Basics of Green Beauty – Tip Five Say No To DEA and TEA


We have reached Tip Five now in our series, and while researching and reading through my green beauty Bibles I stumbled upon and interesting thought.

Why is it that there is so much written about the potential dangers of these chemicals, yet are there so little tests done on humans?

Julie Gabriel, put’s it down to the fact that no human is willing to be a lab rat for testing chemicals (with scary sounding names), that in their undiluted state can potentially be very dangerous. Let’s use the rats instead? That’s exactly what they do.

So Beauties! Remember this fact from Julie Gabriel next time you reach for your Shampoo –

The skin can absorb up to 60 percent of substances applied to it’s surface and studies show that 52-68 percent of DEA in beauty products can remain on the skin following exposure.

Those nasty chemicals, are being rubbed and absorbed into your scalp as shampoo, then washed down your skin, as Julie Gabriel says “does this make you feel healthy or more beautiful”. You have the choice beauties.

With that in mind, lets look into the world of DEA (diethanolamine) and TEA (triethanolamine), two chemicals which are part of a group of chemicals called ethanolamines. Ethanolamines are used for two main reasons – to provide that soapy goodness, consistency in creams (emulsifier) and aid in regulating the PH. Cos if it ain’t sudsy it ain’t clean right?

Nasty? why you say?

Like many of the chemicals we have covered, DEA when used on it’s own in cosmetics is used in very light concentration.

DEA does have the potential to be extremely harmful when exposed to the air or other ingredients in cosmetics. Yes, your bathroom cabinet is it’s very own science lab when your back is turned! DEA can react with other chemicals, producing NDEA (nitrosodiethanolamine) a potentially harmful carcinogen. NDEA can be absorbed by the skin and have been linked to Liver cancer and kidney tumors in rats.  It has also been linked to abnormalities in the sexual function of rats.

It is worth knowing that DEA also has many industrial uses, including a particular cleaning process in oil refineries. While the concentration of the chemical between the two uses is extremely different, it is worth considering that something that has a harsh industrial application may not be a great idea for your skin.

Where to watch out for our toxic little friend?

DEA and TEA are typically found in shampoos, soaps, bubble baths, hair conditioners and dyes, shaving creams, eyeliners, mascaras, eyeshadows and facial cleansers just to name a few.

Making the conscious choice

Here are a few simple tips we introduced you to that should help you in your quest for greener beauty:

  • Consider where the product is manufactured, we always encourage going local where possible. Smaller manufacturers give you the opportunity to easily connect directly with them for feedback.
  • Choose manufacturers that stand by quality.
  • Ask yourself, can I pronounce the names of the ingredients? and remember, if there is one nasty chemical there are sure to be more.
  • Be mindful of the overuse of words such as ‘organic’ and ‘natural’, look for recognised certification labeling.
  • Find brands you trust, and stick to them.


Ruby Marsh

Ruby Marsh

Ruby Marsh is a mentor and the creator of The Unstoppable Woman transformation program. She believes that when a woman is confident in her own skin, she is free to create herself on her own terms. Through her 1:1 work with women and workshops she is supports women to clear their minds and open their hearts.

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