Triethyl Citrate



Triethyl Citrate at a glance

  • Solvent and texture-enhancing agent
  • Studied in conjunction with ethyl linoleate + actives where it was shown to improve efficacy
  • Positively effects pores and keratolytic activity (suitable for blemish-prone skin)
  • May also be used to enhance the dispersion of UV filters in sunscreen
  • Used by some deodorant manufacturer to inhibit components of sweat

Triethyl Citrate description

Triethyl citrate functions as a viscosity-increasing agent in cosmetic formulations and is sometimes used as a solvent in perfumes and other beauty products. It may also be used to enhance the dispersion of UV filters in sunscreen, critical for reaching the desired SPF level. Interestingly, triethyl citrate has been studied in conjunction with ethyl linoleate, azelaic acid, salicylic acid, and certain retinoids where it was shown to help improve the efficacy of each. These studies suggest that it has a positive effect on the microenvironment of pores and keratolytic activity. Likewise, research suggests triethyl citrate is suitable for blemish-prone skin and oil control. Suppliers of this ingredient also tout its use in deodorant where it is said to inhibit certain odiferous components of sweat. Technically speaking, triethyl citrate is the triester of ethyl alcohol and citric acid. As a raw material, it is supplied as a clear, colorless, oily liquid. According to the Personal Care Products Council, this ingredient can be sourced naturally through plants or synthetically created in the lab. The 2014 Cosmetic Ingredient Review safety report surveyed 244 personal care products containing triethyl citrate in 0.0008-6% concentrations. The expert panel analysis was that triethyl citrate is safe as used under these parameters. Further nodding to this ingredient’s safety, triethyl citrate earns GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status as a direct food additive by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Fun fact: Triethyl citrates is found naturally in cabbage and some white wines.

Triethyl Citrate references

  • UL Prospector (supplier info), Accessed January 2023, e-Publication
  • Personal Care Products Council, Accessed January 2023, e-Publication
  • Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications, January 2015, pages 223-230
  • International Journal of Toxicology, 2014, pages 16S-46S
  • Dermatologic Surgery, August 2013, pages 1,243-1,251
  • British Journal of Dermatology, September 2007, pages 569-574

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.