• Derived from: coconut
  • Pronunciation: (\ˈsō-dē-əm\ \ˈkō-(ˌ)kō-yul\ \īs-i-ˈthī-ə-ˌnāt\)
  • Type: Naturally-derived

What Is Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate?

Sodium cocoyl isethionate is a fine white powder derived from the fatty acids in coconut oil and isethionic acid, a type of sulfonic acid.[1,2] Coconuts grow on cocos nucifera trees and are widely cultivated [3,4] to produce food, fibers, building materials, and natural ingredients.[5,6]

How Is Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate Made?

Sodium cocoyl isethionate is made by reacting sodium isethionate with the fatty acid from coconut oil or other chlorides.[10] Next, the mixture is heated to remove water and then distilled to remove excess fatty acids.[11]

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate Uses

Sodium cocoyl isethionate is a surfactant that allows water, oil and dirt to mix, allowing things to become cleaner.[7] It can be found in dozens of personal care products such as shampoo, facial cleanser, bar soaps, conditioners, and hair styling products.[8,9]

Is Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate Safe?

The Cosmetics Ingredient Review has deemed the ingredient safe for use in cosmetic products when formulated to be non irritating.[12] Whole Foods has deemed the ingredient acceptable in its body care quality standards.[13] Clinical research has shown that the ingredient is typically not a skin irritant or sensitizer.[14,15,16]


[1] Environmental Working Group
[2] Cosmeticsinfo.org
[3] Pennsylvania State University
[4] Cosmeticsinfo.org
[5] University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources
[6] U.S. National Plant Germplasm System
[10] Personal Care Council
[11] Walele, I. and Sayed, S. "Fatty acid esters of hydroxyalkyl sulfonate salts and process for producing same" 
[7] Cosmeticsinfo.org
[8] Environmental Working Group
[9] Personal Care Council
[12] Personal Care Council
[13] Whole Foods Market
[14] Andersen F.A. (ed.). “Final Report on the Safety Assessment on Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate.” Journal of the American College of Toxicology. 1993;12(5):459- 479
[15] Tupker R.A., Bunte E.E., Fidler V., Wiechers J.W., and Coenraads P.J. “Irritancy ranking of anionic detergents using onetime occlusive, repeated occlusive and repeated open tests.” Contact Dermatitis. 1999;40:316-322
[16] Bárány E., Lindberg M., and Lodén M. “Biophysical characterization of skin damage and recovery after exposure to different surfactants.” Contact Dermatitis. 1999;40:98-103

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