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4 min read

What’s in Your Shampoo? Dangers of Cocamide DEA: Side Effects? Cancer?

What’s in Your Shampoo? Dangers of Cocamide DEA: Side Effects? Cancer?

Coconut is no stranger to the beauty world. Lotions, shampoos, and soaps often boast that tropical smell. Let’s face it, we love the smell, and we love the idea that we are using a natural ingredient.

What you will not love is the fact that cocamide DEA, which is derived from coconut oil, is what you can smell. And it is not as friendly as you would like.

What Is Cocamide DEA?

Cocamide DEA is coconut oil that has been so intensely refined and processed with harsh chemicals that it really shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath as coconuts. It could not be further from the natural and wonderful fruit we love.

What you get is very unnatural, and, sadly, it is found in numerous hair and body care products.

In high doses, cocamide DEA is considered toxic and potentially carcinogenic. The International Agency for Research on Cancer reports that high doses consist of 10,000 parts per million.

The state of California recognized DEA as a carcinogenic substance in 2012.

At this time, 26 companies agreed to remove cocamide DEA from all products. While hundreds still use DEA in shampoos and other beauty products, progress is being made.

DEA can combine with preservatives to create toxic chemicals known as nitrosamines. NDELA is one such chemical, and it has been linked to the development of cancer in rats.

It is thought to be toxic to humans because it can be easily absorbed through the skin, such as though your scalp.

What You Can Do to Avoid It

DEA is used in shampoos because it acts as a surfactant, which means it creates lather and foam. The problem with surfactants is that when they are strong, they can strip away your body’s natural oils, leaving skin dry, flaky, and itchy.

Not only can this mean dandruff for your hair, but without natural oils to protect you from bacteria, you stand a chance of getting infections.

Cocamide DEA seems to be everywhere, but you can avoid it. Choose natural shampoos, conditioners, and hair-styling products. Check the labels for any ingredients that contain DEA, MEA, or TEA.

These are all related chemicals that carry the same risks and potential for unhealthy hair and cancer.

Sadly, many of the retailers you hoped didn’t carry DEA-infused products actually do. Target, Trader Joe’s, Sephora, and Ulta carry brands that still use cocamide DEA. Even more concerning is the number of brands and retailers that offer bubble baths and shampoos for children with high DEA content. It is better to stay safe, and choose items carefully the next time you go shopping.

Organic Is Nothing: Check the Ingredients

It is also important to be wary of the word “organic” when shopping. You might think that natural and organic are one on the same and they both mean “good for you.”

However, because cocamide DEA is derived from coconuts, which are natural, the product in question can be called “organic.” This is why you need to check ingredients, and not just what the brand is advertising to you.

Products containing cocamide DEA may be deemed safe for use by the FDA. Even if cancer is not definitively linked, prolonged use can cause serious damage to your scalp and your hair.

The production of any harmful chemicals as a result of processing is danger enough and should tell you that DEA needs to be avoided at all costs.

If you crave the sweet and tropical smell of coconut for your hair, and shiny, smooth, and manageable hair, try natural coconut oil.

There is no need to spend money on hair care products boasting the benefits of coconut but offering cocamide DEA. Natural coconut oil and serum can be used to nourish, strengthen, and care or your hair without risking your overall health.

At Hair La Vie, we know that your hair is an integral part of how you present yourself to the world and shape your authentic style.

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    At Hair La Vie, we know that your hair is an integral part of how you present yourself to the world and shape your authentic style.

    Join our private Facebook Community for a safe, human-moderated space to share your Hair Journey, discover new natural beauty, and take steps towards becoming “you” with the help of an understanding, supportive community.

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