Soaps for a cocamidopropyl betaine-sensitivity?
August 6, 2016 11:08 AM   Subscribe

I just spent a week getting patch testing done at my local neighborhood Dermatologist. After five days of intense itching, I tested sensitive for cocamidopropyl betaine. It's in everything I use to clean myself. What can I use instead?

After getting home and checking the entirety of my apartment, I'm seeing that it's in: My shampoo. My cleanser. My laundry detergent. My hand soap. This is just all that I've checked this morning. My conditioners, more or less, made the cut.

So now I'm stuck. Does anyone, and I mean anyone, know a soap, shampoo, facial clenser, or anything that I can use that will not irritate my poor skin? Bonus points if it's low or no-fragrance, since I'm not fond of them, but at this point, I will take anything that will allow me to clean myself again without feeling so flaky and itchy!
posted by PearlRose to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I am a big fan of Kiss My Face olive oil soap. The bars are very soft, so it's important to keep them dry between uses or they will melt away. But very moisturizing and simple, and the basic one is fragrance free.
posted by Knicke at 11:24 AM on August 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser doesn't contain cocamidopropyl betaine, and Free & Clear shampoo (and conditioner) also appears to be free of your allergen.
posted by smangosbubbles at 11:26 AM on August 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

Costco's Kirkland house brand shampoo would appear, from the ingredients listed in this somewhat paranoid blog post, to be free of it. It's (relatively) cheap, and terrific shampoo.
posted by kmennie at 11:27 AM on August 6, 2016

I just came in to recommend the Kiss My Face soap suggested by Knicke. We've been using it for years. It periodically goes on sale at whole foods and I stock up. Ingredients: olive oil, salt, water.
posted by chocotaco at 11:34 AM on August 6, 2016

I can't recommend Sum:37 Rose Cleanser enough, although it does have added fragrance (which luckily does not irritate my extremely sensitive skin.)

Also, you can check potential products at CosDNA, which gives a breakdown of the ingredients in a huge range of products.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 11:37 AM on August 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

I use Curelle shampoo and conditioner because of my allergies galore, and would recommend those. They don't have cocamidopropyl betaine, and are completely scent-free.
posted by stellarc at 11:42 AM on August 6, 2016

I use SheaMoisture shampoo and conditioner, specifically the raw shea butter line. They don't list cocamidopropyl betaine as an ingredient (I checked the web site list of ingredients and the bottles of my shampoo and conditioner). I did do some googling, and it looks like cocamidopropyl betaine is derived from coconut, and I do see coconut oil listed in the ingredient list for this shampoo. However, the specific ingredient appears to be decyl glucoside, which seems to be chemically separate from cocamidopropyl betaine, but this is just something to be on the look out in general. (I'm guessing if coconut were broadly an allergen for you, this is something your doctor would have mentioned, but IANYD/IANAD/IANYChemist, so take all of this with a grain of salt.)

If you want to avoid coconut completely, it looks like SheaMoisture has a number of products without any coconut derived ingredients at all. The products are not scent free, but I don't think they add any fragrances.

I will also personally vouch for Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser being a great product.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:55 AM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

According to Paula's Choice, these are the only four products they sell that contain it, so it's not in anything else, including my holy grail cleanser. I like all of the PC products I've tried (sadly I can't give you a personal review of the shampoo) and they are very generous with free samples.
posted by telegraph at 12:43 PM on August 6, 2016

I also use Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser and Free & Clear shampoo and conditioner.

I use almost exclusively fragrance-free stuff, so I checked out other stuff I have at home. Looks like you're in the clear for Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value Fragrance Free Foaming Hand Soap, All Free Clear laundry detergent, and Seventh Generation Free & Clear Dish Liquid. No go on Aveeno body wash, unfortunately.

The company that makes Free & Clear has a whole line of body products for sensitive skin. I haven't used their body wash, but it looks like you could use it.
posted by radioamy at 12:49 PM on August 6, 2016

Check if your doctor has access to the American Contact Dermatitis Society resources. If so they can give you a code to enter on the ACDS Contact Allergen Management Program website or smartphone app to generate a list of products known to be free of your allergens.
posted by superna at 2:47 PM on August 6, 2016

For a longer term's possible to make your own soap. It can be a fun hobby, and as a side benefit, you'll always know what goes into what you're making. It's not for everyone, but it might be something to consider.
posted by gimonca at 3:55 PM on August 6, 2016

Check out Beauty Counter.
posted by pecanpies at 4:42 PM on August 6, 2016

Most Burt's Bees products are safe. CVS has gotten a lot better at carrying products without cocamidopropyl betaine in the last year or so (from 0 to... a few) but before that I had good luck finding products at TJ Maxx (I guess because products that don't create as many suds don't sell as well).

In general glycerin soaps are less likely to contain cocamidopropyl betaine.
posted by halfsquaretriangle at 8:09 AM on August 7, 2016

You can buy unscented handmade soaps. Or, as gimoca suggests, learn to make it yourself. As I did. Lots of fun. And you can always have the absolute perfect soap *for you*.

YMMV, but my sensitive skin doesn't like palm oil (sodium palmate & sodium palm kernelate) at all, or soaps too high in coconut oil (sodium cocoate) like Dr. Bronners. Soaps high in olive oil (sodium olivate) are very gentle.
posted by Neekee at 10:04 AM on August 7, 2016

For laundry detergent, you should also be able to use Seventh Generation Free & Clear.
posted by gudrun at 10:13 AM on August 7, 2016

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