Betaine is a crystalline alkaloid found in sugar beets and other plants. Betaine has been used to treat liver disorders and gastrointestinal disturbances.[1,2]
Betaine has antistatic properties, can act as a humectant, and controls viscosity.[3,4] It can also be used as a surfactant. We use betaine in our shampoo, where it helps maintain scalp health. Betaine can also be found in leave-on skin care preparations, after shave, exfoliants, hair spray, self-tanners, and many other products.[6,7]
Typically, betaine is extracted from sugar beets via liquid chromatographic separation from sugar beet molasses. It is then refined and crystallized. Other forms of betaine can be produced by adding acid, heat, or other ingredients.
Studies find that betaine is not irritating or sensitizing to the skin when formulated as such.[9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17] Whole Foods has deemed the ingredient acceptable in its premium body care product quality standards if documentation exists showing it is from a natural source.[18,19,20]