Recently one of my readers asked:

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?

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 she linked me to is really helpful!

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.