I came across an article a few days ago on a popular website indicating coconut oil has a dark side. On closer inspection, the culprit turned out to be an ingredient named cocamide diethanolamine aka cocamide DEA. So what is it? Wikipedia states: –
Cocamide 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.
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 products advertising coconut oil as an ingredient, scrutinize the ingredient list again.
Cocamide DEA also masquerades as cocamide MEA, DEA-cetyl phosphate, DEA oleth-3 phosphate, lauramide DEA, linoleamide MEA, myristamide DEA, oleamide DEA, stearamide MEA, TEA-lauryl sulfate and triethanolamine.
The many benefits of unrefined coconut oil are outlined in two previous posts – Luscious, Lustrous Hair with Coconut Oil & The Difference Between Virgin & Extra Virgin Coconut Oil?. 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.
PS. 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.