Written by Stacey Kelleher. Medically reviewed by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Julie Jackson, MD, FAAD.
What Is Cocamidopropyl Betaine?
If you carefully read the labels on your personal care products, you may have seen “cocamidopropyl betaine” at some point. But is cocamidopropyl betaine safe?
Cocamidopropyl betaine (aka CAPB) is a naturally-derived, sticky yellow liquid with a slightly “fatty” odor. To produce CAPB, raw coconut oil is combined with a colorless liquid called dimethylaminopropylamine to create a “surfactant.” In countless cleaning and personal care products, surfactants break the surface tension in water, attach to dirt, and rinse it away.
Coco Betaine vs. Cocamidopropyl Betaine
The two are often used interchangeably, but is coco betaine the same as cocamidopropyl betaine? Both are surfactants and used in similar applications, but coco betaine has a slightly different chemical makeup which can be a bit more irritating to skin.
Cocamidopropyl Betaine Uses
From shampoo to soaps, toothpaste, shaving cream, makeup removers, body wash, detergents, and cleaners, cocamidopropyl betaine is used to:
- Create rich, thick lather in foaming products
- Soften hair and reduce static in conditioners
- Thicken personal care products and cleaners.
- Hydrate and nourish skin
Cocamidopropyl Betaine in Skin Care
So is cocamidopropyl betaine safe for skin? Although CAPB is a naturally-derived, coconut-based cleanser, some people experience dermatological reactions. In fact, the American Contact Dermatitis Society named cocamidopropyl betaine its “Allergen of the Year" way back in 2004.
Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Julie Jackson reports that, ”another common allergen associated with cocamidopropyl betaine is the chemical used in the synthesis of this molecule: 3-(dimethylamino)propylamine – which is often a contaminant.”
Cocamidopropyl Betaine Safety
Direct exposure to cocamidopropyl betaine or 3-(dimethylamino) propylamine can cause contact dermatitis symptoms that can last anywhere from a few days to one month after discontinuing use:
Symptoms may include:
- Blisters and sores
Eye irritation has been linked to facial cleansers and makeup removers containing CAPB. Some sufferers complain of eye pain, redness, itching, and irritation, though these symptoms generally go away when the product is rinsed off.
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If you suspect an adverse reaction, a board-certified dermatologist can perform patch allergy testing.
High-Quality Cocamidopropyl Betaine Found Safe for Sensitive Skin
It’s important to note that cocamidopropyl betaine safety typically comes down to its production and use.
In fact, a University of Miami School of Medicine study determined that cocamidopropyl betaine in skincare products wasn't the culprit for contact dermatitis. Two specific impurities tend to develop during the manufacturing process: aminoamide (AA) and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine (DMAPA).
Higher-quality grades of cocamidopropyl betaine, however, rarely contain these impurities.
Puracy’s Stance on CAPB
Thanks to its price point and effective cleaning capabilities, CAPB is becoming a popular alternative to sulfates – but our customers’ health isn't worth that risk.
That’s why all of our personal care products are free of cocamidopropyl betaine, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and other ingredients that have no business being on your skin.
*The one exception in our product lineup is Puracy Natural Laundry Detergent. Not only is our high-quality cocamidopropyl betaine great at targeting tough stains, but it’s also fully rinsed away during a single laundry cycle. That means serious cleaning benefits – without the risk of skin irritation.
Puracy: Plant-Based Products You Can Trust
Many products claim to be “natural”, but at Puracy, we’re transparent about every single ingredient so you can make the best, most informed choices for you and your family.