This post about gluten-free lip balms is sponsored by Red Apple Lipstick and contains affiliate links. You can get 20 percent off any purchase at Red Apple Lipstick with my affiliate coupon code, GOODFORYOUGF.
One question I’ve been asked a lot is, “Is this [fill in the blank] lip balm gluten-free?” I haven’t been able to fully answer this question … until now.
In fact, I spent the past few weeks researching more than a dozen lip balm brands to find out which ones are safe for you to use when you’re following a gluten-free diet.
While you don’t eat your lip balm, per se, it does come in contact with your mouth so naturally you ingest it. If you have celiac disease, even a tiny bit of gluten can trigger an autoimmune response, causing you a slew of potentially painful and damaging symptoms. If you have a gluten sensitivity, your lip balm may be triggering chronic inflammation every time you reapply.
When assessing a lip balm for gluten, you’ll want to [obviously] avoid products when you see wheat, barley or rye listed on the ingredient label. However, there are other not-so-obvious gluten-containing ingredients hidden in many lip balms (and other cosmetics), including (but not limited to):
- Avena sativa (oat bran)
- Colloidal oatmeal
- Hordeum vulgare (barley)
- Oats (must be “gluten-free” labeled oats if used)
- Secale cereale (rye seed)
- Tocopherols (may be derived from wheat)
- Tocotrienols (may be derived from wheat)
- Vitamin E (most commonly derived from wheat, but can be derived from soybean or other sources)
- Triticum vulgare (wheat bran)
Are These 10 Lip Balms Gluten-Free?
I decided to research 10 of the most common lip balm brands to find out if they contain hidden gluten. I share my results below.
Please continue to scroll to the bottom of this article, as I’ll tell you more about additional, less-common known brands do NOT contain gluten, and even which ones are certified gluten-free (yes, they do exist!).
(1) Is Burt’s Bees Gluten-Free? Burt’s Bees is one of the most popular lip balm brands and you can find big yellow Burt’s Bees displays in most grocery stores and big box retailers nationwide.
Unfortunately, despite Burt’s Bees “natural” appeal, the company says it can’t guarantee its products are free from gluten and therefore safe for someone who cannot eat gluten. Burt’s Bees writes on its website:
“We cannot provide a list of Burt’s Bees products that are safe for use with your [gluten] allergy because our products may have been manufactured on a shared line with products containing gluten, or raw materials used in our products may have been processed in a facility that also processes products containing gluten.
“Therefore, we are unable to state that any Burt’s Bees products are “gluten-free.” Several of our products are known to contain certain allergens, because raw materials that contain or are made from the allergen are intentional ingredients in those products.
“Please carefully review the ingredient list of any product prior to use, particularly because the listed ingredients for a product may change. If you have a known allergy to gluten, you should always consult with your physician if you have questions regarding whether it is safe for you to use a particular product.”
Based on this information, you should be very wary about using Burt’s Bees products as the company has made no effort to accommodate or cater to the gluten-free community.
However, after reviewing the Burt’s Bees lip balm ingredient list, I did not see any gluten-containing ingredients. If you want to use Burt’s Bees lip balm, read ingredient labels carefully and do so at your own discretion.
(2) Is ChapStick Gluten-Free? ChapStick is another popular brand of lip balm. In fact, at one time it was so popular that people now use the word “ChapStick” to describe any generic lip balm.
The ingredients in ChapStick are a bit confusing but do not appear to contain any gluten-containing ingredients. (ChapStick products, do however, contain preservatives and dyes.)
On ChapStick’s FAQ page, you’ll find the following information:
- Does ChapStick lip balm contain any oats, rye or barley? No
- Does ChapStick contain any preservatives? Yes, some ChapStick products contain preservatives. To find out about specific products, contact our Customer Care Center at 1-877-227-3421.
- Does ChapStick contain parabens? As of July of 2018, ChapStick is transitioning our lip balm products to be free of parabens. If you are looking for a paraben free product, feel free to give us a call at 1-877-227-3421 so we can direct you to a specific flavor or store.
Here’s the strange part … ChapStick’s FAQs address oats, rye and barley, but not wheat, which is by far the most common source of gluten in the U.S.
I emailed the company (twice) to get to the bottom of it but did not get a response. ChapStick is the only company that did not reply to my inquiry.
(3) Is Carmex Gluten-Free? Carmex is one of those blast-from-the-past brands. It seemed like everyone was carrying around that little container of Carmex, using their index finger to spread the jelly-like balm on their lips. At the time, I didn’t think much of it, but today, I think the practice of dipping your fingers in a tub of mush and then rubbing it all over your lips is kind of gross. But that’s just me.
In addition to the tubs of Carmex, the company also sells tubes of its lip balm product.
I reviewed the Carmex ingredient list and did not see any gluten-containing ingredients. I also emailed the company to confirm and here is what Carmex said:
“Thanks for reaching out. Carma Laboratories does not use gluten in the manufacture of our Classic and Daily Care lip balms. The colloidal oatmeal in Comfort Care may contain some gluten (as a result of inadvertent contamination when processed).”
Remember, read labels carefully, and when in doubt, don’t.
(4) Is Blistex Gluten-Free? I checked the ingredient list for Blistex Medicated Mint Lip Balm to see if I could identify any sources of gluten, and while there are plenty of ingredients I don’t recognize, I did not blatantly see any gluten. I emailed Blistex to confirm and received the following reply:
“It is to the best of our knowledge, based on the non-proprietary information provided to Blistex from raw material vendors/suppliers, the products may be considered gluten-free. We are attaching a copy [below] of the lip care products that may considered gluten-free.”
- Blistex Lip Ointment
- Blistex Medicated Mint Lip Balm
- Blistex Medicated Berry Lip Balm
- Blistex Medicated Lip Balm
- Fruit Smoothies Melon Medley, Orange Cream, Triple Tropical, Peaches & Cream, Berry Explosion, and Strawberry/Banana flavors
- Complete Moisture
- Deep Renewal
- Global Blend
- Herbal Answer Lip Balm
- Lip Medex
- Lip Serum
- Lip Vibrance
- Moisture Melt
- Nurture & Nourish
- Orange Mango Blast
- Raspberry Lemonade Blast
- Silk & Shine
- Simple and Sensitive
- Triple Essentials
- Ultra-Rich Hydration
- Soft & Lush
- Blissful Butters
- Bliss Flip Soft & Silk
- Bliss Flip Ultra Moisturizing
Of note, Blistex included Five Star Lip Protectant on this list, but a diligent reader pointed out that it contains wheat germ! Always check labels, even if a company says it’s okay for you to use or consume.
(5) Is EOS gluten-free? EOS, which stands for Evolution of Smooth, is very clear about what’s not in its products, and EOS says gluten is one of those ingredients you won’t find in any of its balms.
Additionally, in the EOS FAQs, you’ll read, “Our products do not contain gluten, and are not exposed to gluten during manufacturing. The oat ingredient found in some of our products is certified gluten-free. Our products are also checked in the final stage for gluten traces as an added precaution.“
Wow, pretty awesome to hear that EOS tests its products for traces of gluten before dishing it out to the public. While the product is not certified gluten-free, I think anyone on the gluten-free diet can feel confident using EOS products.
On top of being free from gluten, EOS products also are free from parabens, phthalate, mineral oil petrolatum and formaldehyde.
(6) Is Vaseline Gluten-Free? Vaseline is made of 100 percent pure petroleum jelly, and the brand’s lip balms are made from a blend of mineral oils and waxes along with tocopheryl Acetate. As you might recall, tocopheryl Acetate is Vitamin E, and Vitamin E may be (but not always) derived from wheat germ. (Also, mineral oil is derived from petroleum as well, don’t be fooled by the pretty name.)
I emailed Vaseline to find out the source of its vitamin E and here’s what the company had to say:
“We do not specifically test our products for the presence of gluten. Gluten may be present in products that contain derivatives of wheat, oat, rye, and barley. In labeling our products, we follow the guidelines established by the International Nomenclature for Cosmetics Ingredients (INCI) process. Therefore, if we use an ingredient derived from a grain such as wheat, oat, rye and/or barley, those names will appear on the label.
“We recommend consumers read the label each time before buying our product. If gluten is present, it is clearly listed in plain language on the ingredient label (i.e., wheat flour, rye, barley, oats, and malt). Malt is a barley based ingredient. Since product formulations change from time to time, we do not publish a list of gluten-free products. We always recommend that you read our on-pack ingredient labels for the most up-to-date information, as formulations may change.“
Was this information helpful? Not really. The company says it will disclose, in plain language, if a product contains gluten. However, the source of its Vitamin E remains unknown. I cannot recommend Vaseline products given that there are better options available.
(7) Is Lip Smackers Gluten-Free? Lip Smackers lip balms are NOT gluten-free nor safe for anyone a gluten-free diet. The company clearly states on its FAQ page that its products contain gluten, and you can clearly see wheat germ on the product label as well.
Again, not all Vitamin E is derived from wheat germ. For example, Red Apple Lipstick sources its Vitamin E from gluten-free sources vs. wheat germ.
(8) Is Nivea Lip Balm Gluten-Free? I could not find information about whether or not Nivea’s lip balms included gluten on the company’s website, but I did not see any gluten ingredients in its products.
To verify, I emailed the company. Here is Nivea’s detailed reply:
“Thank you for contacting us as to whether or not our products have gluten derived ingredients. We understand how important this information is for you. If you have concerns about gluten and its derivatives, we recommend avoiding all products with ingredients derived from wheat, rye, barley and oats. The ingredient names are: TRITICUM VULGARE (wheat bran), SECALE CEREALE (rye seed extract), HORDEUM VULGARE (barley), and AVENA SATIVA (oat bran).
“At Beiersdorf, we strive to offer our consumers the best products possible, and therefore we may reformulate them when improvement is possible. The information we give you today regarding our ingredients may not be accurate if we reformulate a product. We encourage you to always check the product ingredient labeling for the above listed ingredients.
“Eucerin Skin Calming and Eczema Relief products do contain colloidal oatmeal. Although our other products may not contain the above ingredients, it is possible that there may be traces of gluten since ingredients and products are not manufactured in gluten-free facilities.”
(9) Is Aquaphor Gluten-Free? Aquaphor manufacturers a lip balm too – who knew?!? I reviewed the ingredient label and did not see any gluten-containing ingredients, however, Aquaphor does not list allergens on its website so it’s impossible to know for sure.
I sent Aquaphor an email and I got the same EXACT reply as I did for the Nivea inquiry (I didn’t realize they were owned by the same parent company). Please see response above.
(10) Is Red Apple Lipstick lip balm gluten-free? The answer to this question is a BIG HELL “YES!” Finally, a firm yes. Refreshing, right?
In fact, all Red Apple Lipstick products are 100 percent certified gluten-free. This is the brand you should be using if you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity.
Red Apple Lipstick says on its website that many commercial lip balm stop you from having smooth, pain-free, silky, kissable lips. This is because so many lip balm brands use harsh chemicals — camphor, menthol, petroleum, phenol, and alcohol — all which Red Apple Lipstick says are wicking moisture from your lips, blocking airflow, and “robbing your delicate, thin skin cells of precious electrons needed to stay healthy… a painful battle.”
What Lip Balms are Certified Gluten-Free?
I also want to share which brands are gluten-free and safe for you to use when you’re on a gluten-free diet.
Unfortunately, a lot of these brands aren’t “mainstream” brands, so you can’t find them at Walmart or Target.
However, you can find most of them online, and some of them at your local natural grocery store.
(1) Certified Gluten-Free Lip Balm Brands
The following two brands are certified gluten-free by a third-party certifying agency:
(2) Gluten-Free Labeled Lip Balms
Additionally, these lip balm brands are labeled “gluten-free” but are not “certified gluten-free”:
- Dr. Bronner’s
- EOS (see above)
- Kiss My Face
- Tom’s of Maine
- Zum (Indigo Wild), although what the company says on its website rubs me the wrong way (the the page has since been removed): “All Zum products are manufactured in a facility where we eat bread, peanuts, Nancy’s Kale Salad, and homemade cookies. We like to drink wine, Folly Coffee and listen to great music. Zum products with gluten added include Zum Body lotions (oat bran extract) and Oatmeal-Lavender Zum Bar (oatmeal). Rosemary extract is gluten free and contains soy. “
A Word to the Wise
Always AVOID all Aveeno products because most of the brand’s products are made with oats. In fact, “avena sativa” means “wild oats” in Latin. I suspect Aveeno got its name by combining “avena” and “oats” – hence Aveeno.
Oats, while naturally gluten-free, are not safe for someone on a gluten-free diet to consume UNLESS they are labeled gluten-free oats. (Read: Are Oats Gluten-Free for more information.)
When selecting a gluten-free lip balm, it’s important to read ingredient labels carefully. Gluten goes by many names, not just wheat, barley, rye and oats. (Read: 100 Alternative Names for Gluten)
Also, keep in mind that there ARE great gluten-free lip balm options available, so you DON’T have to settle for a mainstream, cheap-ingredient-loaded brand.
In other words, support certified gluten-free lip balm brands by speaking with your wallet. How you spend your money will dictate how other brands treat allergens in the future.
Please click this link to purchase Rallye Balm by Red Apple Lipstick. You are also welcome to use my special coupon code, GOODFORYOUGF, for 20 percent off your entire purchase (code cannot be combined with other offers). Red Apple Lipstick has my full seal of approval.