TEA-cocoyl glutamate is a triethanolamine salt of the coconut acid amide of glutamic acid (an amino acid). In skin and hair care products, TEA-cocoyl glutamate functions as a weakly acidic anionic surfactant. A surfactant works by lowering the surface tension between two substances, such as two liquids or a liquid and a solid. A surfactant molecule contains one end that is hydrophilic (attracted to water) and one end that is lipophilic (attracted to oil). This allows surfactants to attract and suspends oils, dirt, and other impurities that have accumulated on the skin and wash them away, leaving the skin clean. Anionic surfactants are those that have a negative charge on their polar head group, and are most useful for applications that require good cleansing and foam. TEA-cocoyl glutamate leaves skin feeling soft and smooth but not dry and tight after washing.