Skin care products lining store shelves today are chock-full of synthetic and harsh chemicals. Many of these ingredients serve almost no purpose other than making products more appealing in texture and scent.
Let’s just say: They often do more harm than good.
Cocamidopropyl betaine is one ingredient commonly hiding out in skincare and household cleaning products.
Today, we’re investigating what exactly this chemical is and how it affects your eczema.
What is Cocamidopropyl Betaine & Does it Worsen Eczema?
Cocamidopropyl betaine, sometimes referred to as CAPB for short, is a synthetic fatty acid derived from coconuts. Because of cocamidopropyl betain’s origins, products containing the chemical can still be considered “natural.”
CAPB functions as a surfactant in many skincare and household cleaning products. It makes water molecules “slippery” so they can’t stick together and therefore breaks surface tension.
This also allows substances to mix even if they wouldn’t normally and can more easily attach to things like dirt and rinse it away more effectively.
Cocamidopropyl betaine and coco betaine sound similar, making them easy to confuse, but it’s worth noting they have slightly different chemical makeups.
What Is It Used For?
Because CAPB allows particles like dust and dirt to attach, cocamidopropyl betaine is used to increase the effectiveness of skincare and cleaning products. During the rinsing process, CAPB helps ensure you’re not just washing away product but the dirt with it — which is the whole point of cleaning!
It’s also used for a wide variety of other purposes. It can help create lather in foaming products, reduce static in conditioners, thicken personal care products, and more.
CAPB can be found in everything from toothpaste to shaving cream to detergents and body washes to contact solution.
Potential Side Effects
Cocamidopropyl betaine can trigger a form of eczema known as contact dermatitis in some people. Symptoms of contact dermatitis from CAPB exposure include itchiness, redness, and blisters.
Some people also report tightness and eye irritation if used around that area.
Connection to Eczema
Contact dermatitis is a type of eczema that appears as a result of exposure to an irritant or allergen. In this case, the irritant is cocamidopropyl betaine.
Depending on whether you have an allergy or are just sensitive — and depending on the extent of exposure — contact dermatitis can be severe if not treated and monitored.
In addition to causing a contact dermatitis reaction, CAPB can also worsen or cause flare-ups in atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema.
People suffering from any form of eczema are likely to have already sensitive skin prior to exposure that can worsen the skin’s reaction.
In the case of atopic dermatitis, there’s also likely a pre-existing imbalance in the skin microbiome that's weakened the skin’s natural protective barrier.
That’s why when you have eczema, it’s even more important than ever to read the ingredients in your skincare products and opt for gentle, fragrance-free, alcohol-free products without any harsh chemical ingredients like CAPB.
How to Avoid CAPB
Proponents of CAPB say that if purified properly, it won’t irritate skin. Some research shows that irritants aminoamide (AA) and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine (DMAPA) produced during the manufacturing of CAPB could be the real cause of cocamidopropyl betaine reactions.
However, there really is no way to know at all if CAPB has been properly purified or if this would help you avoid the cocamidopropyl betaine dangers.
To avoid CAPB, look for the following terms and phrases on your ingredients labels:
- Cocamidopropyl betaine
- cocamidopropyl dimethyl glycine
- 1-propanaminium hydroxide
- hydroxide inner salt
- disodium cocoamphodipropionate
- Cocoyl amide propylbetaine
Cocamidopropyl betaine in skin care is far too common — and so are the negative reactions people experience from it in their personal and household products.
To avoid potential irritation from CAPB and other harsh chemicals, opt for gentle, hypoallergenic skincare ingredients… especially if you have atopic dermatitis or another type of eczema.
At Gladskin, we’ve developed gentle cleansing products like body wash, makeup remover, shampoo, and more for those with sensitive, eczema-prone skin.