Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB) – Toxic or safe?

February 11, 2016 4 min read

The Truth about Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB)

Have you checked out the ingredients in your “natural” shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, or body wash? You may be surprised to find out that a popular surfactant in most of these skin care and hair care products is actually toxic. If you have suffered from burning or itching skin, eye irritation, and/or eczema, this extremely common ingredient in popular “natural” or “organic” labeled products may be to blame.


What is Cocamidopropyl Betaine?

Cocamidopropyl betaine is an organic compound derived from coconut oil that you can find in a many of your “natural” or “organic” skin care and hair care products. CAPB is created by mixing raw coconut oil and dimethylaminopropylamine, creating what is known as an amphoteric surfactant. This compound can act as an acid or a base depending on its surroundings. When used in shampoos and soaps, it creates a thick lather. When used in conditioner, it becomes an anti-static agent. When you are shopping for a new, different shampoo, do the words “coconut-based cleanser” ever lure you in? Lots of hair care products advertise the shine and volume you’ve always wanted in a “natural” way. CAPB is doing a lot more than just giving you the hair that you have always dreamed of having…


CAPB is not so Natural after all…

CAPB replaced Cocomide DEA after California listed it as a known carcinogen in 2012 under it’s prop 65 law. Unlike Cocomide DEA, Cocamidopropyl Betaine is not supposed to irritate the mucous membranes or cause skin irritation, but unfortunately, it does. ACPS named CAPB as allergen of the year in 2004.  According to the ACPS study, allergies due to CAPB first came to light as early as 1983. It was suspected that the dimethylaminopropylamine was truly to blame. Most cases of CAPB allergy have been in association with the CAPB – based shampoos, hand cleansers, body wash cleansers, toothpastes, and makeup removers.


What are the Risks of Using Products Containing CAPB?

CAPB is a popular cause for rosacea, eczema, skin irritation, and eye irritation. As stated in our previous blog post in 2012, we had someone related to one of our employees who began to experience intense eye irritation issues. Their eyes were chronically dry, irritated, and tended to “crust” during their sleep. This person also developed very painful, irritating cracks around the corners of their eyes due to dryness. They were told to wash their eyes with baby shampoo. Baby shampoo uses cocamidopropyl betaine. CAPB is found in a lot of “SLS-free” products or “tear-free” baby shampoos and soaps. Another terrifying discovery that we have made is that lots of eye makeup removers and eyelid cleansers/scrubs recommended to people with problematic eyes contain this deceitful compound. Most also contain lots of harmful parabens.


What are Some Truly all Natural Solutions?

If you are experiencing painful irritation including but not limited to painful cracking and dryness around your eyes, cutting out the use of products that contain Cocamidopropyl Betaine may be the solution to relief. We have created a couple of all natural, gentle, non-toxic foaming eyelid washes and one all natural eye makeup remover. Not to mention all of our other eye moisturizers and serums which can help speed up the process to recovery. You can find all of these products under the Eye Treatments.

When you really start to think about the way that this compound consumes lots of areas of life, it is easy to understand how it can be so affective on our bodies in a negative way. The products that contain CAPB are very up close and personal with the largest organ we have on our bodies: our skin. Since it is commonly used in hair conditioner, body wash cleansers, contact cleansing solutions, shaving gels, hair coloring kits, and even dish soap, it can be a daunting task to rid our lives of this toxic compound. It is most definitely worth the effort and worth making the change. We have an entire line of truly all natural, non-toxic shampoos and conditioners. We also have a few all natural, gentle body cleansers as well. By using these, your skin and hair will get the organic care that they deserve!

The fact that this compound is a derivative of coconut oil may make you think that it is a safe, natural ingredient in your skin care and hair care products. The best thing you can possibly do for the health of your skin and eyes is to make sure you know what is in your hair and skin care products and to try to avoid this toxic compound. There are so many other better options out there, including our all natural shampoos made with organic ingredients and zero harmful chemicals.



Review ACDS’ Allergen of the Year 2000-2015

Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB) – Safe, Natural, or Harmful?

Cocamidopropyl Betaine

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