Hidden Gluten

Do you suffer from celiac disease? Wheat allergy or sensitivity?

Have you ever felt sick after drinking tea, licking envelopes, or taking your supplements?

Perhaps you’ve been unwittingly exposed to gluten.

Hidden Sources of Gluten

Soaps and Hair Products

Some health and beauty products contain an ingredient called Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein.

For months (possibly longer), I was using this leave-in spray conditioner (because it smelled nice and made my hair extra shiny/sleek). While the appearance of my hair improved, my skin was suffering badly. Last year, I discovered that hydrolyzed wheat protein (HWP) was listed as an ingredient! I also found HWP in a couple other hair products I had occasionally used.

I am sensitive to gluten both topically and internally. No wonder my skin was so irritated!

Throwing away any products containing HWP – and my hairbrushes that had been in contact with those products – made a difference in my skin health. (Some hairbrushes can be tough to clean, and if you have celiac, keeping a brush that’s been in contact with HWP is probably not worth the risk of illness.)

There were multiple reasons for my skin problems, but my skin became somewhat less irritated when I stopped using beauty products containing wheat.

HWP is also found in some soaps:

Gluten-Free Cooking School – Do We Really Need Gluten Free Soap? Yes, Maybe So!


Some herbal teas contain barley malt as a sweetener.

Additionally, some tea bags are sealed using a paste containing wheat. I would recommend only using tea bags which are explicitly labeled as gluten-free if you are trying to avoid gluten. Another option is to make your own tea with loose leaves.

In the past, I had reactions to a lot of bagged herbal teas which were not labeled as gluten free. (My sensitivity to chamomile and other herbs may also have been a partial reason for the reactions. However, many of these teas had very simple ingredient lists, but they weren’t labeled as gluten-free.)

So what teas do I use now? My favorites tend to be those with simple ingredient lists, and a couple of my favorite brands are Choice® and Organic India™ tulsi teas. I’m a fan of the rooibos tea by Choice®. I also enjoy drinking “ginger water” – which is really just that – some ground or powdered ginger mixed with hot water (although monk fruit is generally a safe way to add some sweetness without the risk of negative side effects). (Please see disclaimer.)

Envelope Glue

Although the Envelope Manufacturers Association says that glue on envelopes is made from cornstarch and doesn’t contain wheat or rye gluten, Jane Anderson in her article Does Glue Contain Gluten? shares that she knows someone who ran a test on an envelope and got a positive result for gluten. So there may be trace amounts, at least.

While there is some debate over what information pertaining to hidden gluten is fiction or fact (including wheat paste in tea bags and gluten in envelope glue), in general, I would recommend believing what your own eyes and experiments tell you – even if the well-funded, “professionally”-conducted experiments disagree.

However, it is important when running our own experiments to be aware of and account for as many variables as possible.

Since envelopes can contain corn, this also/instead could be the reason envelopes are making you sick, if you are corn-sensitive/allergic.

Some Other Potential Sources of Hidden Gluten

  • Lipstick, lip gloss, and lip balm
  • Drugs and over-the-counter medications
  • Vitamins and supplements
  • Play-dough

According to Amy Myers, MD, the following can be sources of “hidden” gluten:

  • Artificial color
  • Baking powder
  • Caramel color/flavoring
  • Citric acid (can be fermented from wheat, corn, molasses or beets)
  • Coloring
  • Dextrins
  • Diglycerides
  • Emulsifiers
  • Enzymes
  • Fat replacers
  • Flavorings
  • Food starch
  • Glucose syrup
  • Glycerides
  • Maltodextrin
  • Modified food starch
  • Natural juices
  • Stabilizers
  • Starch
  • Wheat starch

Some of My Favorite Gluten-Free Products


Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Floral Toner, 6 Ounce, For Sensitive, Dry, Delicate or Easily Irritated Skin, Soothes & Calms

Mineral Fusion Facial Toner, Skin Soothing, 3.3 Ounce

Soothing Skin Cream

Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Heavenly Night Cream, 1.7 Ounce, For Sensitive, Dry, Delicate or Easily Irritated Skin, Soothes & Calms

Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Absolute Serum, 1 Ounce, For Sensitive, Dry, Delicate or Easily Irritated Skin, Soothes & Calms

Face Mask

Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Rosewater Mask, 1.7 Ounce, For Sensitive, Dry, Delicate or Easily Irritated Skin, Soothes & Calms

Are you aware of any other sources of hidden gluten? Did any of these surprise you? (Several of them certainly surprised me!!)

Thanks for reading, and happy gluten hunting.

Hidden Sources of Gluten – WebMD

Are Coffee and/or Tea Gluten-free?

Sources of Gluten – Celiac Disease Foundation

Hidden Gluten: 10 Sources of Cross Contamination

See also:

Legit Excuses for Picky Eaters


Please see disclaimer.

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

4 thoughts on “Hidden Gluten

  1. Millennial Monk

    What a wonderful resource you’ve put together, thank you Kate. When it comes to our bodies, sometimes we do need to rely on our personal data.

    It can certainly be frightening considering all of the various ways in which our surroundings can poison our bodies, even in our own homes and trusted personal care products.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Millennial Monk! 🙂 You are right, our environment and food are saturated today with toxic or potentially toxic substances, and it can be a challenge to stay abreast of everything in our surroundings which may present a threat to our health. Often, information that should be advertised and products which should be labeled as potentially toxic/hazardous/contaminated aren’t advertised/labeled. I’m very glad you found this a helpful resource! Thanks for reading! 🙂


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