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Cocamide MEA

Nasty Ingredients
Cocamide MEA

Cocamide MEA

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

Cocamide MEA is an off-white flaky solid created by reacting coconut fatty acids with a synthetic chemical called ethanolamine. It has been used for many years in soaps, shampoos and other products as a surfactant foam-booster or a viscosity increasing agent.

Cocamide MEA is reported to be less sensitizing and irritating to skin than Cocamide DEA, however the vapour is considered highly toxic, and it is not recommended in formulations that will be aerosolised. A review by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel concluded that, like Cocamide DEA, Cocamide MEA 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/MEA solutions has the potential to form carcinogenic compounds.

Other names: Cocoyl Monoethanolamine, Coconut Fatty Acid Monoethanolamide

Chemical class: Alkanolamides


Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel (2012). Amended Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Ethanolamides as Used in Cosmetics Retrieved on October 18, 2021 from

Andersen, F. A. (1999). Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Cocamide MEA. International Journal of Toxicology, 18(2_suppl), 9–16.

National Center for Biotechnology Information (2021). PubChem Compound Summary for CID 8899, N-(2-Hydroxyethyl)dodecanamide. Retrieved October 18, 2021 from

INCI Name:
Cocamide MEA
Ingredient origins:
Coconut, Synthetic
Emulsifying Agent, Foam Boosting Agent
Common name:
Cocamide MEA
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.
1 - 4 (depends on usage)