Written by Stacey Kelleher. Medically reviewed by Board-Certified Dermatologist Dr. Julie Jackson, MD, FAAD.

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?  

What Is Cocamidopropyl Betaine?

Cocamidopropyl betaine is a naturally-derived, sticky yellow liquid with a slightly “fatty” odor. To produce this ingredient, 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.

Note: Cocamidopropyl betaine is also referred to as coco amido propyl betaine (CAPB).

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 

Coco Betaine vs. Cocamidopropyl Betaine

Though often used interchangeably, coco betaine and cocamidopropyl betaine aren't exactly the same. While both are surfactants and used similarly, coco betaine has a slightly different chemical makeup (which can be a bit more irritating to skin). 

Is Cocamidopropyl Betaine Safe?

Although it's a naturally-derived, coconut-based cleanser, some people still experience dermatological reactions. In fact, way back in 2004, the American Contact Dermatitis Society named cocamidopropyl betaine its “Allergen of the Year."

”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.”
Board-Certified Dermatologist Dr. Julie Jackson

Reactions to Cocamidopropyl in Skincare

Direct exposure to cocamidopropyl betaine or 3-(dimethylamino) propylamine can cause contact dermatitis symptoms that can last for 1-30 days after discontinuing use: 

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  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Tightness
  • 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).

    Pro Tip: If you suspect an adverse reaction, a board-certified dermatologist can perform patch allergy testing.

    High-Quality Cocamidopropyl Betaine Safe for Sensitive Skin

    cocamidopropyl betaine in shampoo

    Cocamidopropyl betaine safety typically comes down to its production and use. 

    For example, a University of Miami School of Medicine study determined that cocamidopropyl betaine in skincare products wasn't the culprit for contact dermatitis. It was actually two specific impurities that tend to develop during the manufacturing process: aminoamide (AA) and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine (DMAPA). 

    Higher-quality grades of cocamidopropyl betaine, however, rarely contain these impurities. 

    Does Puracy Make Cocamidopropyl Betaine Free Products?

    Thanks to its price point and effective cleaning capabilities, cocamidopropyl betaine has become a popular alternative to sulfates. Since our customers’ health and comfort is vital, all of our personal care products are free of cocamidopropyl betaine, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and other ingredients that have no business being near your skin.

    cocamidopropyl betaine uses

    The exceptions are our natural laundry detergents which use high-quality cocamidopropyl betaine. Not only is it great at targeting tough stains, but it also fully rinses away during a single laundry cycle. Because every Puracy ingredient is of exceptional quality, you’ll still get serious cleaning benefits without the risk of skin irritation.  

    Puracy Products: Transparent, Gentle, & Effective

    From our Natural Shampoo without cocamidopropyl betaine to our luxurious Body Wash, we're transparent about every single ingredient in our products. We want you to make the most informed choices to ensure the health and safety of what matters most: your home and family.