Some people look at me funny when I go to the extreme of getting gluten free hair products, but let me explain…
When I lived in Alaska and in my gluten eating days I used to use Pureology products (which are vegan and not GF, salons get that mixed up a lot) and Redkin. I had no problems with them, my hair loved them! Then when I moved to Portland my whole immune system changed and I could not eat gluten whatsoever, but I also started to notice that my scalp was itching all the time and I would get little bumps on the nape of my neck. So I was on the hunt for a gluten free shampoo and conditioner. This has been a long process of trial and error! Some products that may not list any gluten whatsoever on the ingredients would still irritate my scalp and when I would call the company to ask (because I’m not a chemist) they said the ingredients in their fragrances come from another company and they do not have that ingredient list. So you never know what is in your hair care products to say the least.
Some companies were pretty rude as to say, “as long as you’re not eating it it shouldn’t have an effect for people with celiac”. Some people just don’t understand. Whatever you put on your body is absorbed into your system, and will have an effect!
(Disclaimer: I have no idea if I am celiac, I didn’t get the test before going off gluten, but I have a sensitivity that fits all the criteria for celiac).
Finding gluten free hair products is not the easiest, but more and more companies are starting to recognize there is a need and I am grateful. So to break it down for you of things I have tried and my thoughts on them keep reading.
To fill you in on my hair type, I have very stubborn hair. It’s stick straight, but slightly wavy just below the top layer, but not wavy enough for a wash and go style. My hair is very fine, but I have a LOT of very fine hair, so it takes forever to dry. My hair is also color treated (mainly to add texture when I’m fed up with it) and it does not hold curl well, although it’s getting better at obeying me. It’s a very silky texture so if I try to add volume, it just falls right out. So if you have curly hair or oily hair these products may work differently for you, but the brands I mention do have many products to choose from.
Let’s start with the obvious, I’m sure most people who have been gluten sensitive for a while know that Garnier Fructis brand is safe. I have used the color safe shampoo and conditioner for a while and it is a great overall product that does not leave buildup. At some point I was starting to lose a lot of hair, so I tried Fall Fight which has biotin and caffeine in it to stimulate hair growth. This product is nice, but go easy on the conditioner or it will weigh your hair down (not for color treated hair).
Big Sexy Hair (BSH) or Healthy Sexy Hair products have a few gluten free products, which it will list on the front if it is. So don’t bother trying to interpret chemicals if it doesn’t say gluten free. Some of the healthy line is wheat based, so avoid! I really like the Volumizing conditioner over the Garnier conditioner. The BSH conditioner is also for color treated hair.
On to the products I use for clarifying (because sometimes you need a reboot for your hair). Kevin Murphy is a recent discovery for a hair detox. Before I was using Pureology Zerosulfate shampoo and dealing with the itchy scalp, but my stylist finally found something that helps with that. Kevin Murphy products are on the more expensive side, so it’s a splurge product for me. I only use it maybe once a week or a week and a half, so this bottle will last me a while. And since my parents were in town my mom has discovered that it helped calm down an eczema spot on her arm…and then I had to inform her that wasn’t body wash! Haha
When you do a detox you need to follow up with a good conditioner. I have found Macadamia hair mask to be THEE BEST! It leaves your hair so soft and full of life! This is also not a cheap product, but well worth the splurge. I believe all their products are gluten free (don’t quote me on that though). This is not an every day conditioner either, so use sparingly, a little does go a long way. Every time I use that hair mask I get compliments on my hair.
Hugo & Debra Naturals is a more recent find for me. I have been trying it out for almost two months now to see if I really liked it. Most natural shampoos and conditioners tend to weigh my hair down, so it’s been hard to find one that works for me. I started to look for S&C that is sodium laurel sulfate free because my scalp has been getting irritated this winter when I use Garnier products. (They are the same bottles I used for months, so it’s not a change in formula). I think my skin has been going through a dry freak out mode so I wanted to see if avoiding SLS’s would help.
My first thought on the shampoo was, no lather. The normal amount I used didn’t feel like I was getting it throughout my hair. So I do use twice as much shampoo to make sure my hair is getting clean. The conditioner I use half as much, so about a quarter size for my collar bone length hair. This conditioner makes my hair feel nice like the Macadamia hair mask, but just a few notches down on the overall outcome, if that makes any sense. This conditioner is safe for every day use.
Since I have started using Hugo & Debra Naturals products I have noticed that I have been losing a lot less hair! I used to have quite the string art on the shower wall a few months back (sorry for the TMI), but now I have only a few strands…like as in 2-4 total at the end of my shower that I lose. That to me is worth continuing on with this product! I found Hugo & Debra Naturals at Whole Foods. I usually can find the same brands at New Seasons and Fred Meyers, which are local Pacific Northwest stores, but this S&C I can only find at Whole Foods.
The description reads 100% natural, never any: Parabens, silicones, sulfates, phenoxyethanol, propylene glycol, PEG’s, petroleum products, artificial colors or fragrances. Soy free, vegan, gluten free, cruelty free. The company is based out of Belgium but made in the USA. You can look them up online at www.HugoDebraNaturals.com
(I do not get paid for my opinion, I bought these with my own money, this company has no idea who I am).
Now on to styling products! I am still trying to find ones that I am super thrilled with, but in the meantime these ones I am happy with.
Alterna hairspray is now my go-to product. (Same company as Bamboo hair products). Yes it’s pricy, but it will last a long time and it’s a great hold. It’s flexible but not fallout. I used to use TRI Aerogel (which is not GF, but it has ironically never bothered my scalp) and that is considered “hurricane hairspray”. So anything that is similar to that without the crunchy effect is great in my book! The Alterna hairspray keeps your curls soft if I’m trying to keep my style all day. But I mainly use it on my bangs and they stay put.
I have tried the Garnier hairsprays, but I’m not a big fan. They just didn’t seem to hold, but people with very fine thin hair love it.
For mousse (which I have to use daily for my stubborn hair) I have settled on Garnier Sky-Hi volume. This gives a pretty good hold but not concrete hold. I liked XXL Volume better but I can never find it in stores anymore.
I have tried the Alterna mousse but it started to give me buildup so I returned it.
For a heat protectant, I use argan oil. I originally fell in love with Unite Argan Oil but it’s pretty pricy. I have since found Organix Argan oil of Morocco deep penetrating oil as a close second. I find mine at Ulta, they have the little bottles at the register for about $3 and that lasts me a long time.
Although, that is the only product from Organix that I can use. I tried one of the S&C the my mom raves about and the whole 6 hour drive home I was itching my head. So that was my first clue, although I didn’t see any glutinous products in the ingredients. I follow what my scalp tells me.
Unite has a line of gluten free products and I use a mix of the wet/dry gel with equal parts Argan oil to run thru freshly curled hair to make the curls look more natural. It will not make your hair crispy, but very soft and touchable!
That concludes this very long review of products I’ve tried. An honorable mention goes out to Desert Essence for a gluten free and I believe vegan hair care line. I tried a few, but I couldn’t find the right one for my hair type so I gave up. But they did not irritate my scalp.
I hope this helps you in finding the right gluten free hair care product. With trying to pay attention to what I put in my mouth, it’s just an added annoyance when my head itches from gluten too!
What gluten free hair care products have you tried that you like? I am interested in hearing about more brands!
If you have read this whole post, thank you!