Ingredient Watch List: Cocamide DEA

This week the ingredient we’re investigating is Cocamide DEA.

This is an ingredient that you often come across in a lot of common skin and hair care products. Cocamide DEA is originally derived from natural coconut oil, but is extensively refined and processed with harsh, powerful chemicals that leave the final product thoroughly unnatural. Even though it is manufactured regularly in cosmetics, Cocamide DEA can have negative and lasting affects on your skin, hair, and overall health. Here are some of the consequences Cocamide DEA can have for you and your body, and tips to help you avoid it so you can stay as happy and healthy as possible.

It dries out your skin

Cocamide DEA is used as a surfactant, which means it helps soaps and shampoos to lather and foam.  Unfortunately, if a surfactant is too strong it can strip away your body’s natural oils, leaving your skin dried out. Without this natural protection against microbes and other environmental factors, your skin might get flaky and itchy. Your skin also becomes more prone to infection. Other strong surfactants that can cause dry skin include sulfates, commonly sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate, and betaines (usually cocamidopropyl betaine).

It can cause cancer

Aside from drying your skin out (which we all know is bad enough), Cocamide DEA has been implicated in much more serious and long-term health risks. Cocamide DEA can combine with preservatives to form very dangerous chemicals called nitrosamines. One such chemical is called NDELA, a compound that has been shown to cause cancer in rats. NDELA is readily absorbed through the skin, especially when it’s applied to large areas of your body. Do yourself a favor and steer clear of these toxic chemicals. They’re often found in less expensive skin care products, but nothing is more valuable than your health.

How to avoid it

Cocamide DEA is found all over, especially in shampoos, hand soaps, and cosmetics. The good news is it’s easy to avoid. All you need to do is check the label for it and other like chemicals. Look out especially for any ingredient containing the phrase DEA, TEA, and MEA. These are all compounds similar to Cocamide DEA that carry similar risks (skin irritation and increased cancer risk).

You can rest assured that all of my products are completely free of Cocamide DEA and similar toxic chemicals.  I’ve worked hard to ensure that my products will keep your body happy – inside and out – and I hope you enjoy them!

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Reader Interactions


  1. Karen concepcion says

    Is cocomide in coconut oil or is it added to coconut oil? If I am allergic to cocomide dea does that mean I am allergic to coconut oil

    • Annmarie Skin Care says

      Hey Karen 🙂 Cocamide DEA is a completely separate, processed, byproduct of coconut oil. We would recommend following up with your allergist if you are concerned about using coconut oil!

  2. Clare lindsay says

    I recently stayed in a hotel and used a bottle of hand/body wash supplied. My hands tingled, so I stopped using it. The next day I started cystitis, and for four long months have trailed round doctors trying to find an answer to severe pelvic pain.

    The ingredients in the Tea Tree and a Mint Hair and
    Body Gel, supplied by the hotel are as follows….

    Aqua, Soium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium chloride, Cocamide DEA, Glycol Stearate, Lealeuca Alternifolia (tea tree oil), Menthal piper its (peppermint oil), Parfum, Tetrasodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Magnesium chloride, MagnesiumNitrate, Methylchloridothiazlinone, Methylidothiazolinone, CI 19140, CI 42090.

    I would be very grateful for any information on these ingredients! Best wishes.

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