What’s in My Shampoo – Cocamide DEA

What's in My Shampoo?

Ever look at the back of your shampoo bottle? There’s usually a huge list of ingredients. Ever wonder what any of those ingredients are? In this series, we’ll be exploring what’s in your shampoo.

Let’s talk about cocamide DEA. You may notice it’s one of the ingredients in your shampoo.

Cocamide DEA is a chemical that not only thickens the shampoo but also contributes to the shampoo’s foaminess. It’s formed by mixing some of the fatty acids found in coconuts with diethanolamine (pronounced di-ethanol-amine). The full name is cocamide diethanolamine. It’s interesting to note that diethanolamine is a compound used as a corrosion inhibitor in chemical plants as well as an absorbent for removing carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide from gasses.

Is cocamide DEA safe? According to the FDA there is evidence of cocamide DEA and other diethanolamines being linked to cancer in laboratory animals. It seems that the real issue with the compound is diethanolamine. Diethanolamine is known to be a skin irritant and a possible carcinogen. It seems odd that a compound that is known to be irritating would be an ingredient in shampoo.

Anyway, some states require that a label warning consumers of the compound and its dangers be put on bottles containing cocamide DEA. Specifically, under California’s Proposition 65 it is required to put a warning label about the compound.

Here’s the summary of cocamide DEA

Compound: Cocamide DEA (Cocamide diethanolamine)
Compound origin: Coconut fatty acids mixed with diethanolamine
Uses: Shampoo thickener and foaming agent
Danger: possible carcinogen

[Image Credit]: Takashi Ota
[Information Sources]: FDA and Occupational allergic contact dermatitis due to coconut diethanolamide (cocamide DEA)

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