Gluten-Free Shampoo and Conditioner

Learn which products are safe, and which ingredients to avoid

woman shampooing with gluten-free shampoo
Choose one of these gluten-free shampoos. Peter Cade/Getty Images

Switching to a gluten-free shampoo and other hair care products is not strictly necessary since you're using these products on your hair (as opposed to eating them). But if you ever get shampoo in your mouth accidentally, or if you touch your hair and then put your fingers in your mouth, you risk getting glutened unless all your hair care products are gluten-free. Some people with eczema also find their skin feels better if they avoid gluten ingredients in their personal care products.

Yes, buying only gluten-free shampoo and other hair care products could save you from several "mystery glutenings" a year ... or more, depending on how sensitive you are to trace gluten. (For more on that, see: How Much Gluten Can Make Me Sick?)

Unfortunately, hair product manufacturers regard gluten grain ingredients as healthy for your hair, and therefore use them frequently and liberally in shampoo and conditioner. Gluten also appears in hair spray, mousse, and other styling products, since its "glue" properties help hold your hair in place.

There are literally thousands of hair care products on the market today. To help you determine which ones might be safe (and which ones to avoid), I've provided a list of manufacturers that make reliably gluten-free products, plus a list of common ingredients that indicate gluten in shampoo and other products.

Brands That Offer Gluten-Free Hair Products

Fortunately, there's a nice mix of brands that now make gluten-free hair care products, including some budget brands and some more expensive lines.

The following brands of hair care products offer gluten-free shampoo and conditioner:

  • Acure. Acure's entire hair care line is gluten-free, including five shampoos and even a dry shampoo (plus the accompanying conditioners). Acure is also sulfate-free, paraben-free, cruelty-free and vegan. If you can't find it locally, it's available online at Amazon.
  • Avalon Organics. This all-natural line of hair care products offers one shampoo that's certified gluten-free: its Gluten-Free Cucumber Shampoo. Avalon Organics also offers Gluten-Free Cucumber Conditioner to pair with the shampoo. The hair care line is vegan and cruelty-free. It's readily available online if your stores don't carry it.
  • Desert Essence. The company makes six shampoos that are labeled gluten-free: Green Apple and Ginger, Fragrance-Free, Red Raspberry, Lemon Tea Tree, Italian Red Grape, and Coconut. It also makes conditioners to pair with each of those. The products are vegetarian, and Desert Essence doesn't test on animals.
  • Dove. Dove, which makes tons of personal care products, is a Unilever brand, which means it will clearly disclose any gluten-containing ingredients. Many of Dove's shampoos and conditioners are gluten-free. They're also reasonably priced and available everywhere.
  • Jason. Not everything Jason sells is gluten-free, but the brand's Gluten-Free Daily Shampoo and Gluten-Free Daily Conditioner meet the standard (as do the other seven products in the brand's certified gluten-free line). Look for the bright green labels — the gluten-free line is available on Amazon if your local store doesn't carry it. Jason's products aren't tested on animals.
  • Kirkland Signature. This Costco brand includes a Professional Salon Formula Moisture Shampoo, and it's labeled gluten-free and vegan.
  • Paul Mitchell. Several of this brand's shampoo and conditioner products are considered gluten-free, including Forever Blonde shampoo (but not conditioner), Spring-Loaded Frizz-Fighting Shampoo and conditioner, and Baby Don't Cry Shampoo. To check a specific Paul Mitchell product, you need to visit the brand's website and look in the "details" section for that product. Paul Mitchell is also cruelty-free.
  • Pravana. All of Pravana's Nevo hair care products are labeled gluten-free (the line uses hydrolyzed quinoa and soy protein). They're also vegan. Look for Pravana at hair care salons (including Ulta stores).
  • Suave. Like Dove, Suave is a Unilever brand, so any gluten-containing ingredients would be disclosed in the ingredients list ... but most or all are gluten-free. Suave is available everywhere and offers some kid-friendly shampoo/conditioner/body wash combinations.

Ingredients That Mean Gluten In Shampoo, Other Products

If you see one or more of the following terms in the ingredients list, it means the shampoo or other hair care product contains ingredients made from wheat, barley or rye. I've also included ingredients that indicate oats, since many of us need to avoid them, as well.

  • Triticum vulgare (wheat)
  • Hordeum vulgare (barley)
  • Secale cereale (rye)
  • Avena sativa (oats)
  • Wheat germ oil
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Stearyl dimonium hydroxypropyl (hydrolyzed wheat protein)
  • Laurdimonium hydroxypropyl (hydrolyzed wheat protein)
  • Colloidal oatmeal
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (may contain wheat)
  • Dextrin palmitate (starch, possibly gluten-based)
  • Vitamin E (frequently derived from wheat)
  • Malt extract (usually barley)
  • Beta glucan (frequently derived from wheat)
  • Vegetable protein (may contain wheat, barley, rye and/or oats)

Now, the absence of any of these ingredient names doesn't necessarily mean the product is gluten-free — there are numerous other chemicals (some with very difficult-to-pronounce names) that can be derived from wheat, barley, rye or oats. Gluten-based ingredients also can hide behind catch-all ingredient names such as "fragrance," and the components of these may be a closely-guarded trade secret.

Choosing A Gluten-Free Shampoo and Conditioner

What if your favorite brand isn't listed above, and you're not sure you can trust the ingredients list? Try calling the manufacturer to ask if it's gluten-free or not.

Honestly, people seem to have mixed luck getting information from personal product manufacturers about gluten ingredients, although this problem is beginning to resolve as awareness of celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity continues to rise.

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