So, I do a thing. If I’m stressed or feeling down, it’s always the same. I buy lipstick. There’s just something about make-up that makes me feel confident. I have a larger collection than one person should be allowed to have. And it is all gluten-free lipstick, from both specialty and mainstream brands. (And yes, mom, those 4 reds are really very different from each other).
One of the things I’ve noticed in my exploration of makeup has been how hard it is to confirm the gluten-free status of cosmetics. You’d think that with ingredients labeled it would be easy. Nope. Ingredients don’t have to call out allergens. Even worse, they can use technical or scientific names to make products sound fancy-shmancy (triticum vulgare or wheat, which sounds bougier?). On top of that, some ingredients can be derived from allergens without those allergens being labeled. Basically, busing makeup with food allergies is a tough game. And with my love of lipstick, I’m always on the hunt for a new gluten-free lipstick find.
Finding gluten-free lipstick
Finding gluten-free lipstick is critical if you have wheat allergies, Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance. Anything you put on your lips is going straight into your mouth (good news is that figure about women eating 7 pounds of lipstick over a lifetime is false). mmmm, tasty lipstick. (Maybe I should start worrying if it is keto?).
My allergies mean I look out for wheat and grain derived ingredients that may have gluten, fish and shellfish derivatives and royal jelly. Sneaky ingredients that seem to be making their way into more and more products as the “clean beauty” phenomenon grows. I’ve actually found many more gluten-free lipstick options outside of the natural and clean space. I know there are some brands that are dedicated to gluten-free offerings (Red Apple Lipstick, Tarte, Nudestix, ColourPop & CoverFX) and others that have mostly GF products (Nars, Too Faced & Bite Beauty).
But I don’t like buying products I can’t touch and try (also you can’t patch test online without committing to an order first). I want to feel textures and judge colors in person. I want to try what the cool kids on the YouTubes are trying (if the ingredients look safe). So, I research and spend endless hours googling product information.
My Favorite Surprisingly Gluten-Free Lipsticks
I’ve probably bought several hundred lipsticks over the past decade, and there’s been some real clunkers. And I’m not talking about the frosty lipsticks I wore in the 90’s or the griege lipstick I couldn’t quite pull off. Some formulas disappear in mutes and others give you “butt-hole” lips despite being on a big magazine’s beauty awards (I’m looking at you ColourPop Ultra Matte Liquid Lip). The 5 gluten-free lipsticks that I’m listing here have passed my ingredient investigation (To the best of my ability, I believe them to be safe for me*) and the punishing daily life of an advertising creative who lives on coffee and soup in the either frigid or melting second city.
After making the list, I noticed that there are no matte lipsticks in the bunch but that doesn’t mean there aren’t amazing options. It just means that if I had to list all the formulas that I love, I’d be here all day.
This is a new formula, and it just slightly edged out my previous favorite. The color has great depth, but is based in the realm of natural so that it never looks totally crazy. It loses its shine gracefully as your lips absorb the moisture, leaving you with a lovely stain. Reapplication doesn’t get clumpy or streaky. The brand says it is the feel of a balm with the shine of a gloss. The color is about as opaque as any traditional lipstick. I feel like when I put this on, I just feel pretty. While there are no gluten-containing ingredients on the label (it does contain tocopherol acetate which is considered gluten-free by the FDA no matter the source), Bobbi Brown answers all gluten inquiries with the comment that they don’t specifically formulate products to avoid gluten.
This was my favorite formula for a good 8 months before the Bobbi Brown was released. This liquid lipstick has some sort of magic voodoo they put in the tube, but this stays shiny for hours. You can wear it sheer or opaque and it can withstand a bit of eating and drinking. I have it in a nude, a your lips but better and a red and all of them are always in a purse somewhere because I wore it out rather than living in my lipstick bag with the less loved formulas. Lancome is another brand that says that they don’t specifically formulate products to avoid gluten, but the ingredients look safe according to the ingredients on the label.
If you want to bougie up your life, these lipsticks will do it. They’re slim lipsticks that can be changed out of a pretty gold (or pink) case so that you don’t have to buy a holder for all of your colors. The shades range from nudes and pinks to berries and reds. The lipstick is buttery smooth and almost seems to fill in lip lines. The color lasts for quite a while compared to other traditional bullet formulas. Plus, you just feel fancy when you apply it. There isn’t a whole lot of product in the tube, but that means that it is less likely to go bad before you use it up. Hourglass lists all their gluten-free products on their website.
Maybelline Made For All, $7.49
These were released recently, and I was skeptical. An orange? A light pink? A red that will work as well on me as the youtuber who always tests the darkest shades of foundations and the colors looked amazeballs on her. So, I bought myself 3 after a rough day at work. For science. And because 3 of these are less than most of the other items on this list. Well, I picked the 3 that I thought would look the worst and I’m so glad I was wrong. The formula isn’t incredibly long wearing, but it is comfortable and every shade is flattering on everyone I’ve seen try it.
This lipstick reminds me of my favorite liquid lipstick that Red Apple Lipstick used to make (right down to the color I chose). It goes on incredibly smooth and lasts longer than a cream lipstick should. (Meaning you definitely need to reapply after lunch). It doesn’t feather or migrate and adds a layer of hydration to your lips. They call it a demi matte, and I think that might be the best way to describe the finish. It’s not high shine like the Lancome or even moderate shine like the Bobbi Brown. But it isn’t matte. I would compare the look to melted ice cream. In a lipstick that means that there is enough luminosity to look alive, but not so much that there is shine or sparkle.
You can’t go wrong with these 5 formulas. Unless you are looking for a a blue or bright violet lipstick, these all have a great range of classic colors from nudes and pinks to reds or berries. No matter how dry your lips are, all of these are comfortable on dry lips and are pretty forgiving if your lips are flaking. You might call me basic because there are no crazy colors here, but I’m a girl who works in an office every day and even just a resistance red lip can be a lot when you’re presenting.
Have any of you tried lipsticks from mainstream (not specifically gluten-free) brands? I’d love to know what some of your favorites are!
*I know a disclaimer seems unwarranted when talking about makeup, but I’m not a doctor and this isn’t medical advice. Always patch test cosmetics in a small area before applying them to your face. Please speak to your medical team if you have any questions about what is safe for you. I’ve looked in to the ingredients and used sites such as SkinSafeProducts to come to my conclusions around what is safe for me.