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Why Soap Should Be Gluten-Free

Posted by \\\ \\\ Category: Ingredient Spotlight\\\ gluten-free

We love learning from our customers! Recently, one of them wrote:

“Thank you for making gluten-free products and being an advocate for those of us with [celiac] disease. One correction I’d like to make to your explanation on your website is that celiac disease is not an 'extreme allergy.' It’s not an allergy at all but it IS an autoimmune disease. Ingesting gluten by people with celiac can be a life-threatening situation. Gluten destroys our small intestine, can cause bowel cancer, liver damage, bone damage, lymphoma, and more. We aren’t allergic to it. It will kill us. . . . Hope this helps in possibly rewording your website.”

Thanks to their input, we've revised our celiac and gluten-free soap information here! At The Mad Optimist, we work hard to make sure that our products are always 100%:

  • vegan (plant-based)
  • halal (Muslim-friendly)
  • cruelty-free (no animal testing)
  • gluten-free

Regarding that last bullet point, we've encountered plenty of people who roll their eyes at the concept of gluten-free soap. Invariably, they say something like, “Ugh. Gluten-free soap?! Everyone's jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon these days.”

But providing gluten-free products is very important to us for a couple of reasons. First, for people living with celiac disease like the customer we mentioned above, staying clear of gluten can be a matter of life and death.

Just What Is Celiac Disease?

An autoimmune condition associated with the consumption of gluten. (Check out “Immediate Hypersensitivity to a Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein.” in the 2012 Asian Journal of Dermatology for details.) And, while one doesn't typically ingest soap, the Gastrointestinal Society recommends that lip products, lotions, and any other bodycare products that could be ingested even accidentally by someone with celiac disease be gluten-free. (For more information, see "Celiac Disease & Skin Care Products," 2015.)

Aside from people with celiac disease, there are still others who have such extreme allergies to wheat that they break out in a rash if their skin comes into contact with gluten. After speaking with one of our customers about this condition at the local farmers' market, we became determined to make all of our products gluten-free. To that end, we extensively researched each of our ingredients and required all of our ingredient suppliers to submit documentation stating that their materials are free of gluten.

What We've Learned

During this process, we learned that two of our ingredients did contain gluten. They included oatmeal and cornmeal—naturally exfoliating materials that we frequently add to our bar soaps. While neither of these ingredients actually contains gluten, when we called the manufacturers, they said that their oatmeal and cornmeal are processed in facilities that also process wheat, barley, and/or rye—all of which contain gluten. As a result? We discontinued those ingredients, and found new, truly gluten-free suppliers.

Organic gluten-free rolled oatmeal

Our certified gluten-free and organic rolled oatmeal.

Now we use only certified gluten-free oatmeal and cornmeal because the stakes are so high for our customers with celiac disease as well as those with skin sensitivities and allergies to gluten. And, although these certified ingredients are more expensive to source, we believe providing great, all-natural soaps and bodycare products for people who are limited in what they can use is well worth it. :-)