Gluten Free Skincare w/ Glutenless Barley? – Mineral Fusion

Gluten Free Skincare w/ Glutenless Barley?  –  Mineral Fusion post image

Mineral Fusion was the first makeup+skincare+haircare line that is tested gluten free that I ever ran across.  My eye was caught by their blue and brown packaging, but it was finding out that they test for gluten that sent me scrambling for the cash register with products in hand.  And I loved them.  Some of you may remember how many times I recommended them to people searching for gluten free skin and hair care.  In fact, I was preparing a glowing review of them for this blog when we purchased another Mineral Fusion product and found that it contained “isolated barley protein”.  I stopped in my tracks and immediately contacted the company via email.


Now, this is not the first time I’ve heard of this sort of ingredient in gluten free products.  But it is certainly the first time I’ve seen it in a makeup product.  Usually, “isolated barley protein” is reserved for beer usage.

It is, basically, a part of the barley that is not the protein that Celiac’s react to.  They extract the gluten protein (“hordien“) from the barley and use just the harmless portions. In theory, this practice allows companies to use “gluten free barley” to make the beer taste closer to the fully glutened stuff.

But can you really take all the gluten out of a grain that naturally contains it?  And most important of all, how do we KNOW it’s all gone?

In short, it’s a difficult process.

It is very tricky to test for barley contamination in food. One of the assays (sandwich omega-gliadin ELISA) severely underestimates gluten contamination from barley; the other (sandwich R5 ELISA) overestimates gluten contamination from barley by a factor of 2.
Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, The Gluten-Free Dietitian – Source

A study was recently done with gluten free beer, testing the levels of hordien in regular beers and gluten free ones made with “glutenless barley”.

The gluten level in beer may be measured using ELISA, however, there are many limitations associated with accurate measurement of hordeins using current ELISA technology. In this study, we have implemented a mass spectrometric assay to first characterize the complete suite of hordeins in purified hordein preparations, wort and beer and second to perform relative quantification of the most abundant hordein proteins. We have developed a robust and sensitive quantification methodology for the measurement of hordein (gluten) in beer.

Significantly both barley based low-gluten beers tested, in which the hordein concentration is reduced by proprietary processing steps during brewing to reduce the concentration in the final beer product, had substantial levels of one or more hordein proteins.
Journel of Proteome Research – Source

If you look at the results, “substantial levels” means nearly as much gluten as the regular gluten filled beers.  And the original beer testers, using the standard and most accurate ELISA, did not catch it.

In other words:  Currently, there is NO available, trustworthy way to test for hordien content.


Mineral Fusion got back to me and confirmed that not only do they test for gluten themselves, their supplier also tests and has always received a <5ppm (which the lowest we are currently able to test for regular wheat gluten).  I do appreciate how much trouble they went to in order to answer my question!


Because of the studies that have been done and the great doubt that Mineral Fusion and their supplier have the means to accurately test for hordien, I have chosen to discontinue use of Mineral Fusion.

I urge you to also consider this before you purchase any of Mineral Fusion’s products.  They are excellent, but it’s up to you to judge whether or not it is worth the risk of contaminating your face with sneaky barley gluten.

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Placed into drawers: Featured, Gluten Info, Not Safe

  • Krystenlindsay

    Thanks for this. I had seen that as well and wondered if it was safe. I hate that gluten-free doesnt’ always mean gluten-free. 🙁

    • I know!! It’s so sad!! 🙁 I’m really disappointed. If Mineral Fusion will remove all barley derived ingredients from their products, I’ll be glad to start using them again.

      • so just because one of their products has this barley protein, you think its right to just not use all the rest of their products even though he stated that the other ones dont?

        • Yes, because it’s processed in the same facility as the other “gluten free” products. If one product is not gluten free and that gluten cannot be reliably traced, gluten could be in any number of their other products.

          Therefore, it’s not worth the risk, for this company, or for any other.

  • Tim

    Hello. This is Tim from Mineral Fusion. We greatly respect this forum and The Gal’s mission; it’s truly a service to its readers.  Because we value public forums such as this, I’d also like to provide additional information that we think is important to consider. First, Mineral Fusion is in the small minority of cosmetic companies that actually performs third-party gluten testing. Our hope is this is regarded as a testament to our respect for the gluten free community. Additionally, Mineral Fusion offers over 100 cosmetic, skin care and body care products – only 2 products actually contain barley protein, which are our Volumizing Shampoo and Volumizing Conditioner. None of our other products (including cosmetics) contain barley, and all of them have tested to be free of gluten. While our Volumizing Shampoo and Volumizing Conditioner have also passed the best available gluten test, as mentioned above, we can certainly understand and respect any person with a sensitivity wanting to be extra careful.

    •  Thanks so much for the info, Tim!  I really appreciate your taking the time to write an answer.

      I am still concerned, however, that if hordein is passing the best tests available to you (and I do appreciate that you ARE using the best), then hordein can be cross-contaminating many other products.  According to this study and the information we have, hordein sneaking past y’all is a very real concern.

      I do very much appreciate that Mineral Fusion is aware of the need for gluten free body care products.  As you just mentioned and as I have mentioned before, there are very few companies who are!!  But if you are using ingredients that Celiacs can react to and which you cannot test properly for (as all the evidence points to right now), then what is the point of testing, or even of claiming the gluten free label?

      Again, if Mineral Fusion will remove all barley from their products, I will personally be willing to resume use and endorsement of them.  But currently, I cannot do that in good conscience.

      Thank you so much for your comment.  🙂

      • AHargan

        Thank you for standing up for us extremely sensitive ones and not being willing to endorse something that contains derivatives from glutenous grains!
        It really bugs me when a company tells me something is gluten free, but it contains a by-product of a glutenous grain in it (such as distilled vinegar from wheat) because like you said…how do we KNOW that they completely removed all the gluten. I personally react to any glutenous grain by-products…gluten removed or not.

        • Thank you so much for your comment and encouragement! That bugs me too, to absolutely no end. My family cannot safely use any glutenous grain by-products either, and I want anyone, no matter how sensitive, to be able to use anything I recommend.

          Thank you again for commenting! 😀

      • Cindy

        I have been using the whole Mineral Fusion line. I bought it as it was available through our big grocery chain here in Rochester, NY. In the past 2 months, my facial rosacae and ‘wheat’ break out has come back after being gone for a few months. This happened with another product. It doesn’t get to me right away, but comes after a bit. After doing some treatment for my IBS through a ND, the ‘rash’ still has not gone away. I stumbled upon your site and found the Mineral Fusion barley quandry. I am rather angry as I have invested $$$ in the products and makeup. I will be contacting Mineral Fusion AND the grocery chain that sells it! Thanks for your input. I thought I was going crazy wondering WHAT I was eating that had gluten, but it wasn’t what I was eating after all. This just proves that even though the barley content may be miniscule, my body still detected it, and after a few months, the proof is on my face! GRRR!

        • Oooh, ouch! I’m sorry you’ve had so much trouble with them. But you’re not the first to struggle with even that tiny amount of barley. Wish that weren’t the case… And what frustrates me is that they and so many other companies see no difference in “gluten-less” ingredients vs. actually gluten free ingredients. There /is/ a difference!

          Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Hello Michelle,

    For products that are not processed on the same equipment, the likelihood of cross contamination probably is low. I’m concerned about how we know what is and isn’t processed together though. We don’t really know.
    But if it’s working for you, awesome!

    My problem at the time of this writing was that barley gluten has been proven to be difficult to test for with normal and otherwise excellent gluten tests. It takes a different kind of gluten test than is standard in order to find out just how much barley gluten is in there. So since this is “gluten-less barley”, how do they know it’s really “gluten-less” if they can’t accurately test for the natural gluten in it?

    Now, in ADDITION to that, the US government has outlawed this practice of using gluten grains with the gluten removed, in gluten free beer. They do not have enough proof that it is safe for Celiacs to be comfortable allowing it in beer.
    And I just realized I haven’t linked to my article about that in this post… Oops! Here it is for now:

    I’m really glad you’ve been able to use these products. I loved them while I was using them! It was only a few products I tried though, so I’m guessing the same thing happened to me in that I missed the products that may be cross contaminated.

    Thank you so much for your comment! I really appreciate hearing your view on this. Thanks so much for sharing with us. 🙂

  • debra

    Hi, I am out right allergic to any grains. I follow a gluten free diet because it is safer, Anaphylaxis starts when I come in contact with the grain. It matters not that the gluten has been removed. So this info will stop me from buying Mineral Fusion again. Change the formula and get the grains out. People that do not come close to death have no clue…..

  • A

    I too just discovered this with the conditioner. I was somewhat happy with the product, but read the label weeks later and saw the BARLEY! Since I’ve switched to gluten free hair care my hair doesn’t fall out as much – but will definitely read the fine print more. I think it’s misleading….happy to find this article. Alterna Cavier line is also gluten free – but I may further investigate to make sure. The problem is some ingredients are harder to pin down the gluten. Barley is easy but even Vitamin E can be derived from gluten!

    • It’s terribly sad, isn’t it? I really liked this brand!

      Many people have told me how switching to fully gluten free hair care stops their hair from falling out as much. You’re not alone in that. I’m glad that ditching the “gluten-less barley” solved that problem for you!
      I’ve heard about the Alterna line. But I’ve never been able to get answers from them about their gluten policies. Any time I ask specific questions, they never get back to me. This might just mean the emails got lost, but as it stands, I don’t have any information about them. But if it’s working for you, then that’s all that really matters.

      Yeeees Vitamin E! It’s so tricky. So mysterious. So unpredictable. Like a good book, but actually not good at all. Ha. You always have to ask about that one, to make sure.

      Glad the article was helpful to you!