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Gluten-free nail products?

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gluten-free nail products

Question:

Are there gluten-free nail products? Recently a client had used a nail strengthening polish on her nails at home, only to find it contained gluten, which she has an intolerance to. She had no reaction but was unsure if it was safe to continue to use.

Answer:

There are several nail products in the market that claim to be gluten-free. However, it is not necessarily needed, even for people with gluten intolerances or Celiac disease. For gluten to cause a reaction, it would need to be ingested or somehow absorbed through the nail or the skin, which it cannot do. Therefore, nail products that contain gluten are safe to use.

Here is what Doug Schoon has to say on the subject:

“There is no scientific evidence to support claims that gluten can absorb through the skin. The burden of proof should be on those who make these statements. They should provide credible scientific evidence to back this unlikely claim. 

What makes gluten unlikely to absorb? Substances with molecular weights (sizes) approaching 500 daltons are considered very poor skin penetrators because they are so large. Any bigger, they can’t possibly absorb into the skin, so they just sit on the surface. Gluten is huge — about 600 daltons — which is pretty monstrous; 15% larger than the theoretical maximum size. Also, gluten is a protein and so is skin. Protein is attracted to proteins, so gluten is likely to bond tightly to the skin, making it more difficult to penetrate. So it has two things going against it. It is just another example of an unfounded cosmetic myth used to frighten people. This holds true not only for nail products but for other cosmetics, too, such as lipstick. There is little scientific study that supports the notion that gluten in lipstick (or nail products) is a problem for people with Celiac disease.

In general, very few things can penetrate the skin. There’s only a handful of drugs that can, and they are mixed with “penetration enhancers” to help push them past the skin barrier. Our skin is designed to keep everything out and not much gets past it. I’d be surprised if your skin can absorb even 1/100th of 1% of what’s applied to its surface. It is nowhere near the ridiculously high 60% claim that fear-based advocacy groups often use to frighten people. We could not survive if 60% of what touched our skin was absorbed into the blood. It’s a completely unfounded claim.”

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