The Top 3 Canadian Gluten Free Makeup Companies

Once upon a time, shipping stuff from the USA to Canada was a fairly simple and inexpensive process. But in recent years, customs fees have jumped to the point of making it unreasonable to pass packages across the border. And with the US producing the majority of the gluten free makeup that I’ve been able to find, what’s a Canadian makeup-lover to do?

You’re in luck. This article is exclusively for you, my Canadian friends. 😉

I’ve dug up 3 safely gluten free companies that are proudly Canadian made and shipped. No customs fees, and you support Canadian makeup companies! In addition, I’m including an online Canadian retailer that sells several US brands. One way or another, you are officially set.


Natural, organic, food grade, GMO free, corn free, soy free- what more could you want!? Bellaphoria has a great selection of products, featuring a few slightly more rare items like lipsticks (that are super reasonably priced!), cream concealers and cream blushes. However, there are only 4 colors of their loose mineral foundation. So if you’re hard to match, this might not be the right company for you.

Green Beaver

Not technically makeup, but this cult-favorite, Canadian-based company is safely gluten free! If you haven’t tried these beauties out, then you’re in for a treat. Skincare, hair care, body care, sunscreen, toothpaste, deodorant- basically, if it takes care of your skin or hair, they have it. They also have one rare thing I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a gluten free form… SPF 15 lip balm.

Sweet Leilani

This company has makeup, skincare, and has a physical location all of their own! They actually do all kinds of services, so if you’re in Langley (Vancouver), British Columbia, you should go check ’em out! But if you’re not there, no worries. You can still order their lovely products online. They boast an overall rare selection of products, such as tinted moisturizer, liquid primer and cream foundation!

Eco Diva Beauty

In case you’re still pining over some American brands (hello Vapour Organic Beauty! ILIA Beauty! Alima Pure!), here’s a fantastic, online, Canadian-based seller of natural makeup. They ship from Canada, but carry several brands of gluten free facial products. The website is absolutely stunning, so you should check them out and see if they can solve some of your shopping woes!

You can see all the brands they carry HERE.

so, my gluten free makeup-loving canadian friends… are you going to try these brands?

If you’ve tried any of these products before, I’d love to hear about it! Let me know in the comments below!

Also, if you’re looking for a collection of gluten free makeup that’s not purely Canadian based, check out the FREE Gluten Free Makeup List!

Can we Really Trust Mainstream Makeup Companies to be Gluten Free?

The safety of mainstream makeup is a hotly debated topic.

Some companies tell you “all our products are gluten free!”

Others say some of their products are gluten free.

And some just tell you nothing at all.

Meanwhile the blogosphere debates. Do these companies know what they’re doing? Is their definition of “gluten free” good enough? Can mainstream makeup really be gluten free?

Let me tell you a quick story…

Once upon a time, there was a non-gluten-free company who decided to make gluten free products. They plastered “Gluten Free!” on the packages and stocked the stores, expecting sales to come pouring in. After all, this was 2008 and the gluten free craze had truly begun.

Not long afterwards, two different mothers bought the products for their wheat-allergic children. And after consuming them, both children were rushed to the ER.

Naturally, the mothers threw a fit. But the company blew them off with the insistence that the products were safe.

Then a hero stepped in- The Chicago Tribune. Chomping at the bit for a story, they sent the products to be tested in an independent lab.

The results came back with outrageous news. The products all contained between 116 and 2,200 parts per million of gluten.

In late 2008, the Chicago Tribune discovered gluten in Wellshire Farms’ labeled gluten free chicken nuggets.

To this day, we don’t know how gluten came to be those products. Was it an accident? Was it on purpose? Or was it something they shrugged at and let go, thinking it wasn’t enough to harm anyone? Wellshire Farms isn’t talking, so we may never know.

But one way or another, our favorite poison was in clearly labeled gluten free products. And nobody knew until it was too late.

Since then, FDA gluten regulations have been passed. So now that scenario is unlikely to happen. With < 20 ppm being the standard, as long as you can handle 20 ppm, food that is labeled gluten free should be safe for you.

But that’s all food. How is this story relevant to makeup?

Because today’s world of personal care is at the same place as Wellshire Farms was in 2008.

It says “Gluten Free” so just Believe It

Dozens of personal care companies are leaping on the gluten free bandwagon. It’s the latest and greatest in advertising. Slapping “gluten free” on the box is trendy, makes them look health conscious and has absolutely no regulation surrounding it. If a company wants a personal care product to be gluten free, all they have to do is say “this product is gluten free.”

See where this is going?

Just because a company says a product is “gluten free” does not mean they have any clue what gluten free actually means.

And yet if you email the company, they will likely email back and give you a list of all their gluten free products. If you search on the internet, you’ll find blogs reiterating what the companies are telling them. “XYZ is safe! Yay!!”

I wish. But that’s simply not true.

If you’re Topically Sensitive to Gluten, Large Companies are Not Safe.

At this point in time, no large company understands what it means to be gluten free.

I have spoken to every major personal care cooperation in the US. They have gone through the screening process for every company ever considered for the Gluten Free Makeup List. And every single one of them commits one or more major errors that makes their products unsafe for topically sensitive people.

They tack on “Gluten Free” because they know it sells. Not because they’ve done the research to know what it means.

They don’t know what their gluten free customers need. All they know is that you want it. And if it says gluten free, it’s enough for the large number of faddish people who don’t need the real deal.

The sad part is, this is unlikely to change any time soon. Because the gluten sensitive population is not their target market, it doesn’t really matter what our needs are. If every single person who needs gluten free makeup boycotted their products, they wouldn’t even notice a blip in sales. We’re just too tiny for them to care about.

We need a Company to Fight for our Safety

In order to beat the villain Gluten, a company has to be dedicated. They have to be willing to put the effort into learning where gluten hides and how to get rid of it. This isn’t a battle you can just take a swing at and hope you hit the right place. We’re talking about our health here. This is a battle which a company has to be prepared to fight.

Mainstream companies do not have that dedication.

Do you really want to trust your safety to a company that doesn’t know how to keep you safe?

In the End, Your Safety is Your Choice

Everyone’s level of sensitivity is different. If you are not terribly sensitive, perhaps traces of gluten in your makeup is OK for you.

I’ve chosen to only allow companies on the list who are dedicated to being gluten free. These are the companies who can be used by anyone who’s sensitive to wheat or gluten. No matter how sensitive they are. It’s strict and exclusive, yes. But it keeps everyone safe.

Whether or not you choose to use mainstream personal care products is entirely up to you. Your level of sensitivity is your own. What you’re comfortable with is something nobody should argue against.

You define what is safe for you. Because at the end of the day, you know what you need far better than I do.

How comfortable are you with mainstream makeup and personal care? Do you use it?

Is Physician’s Formula Gluten Free?

I noticed that Physicians Formula says that they are gluten free. At the bottom of the page they mention it more than once. Would you feel it’s safe enough to use as a Celiac?

– Sharp Eyed Seeker

Hey Seeker,

I have been trying to get an in-depth reply from Physicians Formula about this for years. Despite multiple emails spread out over time, I have yet to get a satisfactory answer. But that page you linked me to is really helpful! Thank you for that!

Since I do not have a direct reply from them about anything, I can only go by what they publicly state on that page. So…

From those answers, plus the answers on the “ask joanna” page, I would not consider physicians formula gluten free, or safe.

The reason for this is two-fold:

  1. They talk about “most of our products in [X] line are gluten free!”
  2. Their continual avoidance of the question “is your tocopheryl gluten grain derived?”

In my experience, these two vague answers together means at the very least they are using gluten derived tocopheryl and using the <20 ppm gluten argument to call it “gluten free”. If the FDA regulated makeup as well as food (which they don’t), then this definition of gluten free would be fine by their standards. But there is no regulation for gluten in makeup. Nobody holding these companies accountable. So if a gluten derived ingredient is used in a product, you simply have to trust the company to be using a truly <20 ppm version of it. You have to trust that no slip-ups have been made and that the natural gluten is actually mostly gone, like they say.

That said, I do not agree with the <20 ppm level anyway. I’ve spoken to far too many Celiacs who have issues with any gluten, internal and external, for me to feel comfortable saying “Oh sure, you should be OK with it”.

<20 ppm works for some people, but it doesn’t work for others. I’ve seen it both ways time and time again.

At the end of the day, I believe if you don’t have to risk getting sick, don’t risk it.

If there’s a chance you’ll get sick, it doesn’t make sense to take that chance if you don’t have to.

So no, I do not consider Physician’s Formula gluten free, or safe for Celiacs. In fact I highly recommend you stay away from them, even more so because thus far they refuse to straight up answer certain questions.

Is Mary May Gluten Free? You’ve Loved Them for Years, but are they really SAFE?

Who doesn’t love a girl’s night out? What better girl’s night out than a night of makeup testing with a makeup artist? Yeah, we thought so too. 🙂

This last week, one of the gals at our church invited all the girls to a Mary Kay makeup party. Naturally, we were thrilled with the idea, but I saw my sisters’ eyes flick towards me hopefully the instant “makeup” was mentioned. As soon as we were alone, they asked the question that their faces had been asking the entire time. “Is Mary Kay gluten free?”

The Mary Kay website does not have any ingredient information at all, that I could find. So I contacted the company and received a prompt and thorough reply.

dear customer,

we sincerely appreciate your comments and taking the time to write to us.

the information you requested is included as an attachment. if additional information is required, please feel free to contact us at 1-800-marykay (1-800-627-9529) monday through friday, 8:30am – 5:00pm central standard time and request to speak directly to consultant and medical relations.

warmest regards,

mary kay customer operations
800-marykay (627-9529) monday – friday 8:30 am – 5:00 pm cst
the company is dedicated to mary kay’s mission to enrich women’s lives!

here is the attachment

I am totally bummed. Guess we’ll have to hang out with the gals at a different time. But I GREATLY appreciate Mary Kay’s forthrightness in dealing with the issue of gluten. Although I’m disappointed to not be able to use their products, I am very grateful to be freely given the information I need to keep myself healthy. Thank you Mary Kay for your honesty!! 😀

There are some questions brought up in the PDF about whether or not we Celiacs really need to use gluten free makeup. I don’t have time to address that tonight, but stay tuned for an article in the next few days. 😉

Update 3/10/15: Scroll down to see a comment from former Mary Kay consultant, Elaine. According to her, Mary Kay’s policies remain the same now as they were when this article was originally written.


How do I Check if my Topical Products are Gluten Free?

What exactly can we look for on a beauty/face product ingredient label that has gluten in it? Not counting the cross-contamination issues.

  • – Miss Sherlock

That’s an awesome question. Hunting down the gluten in topical products is a complex issue, but knowing how to read the label is a good start.

The truth is, there are literally hundreds of ingredients that can have gluten in them. “Can” being the operable word.

Just because an ingredient could have gluten doesn’t mean it actually does.

Tocopheryl, for instance, can be derived from wheat. But actually, it can be from any grain! Rice and soy are very common substitutes. Both of which are of course fine, unless you’re allergic or sensitive to one of them.

So it’s not easy for me to just say “Oh sure, avoid these ingredients and you’ll be fine.” Because that’s simply not true. At the end of the day, the only way you’ll know for sure is to call or email the company and ask them.

That said… You can absolutely get a head start by knowing the most common gluten-containing ingredients.

To learn more, check out this list of common gluten-containing ingredients.
Or if you’d rather skip the whole ordeal, you could just snag the latest Gluten Free Makeup List and know that everything on there is perfectly safe. Get your own copy here.

Why Gluten Free Cosmetics are a Must

Last week, Red Apple Lipstick contacted me to contribute to “the Mother of all posts” about “Why Gluten Free Cosmetics”. Since I adore and trust their Tested Gluten Free company, I gleefully said YES!

And folks, it is an excellent post. My part is stellar of course (heh! 😛 ), but so is everything else! With insightful comments from Connie of, Rachel of GFreeGal and research from one of the greatest pioneers in Gluten Free Makeup, Red Apple Lipstick themselves, this is an article you don’t want to miss.

Here’s my contribution:

We all know about the gluten free diet. Those who live with Celiac have become serious Gluten Finder-Outers, scanning long lists of ingredients, calling companies and standing firm on the need to live completely and utterly without gluten in their diet.

But what about gluten from other sources? Have you ever thought about getting it from your makeup?

It’s true: Gluten in cosmetics is extremely common. Wheat acts as a source of vitamin E, a stickiness/holding agent, while Oats are used for skin refinement and nourishment. It can hide in dozens of complicatedly named ingredients, can contaminate even “naturally” gluten free products and is accepted as a normal ingredient for every type of cosmetic, skincare, hair care and everything else. It is everywhere you look, if you take the time.

Now, gluten molecules cannot penetrate the skin as far as we scientifically know, but some products such as lipstick are actually on, in or around our mouths at all times. At some point or another, it’s going into our bodies.

Not only that, but many Celiacs- diagnosed as having the autoimmune disease and not allergic -have inexplicable trouble with gluten when it comes in contact with their skin, causing what would be medically classified as “allergy” symptoms. Such as terrible rashes, eczema, dry and itching eyes, swelling, bleeding sores and more. As always with Celiac, the exact symptoms vary from person to person.

We do not know why Celiacs have issues with topical gluten. In fact, some doctors flat out deny the possibility. Others, such as Dr. Rodney Ford, simply follow the evidence they see in their practices- which is that some Celiacs do have reactions. Perhaps someday studies will be done that can explain it for us and solve the puzzle. But for now, a quick look into the Celiac community is proof enough. Hundreds of Celiacs have removed gluten from their skincare, hair care and cosmetics and found their acne melted away after a few days, their watery eyes cleared up, or their inexplicable and seemingly random headaches vanished.

But even if a Celiac does not have reactions to topical gluten, allowing it to stay in cosmetics is asking for trouble. Every time you apply foundation, don’t let it touch your mouth! When you scrunch styling gel into your hair, wash those hands and wash ‘em GOOD before you eat those hot wings. And lipstick? Pfft, forget it! It’s over and done with pretty much the instant you put it on.

If gluten is in your lipstick, it’s game over- you’ve been glutened.

Sadly, very few companies truly realize the importance of gluten free makeup. They understand that it’s a market and they want to cash in on those desperate to find safe cosmetics. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to turn a profit!! But so many companies are quick to claim the “gluten free” label without really understanding what that means. For Celiacs, this is not an issue to be trifled with, especially in the case of products that will certainly be ingested (such as lipstick). This is real and this is dangerous.

If you are Celiac, gluten free cosmetics are a must, especially in the case of lipstick and similar products. Lucky for us that Red Apple Lipstick is TESTED gluten free, huh?


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.

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


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.


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.

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

Is Tocopheryl Acetate gluten free? Is it safe for skin?

Can you please help me to understand if Tocopheryl Acetate and Tocopherol are forms of gluten that should not be applied topically? The internet has conflicting stories.

That’s a very good question. The reason that there are conflicting stories about tocopheryl acetate’s safety is because nobody really knows the answer to it. Thanks to a lack of scientific study, we’re left to speculate on what little data we have. That said, there are some pointers to help us come to a conclusion.

First off, we do know that tocopheryl acetate is a form of tocopherol. And we know that tocopherol can be derived from gluten grains. In fact, in my experience, most tocopherol is gluten grain derived.

But here’s where it starts to get messy and where nobody agrees:

1.Is there any gluten actually left in the tocopheryl acetate after all that processing?

Yes. Yes there is gluten left.

But it’s unfortunately not that simple anymore. Officially, the FDA has said that anything that is derived from gluten can be considered gluten free if it is tested under 20 ppm. Much of tocopherol is now being tested below 20 ppm, so it can be considered gluten free.

While the rulings technically only apply to food products, this standard is being adopted across the board. Therefore you can find “gluten free meaning <20 ppm” tocopherol in all kinds of makeup.

About that <20 ppm… The FDA says this should be perfectly safe, but they said that after admitting that some sensitive Celiacs may be able to react to gluten all the way down to 10 ppm. Weird, right? Except when you start to realize that wheat based ingredients are some of the cheapest ones out there… Things start to fall into place. Once again, it looks like the FDA isn’t purely interested in keeping every Celiac safe. This ruling is for the benefit of the companies who want to jump on the bandwagon as cheaply as possible.

It might be OK for you to use <20 ppm gluten products, especially on your skin where you’re not ingesting it. But I’ve heard from countless people that it’s not just good enough for them. They still get sick from it.

2.If there is gluten, is it OK to put it on your skin?

The fact is, there are nearly no scientific studies about the effects of topical gluten on Celiacs or gluten sensitive individuals.

Everything you hear is personal experience and speculation that goes around. It’s educated speculation, but speculation nonetheless. They say it’s fine to use, because gluten cannot penetrate the skin’s barrier. But they also say Celiacs do not react to topical gluten at all. So how do they justify those who do react topically to gluten? Because some people do, without question. I have personally spoken to countless people who finally narrowed down their issues to topical gluten in their makeup, skin care or hair care. Without definitive evidence giving us the why or the how, we cannot make a set standard that will work for everyone

At the end of the day, the only thing we can know for sure is how you and you alone react to all these products. Some people can handle the <20 ppm, even internally. Others cannot handle that topically and would be put in bed for days if that were taken internally. If you don’t already know for sure what your tolerance level is, why risk getting sick if you can avoid it?

So… Is any tocopherol safe?

Not all tocopherol and tocopheryl acetate is derived from gluten grains. It can be derived from rice and soy as well. So yes, some of it is safe! Same end product, but different source. And that’s the tocopherol that I personally feel comfortable recommending to y’all.




Gluten Free Makeup List v3.0 is here!

And here it is! A little late, but here at last!

In this edition of the Gluten Free Makeup List, I’ve added a full page’s worth of info. Bearing in mind that the list has been 3 pages long since the beginning, that’s quite an accomplishment!

If you’re already signed up for the Gluten Free Makeup List, you should already have it in your inbox!

If not, fill out the form above, or to the right with your name and email. I have it set up that way so that whenever a new edition comes out, I can send it right to your inbox. I never share your email with anyone, nor will I ever spam you myself. Promise!

If there’s anything you’d like me to add to the list, or if you have a scathingly brilliant idea for it, spill it in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Arbonne is not Gluten Free after all

Yep folks. This is the company I took off my list. Arbonne has not told us the truth about their “gluten free” products.This whole saga began when an eagle eyed reader contacted me via my contact page:

“Did you realize that several products on Arbonne’s gluten free makeup list have wheat protein as one of the main ingredients?” She sent me the names of the products.

“… Oh my gosh.” She was right.

First off, the history of why I approved them in the first place:

When I first contacted Arbonne, they gave me their list of gluten free products, but had trouble answering my further questions. Frustrated with them, I gave up for a month or two. I eventually tried again and then finally started getting some answers. Only the products on their gluten free list were safe, and those they told me were tested for gluten in order to ensure the purity and lack of cross contamination from their gluten products.

OK, that fits the criteria. I read a few of the ingredient lists and though was surprised at the extreme length of the lists for a single product, I saw nothing of concern. I added them to the list.

Now, to clarify, I don’t usually go through companies lists of products and read all the ingredients. Why? Because gluten can hide in dozens of ingredients, not all of which are always derived from gluten.
Case in point: Tocopheryl acetate. This an extremely common ingredient that is basically vitamin E. Sometimes it’s derived from rice, sometimes from wheat. You can’t tell by reading the ingredients. You have to talk to the company to find out.

So in most cases, reading the ingredients does nothing to help determine if a product is safe or not. But in this case, it most certainly would have.

Because sure enough, upon hunting down the ingredients of the FC5 line, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein stared back up at me from the ingredient list.

So why would Arbonne say that their products are gluten free when they have wheat in them?

In this case, it is exactly the same idea as Mineral Fusion’s gluten free claim. Arbonne subscribes to the theory that removing gluten from wheat protein in the lab can make the wheat safe for gluten sensitive people. The problem with that?

We have one ruling alone in the US about gluten free labeling. It was done by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), of all people. It was a ruling on gluten free beer. The result?

TTB will not allow products made from ingredients that contain gluten to be labeled as “gluten-free.”

Kinda says a lot, doesn’t it? I wrote a whole post on that HERE, if you want to read more of what TTB said.

In short, Arbonne claims that their products are gluten free due to a process so dangerous that the US government has outlawed it for gluten free beer.

If Arbonne has such questionable beliefs on their idea of “gluten free”, how do we know that anything on their gluten free list is safe? Do they actually even use a reliable “test”, if they even test at all?

Because of these doubts, Arbonne has been struck from the Gluten Free Makeup List.