Cocamide diethanolamine (DEA) and some of the other diethanolamides are mainly used as surfactant foam boosters or viscosity increasing agents in cosmetics, although a few are reported to be used as hair and skin conditioning agents, surfactant-cleansing or surfactant-emulsifying agents, or as an opacifying agent. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel considered new data and information from previous CIR reports to assess the concerns about the potential for amidases in human skin to convert these diethanolamides into DEA and the corresponding fatty acids. The Expert Panel concluded that these diethanolamides are safe as used when formulated to be nonirritating and when the levels of free DEA in the diethanolamides do not exceed those considered safe by the Panel. The Panel also recommended that these ingredients not be used in cosmetic products in which N-nitroso compounds can be formed.
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