Does It Really Matter If My Skincare & Cosmetic Products Are Gluten-Free?

Gluten-free is everywhere these days. We have seen a welcomed increase in awareness of celiac disease, a serious autoimmune disease that requires a strictly gluten-free diet and affects roughly 1 in 100 people. Non-celiac gluten intolerances appear to be on the rise, and the popularity of low-carb, ketogenic, grain-free and paleo diets have also increased demand for gluten-free foods. With gluten-free foods popping up in even the most mainstream grocery stores and eateries, eating gluten-free has never been more popular nor easier to do.

However, you are not alone if you have wondered why you are seeing the term “gluten-free” on items that aren’t food!  Seeing your lipstick, shampoo, or skin lotion labeled gluten-free has left many consumers perplexed. After all,  ”gluten” is a protein found in foods – Namely, wheat, barley and rye. Some oats also contain immunoreactive proteins that some bodies react to similarly to wheat gluten, plus they are often contaminated with other gluten-containing grains. When people with celiac disease ingest gluten, the villi of their intestines are dangerously damaged, which may cause everything from diarrhea to weight loss and from nutrient malabsorption to serious neurological issues. This autoimmune disease has serious long-term health effects and can only be treated with a strictly gluten-free diet. Celiac disease is sometimes accompanied by a skin condition called dermatitis herpetiformis. Dermatitis herpetiformis can cause itchy rashes, bumps and blisters. People with eczema and irritable bowel syndrome as well as with some autoimmune diseases (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis) may also find that gluten causes flare-ups of their conditions.  But if all of these conditions are triggered by eating these foods, why would it matter if topical skincare products and cosmetics contain gluten?

Take a moment to imagine that you are washing your hair in the shower with a shampoo or conditioner that contains gluten. The water streams down your face, some of it dripping into your mouth. You dry off and apply gluten-containing body lotion, not rinsing off what remains on your hands, which you’ll then use to eat your gluten-free breakfast that may be made of foods that may well be cross-contaminated with small amounts of gluten. Right before leaving the house for work you apply your lipstick or lip balm which you’ll re-apply many more times throughout the day. It contains small amounts of gluten as well. You may also apply more hand cream that will eventually end up in your mouth. These are just a few examples of how gluten can be ingested without eating gluten-containing foods. It’s not hard to imagine how all of these trace amounts can add up to enough unconsciously-ingested gluten to trigger symptoms in the gluten sensitive person!

How much gluten does someone with celiac disease need to ingest in order to have a reaction? A shockingly small amount, it turns out. The ingestion threshold varies greatly from person to person. Research shows, however, that the villi of the intestines can atrophy (causing malabsorption and other symptoms) with the ingestion of as little as 10 milligrams of gluten per day. That is 1/350th of a slice of bread! When you consider the cross-contamination of many of the foods ingested by even people who are careful to stick to gluten-free diets, and add to that the small amounts present in makeup, skincare and body care products, it is surprisingly easy to ingest enough to cause damage and symptoms for those with the highest sensitivity. For some people with celiac disease, and those with wheat allergies, even 10 milligrams is too much.


For those with non-celiac gluten intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, gluten-sensitive autoimmune diseases like psoriasis or multiple sclerosis, wheat allergies (or allergies to other gluten-containing grains) or eczema that is triggered by gluten ingestion, there is unfortunately no research that shows what a safe threshold is. Therefore, some people may choose to be more careful than others- For example, those who have a history of anaphylaxis or severe skin reactions.

In addition to the accidental ingestion of gluten through products used in the shower or on your lips, topical application on the skin of gluten-containing products can also cause serious reactions for some people with gluten intolerance. The presence of gluten or wheat on the skin can trigger unsightly and uncomfortable flareups of eczema, for example. For people with wheat or oat allergies, it can cause rashes and hives as well as more serious allergic symptoms.

Gluten-containing ingredients to watch out for in cosmetics and hair and skincare products include this non-exhaustive list:

  • Wheat and derivatives: Triticum vulgare (wheat) germ extract, germ oil, starch, protein, hydrolyzed wheat protein/PVP crosspolymer, hydrolyzed wheat starch
  • Oats and derivatives: Avena sativa (oat) kernel flour, hydrolyzed oat flour
  • Rye (Also known as Secale cereale [rye] seed flour)
  • Barley flour & barley extract
  • Fermented grain extract, hydrolyzed malt extract, phytosphingosine extract,  yeast extract, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, Vitamin E (if derived from wheat germ), S-amino peptide complex, and sodium C8-16 isoalkylsuccinyl.
  • Dextrins: Dextrin and maltodextrin (usually gluten-free if made in the United States, but may in some cases contain gluten), dextrin palmitate, cyclodextrin

The core of maintaining one’s health with gluten intolerances and celiac disease is consuming only gluten-free food. Still, learning to recognize gluten-containing ingredients, and identifying skincare and cosmetics companies that make gluten-free products, could play an unexpected role in avoiding symptoms, optimizing health, and maintaining a truly gluten-free lifestyle.

T.Gidseg is a nutrition, health and wellness writer, recipe developer, and mother of 4

5 Ways that Using Regular Lip Balm is Making Your Lips Drier

Unfortunately, lip care is often overlooked. We understand that our skin needs moisture, but it’s easy to miss, the source of a kiss. The skin on our lips is especially thin and the blood flow is very close to the surface, which gives our lips their pink appearance. Unlike the rest of our skin, the lips do not have any natural oil glands, so they become dehydrated much more easily. Most people experience some degree of chapped-ness during the winter months; as the air gets colder and dryer, our lips often suffer first. And we all know the feeling of chapped lips; often times painful, and at the very least: uncomfortable!

On top of that, the temptation to lick our lips when they’re dry is ever present, but only provides temporary relief. Once the saliva dries, any natural moisture that was present is gone with the wind. You’re left with drier skin than before and few options to replenish your natural sebum.

Drug store lip balms are so mainstream and widely accepted that ChapStick itself is an eponym! However, if we knew what we were putting on our lips, would we really be using a low quality name brand to describe something designed to hydrate one of our most sensitive areas? Probably not.

Have you ever stopped to think what’s really in the Cherry Chapstick you grab last minute at check out in the grocery store? A glance at the back of the package reveals a bunch of ingredients that are difficult to pronounce, not to mention hard on your skin.

Ingredients in ChapStick include:  Arachidyl propionate, camphor, carnauba wax, cetyl alcohol, fragrance, isopropyl lanolate, isopropyl myristate, lanolin, light mineral oil, menthol, methylparaben, octyldodecanol, paraffin, phenyltrimethicone, propylparaben, red 6 lake, saccharin, and white wax.

Here’s a closer look at some of the harmful products:


Camphor is a flammable substance used for explosives, nitrocellulose plastics, and pest deterrents. Most specialists advise against applying the substance to broken skin, because it can enter the body quickly and reach concentrations that are high enough to cause poisoning. In the past, it has been a well-established folk remedy, but now doctors deem it completely unsafe to ingest camphor.

Isopropyl Myristate

According to the National Institutes of Health, Isopropyl Myristate is classified as a human skin irritant. Specialists stress looking carefully at the condition of the skin before application. Isopropyl Myristate will penetrate the skin as an active substance, which means it has the potential to cause harmful bacterial growth.


Paraffin is a waxy substance, known for its role in beauty products. It’s actually a by-product of kerosene. People with chemical sensitivities will often breakout upon contact. Once criticism is that paraffin doesn’t actually moisturize the skin. It may reinforce the skin’s natural barrier, but provides a sensory illusion instead of healing.

Applying a chemically based ChapStick to your lips regularly leaves far too much room for ingestion of toxins and breakouts. In an effort to replenish our natural moisturizers, sooth the lips, and actively heal, Ora’s Amazing Herbal has created a unsweetened and paraben free line of lip balms made with our BASE OIL, including organic calendula, and burdock (just to name a few). They protect, moisturize and soothe lips but also actively heal. Unsweetened, and paraben free.

We want to provide you with a peace of body and a peace of mind. You should feel good about the products you’re using on yourself and for your loved ones! Check out our lip balms here or browse our site to check out the rest of our organic and sustainable products.

Olivia Royce


Lice Prevention

Autumn is almost here, and while the fall brings so many lovely associations of crisp weather, pumpkin spice everything, and approaching holidays, there is another association with back-to-school that is less pleasant, and on the minds of many parents: lice. These pests are unfortunately easily transferred among students in close classroom environments, and apparently, a new breed of “super lice” have become resistant to the over the counter pesticide treatments that are usually recommended. These lice have spread through 42 states, and it is certainly easier to avoid them than get rid of them, but how?

Many parents try to buy organic food and avoid unnecessary chemical exposure, so why would we want to apply even stronger prescription strength pesticides to our child’s scalp? Everything applied to the skin is absorbed into the bloodstream in varying degrees, just like any topical pharmaceutical. That makes it very important to consider what we apply to our skin all the time, but especially when looking to eliminate a pest like lice. It can be tempting to use the strongest chemical available just to get rid of the nuisance, but we have to consider the effect on our children’s health. That is where essential oils can play an extremely helpful role!

Pure essential oils are carefully distilled and contain the plant’s strongest, most therapeutic properties. They can be effective even when harsher treatments are not, and since they are non-toxic and health promoting, using them preventatively is a great option to prevent lice from ever having a chance to become a problem!

Some oils that are known to help repel lice are:
Cedar Leaf (aka Thuja)
Tea Tree (aka Melaleuca)
(Any combination of these oils should be effective, but using all of them together even more so.)

Since essential oils are very concentrated plant extracts, it is important to purchase high quality oils from a reputable source, and use care when applying them to children. Usually it is suggested to dilute essential oils with a carrier, such as a salve or oil before applying. One great option is to combine one drop of each oil per teaspoon of carrier in a jar. Mix well, and rub a dab between your hands before massaging into the scalp. This will nourish dry hair and promote a healthy scalp as well! Another way to use the oils is to combine 10 drops of each in an 8oz spray bottle with water. Shake before spraying on a small amount while covering eyes, then smooth over the hair. With either preparation, if any irritation occurs, stop using. The oils may be too strong, in which case, dilute with more carrier. When preventing lice it is also recommended to keep long hair tied back in a bun.





Caitlin Eisner Fisch is a writer, personal chef, and independent distributor with Young Living essential oils. You can learn more about oils, and order through

Contact her at with any questions, or check out her homeschooling journey on Instagram @thejoyofcaitlin and her essential oil journey @thejoyofcaitlin.oils

Natural Hemorrhoid Treatments

At Ora’s Amazing Herbal we have had a few “happy accidents” over the years. Touchy skin salve being so Amazing as a natural hemorrhoid treatment is one of them. This guest blogger, has some fun tips on how to get to the bottom of the situation. (Did she really just say that?!) – Ora

Moms, Let’s Talk About Hemorrhoids

I’ve got three kids, all born in the painful-pushing- split me open-oh g-d it burns way. I like to think that I have three hemorrhoids to match. Not being able to see down there I don’t know for sure, but I do know that motherhood for me has involved a nearly obsessive interest in what I eat and making sure it comes out ok. While my college diet was probably contributory (pizza, cereal and fro yo anyone?) the strain on my body from carrying an additional 50-40- 30lbs around, let alone the strain of pushing out 7lbs at a go, has given me my new lifetime companions.

It’s COMPLETELY normal. Especially for moms. And it’s not as bad as it could be. There’s homeopathy that can help (Hamamelis or Nux Vomica to start), there’s the Squatty Potty (check out the faux-mercial with the unicorn, hilarious) and there’s yoga poses like downward dog that loosen up the region and shift the weight off of your nether parts. Tucks pads are a drugstore standard and are slightly better than baby wipes when it comes to cleaning yourself, since the astringent witch hazel cools and shrinks the inflamed vessels.

Keeping a diet with vegetable fiber, plenty of water and not too much dairy is the easiest way to stay comfortable. But sometimes pizza and wine are in order. And sometimes we just eat way too much matzoh. Whatever the reason, Ora’s Amazing Herbal Touchy Skin Salve is, well, amazing, when it comes to reducing symptoms. The special herbal formula soothes the hemorrhoids themselves, relieves inflammation and generally lubricates the region for less mess and less discomfort.

All natural. All good. Because herbs are amazing. (Thanks for that little plug Ruthie-Ora)

Ruthie Pearlman is a doula, homeopath and mother of three. When she’s not pretending to homestead in Maine she’s shaking it on the dance floor in New Jersey. Check out her Facebook page “Homeopathy For Moms.”

lice!! superlice!! eeeew!!!

lice!! superlice!! eeeew!!!

Spoiler alert! This post is about lice, which are gross. As a mother of 4, I have indeed encountered many very gross things, but few are more gross than lice. One thing more gross than lice though, is the over the counter neurotoxic chemical lice treatments that are sold in most pharmacies. If you are a sensitive person like I am, (or maybe like any child whose neurological system is still developing) and have had lice a time or two, you know, that the way you feel after using that stuff is something to be avoided. Also, it is all over the internet, that there are now resistant lice or superlice. This new type of, um, louse, is not killed by the usual run of the mill neurotoxin. Oh, no this one is stronger.
So we have two choices, we use stronger chemicals and re-enact the arms race in an effort to kill the critters, or we go the old fashioned route.

“This hippy crunchy yoga kale muncher AP mom wants me to just leave my kids’ hair full of bugs in the name of organic world granola balance?” You exclaim?!.
Well my answer to you, is “Hell no! Get rid of those nasty bugs and do it quick!”
With all this resistant lice appearing, it is good to know that the natural or “alternative” treatments for lice, are still equally effective on these new lice, because they rely mostly on physical, mechanical methods rather than attempting the standard strategy of poisoning the bugs to death.

Sometimes being a crunchy hippy mom, you get to say “I told you so, and then give some very useful advice. When these times come, forgive me, but I enjoy it. And today, you too will benefit from my eat more kale t-shirt wearingness.
Here is my highly effective lice treatment strategy that I have developed over my years of formal biology focused education, many hours of internet searching, consulting with experts and then personal experience.

What you will need:

1 Time and patience, there is no way around this. Perhaps a good book or device of some sort to keep your child distracted and not moving.

2 A good lice comb, and you need to use it alot. Here is a link to the one I have found effective. The regular store ones don’t work, I don’t know why they sell them.

2 Apple cider vinegar (ACV from here on). No, I am not a no poo, just wash your hair with ACV advocate, but it does kill lice and possibly the eggs, so it is a useful tool in this situation.

3 In the case of long hair, you need a good silky conditioner to help with combing without pulling.

4 Crisco. Yup, I said Crisco, not coconut oil or mango butter or salve or colostrum. Crisco. *This is the only time I will ever recommend this product for any use ever. It works because it stays put, doesn’t drip around like every other butter I have ever tried, and is thick enough to suffocate the buggers.

5 Dish soap.

6 A head covering you can sleep in and don’t care if it gets ruined. A thick cotton beret, a shower cap, whatever.

7 A pillow case in the same category. It could get Crisco stains on it.

Ok, here is what to do.

1 Check for lice/eggs. Even if I just see little red bumps around the base of the neck or around the ears or the crown of the head, I do a treatment. Why wait till it gets really bad.

2 Wash bedding. I like to put the pillows just in the dryer, the washer ruins them.
3 Soak brushes in ACV. Remember, the dryer heat is what really kills them.

3 Wet hair, saturate in ACV, let sit for about 10 minutes, but even just a few minutes can do the job. Depending on the kids and their, um, compliance level, leave it in as long as you can. Do NOT let it get in their eyes. It hurts very badly. Rinse out.

4 Saturate in conditioner and use the lice comb. Start from one side and go all the way across the head. Make sure you get all peripheral areas like behind ears and base of neck. Rinse out.

5 Blow dry air.

6 Saturate hair in Crisco, paying special attention to the roots. Think hair dye. Thats how thorough it should be in the hair. Saturated. Put hair in a hair band or rubber band or something to keep it up. Cover hair. Leave on overnight and as long as possible after that. Wash it out. Our shampoo hasn’t been strong enough, we have had to use dish soap.

7 Comb thoroughly with lice comb, I like to use salve to help get the comb through (see #8)

8 I like to rub some of my All Purpose Salve into the roots before combing and then put the hair up into a tight braid for the day. I use do this for two reasons. Firstly, lice like clean and not oily hair, it is easier to bind eggs to so keeping roots oiled is a good idea. Second, because this salve has essential oils rosemary, tea tree, and cedar leaf that lice don’t like. You can really use any solid oil at room temperature oil with these essential oils though. Using a liquid oil is too irritating and causes the kids to scratch. This is not what we want. When there is broken skin, there is risk of infection so itching is the enemy. Also, the ACV can sting broken skin.

After this treatment, I comb daily for a week with conditioner. Twice daily if possible.
I also repeat this treatment a week later, and depending how grossed out I am, possibly two weeks later.
I also change pillow cases a lot more often, and soak brushes in ACV weekly.

Even after you treat effectively, sometimes irritation and itchiness can persist to a few days while the scalp heals. Sometimes it is worth asking a school nurse or doing a google search to find a professional lice checker with a magnifier and a good light to confirm that you got them all. I found one locally who charged $15 to just do a good check.

p.s. When ever I hear that lice is going around, which it tends to do about twice a year, I salve or oil my kids hair, and keep it up. I also just comb weekly with conditioner during these times, as a preventative.

There, that wasn’t so bad was it? Ok fine, it was. What can I say, lice are gross and horrible, but as least your kids’ neurons and synapses are unharmed and your home is now nit free. Congratulations and your welcome.

Make Tea Not War

I love autumn but I hate all the warm, cold, warm, cold, warm, cold confusion. It just wreaks havoc on our immune systems in this house. We have one kid with a cough, one kid with the sniffles, one who is exhausted and one who is, well he is a teenager. Finally today I declared war on seasonal change! And by war I mean I made tea. Here is what I made.
All quantities are eyeball estimates of volume and not weight. The highly complex reason for this is that I am a busy woman and eyeballing is just fine for this. Don’t judge my imprecision! How much measuring do you do when you make tea?

2 oz broken up cinnamon sticks
6 oz hibiscus flowers
4 oz elderberry flowers
4 oz rosehip

Dump it all into a quart size mason jar and shake till well mixed. It will be about half empty. You can add more herbs to fill it if you want, I just like having space to easily blend.
Scoop about an ounce into a quart size mason jar, add boiling water to fill.
Allow to steep until some child comes in complaining or coughing or asking for a tissue.
This may be 8 minutes or 8 hours, both are fine. One is stronger than the other but both have major benefit.
Strain out the infusion. Add water if it is too strong. And raw local honey if you must get it sweetened in order to attain .. compliance, as they call it. It should be yummy so they chug it and ask for more, but too much sugar (yes even honey counts) is not good for the immune system. You know your audience, make your decision for them.
I also sometimes add a cup of the strong (~ 8 hour) infusion to a pitcher of water and put it on the table for dinner, it is always gone by the end of the meal.
Enjoy! Be well!

Happy Yom Kippur

Reality is not my forte. Never has been.

Keeping my heart open in reality takes too much work, too much courage. As a young child I would go into the trees behind our house and play with imaginary friends instead of the real ones I had.

As an elementary school kid I would go ride my bike and feel the wind in my hair, instead of doing my homework.

As a teenager I would, well, avoid reality whenever I could.

As an adult, I focus on things that are not important such as their messy room, how it takes them too long to respond when I am talking, and how they forgot to do their laundry.

I focus on goals I am not accomplishing in each moment such as feeding all the hungry children of the world and housing all the homeless.
I waste precious time escaping reality on Facebook and watching movies on Netflix when I could be spending time with the people I deeply love, giving them all my heart.

My mind is visibly elsewhere during Minecraft explanations, origami demonstrations and D & D .. whatever they are called.
I am busy trying to brush their hair and make them eat broccoli when they are just wanting a hug and a book read to them.
I am planning the open design kitchen my husband will build me instead of the amazing way he sits with the children to help them focus on their homework every school night.



All these things do want to get done, but in each moment, I want to be in that moment, not the next or the one before. What is it they say about having one foot in the present and the other in the future.. something happens to the present, ahem.

I want to walk with my heart in the lead, not with my mind spinning.
This is the work for me this coming year. Writing it here makes it true, yes?

This Yom Kippur, I will praying for more time to do this work and correct this tendency as much as I can. I will be praying for one more year to give them hugs, sit down to dinner, and maybe even pretend to love Minecraft. I will be praying for one more year and the wisdom to appreciate it and to treat it as the gift that it truly is.

May it be a beautiful year of peace, health, love and light for all of us.

5 Things Not To do When Getting Your Kids Ready For Overnight Camp

How can a made bed possibly bring so many emotions?
Deep breath, smile. Ok,.. as promised..

Getting Kids Ready For Sleepaway Camp For The First Time

1 Do not start 2 days before they leave for camp.
2 Unless you function best under ridiculous pressure, do not start a week and a half before you launch 8 new products on your herbal skincare line.
3 Do not do the laundry and pack their stuff on a really beautiful day when you would rather have everyone outside.
4 Do not think about all the little things the camp doesn’t know about your kid like how he forgets to drink water and will never put on a jacket unless you tell him to. It doesn’t mean he isn’t cold, it just means he is busy with more interesting thoughts.
5 Do not let them see you cry, it is good, they are blessed to have such a wonderful place to go to. Be grateful and let go.

5 Ways For Moms To Make Their Face More Beautiful In Summer

1 Every time you make your kids drink water, drink water. Hydration is key.

2 Every time you make your kids eat some fruit and veggies, eat some fruits and veggies. Your skin will thank you for the nutrients.

3 Every time you get your kids in to bed to make sure they get a good night sleep, get yourself into bed for a good night sleep. Say goodbye to having tired looking face.

4 Yeah right, ok fine, go for a nice brisk walk. Increasing your blood flow brings better color and tone to your skin.

5 When you put a sunhat on your kid, put a sunhat on yourself. Protecting your skin from the sun is important, but sunscreen has its drawbacks and limitations. A hat and sunglasses are a great idea for helping prevent dun damage.

6 When you look at your kid and smile and tell him/her “I love you so much”, go find a mirror and repeat.