Li wants to know…What does triethanolamine do? I’ve seen it in a lot of Lush products.
The Right Brain’s Soap Opera:
Triethanolamine is a type of chemical known as a “base” meaning it has a high pH.
A base is the opposite of an acid, which has a low pH. (pH, for those of you who skipped out on High School chemistry, is a measure of many hydrogen ions there are in a solution. If you’re interested, go read about it here. )
Anyway, acids and bases combine to form different kinds of salts. Acids that are made from natural fats and oils (like stearic acid) can react with bases like triethanolamine to form a special kind of salt called a soap. Lush uses triethanolamine and stearic acid to form a natural soap that keeps the oils and water in the cream mixed together.