The growing awareness of gluten-related illnesses, such as coeliac disease, is encouraging those looking to remove gluten from their diets to take a more holistic approach. But it is not just food and drink where brands are looking to support consumers in this, rates of beauty products positioning themselves as gluten-free are on the rise.

Gluten free graphic

Although many beauty products are naturally free from gluten, only 1% of launches for the sector specifically highlighted their gluten-free credentials on pack in 2013. However, 2013 still reported a 22% increase in the use of the gluten-free claim in comparison to the previous year, indicating that rising consumer awareness over the effects of gluten on the body is encouraging beauty brands to capitalise by promoting their goods as gluten-free.

Gluten-free beauty launches are most prominent in the Skincare, Colour Cosmetics and Hair Products categories, accounting for a respective 41%, 39% and 15% of gluten-free launches in the beauty sector in 2013. Only 3% of Soap & Bath Products and 2% of Shaving & Depilatories claim to be gluten-free.

The University of Nottingham research, funded by the patient groups Coeliac UK and CORE, shows that the rate of GP cases diagnosed as coeliac disease increased from 5.2 per 100,000 in 1990 to 19.1 per 100,000 in 2011. Coeliac UK has also suggested that a further 75% of sufferers are as yet undiagnosed, but advances are making diagnosis easier, which is likely to result in more people seeking out gluten-free lifestyles.

Leading a gluten-free lifestyle

Gluten-free claims were initially the preserve of the food and drink sector, but due to the increase of coeliac disease, they are on the increase in other areas. Whilst coeliac disease (CD) is predominantly gastrointestinal, it can also manifest itself as headaches, tiredness, anaemia and even hair loss. The disease can even have an impact on the skin, presenting as dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), which causes a rash and in some cases skin blistering. Therefore people are searching for a gluten-free lifestyle to avoid these unwanted effects.

Mintel’s Meat-free and Free-from Foods UK 2013 report found that one in five consumers had bought or eaten gluten-free food in the six months to July 2013. Indeed, it is now easier than ever for consumers to ensure that products they apply to their bodies are vegan, GMO-free or, increasingly, free from gluten.

Claiming for success

The potential to capitalise on gluten-free beauty product claims should not be underestimated as people are aware of the negative results, such as rashes and headaches. As 75% of coeliac disease are undiagnosed consumers are actively seeking for these claims to integrate gluten-free products in their holistic approached lifestyle.

People need to be empowered to make the right product choices for them. The facilitation of allergen testing on a person-by-person basis could help make consumers more aware of the ingredients, additives or even products they need to avoid in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Also to be aware of the potential for beauty or personal care products that can be accidentally ingested to make their gluten-free credentials more apparent, in particular lip care/cosmetics or even oral care products.

For more information see Mintel’s Facial Skincare UK 2014, Colour Cosmetics UK 2013, and Haircare UK 2014 reports.

Lucy Cornford, is responsible for Beauty Care, Household and Lifestyles Research at Mintel. She has gained vast knowledge of global beauty markets and trends in both mass and prestige sectors as an senior analyst, consultant and editor for Mintel’s Global New Products Data (GNPD) since 2001.

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