What is Cocamidopropyl Betaine, and why we removed it from our products.

At Better Basics, our mission is to be at the forefront of ingredient and packaging research so we can create the most sustainable, and healthy products available.

We use the Environment Working Group's skin deep database as a resource for the latest research and ranking of ingredients. When we launched our products in 2021, we decided to focus on using gentle, natural coconut based surfactants in our formulas. One of those surfactants is called Cocamidopropyl Betaine. It is very commonly used in household products for its gentle foaming and cleansing abilities. When we learned there may be some concern about this product from an environmental standpoint, we took steps to remove it from our ingredient list right away.

We reached out directly to Environment Canada about this ingredient, who confirmed in the low quantities it is not currently cause for concern, however, there has been some links to ocean toxicity. Because of this, we have taken the proactive stance to remove this ingredient from our formulas.

What is Cocamidopropyl Betaine?

Cocamidopropyl Betaine, commonly abbreviated as CAPB, is a surfactant derived from coconut oil and dimethylaminopropylamine. It gained popularity in the personal care industry due to its effectiveness in creating lather and its ability to act as a cleansing agent. CAPB is found in a myriad of products, from shampoos and body washes to facial cleansers and even household cleaning agents.

Why Isn't it Safe for the Environment?

Despite having widespread use in the personal care industry, Cocamidopropyl Betaine poses some environemntal concerns. 

  1. Aquatic Toxicity: When CAPB is rinsed off during a shower or washed down the drain after cleaning, it finds its way into wastewater treatment plants and eventually into water bodies. Environment Canada has it listed on their domestic substances list due to studies have shown that CAPB can be toxic to aquatic life, particularly fish and other marine organisms. Even at low concentrations, it can disrupt aquatic ecosystems, leading to adverse effects on biodiversity.

  2. Persistent Pollution: One of the most troubling aspects of Cocamidopropyl Betaine is its persistence in the environment. Unlike some other surfactants that readily biodegrade, CAPB can linger in waterways for extended periods, exacerbating its impact on aquatic ecosystems. This persistence raises concerns about bioaccumulation, where CAPB accumulates in the tissues of organisms over time, potentially reaching concentrations that are harmful to both wildlife and humans.

  3. Formation of N-Nitrosamines: Perhaps the most alarming environmental issue associated with Cocamidopropyl Betaine is its propensity to form N-nitrosamines. These are carcinogenic compounds that can result from the reaction between CAPB and other ingredients or environmental factors, such as sunlight or chlorine. N-nitrosamines have been linked to various health risks, including cancer, making their presence in personal care products and wastewater a significant cause for concern.

Our stance on being better

While we know our industry has not taken a strong stance against Cocamidopropyl Betaine, we feel that it is crucial to scrutinize the ingredients in our products and take a leading standpoint against anything that may have adverse affects to people or the planet.

We have the power to drive change by staying on top of the latest research and responding right away. By choosing alternative biodegradable surfactants and minimizing our use CAPB in our products, we can mitigate the environmental harm associated with this ubiquitous ingredient. Let's embark on a journey towards a cleaner, greener future—one where personal care doesn't come at the expense of our planet's health.