Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Lately, there have been certain beauty products popping up with "gluten-free" labels on them. That includes well-known brands like Bare Minerals and lesser-known ones like Afterglow Cosmetics and Eos lip balm. As more and more people switch to gluten-free diets or develop allergies to wheat products, does this mean gluten-free beauty is the next important beauty development? According to Dr. Amy Wechsler, columnist for Style.com's Beauty Counter blog and the first-ever consulting dermatologist for Chanel, the answer is a big fat no.
Here's the main difference between gluten-free foods and gluten-free beauty products: one is strictly regulated, and one isn't. That also goes for products labeled vegan or organic—they could be, but there's no government body checking the products to make sure they're following certain standards or processes. As Dr. Wechsler says: "In the United States, if something like an egg is labeled organic, it’s very clear what that means. But if a skincare product is labeled organic in the U.S., it is not at all clear what that means."
Even if a product is legitimately gluten-free, it may not even matter. Since products put on the skin can't be absorbed into the bloodstream, using them won't affect most people with sensitivities. If you're allergic to wheat, you can proceed with caution, but you're better off checking ingredients than assuming "gluten-free" means something legit.
As for the future? Dr. Wechsler hopes that someday vegan, organic, and gluten-free products will subject to the same rules and regulations as foods. And so do we.
•Gluten-Free Beauty: Have We Gone Too Far? [Beauty Counter]
•Chanel Taps Amy Wechsler as First Consulting Derm [WWD]