I realized something the other day: living gluten-free is like being trapped in a giant Where’s Waldo – except we’re not looking for a man with a pom-pom hat, we’re looking for invisible particles that make us sick.

It’s much less fun this way, no? Still, being gluten-free is good training for detective work. When we talked about the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of the gluten-free community the other week, it turned out that there was some detective work still to be done.

The topic? Make-up. Is there such a thing as gluten-free makeup, and how hard is it to find? Do people with a gluten intolerance really need to worry about which lipstick they buy?

I put on my best pom-pom hat and got to sleuthing. As I’m not a lipstick wearer, this was new research for me. I happen to use gluten-free mascara, but that’s just because I like the product – I’m not worried about mistaking it for some Fun Dip.

If you aren’t concerned with accidentally ingesting the product, you likely needn’t be too concerned with its contents. Reactions to gluten are based on what gets into our digestive tract, not what lands on our skin.

For products of concern, like lipstick, L’oreal shared a very relevant list. The list contains all ingredients, in all L’oreal products, that might contain gluten. You can visit their website for the full brand list, but it includes Garnier, Maybelline, Redkin, Lancôme, and The Body Shop.

click to enlarge!
click to enlarge!

Because the not-gluten-free makeup list gives industry standard names as found in the International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary, you should be able to use it to cross-check a fair amount of other brands as well.

If you’re concerned about a specific product you use, the best thing to do is the obvious one: contact the company. Explain that gluten is often not labeled clearly, and that extracts from wheat, barley, malt, rye, or maybe even oats could make you sick. Look at your gluten-free dining cards for some ideas of how to phrase this. You still might get a generic answer, but at least you’ll have tried.

What about you? Which brands have you had a good – or bad – experience with?