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Cocamide DEA

Nasty Ingredients
Cocamide DEA

Cocamide DEA

Cocamide Diethanolamine, commonly known as Cocamide DEA, is an ingredient used in many personal care products to enhance and stabilise foam formation. It is a known skin irritant and is associated with some health risks and contamination concerns. We prefer to leave this ingredient out of our products.

Cocamide DEA is a clear liquid created by reacting coconut fatty acids with a synthetic chemical called Diethanolamine. It has been used for many years in soaps, shampoos and other products as a surfactant foam-booster or a viscosity increasing agent.

Cocamide DEA is known to be a contact allergen to a small percent of people who are sensitive to this ingredient. In 2012, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment added Cocamide DEA to the Proposition 65 list of chemical compounds that may increase risk of cancer. A review by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel concluded that Cocamide DEA is "safe when formulated to be non-irritating", however it "should not be used in cosmetic products in which N-nitroso compounds may be formed." It is suggested that the presence of free DEA as an impurity in Cocamide DEA solutions has the potential to form carcinogenic compounds.

Other names: Cocoyl Diethanolamide, Coconut Fatty Acid Diethanolamide

Chemical class: Alkanolamides


Mertens, S., Gilissen, L., & Goossens, A. (2016). Allergic contact dermatitis caused by cocamide diethanolamine. Contact dermatitis, 75(1), 20–24.

Panico, A., Serio, F., Bagordo, F., Grassi, T., Idolo, A., DE Giorgi, M., Guido, M., Congedo, M., & DE Donno, A. (2019). Skin safety and health prevention: an overview of chemicals in cosmetic products. Journal of preventive medicine and hygiene, 60(1), E50–E57.

Cocamide Diethanolamine (Cocamide DEA) - (Coconut Oil Diethanolamine Condensate). Proposition 65 List. Retrieved on October 18, 2021 from

Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel (1996). Amended Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Cocamide DEA Retrieved on October 18, 2021 from

Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel (2011). DEA Amides (Draft) Retrieved on October 18, 2021 from

National Center for Biotechnology Information (2021). PubChem Substance Record for SID 319416358, 68603-42-9, Source: ToxPlanet. Retrieved October 18, 2021 from

INCI Name:
Cocamide DEA
Ingredient origins:
Coconut, Synthetic
Foam Boosting Agent, Emulsifying Agent
Common name:
Cocamide DEA
EWG score: The EWG score is a hazard score ranging from 1-2 (low hazard), 3-6 (moderate hazard) and 7-10 (high hazard) published by the Environmental Working Group. Their data is sourced from the Skin Deep® database and studies published in open scientific literature.