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Dea-Oleth-3 Phosphate: An In-Depth Look at Its Role in Cosmetics

Article last updated: June 13, 2024

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Ever wondered what makes your favorite skincare products so effective? Dive into the fascinating world of DEA-Oleth-3 Phosphate and discover its crucial role in cosmetics, from its creation to its benefits and potential side effects.

What is Dea-Oleth-3 Phosphate?

Dea-Oleth-3 Phosphate, also known by its more scientific name (Z)-9-Octadecanol, ethoxylated, phosphates, bis(2-hydroxyethyl)ammonium salts (3 mol EO average molar ratio), is a versatile ingredient commonly found in various cosmetic products. This compound is primarily derived from oleyl alcohol, which is a fatty alcohol obtained from natural sources such as plant oils. The “ethoxylated” part of its name refers to the process of adding ethylene oxide to the oleyl alcohol, which helps to improve its solubility and functionality in formulations.

The history of Dea-Oleth-3 Phosphate in cosmetics is relatively modern, as it gained popularity with the advancement of cosmetic chemistry and the increasing demand for multifunctional ingredients. Initially, it was developed to serve as an effective cleansing and emulsifying agent, which are crucial functions in many personal care products. Its ability to help water and oil mix makes it an essential component in products like shampoos, conditioners, and lotions.

The production of Dea-Oleth-3 Phosphate involves a multi-step chemical process. First, oleyl alcohol undergoes ethoxylation, where ethylene oxide is added to the alcohol molecule. This step is carefully controlled to achieve the desired average molar ratio of ethylene oxide units. Following this, the ethoxylated oleyl alcohol is reacted with phosphoric acid to form the phosphate ester. Finally, the phosphate ester is neutralized with diethanolamine to produce the bis(2-hydroxyethyl)ammonium salt form, which is the final product used in cosmetics. This intricate process ensures that the ingredient is both effective and safe for use in various formulations.

The Benefits/Uses of Dea-Oleth-3 Phosphate

In this section, we will delve into the officially recognized cosmetic benefits and uses of Dea-Oleth-3 Phosphate:


Dea-Oleth-3 Phosphate is primarily known for its cleansing properties. In the world of cosmetics, this means it helps to remove dirt, oil, and other impurities from the skin or hair. When included in products like shampoos, facial cleansers, or body washes, it works by breaking down and emulsifying the oils and grime, making it easier to wash them away. This leaves your skin or hair feeling fresh, clean, and free from unwanted residues.


Another key benefit of Dea-Oleth-3 Phosphate is its ability to act as an emulsifier. In simple terms, an emulsifier helps to blend ingredients that typically don’t mix well together, like oil and water. This is crucial in many cosmetic formulations, such as lotions, creams, and serums, where a stable and uniform mixture is essential for the product’s effectiveness and texture. By ensuring that the ingredients are well-blended, Dea-Oleth-3 Phosphate helps to enhance the consistency and performance of these products, making them more pleasant and effective to use.

Note: the listed benefits above are exclusively based on the officially recognized and defined functions of the ingredient, as documented by the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI).

Potential Side Effects & Other Considerations

Dea-Oleth-3 Phosphate is generally considered safe for use in cosmetic products, but like any ingredient, it may cause side effects in some individuals. Here are some potential side effects of topical application:

  • Skin irritation
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Allergic reactions

Regarding individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding, data and research on the topical usage of Dea-Oleth-3 Phosphate during pregnancy and breastfeeding are lacking. Therefore, it is advisable for these individuals to consult a healthcare professional for further advice.

Side effects and adverse reactions from Dea-Oleth-3 Phosphate are relatively uncommon, but it is always prudent to conduct a patch test before widespread usage to ensure that you do not have an adverse reaction.

In terms of comedogenicity, Dea-Oleth-3 Phosphate has a rating of 1 on a scale of 0 (totally non-comedogenic) to 5 (highly comedogenic). This means it is unlikely to clog pores and cause acne or blemishes, making it generally suitable for people prone to breakouts.

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