cocamidopropyl betaine

What Is Cocamidopropyl Betaine?

Is cocamidopropyl betaine safe? Is it the same as coco-betaine? Discover how this ingredient is commonly used in skin care, hair, & cleaning products.

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've probably seen “cocamidopropyl betaine” somewhere. But what does it do? Is it the same as coco-betaine?

Keep reading for a simple breakdown on this common ingredient.

What Is Cocamidopropyl Betaine?

Cocamidopropyl betaine is a coconut-derived, sticky, yellow liquid with a slightly “fatty” odor. To produce it, raw coconut oil is combined with dimethylaminopropylamine to create a “surfactant.”

what is cocamidopropyl betaine from

Thanks to its price point and effective cleaning capabilities, cocamidopropyl betaine has become a popular alternative to sulfates in countless cleaning and personal care products. These surfactants break the surface tension in water, attach to dirt, then rinse it away.

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

Coco Betaine vs. Cocamidopropyl Betaine

They're often used interchangeably but 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 slightly more irritating to skin).

Cocamidopropyl Betaine Uses

coco betaine

From shampoo to soaps, toothpaste, shaving cream, makeup removers, body wash, detergents, and cleaners, cocamidopropyl betaineis most typically used to create rich, thick lather in foaming products. However, it's also excellent for:

  • Conditioning hair & reducing static
  • Thickening personal care products and cleaners.
  • Hydrating and nourishing skin

Is Cocamidopropyl Betaine Safe?

cocamidopropyl betaine in skin care

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." EWG also lists cocamidopropyl betaine as a potential allergen when products aren't competely rinsed off.

Reactions to Cocamidopropyl Betaine

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

  • 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

    In other words, cocamidopropyl betaine safety usually comes down to the ingredient's production and use. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Julie Jackson states, ”a common allergen associated with cocamidopropyl betaine is the chemical used in the synthesis of this molecule: 3-(dimethylamino)propylamine – often a contaminant.”

    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.

    Cocamidopropyl Betaine Uses in Puracy Products

    cocamidopropyl betaine uses

    Our customers’ health and comfort is vital. That's why all of our personal care products are free of cocamidopropyl betaine, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and other questionable ingredients that have no business being used on your skin.

    The one exception is our Natural Laundry Detergent which uses high-quality cocamidopropyl betaine. It's great at targeting tough stains and fully rinses away during a single laundry cycle. Every Puracy ingredient is vetted to be the highest quality possible. That means you’ll get serious cleaning benefits – without the risk of skin irritation.

    Puracy Products Are Transparent, Gentle, & Effective

    cocamidopropyl betaine free products

    We've always formulated our personal care products (like shampoo without cocamidopropyl betaine) with complete transparency. Our goal is to provide plant-powered products that work really, really well, and we think you'll love what you discover.