Hidden Chemicals: DEA

Soap Suds May Not Be As Clean As They Seem

DEA (diethanolamine) and DEA compounds are used to give cosmetics a creamy or sudsy texture. DEA is also used as an emulsifier in shampoos, cleaners and detergents.


  • moisturizer
  • sunscreen
  • soap
  • shampoo
  • hair conditioner
  • shaving cream
  • mascara
  • eyeliner
  • eyeshadow
  • blush
  • make-up foundation


Triethanolamine, diethanolamine, DEA, TEA, cocaminde DEA, cocamide MEA, linoleamide MEA, myristaminde DEA, oleamide DEA, stearamide DEA, Tea-lauryl sulfate


Skin Irritation: DEA and its compounds have been found to cause mild skin and eye irritation (1).

Cancer: exposure to high doses of DEA and its compounds have been shown to cause liver cancer (2)(3)(4).

Organ System Toxicity: Studies have found that DEO affects human male reproductive health by altering sperm structure, and causing abnormalities that affect the sperms ability to swim and complete fertilization (5).

Read More

  1. BHA
  2. Coal Tar Dyes
  3. DEA
  4. Dibutyl Phthalate
  5. Formaldehyde
  6. Parabens
  7. Parfum
  8. PEG Compounds
  9. Petrolatum
  10. Siloxanes
  11. Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  12. Triclosan


  1. Turkoglu M. and Sakr A. “Evaluation of irritation potential of surfactant mixtures.” Int J Cosmet Sci. 21, 6 (Dec 1999):371-82.
  2. U.S. National Toxicological Program. “NTP Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of Lauric Acid Diethanolamine Condensate (CAS NO. 120-40-1) in F344/N Rats and B6C3F1 Mice (Dermal Studies).” Natl Toxicol Program Tech Rep Ser. 480 (Jul 1999):1-200.
  3. S. National Toxicological Program. “Toxicology and carcinogenesis studies of coconut oil acid diethanolamine condensate (CAS No. 68603-42-9) in F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice (dermal studies).” Natl Toxicol Program Tech Rep Ser. 479 (Jan 2001):5-226.
  4. Report on Carcinogens, Twelfth Edition (2011) Available Online Accessed November 5, 2013.
  5. Panchal, S. R., & Verma, R. J. (2013). Spermatotoxic effect of diethanolamine: An< i> in vitro</i> study. Asian Pacific Journal of Reproduction2(3), 196-200.