CTFA Statement On Diethanolamine (DEA)

A study published by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) reports that Diethanolamine (DEA), “an ingredient found in many shampoos and other personal care products, appears to interfere with normal brain development in baby mice when applied to the skin of pregnant mice.”

However, exposure to DEA in shampoos, soaps and other rinse-off products is tens of thousands of times lower than what is reported in the FASEB study and far below the levels at which an effect was observed in the rodents in this study. This is because DEA itself is rarely used in cosmetic or personal care products. Instead, small amounts of it most often occur in products as a residue in ingredients such as cocamide DEA, lauramide DEA and stearamide DEA. These chemically-bound derivatives of DEA do not break apart and do not penetrate through the skin.

In a news release on the new study, the lead researcher, Dr. Steven Zeisel stated that “the finding needs further study and should not cause undue alarm.”

Cosmetic and personal care products are among the safest of all consumer products sold in the U.S. Their continued safety is ensured by ongoing industry voluntary programs and by oversight from the FDA. Federal law requires that every cosmetic product and its individual ingredients be safe, and manufacturers are responsible for determining this safety before products are brought to market. The law provides severe penalties for products that do not meet these standards.