This compound acts as an emulsifier, foaming agent, or pH controller. The EWG flags DEA and related ingredients as being potentially toxic and irritating. But the FDA says that DEA and its related ingredients do not appear to pose a risk to people when used in cosmetics. (The FDA also notes that DEA is less common in products today than it used to be. Diethanolamine, often abbreviated as DEA or DEOA, is an organic compound with the formula HN(CH2CH2OH)2. Pure diethanolamine is a white solid at room temperature, but its tendencies to absorb water and to supercool meaning that it is often encountered as a colorless, viscous liquid. Diethanolamine is polyfunctional, being a secondary amine and a diol. Like other organic amines, diethanolamine acts as a weak base. Reflecting the hydrophilic character of the secondary amine and hydroxyl groups, DEA is soluble in water. Amides prepared from DEA are often also hydrophilic.
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