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Oleamide DEA

Today's Chemical:

Oleamide DEA

EWG Risk Score:

1 (Should be higher)

What is it?

Also known as Oleic Diethanolamide, it's used as a foam booster and thickener in shampoos, bubble baths and shower gels. 

What are its risks:

  • Oleamide DEA, due to the way it's processed, can contain and release a group of carcinogenic chemicals called nitrosamines. "Alkanolamides  are  manufactured  by  condensation  of  diethanolamine  and  the methylester  of  long  chain  fatty  acids.  Several alkanolamides (especially secondary alkanolamides) are susceptible to nitrosamine formation which constitutes a potential health problem. " (Source)
  • Skin irritation, can exacerbate dermatitis and other conditions. "Repeated exposure may cause skin cracking, flaking or drying following normal handling and use. In products intended for prolonged contact with the skin, the concentration of cocoamide DEA should not exceed 5%. Fatty acid diethanolamides (C8-C18) and monoethanolamides are classified by CESIO as irritating." (Source)

Steph's Opinion:

Cocamide DEA and oleamide DEA are created using the same method and are practically the same chemical. Oleamide DEA is created simply using oleic acid, a fatty acid found in many oils like coconut, whereas cocamide DEA is made with whole coconut oil instead of just the oleic acid. That's the only difference. So, oleamide DEA is actually present in cocamide DEA. The EWG Hazard Score for cocamide DEA is a 6, whereas oleamide DEA only scores a 1. This is due to lack of data on oleamide DEA because it is used less frequently. However, it poses the exact same risks as cocamide DEA and should score as such.  

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Reader Comments (6)

oh man! i'm confused - so is using EV coconut oil directly on the skin, hair, and as an eye makeup remover a bad idea? how about for oil pulling? .... (and if so, WHAT oil would you recommend as a good, daily "go to" ? thank you !!

side note : i've had terrible dry eye, patchy dry skin over the winter season, BUT i live in NE, and it IS winter - so i'm not holding EVCO as a culprit ...

Wed, February 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjayem

Great that you guys are back with more info on chemicals!

Wed, February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia

Good to know - I love EWG's database and think they are doing great work getting info out there. But I've seen a few things on there I don't agree with. Thank you SO MUCH for continuing to clarify and educate! It means a lot to have a trusted source to turn to....!

Wed, February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLIsette

@Jayem--no, not at all! Extra virgin coconut oil is totally safe (of course as long as you don't have a personal allergy.) It's what they do to the coconut oil to create the DEA that's the problem!

As far as the dry patch is concerned, while coconut oil is safe, I've read a lot of reports of people reacting to it when using it as a facial moisturizer.

@Claudia and Lisette--thanks! :)

Wed, February 13, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

Are Oleamide and Oleamide DEA the same thing? The reason I ask is that surgical meshes have Oleamide, and it is just now coming to light that toxins from Oleamide and Quaternary Ammonium Biocides are leaching into our bodies. I am trying to find more information of these two things, to see exactly what damage they may be doing. Can you enlighten further on that?

Mon, March 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne McClain

@Suzanne--No, oleamide and Oleamide DEA are two different chemicals. Oleamide occurs naturally in the body, whereas Oleamide DEA does not.

Regarding the quaternary ammonium compounds--you can find more info here

Mon, March 23, 2015 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

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