Illegal Carcinogen Found In Nearly 100 Popular Shampoo Brands


An analysis by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) found an outlawed cancer-causing chemical in 98 shampoos, soaps, and other personal care products sold by Walmart, Target, Babies R Us, Kohl’s, and other national retailers in violation of California law.

The chemical, cocamide diethanolamine (cocamide DEA), a chemically-modified form of coconut oil used as a thickener or foaming agent in many products, is listed in California as a known carcinogen. Products tested with high levels of cocamide DEA include shampoos made by Colgate Palmolive, Colomer, Paul Mitchell, and many others. Falsely labeled organic products from Organic by Africa’s Best also tested for high levels of the cancer-causing chemical. In many cases, products contained more than 10,000 ppm cocamide DEA, and one shampoo tested at more than 200,000 ppm (20%) cocamide DEA.


“Most people believe that products sold in major stores are tested for safety, but consumers need to know that they could be doused with a cancer-causing chemical every time they shower or shampoo. We expect companies to take swift action to end this unnecessary risk to our children’s and families’ health,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH.

The CEH is holding the companies accountable – it has filed a California lawsuit against four companies Walgreens, Lake Consumer Products, Vogue International, and Prell that sell products containing cocamide DEA. The nonprofit has also sent legal notices to more than 100 other companies that produce and/or sell cocamide.

Proposition 65 requires manufacturers to warn consumers over the risks of certain substances, like cocamide DEA. California listed cocamide DEA in June 2012 as a chemical known to cause cancer based on the assessment by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which evaluated skin exposure tests on animals.

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    • Don’t use head and shoulders! Wax in their product just coats your scalp and doesn’t actually treat the dandruff. Find “AG control” at a local salon, has 2% zinc in it to treat your dandruff AND they don’t test on animals!

      • H&S doesn’t even do that for me, it doesn’t get rid of dandruff in any way for me. The only shampoo that has a noticeable effect is Garnier Anti-Dandruff, and it advertises itself as containing zinc.


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