diluted by water both in the hair and during rinsing via a shower or similar.
The only potential reason a coeliac would need to use a gluten free shampoo would be if they find a formula containing gluten is irritating their scalp – however, it may be difficult to tell if it is actually the gluten or something else contained within the shampoo that the scalp is reacting to. There is a skin condition called dermatitis herpetiformis whereby those affected experience an extremely itchy and persistently blistering scalp, but this is very rare.
Common allergens that can be found in many shampoos include fragrance, cocamidopropyl betaine, methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone, formaldehyde releasers, propylene glycol, vitamin E, parabens, benzophenones, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, and methyldibromoglutaronitrile/phenoxyethanol. This is according to the results of a 2009 clinical trial published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology.
Gluten has actually been found to be good for strengthening damaged hair, so we would recommend using your discretion and simply finding a shampoo formulation you are happy with. There is certainly no need to change your shampoo if you are happy with the one you currently use and have not noticed any adverse effects.
In order to find out if your shampoo is gluten free you should check the ingredients list on the label. Ingredients which may indicate the presence of gluten in shampoo include the following: oats, avena sativa, wheat germ oil, colloidal oatmeal, beta glucan, hydrolyzed wheat protein, triticum vulgare, secale cereale, hordeum vulgare, stearyl dimonium hydroxypropyl, laurdimonium hydroxypropyl and vitamin E as this is often wheat-derived as well as being a common allergen generally.
However, if you wish to be 100 per cent sure as to whether a shampoo is gluten-free or not, we recommend contacting the manufacturer directly.
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.