Yes Coco-Betaine and Cocamidopropyl Betaine are different chemicals.
Google stuff and a fair proportion of ‘research’ or information that you uncover will be either incorrect or completely rubbish. The above is just one example of how this incorrectness infiltrates our conscience and leads us astray. There are more ‘hits’ telling me that coco-betaine and cocamidopropyl betaine are the same than information confirming that they are indeed different.
I know that they are different because unlike the majority of Googlers I am a chemist. That isn’t a statement of superiority, it is merely an unemotional fact. There were very few people taking a chemistry major Degree when I did it and as far as I am aware it hasn’t gained much in popularity. Being a chemist allows me the special powers of understanding what a name means and I can see that the ‘amido’ bit in the latter chemical means this:
As pretty much all google searches for these two chemicals have been confused now I thought I’d put everything of interest on here so that you can see the difference.
In a nutshell the two have different chemical structures as I will explain below for those interested.
- The Coco-Betaine is a natural surfactant that can be used in organic formulations as long as it has been manufactured in an acceptable way, it contains no ‘synthetics’.
- Cocamidopropyl Betaine is always produced via a synthetic process although the coco part and the betaine part are natural.
- Coco-Betaine is more natural but it is also more irritating.
- Coco-Betaine is harder to track down than Cocamidopropyl Betaine.
- Both are surfactants.
- Both can be used in shampoos, body wash and other cleansing formulations.
Cocamidopropyl Betaine Looks like this:
Coco Betaine Looks Like this:
Breaking it down further we have:
The Coco group: These are fatty acids that look like this:
The amido (we saw above)
The propyl: Based on three carbons (Methyl =1 carbon, Ethyl = 2 (like ethanol), Propyl = 3). Below is a very simple representation of a propyl group.
The betaine bit: Betaine was first isolated from sugar beet – that’s why it’s called ‘betaine’!
So coco-betaine is a bit shorter (no propyl group) and is also missing the ‘amido’ functional group.
So what do they do in your formula?
Let’s let someone who sells both chemicals confirm that shall we!
And let’s look at how their responses compare when thickening a shampoo with salt:
It is hard to make good decisions about a products chemistry without some chemistry knowledge and it is doubly hard when people who are just ‘having a go’ post stuff that is wrong – usually without knowing.
I hope that this has helped clear up a little issue for you – it has for me.
So no, Coco-Betaine is not just shorthand for Cocamidopropyl Betaine.