Personal Care Products

Shampoos with a cancer-causing chemical

Cocamide DEA is a chemically-modified form of coconut oil used as a thickener or foaming agent in many shampoos, soaps and other personal care products. In 2012, California listed cocamide DEA as a chemical known to cause cancer.

In 2013, CEH purchased shampoos and other products and identified the cancer-causing chemical cocamide DEA in nearly100 products, including major brands bought from national retailers like Target, Walgreens, CVS and others, and store-brand products purchased at Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Pharmaca, and Kohl’s. Some of the products containing cocamide DEA are intended for children, including a store brand children’s bubble bath from Kmart and a children’s shampoo/conditioner from Babies R Us. We also found falsely labeled “organic” products from Organic by Africa’s Best with high levels of the cancer-causing chemical.

CEH has launched lagal action against these and more than 100 other companies for selling products with cocamide DEA.

For more information, see our product list, press release, “Lawsuit Launched as testing finds cancer-causing chemical in nearly 100 hair care and personal care products” and news coverage of the story in The Star.

Phony “organic” personal care products

In 2011, CEH investigated dozens of shampoos and other personal care products that were falsely sold as “organic.” Many of these products were made with synthetic, often toxic chemicals, and none of them came close to meeting the California law that requires that products labeled as organic must contain at least 70% organic, plant-based ingredients. In fact, many of the products contained few or no organic ingredients.

In late 2011, we reached legal agreements with 11 companies, requiring them to remove the word “organic” from their labels or increase their use of organic ingredients, to comply with the law. To date, we have reached similar agreements to end phony organic labeling with more than forty companies.

For more information, see our press release, Lawsuit Launched to End Mislabeling of Organic Personal Care Products, and coverage of the story in the Wall Street Journal.