Dangers Of Cocamide DEA In Shampoo And Beauty Products Explained

Can you trust that the producers of key personal hygiene products put your health and safety first? According to research undertaken by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) on 100 of the most popular shampoo brands, this is not the case.In August 2013, the CEH, located in Oakland, California, revealed the findings of a research of 98 shampoos that still include the chemical cocamide diethanolamine (commonly known as “cocamide DEA” or simply “DEA”), which was forbidden as a possible carcinogen in California in 2012.

According to the CEH research, which revealed its results and quickly initiated a series of lawsuits against makers and distributors of the offending items a year later, 98 shampoo brands still contained DEA. Everything you need to know about cocamide DEA and how it affects you is right here:

Is Cocamide DEA Harmful?

ACCORDING TO THE FDA, Cocamide DEA is safe to use in personal hygiene items and cosmetics. However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined that the chemical is known to cause cancer in a study. According to the IARC report, the chemical should not be used in shampoos or other California personal hygiene and beauty products.

How Cocamide DEA Is Made

Diethanolamine is combined with fatty acids from coconut oils to produce cocamide DEA. The use of a lot of diethanolamine has been connected to cancer.

Coconut products have been increasingly popular in recent years. People are raving about the health advantages of the oil, water, meat, and milk produced by the coconut palm, formerly considered an exotic fruit. “Consumption of coconut milk can enhance HDL (high-density lipoprotein) levels, which helps in decreasing the hazardous LDL (low-density lipoprotein),” according to a 2018 study. Coconut in all of its natural forms may be beneficial to your health (assuming you don’t have a coconut allergy), but cocamide DEA is not a natural product of coconuts in the sense that you can’t split open a coconut and spoon up some cocamide DEA.

Diethanolamine is created by reacting it with a combination of fatty acids from coconut oils to produce diethanolamine, a thick, clear liquid in this case. Manufacturers of cosmetics and personal hygiene products utilize this liquid as a foaming agent and give soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and cosmetics a creamy texture. Exposure to high levels of diethanolamine has been linked to an increased risk of cancer.

Potential Side-Effects of Cocamide DEA

Dangers Of Cocamide DEA In Shampoo And Beauty Products Explained

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DEA can induce an allergic reaction in some persons, resulting in moderate dermatitis, even in tiny doses. On the other hand, large dosages have the potential to cause cancer in humans, mainly if the substance accumulates in the body over time. This is why it was outlawed in California.

Does The FDA Consider DEA To Be Toxic Or Carcinogenic?

According to the FDA’s website page on diethanolamine, “at this time there is no reason for consumers to be alarmed based on the use of these substances [referring to cocamide DEA and other ingredients that also contain DEA] in cosmetics,” “FDA believes that there is no reason for consumers to be alarmed based on the use of these substances [referring to cocamide DEA and other ingredients that also contain DEA] in cosmetics.” While the FDA requires manufacturers to ensure that their beauty and personal hygiene products are safe for human consumption, it does not restrict which compounds (or amounts of those substances) are used unless hazardous, as determined by the agency.

Who Is Selling Cocamide DEA In Shampoos?

Cocamide DEA-containing products are frequently seen on the shelves of major retailers.

Many large stores are found to be culpable in CEH’s analysis; even companies you would have thought were above such things, such as Trader Joe’s, Sephora, Ulta, and Target. Furthermore, substantial quantities of DEA were found in certain shampoos and bubble baths branded as organic or mainly aimed at children. Organic by Africa’s Best, created by House of Cheatham, is one of them, Kmart’s Kid’s Bubble Bath (bubble-gum scented).

DEA-containing products are available at Walmart, Kmart, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and 99 Cent Only Stores, among other businesses. Since 2014, numerous producers have substituted different foaming chemicals for cocamide DEA (CAPB), such as Cocamidopropyl betaine. Be cautious that manufacturers can cover a controversial substance with one that may be just as hazardous but hasn’t been well researched.

CEH’s List of Retailers

The Center for Environmental Health has compiled a comprehensive list of California stores selling DEA-containing shampoos and soaps. Since the list was revealed, manufacturers have rushed to replace cocamide DEA with alternative foaming agents that do not carry the carcinogenic designation.

Who Is Selling Cocamide DEA In Shampoos?

The “Organic” Label, And When You Can’t Trust It

You might be surprised to learn that the FDA has no definition for the phrase “organic.” Personal hygiene and cosmetics firms are self-regulatory, which means they set their standards for what they call “natural” or “organic.” Manufacturers and distributors can (and do) describe items containing cocamide DEA as “natural” or “organic” since it derives from coconuts.

Does the FDA Regulate Cocamide DEA?

No, it doesn’t work that way. Even though it has been classified as a possibly carcinogenic chemical by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and has been outlawed by California, it is not regulated in the United States. Some goods may contain substantially more significant quantities of DEA than others. However, the exact levels of DEA in any given product are not stated on the ingredients list. Manufacturers can still name their products as “natural” or “organic” if they include DEA.

Some manufacturers have substituted different foaming agents for the infamous cocamide DEA, which may still contain DEA. A list of substances that may contain DEA may be found below.

How Can I Tell If A Beauty Product Is Organic Or Natural?

The most straightforward approach to telling if a product’s purity can be trusted is to look at the ingredients list on the label. Manufacturers are required by law to list the components in their shampoos, conditioners, soaps, and cosmetics. The details are presented in quantity order.

If you don’t recognize an ingredient or have a complicated chemical name, it’s possible that the product isn’t as organic or natural as it claims to be. You may either do an Internet search for unfamiliar components or rely on ingredients that you are familiar with.

What Other Ingredients Also Include DEA?

DEA may also be found in other components in shampoos and cosmetics.

DEA might also be found in shampoos, conditioners, soaps, and cosmetics. If you’re concerned about DEA’s possible dangers, it’s a good idea to learn the names of additional chemicals that might include DEA.

  • Cocamide DEA.
  • Cocamide MEA.
  • DEA-Cetyl Phosphate.
  • DEA Oleth-3 Phosphate.
  • Lauramide DEA.
  • Linoleamide MEA.
  • Myristamide DEA.
  • Oleamide DEA.
  • Stearamide MEA.
  • TEA-Lauryl Sulfate.
  • Triethanolamine.
  • Cocamide DEA Replaced by Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB)

Many producers have been substituting Cocamidopropyl betaine, or CAPB, with cocamide DEA since 2014. In people who are sensitive to it, CAPB is less prone than DEA to produce skin irritations and burns.

Which Companies Use Cocamide DEA In Their Products?

Which Companies Use Cocamide DEA In Their Products?

AS YOU NOW KNOW, Cocamide DEA is certainly something we’d prefer to avoid utilizing daily. It would be simple for us to describe the dangers of the chemical in issue, but the fact is that to prevent the chemical entirely, you must first know which goods contain it.

We’ve already discussed this chemical, so I’m happy to supply you with a list of brands that have been known to utilize it regularly (and in alarming proportions) throughout time. However, these are only a fraction of the chemical’s more prevalent sources. In actuality, the list is likely to be much larger. Therefore I recommend you to keep track of any goods that contain Cocamide DEA or any of its derivatives. Here’s a short selection to get you started:

  • Palmolive.
  • The Classic American Crew.
  • Paul Mitchell is a painter.
  • Palmers.
  • Fuente.
  • Morgan Childs is a model and actress.
  • CST.
  • Perfection in purity.
  • Kelly Van Gogh is a painter inspired by Vincent Van Gogh.
  • Moroccanoil.
  • Mark the Sun.
  • The Tree Hut.

These are the significant hitters you should stay away from, at least until their formulae alter. Even still, I’d want to encourage you to check any items you buy for this hazardous ingredient since we could always use an updated list (or, better yet, a list of your own).


In Oakland, California, the Center for Environmental Health produced a list of 98 shampoo, soap, and bubble bath products that contained Cocamide DEA on store shelves in 2013. Since 2012, Cocamide DEA has been designated as a known carcinogen and prohibited in California.

Cocamide DEA and other DEA-containing compounds have been classified as carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Unfortunately, because the FDA does not consider DEA toxic or harmful, it is not regulated in the United States for use in personal hygiene goods and cosmetics.

The labels “organic” and “natural” are likewise unregulated by the FDA in the cosmetics business. Instead, the sector is supposed to self-regulate and sell only safe items for human consumption. Some manufacturers have substituted cocamide DEA with different foaming ingredients, such as Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB), which is expected to produce fewer skin irritations and sensitivities than DEA.