Cocamide DEA is cocamide diethanolamine. It is used to thicken the shampoo, a body wash, or a facial cleanser and give it a nice goopy consistency.
It is made by reacting fatty acids in coconut oils with diethanolamine. It is a viscous liquid and is used as a foaming agent in bath products like shampoos and hand soaps, and in cosmetics as an emulsifying agent.
Product manufacturers believe that the thicker is the product, the more appealing it seems to the customers. Maybe they think the product is more “rich” or “nutritious” or “natural”. But there’s nothing natural about cocamide DEA.
DEA and its variants are suspected of increasing the risk of cancer. DEA can combine with amines present in cosmetic formulations to form nitrosamines (N-nitrosodiethanolamine), which are known to be highly carcinogenic.