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Cosmeceuticals: DMAE or dimethylaminoethanol

DMAE (also known as dimethylaminoethanol and 2-(Dimethylamino)ethanol comes as a water soluble, white crystalline powder we can use in our products at 1.5% to 3% in the cool down phase. It has a pH of 10, and doesn’t play well with acidic ingredients.


So what’s claimed about DMAE? It’s claimed that it can reduce skin sagging and increase firmness. It can improve the overall face texture of aging and photo-damaged skin. These are pretty big claims! Around here, if you’re going to make big claims, you better have some big evidence! And we have it!


A 156 subject, 16 week clinical trial using a moisturizing gel with 3% was tested and the results were pretty freakin’ amazing. There was a decrease in the appearance of fine lines and an increase in skin firmness, as measured in a variety of ways but mostly along the jaw line. The results were seen as early as 2 weeks – although it was noted that skin was perceived to look better in 15 minutes – and continued to improve over the 16 week trial.


What’s interesting about DMAE is the almost complete lack of irritation for subjects using this even at 3%, the maximum suggested usage. It is considered safe for all skin types, and those with sensitive skin are supposed to be able to use it (as usual, test your skin’s reaction first before making a 32 ounce batch of lotion!)


How does it do it? DMAE is a synethetic analogue of choline (a B vitamin). It might stimulate the synthesis of phosphatidyl choline, which is an important component of cell membranes, or it might stimulate epidermal keratinocytes to contract, which will result in visual tightening or firming of the skin. Right now the mechanisms of how DMAE works isn’t really known, but the results are incredibly promising based on this study and other smaller studies that show this tightening effect.