What Are DEA, TEA, and MEA?

DEA, TEA, and MEA are ingredients that belong to the group of ethanolamine compounds. All of them are linked to detrimental skin and health effects, but DEA or Diethanolamine is the most controversial one. DEA is considered toxic and associated with different health concerns.

Why No DEA, TEA, MEA in Skincare?

Many skincare brands use these three ethanolamine compounds in their products for the purposes of fragrances, pH adjusting, or emulsifying. Not that long ago, DEA, TEA, and MEA were common ingredients in most soaps, beauty products, and household cleaners.

However, the EU has forbidden DEA as an ingredient in skin care products due to the many studies linking it to cancers and hormonal disorders. 

Note that DEA, TEA, and MEA won’t always be listed as such in the ingredients list of the product packaging. Instead, you might see synonyms like diethanolamine, triethanolamine, cocamide DEA/TEA, DEA-cetyl phosphate, DEA oleth-3 phosphate, lauramide DEA, myristamide DEA, oleamide DEA, stearamide MEA, TEA-lauryl sulfate, etc. 

The Dangers of DEA, TEA, and MEA

There are many research-backed side effects of ethanolamine compounds:

  • They’re toxic to your organs, your liver in particular;
  • They cause hormonal disturbances;
  • Ethanolamine compounds affect male reproductive health;
  • They’re linked to cancers, particularly DEA;
  • They can result in liver tumors;
  • Can cause brain development problems if exposed during pregnancy;

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