Gluten is no less dangerous to people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity when it is absorbed through the scalp than when it is ingested. If you have been keeping to a gluten-free diet, then you also need to make sure that all the products you use on your skin and hair are gluten-free too.
Otherwise, the gluten will still find its way inside your body and cause symptoms like mood swings, depression, bloating and constipation, joint pain, skin breakouts and migraines. Most people experience these symptoms without knowing their cause, especially if they have already switched to a gluten-free diet.
But how do you know that a hair product is gluten free. It’s not like most brands will splash the warning ‘Contains Gluten’ on the label.
You just need to look at the list of ingredients. Remember that gluten is a protein present in cereal grains and is most common in wheat-based products. Look out for ingredients that could introduce gluten in the hair product.
Some common gluten-containing ingredients include wheat germ oil, hydrolysed wheat protein, vitamin E (it may be made from wheat), hydrolysed vegetable protein, malt extract and colloidal oatmeal.
The list of grain-based ingredients is much longer and it is almost impossible to remember all of them when you are shopping for a new shampoo. So we did the research ourselves and selected the 5 best gluten-free shampoos.
This shampoo uses ingredients like marine proteins, spirulina and algae to boost hair growth and rejuvenation. It avoids artificial fragrances and chemicals. It is made for normal to dry scalp and hair and contains deep moisturizing ingredients to restore your hair’s strength and lustre.
What we like:
- PH balanced to boost hair and scalp health and reduce hair loss.
- Gluten, soy and parabens free.
- Deeply moisturizes.
- Fast acting. It improves the feel and look of your hair in just a few days.
The Andalou shampoo uses Biotin-B complex to rejuvenate hair and make it thicker, stronger and healthier. It also contains lavender to give your hair a refreshing feel and boost blood circulation within the scalp.
One of the most interesting ingredients is fruit stem cells. They are used to add longevity to your hair follicles, thus ensuring longer and stronger hair and reducing hair loss.
What we like:
- Verified GMO and gluten free.
- Deep moisturising ingredients.
- Boosts hair growth and reduces hair loss.
- Ideal for all hair types.
This shampoo combines the most enriching ingredients to create a product that leaves your hair stronger, softer and shinier.
Lemongrass and green tea helps remove excess oils (ideal for oily hair) without causing the hair to dry up. Citric juices also help prevent too many oils from building up, which means you can go longer without washing your hair.
Ungurahua oil, which contains Omega-9, works on hair follicles, helping to rejuvenate and strengthen them. For moisturization, jojoba oil does the job exceedingly well, leaving your hair soft and silky. For an aromatic finish, lavender and eucalyptus oils are added.
What we like:
- Sulfate, parabens and gluten free organic shampoo.
- Increases hair volume.
- Moisturizing oils.
This vegan friendly shampoo comes in an oversized 500ml bottle. It is designed specifically for use on new born hair and skin. Thus it contains very gentle ingredients such as almond proteins, camomile flower extracts and marigold extracts.
It does not contain any parabens, heavy metals, artificial colorants and any other potentially harmful synthetic chemicals. In fact, 98% of its ingredients are natural.
What we like:
- Gluten free, vegan friendly.
- Can be used on both hair and skin.
- Does not sting eyes.
- Gentle for delicate baby skin and hair.
Designed for normal, oily and sensitive hair, this shampoo contains a number of ingredients specifically aimed at boosting hair volume and strength. The shampoo is thinner than most, allowing it to properly penetrate the hair and scalp for full benefits.
It is pH balanced to avoid upsetting sensitive scalps and is rated safe for colour-treated hair.
What we like:
- Parabens, sulphate and gluten free.
- Ideal for normal, oily and sensitive hair.
- Deeply moisturizing without being too oily.
- Penetrates hair easily to reach hair follicles.
Other Gluten free recommendations
If you use a gluten-free shampoo, you need to make sure that other hair products you buy are also gluten-free. These include detanglers, conditioners and moisturizing oils.
The Original Sprout Miracle Hair Detangler is made specifically for babies and kids of all ages. It can also be used on adult hair. It is gluten and formaldehyde free. There is also no soy, peanut, honey or dairy in it. Use it on tangled wet or dry hair and leave it in for a few minutes to get rid of all the frizz and tangles.
If your main issue is damaged hair, usually because of over-processing, the Earth Science Olive and Avocado Deep Conditioning Hair Masque can help. It uses silk protein to re-strengthen your brittle hair strands and nourish your hair follicles. It is also great for dry and colour-treated hair. It is of course gluten free.
If you are looking for a hair conditioner, try the gluten free Avalon Organics Cucumber conditioner. Being non-fragrant, it is ideal if you hate fragrances in your hair and skin products.
You can also get a litre of the Blonde Sexy Hair Bombshell Blonde Conditioner. It is free from gluten and sulfate. It contains honey to soften your hair and lock in moisture while chamomile makes your hair brighter and more lustrous.
Then there is the all-in-one cooking/hair/skin product that everyone should have at home; coconut oil. We recommend the cold-pressed Sevenhills Wholefoods Organic Extra Virgin Raw Coconut Oil. The standard size is 500ml though you can also get it in a 1-litre tin or a 10-litre bucket. This particular brand is certified vegan and organic. It is dairy, allergen and gluten free.
4 Factors to consider when buying Gluten-Free shampoo
It goes without saying that the first thing to check is that the shampoo is actually gluten-free. The easiest way to do this is to check the label or manufacturer’s product description. You can also look at the list of ingredients to see if there is any that is derived from grains.
One thing you’ll note is that many gluten-free shampoos and beauty products generally, are also free from many other artificial chemicals. You’ll find them labelled as sulphate and parabens free. Some are also labelled dairy-free.
Products meant for use with children have an especially long list of ingredient exceptions to ensure maximum safety.
If you want to go a step further, look for shampoos that are gluten-free and also labelled as vegan or organic. They use only natural products but they also tend to be more expensive. They are especially beneficial if you have a sensitive scalp that reacts easily to synthetic substances such as colorants and fragrances.
2. Hair type
As you would with any other type of shampoo, make sure you buy one that matches your hair type. Read the label and product description carefully to figure out whether the shampoo is right for you.
For instance, if you have thick and curly hair, get a shampoo made specifically for that kind of hair. If on the other hand your hair is fine and brittle, get a shampoo formulated for your type of hair. The same goes for oily, dry, sensitive and normal hair.
Why is it so important that you buy a shampoo that matches your hair?
Because different shampoos will use different ingredients with different goals. One shampoo may contain deep moisturizing oils designed for dry hair. The oils would make any other hair type greasy.
Another shampoo may come with a detangling conditioner mixed in to cater to thick tangled hair. Another may leave out certain ingredients to avoid causing a reaction for people with sensitive hair and scalp.
You can actually damage your hair by using the wrong shampoo. For one, your hair may not receive the right nourishing ingredients, making it weak and vulnerable to falling off. Secondly, it may not receive an adequate level of moisturization, causing it to get dry and brittle. Third, that shampoo you bought may contain certain ingredients that could cause serious damage to your hair or scalp.
If you want, you can narrow down your shampoo search even further to specific niche formulations. For instance, you can buy a shampoo based on hair colour. A silver shampoo is great for platinum hair, there are shampoos to make your red hair look even more radiant and there are also shampoos specifically for blonde and brunette hair.
There are also shampoos that promote hair growth, shampoos for wavy hair and so on. Buying the right shampoo will ensure your hair looks healthier and is actually healthier. Of course don’t forget to look for the gluten-free label.
3. Type of shampoo
There are different kinds of shampoos based on what their goal is. Volumizing shampoos make your hair appear thicker and fuller. They are great for those with fine and thin hair.
Clarifying shampoos give the hair an extra deep clean. They are not ideal for everyone as they can strip out too much oil. But if you have really thick hair that gets oily and accumulates a lot of hair products, try a clarifying shampoo.
There are shampoos specifically for colour-treated hair. They help the new colour stick to your hair. When buying such a shampoo, check whether you can find one that matches your hair colour. Specific hair colour shampoos tend to contain colour pigments that make your hair look more vibrant.
Other types of shampoos include conditioning shampoos, medicated shampoos (for conditions like dandruff or seborrhoeic dermatitis), dry shampoos, hair loss shampoos and pH-balanced shampoos.
Because you cannot possibly remember all these shampoos the most important thing is to determine what your hair care needs are.
First, know your hair type. Is it dry, oily, normal or sensitive? Second, know whether you need a special shampoo. Maybe you have dyed your hair (colour-treated shampoos), you have dandruff (medicated shampoo), your hair is dry (moisturizing shampoo) or you have extra-thick hair (non-greasy shampoo).
Once you know what you need, it is much easier to pick the right shampoo among the numerous brands you’ll find in the store.
4. Customer feedback
Do not buy a shampoo without checking customer reviews. They will give you an idea of what to expect and whether it’s what you were looking for.
It is not uncommon to find customers complaining that a shampoo that is marketed as being moisturizing actually dried out their hair. Other shampoos can cause itchiness or they make the hair too greasy.
Read a number of 5, 4, and 3 star reviews to get the best and worst of a certain brand.
Frequently asked questions
1. Why do I need a gluten-free shampoo?
Not everyone needs it. But if you have celiac disease or you are sensitive to gluten, then it is a good idea to use a gluten-free shampoo. It can help reduce symptoms of glutose sensitivity such as fatigue, depression and skin eczema.
If you are not sure whether it is your hair products causing these problems, switch to a gluten-free brand for a while and see if there will be any change.
2. Are gluten-free shampoos expensive?
They are generally priced in the same range as normal shampoos. The only time where a non-gluten shampoo may be a bit more expensive is if it is a full organic or vegan shampoo. Specialized shampoos designed for very specific hair types and needs can also be a bit pricier than other general shampoos.
3. As long as I’m not eating gluten, why should I worry about the type of shampoo I use?
If gluten sensitivity has forced you to go on a gluten-free diet, you also have to avoid gluten in other areas. Gluten does not have to enter through the digestive system only to cause havoc. It can also be absorbed through your skin.
Shampoo with gluten-containing ingredients can cause similar symptoms to eating wheat products. It can even cause unexplained skin breakouts. Just to be safe, go for gluten-free.