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Coconut oil is one of my favourite oils and is one of the best natural oils for hair and health so when I came across an article a few days ago on a popular website indicating coconut oil has a dark side, I was a bit stumped.
On closer inspection, the culprit turned out to be an ingredient named cocamide diethanolamine aka cocamide DEA. So what is cocamide DEA? Wikipedia states: –
“DEA, or cocamide diethanolamine, is a diethanolamide made by reacting the mixture of fatty acids from 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. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) lists coconut oil diethanolamine condensate (cocamide DEA) as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen, which identifies this chemical as possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
Is Coconut Oil Bad for You?
Don’t throw all your coconut oil out just yet. Altering the structure of coconut oil creates cocamide DEA.
If you are using cold pressed unrefined/organic coconut oil, you are fine. If you have hair or beauty products with coconut oil listed as an ingredient, scrutinize the ingredient list again. Cocamide DEA also masquerades as the following:-
- Cocamide MEA
- DEA-cetyl phosphate
- DEA oleth-3 phosphate
- Lauramide DEA
- Linoleamide MEA
- Myristamide DEA
- Oleamide DEA
- Stearamide MEA
- TEA-lauryl sulfate
The many benefits of unrefined coconut oil have been outlined in several posts on Natural Oils for Hair and Health. Below are some of them:-
- Luscious, Lustrous Hair with Coconut Oil
- The Difference Between Virgin & Extra Virgin Coconut Oil?
- DIY Aloe Vera Juice and Coconut Oil Recipe for Dry Hair
- How to Use Onion Juice and Coconut Oil for Hair Regrowth
- Coconut Oil for Weight Loss. Here Are the Facts
- 9 Ways to Get the Goodness of Coconut into Your Diet for Healthier Hair
For a complete list of all the articles on coconut oil on the website, have a look at the coconut oil archive.
Always exercise due diligence when purchasing products that claim to contain coconut oil. You can also check out Best Brands of Coconut Oil for best recommendations.
Update:- The title of the article has been revised to sound not so inflammatory as it seems to have set off quite a few readers.
If you would like to know more about how to use natural oils for specific purposes to get more effective use out of them, you may want to check out How to Grow Hair Healthy & Long with Natural Oils, a guide which goes in-depth into which specific oil (s) works for each hair issues for optimal length and health.