Article - Why we leave out ethanolamines

Why we leave out ethanolamines

Ethanolamines are found in many products we use around our homes each day, from soap and shampoo to laundry liquid and cosmetics.

There are different types of the ingredient - MEA (Monoethanolamine), DEA (diethanolamine), or TEA (Triethanolamine) – and one of these abbreviations will be shown on the product manufacturer’s label if it’s part of the formula.

Ethanolamines are compounds of amino acids and alcohol and they’re used to boost foam and stabilise the pH levels of a product.

But there are health concerns over ethanolamines – for example, DEA is banned in cosmetics in Europe because of the potential to be contaminated by carcinogenic amines.

And the Environmental Working Group lists several potentially harmful effects from ethanolamines, including immune, organ and respiratory system toxicity, and their potential to be a skin allergen.

The study In Vitro Human Skin Penetration of Diethanolamine, carried out in the US in 2004, showed DEA can build up and persist on skin, and when it’s in shampoo, hair dye and body lotion it can stay on the skin for as much as 30 hours.

Read more on our blog about one of the diethanolamines, cocamide DEA.

We’ll always tell you what’s in our products by using simple language on our labels. You can find out more about the ingredients in our products – and the ones we leave out – on our ingredients index.

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