Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB): #2 Allergen in Shampoos

#2 Allergen in Shampoos

Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB) is an organic compound derived from two ingredients: coconut oil and dimethylaminopropylamine. It was the Johnson & Johnson company that introduced the first cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB) detergent shampoo in the 1950s using coconut oil. This shampoo ultimately gained extreme popularity as the well known “no more tears” baby shampoo.

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Cocamidopropyl betaine is a wonderful surfactant and creates a thick lather.  Surfactants are products that have both lipophilic (oil loving) - and hydrophilic (water loving) properties. These dual properties is what enables them to remove dirt and oil from the hair when used in a shampoo. Cocamidopropyl betaine typically doesn't cause much in the way of irritation which makes it a good choice.  For this reason it’s acommon ingredient in many liquid skin cleansers. When used in conditioners, it helps function as an anti-static agent.

Studies by Zirwas in 2004 showed that CAPB was present in 53 % of 197 shampoos that were studied. This made it the second most common allergen in shampoos, second only to fragrance. Tomorrow, we’ll review the third most common shampoo allergen.


Zirwas M, et al. Shampoos. Dermatitis. 2009

Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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