What is it?
Triethanolamine is an emulsifying agent used in cosmetic and pharmaceutical preparations. It also has widespread industrial use especially in manufacturing. It is an intermediate in the manufacture of surface-active agents and is used to make emulsions with mineral and vegetable oils, paraffins, and waxes. It is used as a solvent for casein, shellac, dyes, and synthetic resins and is used to increase the penetration of organic liquids into wood and paper.

How can I avoid it?
Skin contact with triethanolamine is required for it to cause a rash. Discontinuation of exposure to products containing triethanolamine should result in improvement and/or resolution of your dermatitis. By law, all products made in the U.S. for topical use have the ingredients listed either on the product package or the box that contains it, so check the labeling of your skin care products for this ingredient. If there is not enough information, ask your pharmacist or retailer or contact the company directly. At work, request a
Safety Data Sheet (SDS) to help identify potential sources of exposure.

  • Manufacturing process of
    • Cement additives
    • Cutting oils
    • Epoxy compounds
    • Herbicides
    • Marking pens
    • Paints
    • Paper products
    • Petroleum emulsifiers
  • Solvent for casein, shellac, dyes, and synthetic resins
  • Textiles, waxes, and polishes
  • Toilet goods
  • Wood
  • Photography
  • Liquid laundry detergents
  • Dishwasher liquids
  • Polishes
  • Metal-working fluids
  • Printing inks
  •  Indirect food additive – trace amounts due to packaging, storage, or handling
  • Skin care products/Cosmetics
    • Eye gels
    • Soaps/Cleansers/Hand cleansers
    • Shampoos/Conditioners
    • Moisturizers/Lotions
    • Powders/Sprays
    • Shaving products
    • Sunscreens/Tanning oils
  • Hair care products/Wave setting solutions/Hair dyes
  • Eardrops
  • Buffering agent for making fragrant ingredients
  • Agricultural chemicals (non-pesticides)
  • Electroless plating
Other names for triethanolamine:
  • TEOA
  • Triethylolamine
  • Trihydroxytriethylamine
  • Trolamine
  • TEA
  • Ethanol, 2,2,2’,2’-Nitrolotris
  • 2, 2’,2”-Nitrilotriethanol
  • Alkanolamine 244
  • Daltogen
  • Ethanol, 2, 2’,2’-nitrilotris-
  • Nitrilotriethanol
  • Sterolamide
  • Tri(hydroxyethyl)amine
  • Triethanolamine
  • Triethylamine, 2, 2’,2”-trihydroxy-
  • Triethylolamine
  • Trihydroxytriethylamine
  • Tris(2-hydroxyethyl)amine
  • Tris(beta-hydroxyethyl)amine
  • Trolamirie
Potential cross-reacting/co-reacting substances:
  • Promethazine

How safe is it?

Hang tight. We're thinking.