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triethanolamine

Used in cosmetics as a pH balancer and emulsion stabilizer. Like all amines, it has the potential for creating nitrosamines. There’s controversy as to whether or not this poses a real problem for skin, given the low concentrations used in cosmetics and the theory that nitrosamines cannot penetrate skin. 

Triethanaolime is typically used in amounts less than 1% in cosmetics; concentrations of 2.5% have been found to be non-irritating when applied to skin. It is also added to foods.

Reference for this information:
International Journal of Toxicology, May-June 2013, pages 59S-83S
Contact Dermatitis, May 2009, pages 243-255
Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, October 2005, pages 10-18

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