What Does DMAE Do for the Skin?

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DMAE is an ingredient that is appearing in more and more skin care products, especially those that are designed to combat aging. 

But what exactly is it, and how does it affect your skin? 

Here is everything you need to know…

What is DMAE?

DMAE, which stands for dimethylaminoethanol, is a naturally-occurring chemical substance that can be found in high concentrations in certain foods, such as anchovies and sardines. The human brain also produces small amounts of DMAE, with this substance being able to help with several of the brain’s important functions. 

Over the years, DMAE has been primarily used as an oral supplement, in order to improve mental alertness and cognitive function. 

However, recent studies on this ingredient have pointed to its skin benefits too, which is why you will now see DMAE in a wide range of skin care products. 

DMAE Improves Skin Firmness and Tightness

One of the greatest benefits of DMAE is the way in which it can improve how firm and tight your skin is, and this is an effect that has been documented in several studies. 

This increase in firmness and tightness also means a reduction in wrinkles and fine lines, which is why DMAE has become such a popular anti-aging ingredient. 

How exactly does it tighten the skin? 

Experts believe that DMAE does this in two ways: 

  • Increases the amount of water that the skin tissue can hold – this then helps to tighten up the texture of the skin’s surface 
  • With its cholinergic effects – this is the way in which DMAE is a neurotransmitter, meaning that it boosts the way in which the nerves and muscles send signals to each other. The result is tighter muscles underneath the skin, which helps the skin to appear more taut 

All of these effects are heightened when DMAE is used continuously over an extended period of time, due to its cumulative effect. 

In addition to using DMAE to improve the firmness of the skin on your face, you can also apply this ingredient to your neck. 

Woman massaging neck area

Loose skin on the neck, along with wrinkles, is extremely common with age, and is often referred to as turkey neck. DMAE has been shown to be able to have a significant effect on neck wrinkles, tightening these back up and giving the skin a smoother and tauter appearance.

DMAE Thickens the Skin

As mentioned above, DMAE increases the water retention abilities of the tissues in your skin. 

This plumps them up, therefore increasing the thickness of the skin’s dermal and epidermal layers. There are plenty of studies that prove this to be true, with formulations that didn’t contain DMAE only increasing the thickness of the skin’s epidermal layer, rather than its dermal layer as well.

Why does the thickness of your skin matter? 

Because thicker skin takes longer to show the visible signs of aging. It is also able to stay better hydrated, and will not experience the same level of dryness that thin skin does.

Sadly, your skin thins with age, at a rate of about 6% per decade.

DMAE helps to prevent this from happening, thickening your skin back up and leaving it stronger than ever. 

DMAE Helps to Clear Age Spots

Age spots are, as you can tell by its name, something that happens with age. Also known as liver spots, these dark patches appearing on the skin are common as you progress through life. 

What causes them? 

The exact reason is unknown, but it is due to an excess of pigment produced in the skin. In particular, a pigment known as lipofuscin. As you get older, your body is not able to metabolize fatty acids as efficiently as it used to, and the molecular waste that this produces consists of lipofuscin. 

When the lipofuscin accumulates inside your skin cells, it leads to them appearing darker in color. 

How does DMAE help with all of this? 

It is able to flush out the lipofuscin that has collected within cells, therefore fading away any dark spots. 

DMAE Has Antioxidant Properties

Antioxidants are key when it comes to keeping your skin healthy, and everybody should incorporate at least a few different antioxidants into their skin care routine. 

Why are antioxidants so important? 

Well, everything from environmental pollutants to UV rays to stress can lead to the formation of free radicals in your body. Free radicals are molecules that are missing an electron, causing it to become unstable. In order to heal itself, the free radical attacks nearby cells to steal an electron from them, therefore turning that cell into a free radical. These attacks continue, eventually leading to permanent damage in skin cells.

free radical vs normal molecule

The only way to really stop this vicious cycle is with the use of antioxidants…

Antioxidants contain several extra electrons. When they come into contact with a free radical, they donate one of their missing electrons to that molecule, therefore healing the free radical and preventing it from attacking other cells. 

There are many ingredients out there that have antioxidant properties, and DMAE is one of them. 

It is able to protect skin cells and prevent any damage from occurring, keeping your skin cells healthier for longer. 

DMAE Has Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Another huge advantage to DMAE is the way in which it has potent anti-inflammatory effects. 

Inflammation is something that affects just about everyone. It is caused by a number of different internal and external factors, such as: 

  • Unhealthy diet 
  • Smoke 
  • Pollution 
  • UV rays 
  • Ingredients in cosmetic products 
  • Stress 
  • Bacteria 
  • Extreme weather conditions 
  • Toxins 
  • Physical injury or trauma 

Why is inflammation so bad?

Because it leads to a number of skin problems, such as:

  • Acne 
  • Rosacea
  • Dermatitis 

That’s not all…

Inflammation is also known for being the root cause of skin aging. 

How does inflammation have this effect on the skin? 

Well, when your body experiences inflammation in the skin, its natural reaction is to destroy any injured tissues while creating new ones to replace this. Your body produces enzymes known as matrix metallo proteinases, also called MMPs, to break this tissue down.

When this occurs due to a wound or another type of skin injury, this is great, as this is what helps your skin to heal. 

However, the modern day lifestyle means that many people are experiencing chronic inflammation. This results in the MMPs destroying healthy skin cells, along with the collagen and elastin fibers that surround them. 

As you likely already know, collagen and elastin are the main proteins responsible for your skin’s smoothness and firmness. When these proteins break down, the results are loose, sagging skin with a rapid onset of fine lines and wrinkles. The fact that your body also produces less collagen and elastin as it ages only exacerbates these effects. 

The anti-inflammatory qualities that DMAE provides helps to counter all of this by keeping inflammation to a minimum. 

DMAE Plumps the Lips

Full and luscious lips are quite the trend now, and you don’t need to resort to invasive procedures to get this look. 

All you need is DMAE…

Applying lip balm

Studies have found that DMAE can significantly increase the fullness of the lips. On a scale of one to ten when it comes to lip fullness, the average increase, after using DMAE on the lips for a month, was 5.43.

Is DMAE Safe for Topical Use on the Skin?

This is a common, and very fair, question when it comes to new skin care ingredients.

There have been several studies carried out on DMAE, and while the majority of them point to the positives of this ingredient, there is one that says otherwise…

The study, which was published in the British Journal of Dermatology, tested DMAE on rabbit and human skin cells that had been cultured in a lab. 

The results?

The researchers found that while DMAE was initially able to thicken the skin, exposure to the ingredient for 24 hours led to the death of skin cells. 

Should you be worried? 

No. As mentioned above, this is the only study that found DMAE to cause damage. In addition to this, the concentration of DMAE used in the study was extremely high, as was the pH level of the solution that was used. This would have meant that the skin was exposed to an unnaturally high pH level for an extended period of time, making it no surprise that cells became inflamed and died. 

When it comes to the DMAE used in commercial skin care products, the ingredient is utilized at a much lower concentration. The final product is also usually pH-balanced in order to ensure that it is nothing but beneficial to the skin. 

Incorporating DMAE Into Your Skin Care Routine

Convinced that you need to start using DMAE? 

This ingredient is actually quite an easy one to incorporate into your skin care routine, thanks to the wide range of products containing DMAE available. 

Here are some of your options: 

  • Cleansers – while many specialty ingredients in cleansers don’t actually make much of a difference, due to the fact that cleansers don’t remain on the skin for very long, DMAE is different. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, a DMAE cleanser can actually be extremely beneficial, especially for those who are already suffering from an inflammatory skin condition 
  • Serums – serums are thin and lightweight, and are designed to be quickly and easily absorbed by the skin. Since serums are able to penetrate deeper into the skin than other products, DMAE in a serum will be able to reach the deeper layers of the skin, and therefore bring about a more significant change 
  • Masks – masks remain on the skin for an extended period of time, which gives the ingredients within it the chance to properly penetrate into the skin. DMAE masks can be very effective, especially when used on a regular basis 
  • Creams – creams are designed to protect and nourish the surface of the skin, and many creams don’t get absorbed by the skin much. However, DMAE has a number of effects that would be beneficial for the surface of the skin, from the way in which it tightens the skin to its anti-inflammatory properties. Don’t forget, you can also use DMAE body creams, in addition to face creams, to help firm up the skin on your body 
  • Lip Creams and Balms – as mentioned earlier, DMAE can have quite a significant effect on the fullness of the lips. If this is what you are hoping to achieve with the use of DMAE, then the best way to do this would be to opt for a DMAE lip cream or balm, since this enables you to apply the ingredient directly to the skin on your lips. This also means that your lips will benefit from the other properties of DMAE, such as its anti-inflammatory and firming effects 

Want to make the DMAE in your products even more effective? 

There is an easy way to do this…

Make sure that you are using DMAE alongside ingredients that complement the functions of DMAE. 

Here are a few examples: 

  • Hyaluronic Acidalso plumps up skin cells and increases their water retention abilities, keeping the skin hydrated  
  • Vitamin C – a powerful antioxidant that boosts collagen production to plump up skin cells
  • Vitamin E – another antioxidant known for its healing properties 
  • Retinol – also a potent anti-ager that smooths away wrinkles and fine lines 
  • Caffeine – has a tightening effect, and is especially beneficial around the eyes and on the lips 

As the skin benefits of DMAE are becoming more widely known, this ingredient is appearing in an increasing number of skin care products, making it easy for you to get your hands on it. With this ingredient having such a wide range of different benefits, DMAE is something that just about everybody’s skin would benefit from. 

2 thoughts on “What Does DMAE Do for the Skin?”

  1. Janet adcock says:

    Tell us the name of the products that have the most DMAE

    1. Michelle says:

      Hi Janet,

      All the products in the 24K DMAE Collection feature DMAE as an ingredient. The 24K DMAE Deep Wrinkle Tightening Solution can best reveal the effects of DMAE, so you may be interested in trying that.

      Thank you,

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