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Toxic Chemical Glossary:
What is Cocamidopropyl Betaine: Chemical Free Living

What is cocamidopropyl betaine?

Cocamidopropyl betaine is a synthetic detergent and surfactant that is used in personal care products, cosmetics [1][2] and cleaning products [3]. It is used to reduce static, condition the skin & hair, increase the foaming action of certain cleansing and cleaning products, and moderate the viscosity of liquids [1].

What products is cocamidopropyl betaine in?

As a synthetic surfactant, cocamidopropyl betaine is found in a number of personal hygience products like shampoo, toothpaste, contact lens solutions, skin care products like bath gels, cleaners, liquid soaps, and make-up remover, as well as personal hygiene products [1][2].

How to tell if a product has cocamidopropyl betaine

Look for a variety of different synonyms used to designate the presence of cocamidopropyl betaine.  In cleaning products, look for these:

CADG, Cocamidopropyl betaine, Cocamidopropyl dimethyl glycine, Cocoamphocarboxypropionate, Cocoamphodiproprionate, Disodium cocoamphodipropionate

In personal care products, look for these:

1-propanaminium, 3-amino-n- (carboxymethyl) -n,n-dimethyl-, n-coco acyl derivs., inner salts; 1-propanaminium, n- (carboxymethyl) -n,n-dimethyl-3- [ (1-oxococonut) amino] -, hydroxide, inner salt; 1propanaminium, 3aminon (carboxymethyl) n,ndimethyl, ncoco acyl derivs., hydroxides, inner salts; cadg; cocamido betaine; cocamidopropyl dimethyl glycine; cocoamidopropyl betaine; cocoyl amide propylbetaine; cocoyl amide propyldi methyl glycine solution; cocoyl amide propyldimethyl glycine; hydroxide inner salt 1-propanaminium, n- (carboxymethyl) -n,n-dimethyl-3- [ (1-oxococonut) amino] –

Risks associated with cocamidopropyl betaine

Health concerns around cocamidopropyl betaine include allergic skin reaction, contact dermatitis and environmental toxicity [1] [2].  Increasing rates of sensitization in the population led to cocamidopropyl betaine being named Allergen of the Year in 2004 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society [2].

The Environment Canada Domestic Substance List includes cocamidopropyl betaine as a suspected environmental toxin [1]. In addition, there are dangers associated with cocamidopropyl betaine having to do with the substances that are used in processing this ingredient: amidoamine and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine. Nitrosamines may also form as a by-product of cocamidopropyl betaine.

How to avoid cocamidopropyl betaine

To avoid cocamidopropyl betaine, read product labels and avoid products that contain this ingredient or any of the ingredients listed above as synonyms. Instead, find toxic chemical free alternatives to cocamidopropyl betaine that contain natural ingredients.

In cleaning products, where manufacturers aren’t required to list all their ingredients on product labels, choose toxic chemical free alternatives that don’t contain toxic detergents & surfactants. Also remember that because there are no federal criteria dictating standards for what makes a cleaning product “natural”, a multitude of so-called natural cleaners contain this toxic chemical. It’s safer to go with options using only simple, non toxic ingredients.

In personal care products, do your own research on a product’s ingredients by using a resource such as the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep product database.

References:

[1] EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database (2007-2016). Cocamidopropyl betaine. Available online: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient.php?ingred06=701520 December 20, 2016.

[2] Jacob, S.E. & Amini, S. (2008). Cocamidopropyl betaine. Available online: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18627690 December 20, 2016.

[3] US Department of Health & Human Services Household Products Databases. Available online: https://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/household/brands?tbl=chem&id=636&query=COCAMIDOPROPYL+BETAINE&searchas=TblChemicals January 23, 2107.

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