Triethanolamine: Is it Safe to Use?
Chemically classified as an amine, Triethanolamine – aka TEA – is produced when an ethylene oxide reacts with ammonia. Even when these two latter substances are widely known for their high levels of toxicity, the resulting substance –Triethanolamine- is useful as a buffering agent that is in charge of carrying either fragrance, or acting as a surfactant, among several other users attached to this ingredient.
These days it is widely used in the cosmetic industry, where it is highly cherished for its unique Ph balancing properties that come in handy to develop certain types of shampoos or hair conditioning products.
As a topical treatment, a form of this substance known as Triethanolamine Salicylate was used for treating arthritis, muscle pain or sprains. It was because of its efficiency that the substance began to be used for other purposes as well. Besides its well-known use in the cosmetic industry, Triethanolamine has been used for cement in construction and in the production of other goods, as well.
This ingredient has been approved by the FDA as a food additive that is sometimes used in packaging. Similarly it has been CIR approved, but with limits that involve levels of concentration. This means that whereas the CIR has approved its use in cosmetic products, such as lotions or body creams, it has raised a serious warning concerning the amount of Triethanolamine that can be included in each product, limiting to 5% in products that are to be in direct contact with the human skin.
Triethanolamine and its Chemical Properties
Being both a tertiary amine and a triol, this substance is a strong base and should therefore be handled with care. Possessing emollient and surfactant properties, this substance is optimal to produce both, industrial or commercially-developed goods.
Another chemical property concerns keeping track and balance of other products’ pH. Therefore, it is being used in shampoos that must have low pH content, for instance. In addition, hair beauty products advertised as providing a low pH base generally have certain levels of Triethanolamine or any of its derivatives.
Types of Products Containing Triethanolamine
Apart from being present in the most widely used products, such as hair care products, hair dyes, eyeliners, eye shadows, shaving lotions, sunscreens and skin cleansing product.
Other non-cosmetic products include construction materials, like cement, for instance.
Why should you Use Triethanolamine?
There are many reasons that have led to the increase in popularity of this substance. First off, human hair skin and nails tend to improve when treated with cosmetics containing this substance. Secondly, it is a practical pH adjuster that helps to convey scents and fragrances.
What’s not to Like?
Despite its many benefits, this substance has been warned against overuse. Recent research strongly suggests that this substance is a skin and immune system toxicant.
Besides, its use has been clinically linked to allergic reactions that may eventually lead to eye problems and respiratory infections.
But the scariest side effect of all concerns the likelihood of developing cancerous cells in people who have used these products for long periods.