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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

Neutrogena Facial Cleansing Bar Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera 100% Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera Gel Wardah Lightening Face Toner Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser Nip+Fab Glycolic Fix Night Pads Extreme Eyenlip Moisture Essence Mask Salmon Oil Natio Pore Unclogging Face Scrub PACKage Melt Me Softly Nose Strip Peter Thomas Roth Laser-Free Retexturizer Exfoliating Scrub Urban Veda Rose & Botanics Daily Reviving Facial Wash Vichy Normaderm Hyaluspot Anti-Imperfections Care XMONDO HAIR Glitterati CULLUN Gentle Facial Cleansing Gel DECLÉOR Aroma Solutions Prolagene Gel DECLÉOR Phytopeel Exfoliating Cream Elizavecca Witch Piggy Hell Pore Galactomyces Premium Ample L'Oreal Paris White Perfect TRW Night Cream MINISO Intensive Hydration Moisturiser Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner Nip+Fab Glycolic Fix Scrub Peter Thomas Pumpkin Enzyme Mask Enzymatic Dermal Resurfacer Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask Pond's Cold Cream Cleanser SVR Xerial 50 Extreme Crème Pieds Sisley Ecological Compound The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% Vichy Normaderm Hyaluspot Anti-Imperfection Care Au Fairy Soothing Spell 100% Organic Aloe Vera Gel Balay Aloe Vera 99% Soothting Gel Derma365 Gentle Cleanser (For All Skin Types, Including Sensitive & Dry Skin) DermaVeen Extra Gentle Soap-Free Wash Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre Farmec Romania Doina Clasic Lapte Nutritiv Vitaminizant Floslek Aloe Vera Gel Guardian Aloe Vera Gel It's Skin Power 10 Formula Li Effector Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Masque Mary Kay Timewise Age-Fighting Moisturizer Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Fresh Watery Cream Neutrogena Liquid Neutrogena - The Transparent Facial Cleanser Neutrogena Moisture Spf15 Niks Aroma Acne Clear Gel Nip+Fab Glycolic Fix Extreme Scrub 6% Peter Thomas Roth Rose Stem Cell Bio Repair Gel Mask The Face Shop Jeju Aloe Fresh Soothing Gel Anne moller Gel Limpiador Avene Soothing Moisture Mask Biologique Recherche Creme Adn Elastine Marine Collagene Marin Biologique Recherche Creme Placenta