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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

COR Silver Soap Davines Love Curl Cream Dr. Sensitive Activated Charcoal Acne Control Soap Flawless SAS Soap Innoderm Teranex Soap Neutrogena Facial Cleansing Bar Neutrogena Facial Cleansing Bar Acne-Prone Skin Neutrogena Hypoallergenic Cleanser Transparent Bar Neutrogena The Transparent Facial Bar Avene Gentle Eye Make-Up Remover Babaria Aloe Puro 100% Biologique Recherche Creme Placenta Bulldog Sensitive Foaming Shaving Gel Clean & Clear Clean And Clear Foaming Face Wash For Oily Skin Clean & clear essentials Facial Foaming Cleaner Clean And Clear Foaming Face Wash Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera 100% Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera Gel LovelySkin Luxe Clarifying Gel Cleanser MEDI-PEEL Extra Super 9 Plus SIENNA Gel Facial Con Ácido Hialurónico Wardah Lightening Face Toner AA Shave Safe&Care Moisturizing Shaving Gel Acqua Di Parma Barbiere Shaving Gel Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel Brut Espuma Para Afeitar Brut Aloe And Shea Butter Bull dog Sensitive Foaming Shave Gel Cathy Doll 99% Aloe Vera & Snail Serum Soothing Gel Clarins Men Smooth Shave Clinique For Men™ Aloe Shave Gel CoverGirl Professional Natural Lash Mascara Curatio Suncote Gel SPF 30 Dr. Jeannette Graf, M.D. Exfoliating & Firming Pads With Lactic Acid And BHA Dra. Irene bermejo Camomile Mask Eco Styler Black Castor Oil And Flax Seed Oil Styling Gel Edge Sensitive Shave Gel Every Man Jack Natural Hemp Shave Gel Formotopia Bffect Aha 30% + Mandelic Acid 4% Serum Formula Dra Norma Bustos Gel Humectante Y Refrescante Freezeframe BB Blur Gillette Pure By Gillette Shaving Gel With Aloe Gillette Shave Gel Holika Holika Smooth Egg Charcoal Egg Soap ISDIN Psorisdin Jafra Royal Boost Purifying Gel Cleanser Laca Hialuron Lagos Hidrolac Loción Tónica / Toning Lotion Laline Facial Foam Cleanser Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser Mario Badescu Anti Acne Serum