5 Makeup Companies Who Claim Gluten Free, but AREN’T

Everywhere you look today, someone is claiming to be gluten free. You're pretty used to this in food, since all the trendy restaurants have supposedly gluten free menus: "Get our trademark burger! With no bun, none of our trademark sauce and no seasoning! 😀 Oh and don't worry that we bake our trademark buns in the kitchen- there's no wheat in your burger so obviously you'll be totally fine lol"

But now this attitude has bled into makeup. And just like in food, this may be OK for some people. But for those of us who get a headache just by walking into a bakery? Who avoid eating at other people's houses because their contaminated kitchen makes us sick every time? Who are EXTREMELY CAREFUL that no gluten is anywhere in anything we put on our bodies?

It's turning into a minefield for us.

"Gluten free" does not mean gluten free. Just because a company says something is safe, doesn't mean it actually is.

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Here's 5 companies who advertise themselves as gluten free, but should be avoided like the plague if you're extremely sensitive.

1

Tarte

Don't be fooled by their very carefully worded gluten statement. They are not lying to you, but all they do is formulate without gluten ingredients. They have no control over cross-contamination at any stage of the game.

This is fine for many people, and in fact some readers of Gluten Free Makeup Gal have reported being able to use Tarte without issue. However, more sensitive readers have told me they had terrible reactions from using Tarte makeup. Stay away from this brand if you're one of those sensitive folk.

2

Mineral Fusion

This one is incredibly tricky. In several of their products, they use isolated barley protein, which has been processed to "remove gluten". You can read my full blog post about it here.

It's becoming quite trendy to remove gluten from gluten grains. But how safe it actually is remains a hot debate. Funny how the people who claim it's safety the loudest are the ones selling gluten-removed products... Technically, these ingredients can pass our current gluten tests. But there is evidence to indicate that the gluten-removal process simply changes the form of the gluten and does NOT remove it entirely (again, read the previously linked article for details). This allows the product to pass the tests, yet still aggravate a sensitive person.

Not all of the products have isolated barley protein. But if that ingredient concerns you, it is processed​ in the same facilities as every other "gluten free" product. Thus making everything this company makes dubious for the extremely gluten sensitive. And yes,

3

Younique

They will not disclose any detailed information about their gluten policies. Word for word- "we are not able to discuss specific details or sourcing of our product ingredients and formulas".

If they won't give sourcing details, we can't know what they consider safe to be. What does gluten free even mean to them!? No product is worth that level of uncertainty.

4

Juice Beauty

The last time I heard from this company, they told me that oats could never be contaminated with gluten, because oats don’t have gluten in them. When I asked if they were using CERTIFIED gluten free oats, they never responded. In fact, after 2 years of trying, they still haven't replied to my questions. 

So maybe their oats are gluten free now. Maybe they understand gluten contamination better now. But if a company won't give detailed gluten information, that in and of itself is a huge red flag. Do they have something to hide?

5

Ava Anderson Non-Toxic

While I love what Ava Anderson stands for, they also only formulate without gluten and cannot guarantee a lack of cross-contamination. It seems like they understand gluten fairly well otherwise, since they do use certified gluten free oats.

If you're not incredibly sensitive they may be OK for you. In fact, they're such a cool company, you should probably check them out if you can. But if you're very sensitive, stay away and admire from a distance.

Again, these companies are not safe for those who are extremely sensitive. If you're not terribly sensitive, they may still work for you just fine. Every person's level of sensitivity is different and what works for one person may not work for another.

But when your health is at stake, there's no such thing as too careful.

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So how about you? Will you be avoiding these companies, or will you try them anyway?

Photos by: stockimages

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Placed into drawers: Featured, Iffy, Not Safe

  • Kari

    I have a friend who is selling Younique and when I asked what was gluten free in their products, her upline gave me a lot of information on what was safe to use and offered to do more research on any specific product I was interested in. I didn’t actually write any of it down because they are currently out of my price range.

    • I talked directly to the main customer service, after a rep put me in contact with her contacts. They offered to do all sorts of research for me, but when it came to transparency, there was absolutely none. It’s easy for a company to tell you things, but when they won’t give details the red flags are raised. Far too many companies have “done the research” for me and said their products were perfectly safe. But when they finally gave specifics, turns out their definition of gluten free was still vastly lacking for sensitive folk.

      At the end of the day, it’s 100% your choice whether or not you want to trust the company’s word. But without specifics, that’s all it is: Their word. Is it worth risking your health, even if the products were in your price range? Only you can answer that.

      Thanks for the input, Kari!

      • Kari

        I agree. I had no idea my sensitivity was getting worse until I used a mineral foundation from a leading company, and after a couple of months and a horrible never-ending break out that left scars, I figured out it wasn’t gluten free. I now have to be even more diligent in reading labels. I bought the mascara, but really don’t see any other products of theirs in my future. Not sure why it has to be so hard to be gluten free or admit when you are not.

        • Oh dear. That’s horrible to hear! I’m so sorry that happened to you. Label reading is life for us, huh?

          Ugh don’t even get me started on that “do it or admit that you can’t” thing. I could rant an entire post about that. Probably should someday. Ha! Anyway, at least we have other companies who DO do gluten free right!

  • Sherri

    What about Physician’s Formula? They are labeled gluten free, but I haven’t seen them on the gluten free make up list.

  • Krysten Hager

    Great info! Someone just suggested Mineral Fusion to me today and I was curious about it since I see it at the health food stores a lot.

    • Thanks Krysten! I’ve heard of a few successful stories from users of Mineral Fusion, but also people who had reactions they couldn’t understand. Until they heard about the barley protein. 😉 Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • CouponDivaAndi

    good info – one question – what about Aubrey Organics? Even if it says “gluten-free…”

  • Mary Jo LaFever

    I had to send a product back to Tarte after having a reaction to it. Turns out that oat was one of the ingredients. I explained to them that they advertise gluten free but that oat is not safe for those sensitive to gluten unless it can be certified gluten free. They did refund me for the product. I am able to use other products from Tarte but I now check the ingredient lists. This is the response that I got from them but I believe they still are advertising as gluten free: ‘All of our products are formulated without
    gluten. While tarte can ensure these products were formulated with ingredients
    free of gluten, the plant where they are manufactured may or may not produce
    items with raw materials containing gluten. Since we cannot confirm this, and
    our priority is the safety and health of our customers, we decided to
    voluntarily remove the gluten-free category and therefore no longer state that
    any of our products are 100% gluten-free. ‘

    • That’s an AWESOME response from Tarte! Thanks so much for sharing, Mary Jo! This further verifies that Tarte isn’t the bad guy here. They just aren’t making products safe enough for us to use. Kudos to Tarte for not trying to tell us it’s safe for us really sensitive folk!

  • Jessica Star

    Gabriel Cosmetics Inc. is ***Certified Gluten Free by the Gluten Intolerance Group***. All of their lines are included in the certification, Gabriel Color, ZuZu Luxe, Gabriel Organics (Skincare), Clean Kids. The products are fabulous and the founder/president Gabriel DeSantino is very passionate about making quality, TRULY Gluten Free products

    • Love Gabriel Cosmetics!! <3

    • thepringlezoo

      Too bad every time I use their mascara I get a stye! Instead I’m using the Red Apple Lipstick Mascara without issue!

      • Oh dear! Sorry to hear that! But the Red Apple mascara is also da bomb. Glad it works so well for you!

      • Jessica Star

        🙁 that’s too bad, but I’m glad you found one that works for you!

  • Reem

    I have to add another company that claims to be gluten free in their advertisements but have gluten containing products.. tata harper. Not using it, scared to get a reaction 🙁 even though their products look good.

    • Thanks for the heads-up! I had not heard of this company. Definitely a good policy to assume something is unsafe until proven otherwise. But what about this particular company makes you so nervous?

      • Reem

        A few months ago I was searching for a gluten free skincare line , I was tired of having a variety of skincare products from different brands. I ordered gluten free makeup from a website and with the package they put samples from tata harper (skincare, aromatherapy and cosmetics brand). I had wanted to try them for a while since they’ve been claiming to be gluten free , cruelty free etc. from the website. I tried one sample and was really good! I was just about to order a bunch of skincare products but I’ve stumbled upon reviews that people like us got skin reactions.
        In their FAQ they wrote
        “Are your products gluten free?

        We do not have wheat germ in our products, although we do have some ingredients that are derived from wheat, particularly cetearyl alcohol and cetearyl glucoside. Because cetearyl alcohol is purified, the alcohol contains absolutely no remaining gluten protein, making it safe for customers with Celiac Disease. Our products that contain wheat-derived ingredients are the Refreshing Cleanser,Regenerating Cleanser, Rejuvenating Serum,Restorative Eye Creme, and Hydrating Floral Essence.”

        That’s pretty much what I wanted to order and the sample was the resurfacing mask which doesn’t have gluten I hope. On the bottom of their site they claim to be “100% free from synthetics, GMO, fillers, gluten, and synthetic fragrances “.
        We have to shop really carefully! Sometimes I wish it was easier.

        • Aw man… I get that reply from companies A LOT. To Tata Harper’s credit, most “gluten free” companies with this policy won’t tell you anywhere on their website. Usually you have to worm these kinds of details out of them via extensive grilling. So they’re a bit better in that regard. Still. It frustrates me that even though Celiacs can react, these “gluten removed” products are touted with great confidence as being “completely safe”.

          Rest assured, no company with this policy EVER make it onto the Gluten Free Makeup List. Gluten-sensitive folk CAN and DO react to that stuff! So no thanks!

          Thanks for sharing all these details, Reem! I’m sorry to hear about Tata Harper, but very glad that you did your research and figured it out. The more we talk about this and share our experiences, the more companies will realize what we want to buy!

          • Reem

            Oh no problem at all! By the way I love the grilling part haha it truly feels that way most of the time. It’s for the good for the both of us as consumers and companies to be transparent with each other about the products, it’s for our health and safety. Gluten free isn’t a trend for those of us who are highly sensitive and/or celiacs, so it’s not the matter of who jumps in on the gluten free bandwagon first, it’s who makes the right formulation and stays helping out a large community EVEN if it takes a lot of time to get there.
            I would also like to thank YOU for your website and the frequently updated makeup lists .. it’s been such a great help! Will also get the ebook really soon!

          • Preach it!! Yes, yes and yes!

            Aww, thank you for the kind words! It warms my heart to hear that my site has been helpful! I think you’ll love the eBook, so enjoy that when you snag it! 😉

  • You’re very welcome! I hope eliminating those products clears up all your problems quickly!

    • Danelle

      What about Bare Minerals and IT Cosmetics? I have heard they are safe with a couple exceptions

      • If you’re very sensitive, then neither of those companies are safe. The cross-contamination is high with them!

  • Meg K

    I have a mast cell disorder which makes me very sensitive to topical gluten and a host of other chemicals. I don’t know what Mineral Fusion puts in their unscented body lotion but I had problems with it. After much money and many failures, I finally found a great line of cleansers, moisturizers, etc. from Avene. It is made in France from a spring that is supposed to have amazing soothing properties, especially for people like me with skin disorders. They might seem a little pricey but a little goes a long way and so overall it’s not as expensive as it seems. Their products have been a lifesaver for me. Their foundation compact has a 50spf and blends nicely. And the best part, they are gluten free! Makeup is not their thing, the only “makeup” they have is their foundation (which looks amazingly natural) but if you’re looking for some safe skin care, check them out. Ever since my mess started, this is the first my skin has looked healthy and feels comfortable instead of irritated. I use their cleanser, moisturizer and body cream. For Shampoo and Conditioner I use Free and Clear. That I have to purchase from National Allergy Supply. It is literally free and clear of everything irritating, including gluten.

    • Oh my gosh, Meg! Sorry to hear about your problem with Mineral Fusion!
      But Avene sounds amazing. I’ve never heard of them! Thank you so much for the heads-up and review! Now I’m seriously curious about them. Free & Clear is a fabulous brand, so glad they work for you too!

      Thanks for sharing, Meg!

  • bythelastlight

    I just wanted to chime in and say that I have used Tarte. I don’t seem to have a problem with their lip tints and lipsticks. I’ve had a lot of itching and glutening symptoms with their mascara so now I’m afraid to use it!

  • Tct1971

    Wow. I’m shocked to see Juice Beauty here. They are my go to brand for skincare and I have some of their makeup, as well. For makeup I generally prefer Pacifica, Afterglow, and Gabriel/Zuzu, though I use the Juice Beauty tinted lip balm every day. I’ve never had a problem with Juice Beauty products. I very regularly use 9 of their products, and none of them contain oats. Which of their items contain oats? I just popped around their site and wasn’t able to find the ones with oats. Their site says that their makeup is certified gluten free. Is that not correct?

    • Thanks for the questions! I went and looked again at Juice Beauty before replying to your comment, and it looks like SINCE writing this article, Juice Beauty’s policies have changed and/or clarified. I will contact them to verify and hopefully they’ll reply to me this time around. But considering the changes I see on their website, it looks like Juice Beauty may need to be removed from this list now.

      Thanks so much for your comment! I’m so excited about the possibility of them being safe! Frankly they sound like such wonderful products, I’ve been dying to try them. You rock!

      • Tct1971

        Phew! That’s a relief. I was worried there for a minute! Their stuff is great. I’ve used it on and off for many years, but since I started to use their skincare products on a daily basis, about 2-3 years ago, I’ve received so many compliments on my skin! So I’m super glad to hear I can keep using them safely 🙂

  • Annette

    Brilliant post!!!! I need to prob share it with every single Sephora employee i come across that says “i don’t know” “how about Tarte”. I have had more reactions to Tarte than any other brand. My allergist says “well, you’re highly allergic & reactive to dirt….you do understand what clay IS.” That & this article explained a ton. Now, is there a blog post of the companies who are great?? Thanks!

  • Joy

    I’m right now going through so far 4 weeks on steroids due to trying to use Tarte mascara after wearing lash extensions for almost six months. My opthamologist rated my reaction at a level 4, which she considered one of the worst she has ever seen. Tried yesterday to wear the mascara again just to test and had a reaction again. No doubt. It’s not gluten free. Buyer beware if you are sensitive. If interested in extensions, I would say 1. expensive, 2. they do damage your real lashes. I had beautiful long natural lashes that looked like false lashes before putting them on and it’s taken several months for them to recover. Stil not quite there.

    • Ugh, I am so sorry to hear this. What a horrible thing to happen! I feel like Tarte is otherwise such a great brand. I wish they were safe for us to use. Good luck healing from them!

  • Richelle Krista

    Can you tell me which products from tarts people have reacted to? I use thei contour stick all the time and I used to use their clay foundation without issue.

    I’m extremely sensitive and I want to try their under eye concealer but now I’m scared!