Beauty Products containing these chemicals: Soaps, shampoos, hair conditioners and dyes, lotions, shaving creams, paraffin and waxes, eyeliners, mascara, eye shadows, blush, make-up bases, foundations, fragrances, sunscreens. What are ethanolamines? Diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA) are key examples of ethanolamines—a chemical group comprised of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and alcohols. They are used in a wide range of applications including cosmetics and personal care DEA is used as an emulsifier to make your shampoos, soaps, and cleansers foamy and unified.TEA is used to make anything smell nice, as a pH adjuster and emulsifer.


What to look for on the label: Triethanolamine, diethanolamine, DEA, TEA, cocamide DEA, cocamide MEA, DEA-cetyl phosphate, DEA oleth-3 phosphate, lauramide DEA, linoleamide MEA, myristamide DEA, oleamide DEA, stearamide MEA, TEA- lauryl sulfate [2]


What they do: Ethanolamines are know neurotoxins linked to several brain disorders and damaging conditions. Hazardous to the nervous system, they can cause a host of issues to the body from skin toxicity to pain and chronic fatigue. Severely toxic to your organs, these destroy the liver as it tries to filter them out through the body. Lastly, they are known to cause tumors and cancers in mice studies. The health concerns are JUST HUGE.


An even bigger issue is when paired with preservatives (which is almost always!) the ethanolamines bind with the preservatives and create nitrosodiethanolamine. NDEA is listed as a carcinogen in the National Toxicology Program’s Report on Carcinogens. Experimental studies with nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA) show it causes liver cancer and kidney tumors in rats and cancer of nasal cavity in hamsters.


TEA and DEA have found to be hepatocarcinogenic (producing cancer in the liver) in female mice. The chemicals also bioaccumulate – meaning they tend to build up in the body. Studies show that 52 to 68 percent of DEA in hair dyes, body lotions and shampoos remain on the upper layers of the skin after exposure.


Further studies show DEA affects human male reproductive health by altering the sperm structure, causing abnormalities affecting the sperm’s ability to swim and fertilize the egg. It also accumulates in the liver and kidney, causing organ toxicity. Possible neurotoxic affects such as tremors are another horror of this chemical.


Still yet another study suggests that memory function and brain development in offspring could be permanently affected by mothers’ exposure to DEA.




How many more studies do we need to know these are toxic and should be banned from our beauty products? Sadly, due to old laws in the USA, which have never been challenged or updated, these ingredients are perfectly permissible in our products.


Not in Europe though! The European Commission PROHIBITS DEA in cosmetics due to concerns about formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines.