Ingredient Alchemy Lab #6: Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein

Considered a safe and vegan ingredient, it’s used widely in organic beauty products for saggy/rough/mature skin and to cure brittle nails and dry hair ends: Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein. hydrolyzedwheatprotein2


A vegan-friendly ingredient, HWP can soothe/ tighten skin and help retain moisture. HWP is particularly valuable during cold months for it protects the skin from negative effects of low temperatures and cold wind. It’s widely used in all kinds of skin care products, from eye contouring creams to body lotions.
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein is also a plant-based keratin alternative. Used in both professional and home use leave-in hair products it makes wet hair easier to comb and dry hair smoother and silkier; it’s used in nail care to treat dry and brittle nails.


A plant-derived protein, what could possibly go wrong, right?
Well, while codecheck gives HWP a 100% thumbs-up (check from: Nov 14 2013), EWG’s Skindeep correctly warns about its allergy potential here. And that’s why I keep saying: double-check your double-check, you guys! HydrolyzedWheatProtein-AlchemyLab


Sometimes the researcher herself truly is the blindest mole in the field.

Long story short: I could not find the cause for a clearly allergic reaction, manifested in painful, acne-like and unpleasantly itchy breakouts along the hairline and on the forehead. It reappeared after the use of three different organic shampoos in row. The reaction cooled down but only until the next shampooing. I was totally 404 about it – the reaction clearly had to do with the products, but what ingredient could that possibly be?

An allergy test last month revealed a stronger reaction to wheat protein than I could have ever imagined. It helped me understand various symptoms that had remained even after I’ve cut out wheat and said yes to spelt. Spelt is now just as much a no-go by the way.

A quick check of the shampoo bottles revealed the anticipated answer: all of them contain HWP. All of them had to go. hydrolyzedwheatprotein_inci


We all have this or that intolerance or allergy these days.
Maybe it’s those too hygienic conditions that we’re raised in, maybe it’s the industrial world washing us in toxins, antibiotics, hormones and GM crap, there is no final consent among experts concerning the exact WHY – even though most agree that “something’s fishy”.

Allergic reactions to beauty products vary strongly: red rash, breakout, itchy spots or even dandruff-like dryness, swelling, burning sensation, dryness/rough skin and some more. Before you fight those symptoms with another product, please check if you could be allergic to something you use on that specific skin area. Even a dermatologist whom I consulted with my problem tried to talk me into a topical antibiotic (that BTW could’ve killed a cow, as a quick Wikipedia check revealed). To know yourself is by no means egomanic navel-gazing, it’s a crucial part of the journey we call life. No one’s youer than you, you know 😉

Stay alert, Adventurers! Have a safe journey!


Geeking out about all things truly green, healthy and ethical over at (Avatar illustration by A. Goncharenko)

15 Responses

Comments are closed.