Cocamide DEA is an ingredient used in many personal care products to enhance and stabilise foam formationii. It is a skin eye and respiratory tract irritantiii and is classified as 'possibly carcinogenic to humans' by the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer)iv. Cocamide DEA is made from the reaction of coconut oil and Diethanolamine. It is this DEA which is a cause for concern as it can be present it its free un-reacted form as an impurity in Cocamide DEA solutionsv, as well as have the ability to form highly carcinogenic nitrosaminesvi.
ii) Fascinating Silicone™ Chemistry - How Silicone Foam Stabilizers Work - Dow Corning
iii) Cocamide DEA - MSDS- Spectrum
iv) Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs
v) Coconut Oil Diethanolamine Condensate
vi) Opinion on Nitrosamines and Secondary Amines in Cosmetic Products