Gluten-Free Shampoo and Conditioner: Nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill Weighs In

We commit to always being the team who will try just about any trend bubbling up on the Internet in the name of great skin or healthy hair—remember when our editor literally ate dirt? But we're also the first to admit it can be hard to tell when a beauty social movement is a just a fad or the real deal. Lately we've been curious about gluten-free hair care. While seeing gluten-free food options everywhere we look, from supermarkets to restaurants, seeing 'gluten free' stickers beaming proudly from shampoo and conditioner bottles has come as quite a surprise. And it brought up the question, how is gluten defined in hair care, and can hair be intolerant?

Before you throw out everything sitting in your shower caddy, take note: Just like your diet, gluten in hair products only causes real problems for those with legitimate sensitivities to the compound. Too much of anything is never a good thing, but most people won’t suffer if their favourite shampoo contains gluten.

To better wrap our strands around it, we spoke to nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill. She is the brains behind The Brown Paper Bag and has partnered with Hair Recipe—Australia’s only superfood inspired, gluten-free hair care range. Her verdict?

"While the gluten molecule is too large to be absorbed topically through the skin, it can be inadvertently ingested. This is particularly the case with lip products, shampoos and conditioners and mouthwashes. As a result, we are starting to see more and more beauty brands catering to this, and creating products that are gluten free."

Keep reading for the full Q&A with Alwill, including which foods will guarantee shiny, healthy hair.

Byrdie Australia: How do you decide which products, and which ingredients, you use on your skin and hair?

Jacqueline Alwill: I treat my beauty routine as I do my health routine, ensuring I only opt for ingredients that really nourish my skin and hair to make them feel—and look—healthy. That’s why I’m excited to have partnered with Hair Recipe, a brand that shares the same ethos.

B: What are some of your favourite hair care products?

JA: The Hair Recipe Strawberry and Mint Pre-Cleanse Shampoo ($15) is a new favourite product of mine. I use it in-between washes to give my hair a deeper cleanse. It is particularly good when you need to remove any excess product build up.

B: From a nutritionist's POV, what foods should we be eating for super-shiny hair?

JA: Antioxidant-rich—in particular Vitamin C—foods such as kiwi and strawberry which support and protect cell function and promote nutrient absorption in the scalp. Also, eat foods rich in enzymes—such as honey—to activate cells and encourage hair growth. Honey also has heavenly protective properties to retain hair moisture and strength.

B: And what should we avoid eating?

JA: Limit the usual suspects such as refined sugars and processed foods with poor nutrition. And, perhaps on the day you’re giving your hair a lovely treatment, reduce alcohol and coffee as these leach good nutrition from our bodies, too.

B: Do you think we will continue to see gluten-free labelling spread beyond the food industry?

JA: Absolutely. The beauty industry—like the food industry—is becoming far more aware of people with gluten allergies and intolerances. While the gluten molecule is too large to be absorbed topically through the skin, it can be inadvertently ingested.

B: Do you think gluten-heavy diets can impact the quality of our hair?

JA: Gluten heavy diets to me are a sign that perhaps other foods and their rich nutrition aren’t getting into the diet frequently enough, and therefore don’t have a chance to deliver our bodies the nutrition they need for good health and beautiful hair. If someone’s diet contains toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner—there are three opportunities alone we could inject some wonderful superfoods delivering the nutrients our bodies crave!

B: Can you spill some of your best beauty secrets?

JA: No secrets here! I am mad fan for hydration—water, herbal tea and kombucha for digestion—good quality sleep, and getting out and about in nature to feel refreshed, full of health and ultimately inspired.

B: What are some of your favourite hair care products?

JA: The Hair Recipe Strawberry and Mint Pre-Cleanse Shampoo ($15) is a new favourite product of mine. I use it in-between washes to give my hair a deeper cleanse. It is particularly good when you need to remove any excess product build up.

B: Can you spill some of your best beauty secrets?

JA: No secrets here! I am mad fan for hydration—water, herbal tea and kombucha for digestiongood quality sleep, and getting out and about in nature to feel refreshed, full of health and ultimately inspired.

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