Should You Avoid TEA-Lauryl Sulfate In Skincare?

by beautifulwithbrains
should you avoid tea-lauryl sulfate

Should you avoid TEA-Lauryl Sulfate?

It’s one of the most effective surfactants out there. Translation: it removes even the most stubborn of dirt and grime.

But, it comes at a cost: it can dry out your skin (and scalp). So should you use it or ditch it with something gentler? Let’s find out:

What Is TEA-Lauryl Sulfate?

TEA-Lauryl Sulfate, the triethanolamine salt of Lauryl Sulfate, is a viscous and yellow liquid. It can derived from plants or made synthetically in a lab.

You can find it in all kinds of cleansing products, like shampoos, body washes, face cleansers, and even shaving creams.

Want to know what ingredients you really need to avoid in your skincare products? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Skincare Ingredients To Avoid” cheatsheet:

What Does TEA-Lauryl Sulfate Do In Skincare And Haircare Products?

TEA-Lauryl Sulfate is a cleansing agent.

If you’ve ever tried to wash a greasy pan with water alone, you know it doesn’t work. You scrub, scrub, scrub, but the grease stubbornly sticks to the pan. It just won’t budge.

That’s cos oil and water don’t mix. They’re incompatible. You need a third party to help them get along and collaborate. That’s where TEA-Lauryl Sulfate comes in.

This surfactant helps water mix with oil and dirt, so they can easily be rinsed away. No harsh scrubbing. No pain. Just clean skin (and hair).

Does TEA-Lauryl Sulfate Has Any Side Effects?

Here’s the deal: all surfactants have the potential to be drying. If you have to remove dirt and grime, you can’t be too gentle or you won’t do the job.

But some surfactants are harsher than others. TEA-Lauryl Sulfate is one of the harshest and potentially drying especially when it’s the primary cleansing agent in a product.

That’s why TEA-Lauryl Sulfate isn’t that common these days. We have alternatives, and most brands use them. Phew!

If you come across a cleanser with this surfactant, make sure it’s not the only surfactant there. Also, the farther down the ingredient list it is, the better.

Even then, if you have dry or sensitive skin, it may be best to avoid TEA-Lauryl Sulfate completely.

P.S. Don’t get this stuff in your eyes. It’s irritating!

Where Can You Find TEA-Lauryl Sulfate?

  • A’Pieu Nonco Tea Tree Cleansing Foam (£9.90): Available at Yes Style
  • Purito Snail All In One BB Cleanser (£16.93): Available at Yes Style

The Bottom Line

TEA-Lauryl Sulfate is an effective, but harsh surfactant that can cleanse skin and hair, removing all traces of dirt and oil. But it can be drying and irritating. Use it carefully!

What’s your take on TEA-Lauryl Sulfate? Share your thoughts in the comments below.



Nikki February 7, 2009 - 3:06 pm

thanks for this! I am honestly enjoying your “Know your ingredients” post 🙂 really helpful!

beautifulwithbrains February 8, 2009 - 2:01 pm

Thank you Nikki, I’m really glad that you find these posts helpful 🙂

GHD February 9, 2009 - 3:05 am

I agree with Nikki. Great tips!

GHD February 9, 2009 - 3:06 am

…and by “tips” of course I meant to say “information”. *Doh* For my next trick, I’ll prove that typing at 3 a.m. is hazardous to your health… 😉

beautifulwithbrains February 9, 2009 - 12:33 pm

Thanks, I’m glad you like these posts too.
And that’s ok, I make a lot of mistakes like that when I wite late at night, which is something that I shouldn’t really be allowed to do lol

catherine March 12, 2010 - 5:07 pm

If TEA is used in all products, what percentage would also be a question to ask, cause we don’t seem to have an alternative? Help

beautifulwithbrains March 12, 2010 - 6:48 pm

Catherine, TEA is used in a lot, but not all, products so if you want to avoid using this ingredient you can. TEA is considered to be safe in concentrations up to 10.5% but in most products is used at much less doses (1-2%).

Jen W July 9, 2011 - 2:26 am

Thanks for this post. I got sent the new QV gentle shampoo to trial, and was wondering about the TEA Lauryl Sulfate in it.

beautifulwithbrains July 9, 2011 - 6:13 am

Jen, I’m glad this post helped you. 🙂

Mary October 28, 2014 - 1:08 pm

I’m a little upset as I was reviewing a new skin line (TEA-Lauryl Sulfate (Eleven Skin).
They claim to use great products from the sea (Which is wonderful if you are using the ingredients you say you are using)
However, the 2nd ingredients is TEA-Lauryl Sulfate.
Although this may not be “dangerous” to the skin it’s definitely not good for the skin
It’s my understanding no type of sulfate is.
Any help would be greatly appreciated
Thanks for the great site too!


Gio October 28, 2014 - 8:05 pm

Mary, it really depends on the type of sulfate. Some are harsh, while others are gentle. Basically, sulfates are used to cleanse skin because they allow water to mix with oil and dirt so that they can be rinsed away. Anything that cleanses skin can’t be too gentle or it wouldn’t remove anything! On the other hand, you don’t even want anything too harsh that will strip too much of the skin’s natural oil, causing dryness and irritation. Sodium Laureth Sulfate for instance is one of the gentlest, and yet cleanses well. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, instead, is one of the harshest and should be avoided when possible. TEA Lauryl Sulfate is usually safe in small doses.

Michelle May 1, 2017 - 3:07 pm

Hi there! Silly question but does TEA lauryl sulfate have actual tea in it. Just worried about stimulants such as caffeine

Gio May 5, 2017 - 7:12 pm

Michelle, there are no silly questions.:) No there is no tea here.

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