What is it? Cocoamide DEA is a chemically modified form of coconut oil used as a foaming agent and thickener in everything from shampoo and facial cleanser to body wash and conditioner. Simply put, it is a chemical used to make products look appealing. Chances are, if you’re not a stickler about label checking, you’ve probably got this toxin lurking behind your shower curtain at this very moment.
Health Risk: Working up a lather should not work you into a frenzy. Cocoamide DEA in high doses has some scary health risks: most notably, regular use of body care products containing this toxin have been linked to cancer and miscarriages. In addition, cocoamide DEA blocks the absorption of choline, a vital nutrient needed for brain development and maintenance, during fetal development.
What to do: That “all natural” cleanser that touts the use of coconut oil might need a second look. Cocoamide DEA is made by combining coconut oil and diethanolamine – which may hide under names such as lauramide diethanolamine, coco diethanolamide, lauroyl diethanolamide, lauramide DEA, lauric diethanolamide, coconut oil amide of diethanolamine, and lauryl diethanolamide. The best thing you can do is play detective at the drugstore and keep a watchful eye on the ingredients used. Look for cocoamide DEA under all its various monikers to stay safe!
Non-toxic alternatives to try: We love cocoamide DEA-free brands such as Dr. Bronner’s when it comes to staying fresh and toxin-free.