Cocamidopropyl Betaine is Found in Most Personal Care Products. Are you allergic to it?

Updated: Feb 25

If you missed our IG Live, I discussed an ingredient that's most commonly used in commercial skin/body products: Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB)

Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB) is a chemical compound found in many personal care and household cleaning products. CAPB is a surfactant, which means that it interacts with water, making the molecules slippery so they don’t stick together. AKA, CAPB is the ingredient that makes soap lather.


Cocamidopropyl betaine is a synthetic fatty acid made from Coconuts, so products that are considered “natural” can contain this chemical. Still, some products with this ingredient may cause unpleasant side effects.

...well that's alarming...

Side effects of Cocamidopropyl Betaine

Cocamidopropyl betaine allergic reaction

Some people have an allergic reaction when they use products containing CAPB. In 2004, the American Contact Dermatitis Society declared CAPB the “Allergen of the Year.”

Since then, a 2012 scientific review of studies found that it’s not the CAPB itself that causes an allergic reaction, but two impurities that are produced in the manufacturing process. The two irritants are aminoamide (AA) and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine (DMAPA). In multiple studies, when people were exposed to CAPB that did not contain these two impurities, they did not have an allergic reaction. Higher grades of CAPB that have been purified don’t contain AA and DMAPA and don’t cause allergic sensitivities.

Skin discomfort

If your skin is sensitive to products that contain CAPB, you may notice tightness, redness, or itchiness after you use the product. This kind of reaction is known as contact dermatitis. If the dermatitis is severe, you may have blisters or sores where the product came into contact with your skin.

Most of the time, an allergic skin reaction like this will heal on its own, or when you stop using the irritating product or use an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream.

If the rash doesn’t get better in a few days, or if it is located near your eyes or mouth, see a doctor.

Products with cocamidopropyl betaine

CAPB can be found in facial, body, and hair products like:

  • shampoos

  • conditioners

  • makeup removers

  • liquid soaps

  • body wash

  • shaving cream

  • contact lens solutions

  • gynecological or anal wipes

  • some toothpastes

CAPB is also a common ingredient in household spray cleaners and cleaning or disinfecting wipes.

How to tell if a product has cocamidopropyl betaine

CAPB will be listed on the ingredient label. The Environmental Working Group lists alternative names for CAPB, including:

  • 1-propanaminium

  • hydroxide inner salt

In cleaning products, you may see CAPB listed as:

  • CADG

  • cocamidopropyl dimethyl glycine

  • disodium cocoamphodipropionate

The National Institute of Health maintains a Household Product Database where you can check to see if a product you use may contain CAPB.

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Learn more about Reading Your Labels here.

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