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What-it-does: buffering
Irritancy: 0
Comedogenicity: 2


It’s a little helper ingredient that helps to set the pH of a cosmetic formulation to be just right. It’s very alkaline (you know the opposite of being very acidic): a 1% solution has a pH of around 10.

It does not have the very best safety reputation but in general, you do not have to worry about it. 

What is true is that if a product contains so-called N-nitrogenating agents (e.g.: preservatives like 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol, 5-Bromo-5-Nitro- 1,3-Dioxane or sodium nitrate - so look out for things with nitro, nitra in the name) that together with TEA can form some not nice carcinogenic stuff (that is called nitrosamines). But with proper formulation that does not happen, TEA in itself is not a bad guy. 

But let’s assume a bad combination of ingredients were used and the nitrosamines formed. :( Even in that case you are probably fine because as far as we know it cannot penetrate the skin. 

But to be on the safe side, if you see Triethanolamine in an INCI and also something with nitra, nitro in the name of it just skip the product, that cannot hurt.

Products with Triethanolamine

Bactazil Biosulfur+Tea Tree Soap COR Silver Soap Cavite Skin Clinic Remskin RemSkin Transparent Soap Davines Love Curl Cream Dermskin Tea Tree Bar Soap Diana Stalder Tea Tree Oil Soap Dr. Sensitive Activated Charcoal Acne Control Soap Erasul Acne Cleanser Flawless SAS Soap Flexpower Warm Lotion Innoderm Teranex Soap Neutrogena Facial Cleansing Bar Neutrogena Facial Cleansing Bar Acne-Prone Skin Neutrogena Hypoallergenic Cleanser Transparent Bar Neutrogena The Transparent Facial Bar Olay Total Effect 7 In 1 Anti Aging Day Cream Skin Elite Glycolic Soap Acnezil Protetor Solar FPS 30 Avene Gentle Eye Make-Up Remover Avene Gentle Eye Makeup Remover Avene Soothing Sheet Mask Babaria Aloe Puro 100% Bingospa Concentrate Of The Cinnamon-algae Biologique Recherche Creme Placenta Bulldog Sensitive Foaming Shaving Gel Cassará Alfa Base 8 Celenes AHA + BHA + Lactic + Arctic Chaga Mushroom Clean & Clear Clean And Clear Foaming Face Wash For Oily Skin Clean & Clear Essentials Self Foaming Facial Wash Clean & Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser Clean & Clear Pimple Clearing Face Wash Clean & clear essentials Facial Foaming Cleaner Clean And Clear Foaming Face Wash Dippity-Do Sport Ultimate Hold Gel Fabindia Tea Tree Skin Toner Figaro Classic Shaving Foam Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera 100% Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera Gel Gillette Foamy Shaver Lemon Lime Gillette Men’s Sensitive Shaving Cream Gillette Sensitive Shave Foam Gillette Skin Ultra Sensitive Shave Mousse Gillette Skinguard Sensitive Shaving Foam Kailon Peptide Serum For Skin Renewal L' Occitane Immortelle Precieuse Intense Cleansing Foam Life Brand Foaming Cleanser LovelySkin Luxe Clarifying Gel Cleanser Lusti Argan Oil Curl Wave Twist Shaping Gel MEDI-PEEL Extra Super 9 Plus MEDI-PEEL Moisture Chiffon Foam Cleanser