You’ve probably seen this one product in my latest What’s New post—the It’s Skin Power 10 Formula VB Effector. It’s a serum that’s purported to be infused with Vitamin B6 to control one’s sebum (which I have a lot of).
The thing is, I have only been recently into skincare so I don’t really have all the knowledge about this particular topic just yet. So being the skincare-curious person that I now am, I decided to do my research and figure out what Vitamin B6 is exactly and what its benefits are to our skin.
But I’m not going to talk about Vitamin B6 on this post. I’m going to talk about Triethanolamine which is one of the ingredients of the It’s Skin VB Effector—the reason why said ingredient appeared on my radar.
Because I wanted to know more about VB6, I did my research (like I said) and I checked the list of ingredients of the VB Effector to see if it is indeed infused with VB6 or derivatives of it. Halfway (not even, maybe about a third of the way) through the list, I stumbled upon Triethanolamine aka TEA and Googled what it’s for and what its main purpose is.
What I found out baffled me.
I am no expert at this matter. I’m not a professional and I’m not claiming to be. All information that you will be reading are based on my own research and numerous articles about TEA that I have read online.
As for the products that are shown on this post–specifically on the photo above, please know that I am in no way, shape or form bashing them, the manufacturer or the brand. I am simply posting the products that I own that do contain said ingredient to basically prove that it does exist.
First of all, what is Triethanolamine or TEA?
It’s basically a byproduct of two substances that are considered toxic: ethylene oxide and ammonia. The fact that these two substances are toxic should be a major ding ding ding already. Like why would you want to put ethylene oxide (commonly used as an intermediate in several industrial chemicals and as a fumigant and as a sterilant for medical equipment) and ammonia (commonly used as an ingredient for nail polish removers and cleaning fluids)???
Imagine putting those two ingredients on your face? Just imagine. Horrifying, right?
Although the main purpose of TEA in cosmetics is to balance the pH level and help emulsify ingredients that usually do not blend well, it still is a bit terrifying that companies use this on products that we put on our face and our body.
What makes TEA harmful and what happens when you use products that contain it?
Well, is the fact that it’s a combination of ethylene oxide and ammonia—chemicals that are not to be used as skincare—not enough?
The immediate effects are itchiness and irritation. But over time, it can actually cause chemical damage to the skin such as blisters, hives, and flakiness.
In some clinical trials done on animals (SHAME), high doses of TEA actually caused several types of cancer. It also caused negative effects on organs. Even in low doses, it can still cause these things especially when applied around the lips, mouth, and eyes. TEA has also proven to be an immune system and respiratory toxicant and a body allergen.
Why were there approvals from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), then?
Only small doses (no more than 5%) of TEA are approved and only on products that are intended for “discontinuous use”, meaning products that are washed off briefly after application like facial cleansers or shampoos/conditioners.
So it’s not supposed to be an ingredient of a serum or a moisturizer or a lotion which are products that sit on the skin for hours before being washed off.
Two of my most recent skincare purchases (a moisturizer and a serum) and two items that I already have in my stash have TEA as part of their ingredient and I’m very wary about using them. I don’t apply them on a daily basis (usually once a week) and I make sure that I don’t use too much.
After learning about this fact, I am of course now more vigilant about the ingredients of the skincare and makeup items that I will be purchasing and those that I already own.
It’s so scary that such a harmful ingredient exists in products that we most likely use on the daily and we’re not even aware of how dangerous it actually is.