Cocamide MEA

What Is It?

Cocamide MEA is derived from the fatty acids from coconut oil and monoethanolamine (MEA). In cosmetics and personal care products, Cocamide MEA is used in the formulation of bath soaps and shampoo.

Why Is It Used?

Cocamide MEA increases foaming capacity and/or stabilizes foam. Cocamide MEA is also used to thicken the aqueous (water) portion of cosmetic and personal care products.

Scientific Facts

Cocamide MEA (or Cocamide Monoethanolamine) is a pale yellow viscous clear to amber liquid, or solid flakes. It is made from fatty acids found in coconut oil, reacted with monoethanolamine. Cocamide MEA is a mixture of ethanolamines of fatty acids derived from coconut oil and may also contain small amounts of Cocamide Diethanolamine (Cocamide DEA).

Safety Information

The safety of Cocamide MEA has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel evaluated the scientific data and concluded that Cocamide MEA was safe for use in rinse-off products and safe at concentrations up to 10% in leave-on products.

CIR Safety Review: The CIR Expert Panel considered data from previous safety assessments of Coconut Oil and its derivatives, Monoethanolamine (MEA), Cocamide DEA (Diethanolamine), Stearamide DEA and MEA, Isostearamide DEA and MEA, and Myristamide DEA and MEA in the evaluation of Cocamide MEA. These data suggested little acute, short-term, or chronic toxicity associated with dermal application. The CIR Expert Panel noted that MEA vapor was highly toxic but did not consider this significant since there was no vapor that arises from Cocamide MEA. The CIR Expert Panel noted that, unlike DEA, MEA has not been found to form a stable nitrosamine. However, MEA can react with an aldehyde to form DEA, which then can be nitrosated. Dermal application of Cocamide MEA at concentrations of 50% was nonirritating to only mildly irritating tests. Cocamide MEA was negative for mutagenicity in bacteria. In clinical tests, Cocamide MEA at a concentration of 50% was not irritating in a single-insult patch test.

Cocamide MEA may be used in cosmetics and personal care products marketed in Europe according to the general provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union.

EU Cosmetic Regulation

More Scientific Information

Cocamide MEA is used as a surfactant (foam booster) and viscosity increasing agent – aqueous in cosmetics and personal care products. Because Cocamide MEA is a mixture, it may also contain small amounts of Cocamide DEA or Cocamide TEA.