No known benefits

TEA description

TEA (also known as triethanolamine) is used in cosmetics as a pH balancer and emulsion stabilizer. Like all amines, it has the potential for creating nitrosamines. There’s controversy as to whether or not this poses a real problem for skin, given the low concentrations used in cosmetics and the theory that nitrosamines cannot penetrate skin. Triethanaolime is typically used in amounts less than 1% in cosmetics; concentrations of 2.5% have been found to be non-irritating when applied to skin. It is also added to foods.

TEA references

  • International Journal of Toxicology, May-June 2013, pages 59S-83S
  • Contact Dermatitis, May 2009, pages 243-255
  • Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, October 2005, pages 10-18

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.