sodium cocoyl isethionate

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate

Learn all about sodium cocoyl isethionate, including how it's made, and why Puracy uses sodium cocoyl isethionate in our products.

The 30 Days of Cleaning with Puracy

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Did you know coconuts are in your shampoo, conditioner, and soap in the form of Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate? Learn more about this versatile ingredient, as well as its many benefits, how it's made, its safety level, and more.

What is Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate?

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) is a gentle surfactant derived from coconut oil that is commonly used in skincare and haircare products. This white, powdery substance has gained popularity due to its mild, non-irritating nature, making it suitable for a variety of personal care applications.

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate is a sodium salt of the coconut fatty acid ester of isethionic acid. It is an anionic surfactant, meaning it carries a negative charge that helps to create a lather and lift dirt, oil, and impurities from the skin and hair.

How Is Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate Made?

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate is produced by reacting sodium isethionate with fatty acids derived from coconut oil or other chlorides. The mixture is then heated to remove water and distilled to remove excess fatty acids.

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate Uses

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate has numerous functions and applications in skincare and haircare products due to its mild, non-irritating properties. Some of its uses include:

  • Shampoos and conditioners

As a surfactant, SCI helps as a cleaning agent to hair and the scalp, removing dirt, oil, and impurities without causing irritation or damaging the hair.

  • Facial cleansers

Its gentle nature makes it ideal for use in facial cleansers, particularly for sensitive skin.

  • Bar soaps

SCI can be found in bar soaps, where it creates a creamy lather and cleanses the skin without causing dryness or irritation.

  • Hair styling products

In hair styling products, SCI can provide a smooth texture and aid in the even distribution of other ingredients.

Safety Recommendations

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate is generally considered safe for use in cosmetic and personal care products. The Cosmetics Ingredient Review has deemed the ingredient safe for use when formulated to be non-irritating, and Whole Foods has deemed it acceptable in its body care quality standards. Clinical research has shown that SCI is typically not a skin irritant or sensitizer.

  • Recommended Usage

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) is safe for regular use when formulated within the recommended concentrations for personal care products. The Cosmetics Ingredient Review (CIR), an independent panel of expert scientists responsible for evaluating the safety of cosmetic ingredients, has established guidelines for the safe use of SCI in various types of products. The ingredient can be used daily, but it is recommended to only be used twice on hair per day to maintain follicle health.

  • Health Concerns
    • Low: Cancer
    • Low: Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity
    • Mild: Allergies

There are no known health concerns related to cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, or other serious side effects associated with the use of Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) in skincare and haircare products. Studies conducted on SCI have shown that it is not a skin irritant, sensitizer, or a carcinogenic substance. Furthermore, it has been assessed and deemed safe by the Cosmetics Ingredient Review

  • Coconut Allergies

Since the ingredient is sourced from coconut oil, it is not recommended for use if you have a coconut allergy. Be sure to check a product's ingredient label before application to ensure its contents.

Benefits of Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate

Discover the ways Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate is used in a variety of products to cleanse skin and retain moisture.

  • Mild surfactant

Its gentle cleansing action makes it suitable for sensitive skin and hair types, reducing the risk of irritation and damage.

  • Moisture retention

SCI helps to maintain the skin's natural moisture levels by minimizing the loss of water during cleansing, leaving the skin soft and hydrated.

  • Skin barrier optimization

By supporting the skin's natural barrier function, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate helps to protect the skin from environmental stressors and maintain overall skin health. Do note that as a mild surfactant, it should not be used excessively at the risk of disrupting the skin barrier.

  • Reduced inflammation

The gentle nature of SCI can help to reduce inflammation and irritation associated with certain skin conditions, such as eczema.

Advantages of Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate is often preferred over other surfactants due to its mildness and versatility, making it an ideal ingredient for a wide range of personal care products. Some reasons why SCI is more appropriate than its common counterparts or alternatives include:

  • Gentle cleansing

Compared to other surfactants, SCI is less likely to cause irritation or damage to the skin and hair, making it suitable for sensitive skin types.

  • Biodegradability

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate is biodegradable, which means it has a lower environmental impact than some alternative surfactants.

  • Derived from renewable sources

SCI is derived from coconut oil, a renewable resource, which makes it a more sustainable choice compared to petroleum-based surfactants.

  • Versatility

The mild nature and multiple benefits of SCI make it a versatile ingredient suitable for various personal care products, including facial cleansers, shampoos, conditioners, bar soaps, and hair styling products.

  • Emulsifying properties

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate acts as an emulsifier in personal care formulations, helping to blend and stabilize different ingredients, improving the texture and consistency of the final product.

For The Environment

Learn more about the environmental impact of Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, from its biodegradability to its pollution emissions. 

  • Bioaccumulation

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate is considered to have a low bioaccumulation potential, meaning it is unlikely to build up in the environment or within organisms. This low bioaccumulation potential reduces the risk of long-term effects on wildlife and ecosystems, as SCI does not persist in the environment for extended periods.

  • Biodegradability

SCI is biodegradable, meaning it can be broken down by microorganisms in the environment, reducing its impact on ecosystems. The biodegradation process helps ensure that SCI does not contribute to environmental pollution and does not harm aquatic life.

  • Resources used

The production of SCI requires fewer resources than some alternative surfactants, as it is derived from renewable sources like coconut oil. This renewable resource allows for a more sustainable production process and reduces the consumption of non-renewable resources typically required for petroleum-based surfactants.

  • Pollution

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate does not contribute to pollution or other negative environmental impacts. Its biodegradable nature ensures that it does not persist in the environment, reducing the risk of contaminating water sources or negatively affecting aquatic life. Furthermore, the production process of SCI generates fewer harmful byproducts compared to some other surfactants, minimizing the overall environmental impact of its manufacturing.

Discover Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate with Puracy

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate is a popular choice for personal care products due to its mildness, versatility, and environmentally friendly properties. Discover its gentle cleansing action and numerous benefits for skin and hair health in Puracy's natural, plant-powered personal care products, such as our Natural Body Wash and Hand Soap. Your skin –and the planet–  deserve this eco-friendly upgrade! 

[1] Environmental Working Group
[3] Pennsylvania State University
[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"
[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