DEA: What\'s the alternative?


The C&T industry has been affected by the enforcement of Proposition 65 – which affects cocamide DEA – in the State of California. Ashley Underwood explores DEA-free options

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Cocamide DEA is the most common of amides used in the cosmetics industry and has long been a go-to when formulating surfactant based products. The amides used in the cosmetics industry are 1:1 amides, produced by reacting 1 mole of coconut fatty acids or their esters with 1 mole of dithanolamine (DEA) and are classed as non-ionic surfactants.

Amides and betaines are the two most commonly used secondary surfactants that are used for their excellent foam building and foam stabilising properties alongside their ability to build viscosity. When used in conjunction with each other, they provide an excellent surfactant profile.

Cocamide DEA is also used for other purposes, including to aid formation of emulsions, to stabilise emulsions and for pH adjustment of a formulation. It can also act as an opacifying agent. As a result of its diversity, cocamide DEA, also known as coconut oil diethanolamine condensate, N,N-Bis(hydroxyethyl)coco amides and cocamide diethanolamine, can be found in the INCI list of a vast range of products.

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