Is Triethanolamine Vegan? What Is Triethanolamine Made Of?

By Anett Rannamets. Updated: September 2022.
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Triethanolamine is a commonly used emulsifier in skin care. It improves the texture and quality of the products. As it is derived from petroleum by-products, it is vegan.

Although this product has many good qualities, it has its downsides. Now let’s learn how it improves skincare products, and what are its pros and cons.

What Is Triethanolamine? What Is Triethanolamine Made Of?

Triethanolamine is an organic amino compound with three hydroxyl groups. It is a colorless, oily liquid, denser than water. It smells slightly like ammonia due to the nitrogen in the center. Triethanolamine is made of petroleum by-products.

The substance reacts easily with fatty acids to form triethanolamine soaps. These are easily soluble in water as well as n mineral oils. Triethanolamine is produced by the ammonolysis of ethylene oxide, which is a petroleum-derived substance.

Triethanolamine is also known as TEA, TELA, TEOA, nitrilotriethanol, triethylolamine, trihydroxytriethylamine, and trolamine.

Why Is Triethanolamine Used In Skincare?

Triethanolamine is used in skincare because it makes the products more effective. It does not have a direct good effect on the skin, but it supports the overall effectiveness and longevity of the product.

Firstly, triethanolamine balances pH. It can neutralize elements that throw acidity and alkalinity out of balance. 

Secondly, it works as an emulsifier. In order to mix an oily substance with water-based ingredients. Triethanolamine stabilizes creams and lotions, their consistency and quality. It keeps products smooth and easily appliable. 

Moreover, it thickens the formula. For sensory or aesthetic benefits, triethanolamine helps to thicken the texture and give it fullness. And imparts a creamy feel to the product.

However, triethanolamine comes with its downsides. It becomes dangerous when encounters synthetic preservatives and forms nitrosamines. These compounds can increase the risk of cancer and liver damage. 

FAQ About Triethanolamine

What is triethanolamine?

Triethanolamine is an organic amino compound with three hydroxyl groups. It is a colorless, oily liquid, denser than water. It smells slightly like ammonia due to the nitrogen in the center. Triethanolamine is made of petroleum by-products.

Why is triethanolamine used in skincare?

Triethanolamine is used in skincare because it makes the products more effective. It does not have a direct good effect on the skin, but it supports the overall effectiveness and longevity of the product.

Is triethanolamine vegan?

Yes. Triethanolamine is vegan.

Is triethanolamine harmful?

Triethanolamine becomes dangerous when encounters synthetic preservatives and forms nitrosamines. These compounds can increase the risk of cancer and liver damage. 

Summary

Triethanolamine is an emulsifier that does not have an effect on the skin but on the consistency of skin care products. Although triethanolamine is vegan, it has its downsides. When it reacts with some chemical substances, it can release carcinogenic elements. Therefore, we recommend avoiding this substance.

Luckily, vegan brands are mostly conscious and avoid anything that might have a bad effect. Therefore, we suggest buying skincare from vegan businesses. Still, it is always a good idea to check the ingredient lists.

Anett is a passionate journalist, writer, and magazine editor with almost 7 years of experience. Through engaging articles, she brings kinder and more environmentally-friendly choices closer to everybody.