TEA-Lauryl Sulfate

What Is It?

TEA-Lauryl Sulfate is the triethanolamine salt of Lauryl Sulfate. It is a viscous, yellow liquid. In cosmetics and personal care products, TEA-Lauryl Sulfate is used in the formulation of a variety of products including shampoos, bath products, hair dyes and colors, shaving creams, and cleansing products.

Why Is It Used?

TEA-Lauryl Sulfate functions as a surfactant – cleansing agent.

Scientific Facts

TEA-Lauryl Sulfate, or Triethanolamine Lauryl Sulfate, is a viscous, yellow liquid that forms a gel at low temperatures. It is usually supplied at a concentration of 35-40% in aqueous solution.

Safety Information

The safety of TEA-Lauryl Sulfate has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel evaluated the scientific data and concluded that TEA-Lauryl Sulfate was safe for use if the concentrations were limited. High concentrations of TEA-Lauryl Sulfate may cause irritation, especially if allowed to remain in contact with the skin for significant periods of time.

CIR Safety Review: Studies showed that at high concentrations TEA-Lauryl Sulfate is a significant skin and eye irritant. However, in clinical studies, shampoos containing TEA-Lauryl Sulfate caused no irritation under semioccluded (partially covered) conditions. Diluted shampoos caused human skin reactions ranging from no irritation to moderate irritation. The CIR Expert Panel noted that this skin irritation phenomenon is observed with most detergents. Undiluted shampoos containing TEA-Lauryl Sulfate showed low potential for eliciting human skin sensitization.

No evidence of photosensitization was observed in subjects exposed to solutions containing TEA-Lauryl Sulfate. The CIR Expert Panel concluded that TEA-Lauryl Sulfate can be used without significant irritation at a final concentration not exceeding 10.5%. Greater concentrations may cause irritation, especially if allowed to contact the skin for significant periods of time. The CIR Expert Panel acknowledged that cosmetics and personal care products containing TEA-Lauryl Sulfate may give rise to nitrosoamines in the presence of nitrate or other nitrosating agents. TEA-Lauryl sulfate may contain small amounts of diethanolamine, a contaminant of triethanolamine.

TEA-Lauryl Sulfate is not specifically regulated in the European Union. The level of Triethanolamine in cosmetic products marketed in the European Union is limited to 2.5% (See Annex III). Cosmetic and personal care products containing TEA-Lauryl Sulfate may be marketed in Europe as long as the restrictions for using triethanolamine are followed.

EU Cosmetic Regulation

More Scientific Information

TEA-Lauryl Sulfate is the triethanolamine salt of lauryl sulfuric acid (an alkyl sulfate). It functions as a surfactant – solubilizing agent in cosmetics and personal care products. Alkyl Sulfates are the salts of the sulfuric acid monoesters of fatty alcohols. They are prepared by sulfation of the alcohols and subsequent neutralization with a suitable base, for example, ammonia or TEA. Alkyl sulfates are esters and, therefore, subject to hydrolysis, especially at extreme pHs. They are widely used in shampoo and other cleansing applications.