Saturday, March 12, 2011

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.

This would be a wonderful addition in your facial moisturizers at 1.5% to 3% in the cool down phase with two disclaimers. One - you might need to reduce the pH of your product as it does have a pH of 10, so check with your meter or strips to ensure you don't end up with something alkaline. (Click here for ideas on how to increase and decrease pH in your moisturizers.) Two is that although this seems like it would be a great addition to an AHA lotion - reduce the look of aging skin now and prevent it later - it doesn't play well with acidic ingredients. You want to keep this lotion at pH 6.0 to 7.0 or you'll neutralize the DMAE and make it pretty much pointless.

DMAE is a fairly low cost cosmeceutical. I found it at the Personal Formulator for $7.16 for 4 ounces (120 grams). So if you're using 3% in a 100 gram lotion you're looking at a cost of 6 cents per gram! Considering some of our cosmeceuticals can run us $7.16 for 1/2 an ounce, this is pretty remarkable.

This is not an endorsement of the ingredient found at the Personal Formulator, but some information on where you can purchase it. If you have any other supplier information, please post it in the comments. I will check the posts to ensure this is a genuine recommendation from a satisfied customer as opposed to a cheap excuse to put ads on my blog! 

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at another cosmeceutical - GABA


Meaue said...

Another source is Ingredients to Die For. 8 oz for $10 and change - not bad either. I have this and am anxious to see your formulation for it.... I haven't used it yet - been waiting for you to highlight it! :)

Susan - once you get back to hair and stuff - I'd like to find out more and your take on propyltrimonium. I put some in my hair conditioner and I think I am loving it (or my hair is!)

Pam said...


I did find this information at thoughts on the author's statement regarding adding Vitamin C? "Those looking for beauty and anti-aging solutions may want to examine what DMAE can do for them. When partnered with vitamin C, DMAE can help create cleaner, clearer skin. It prevents the production of arachidonal acids that can cause wrinkles and blemishes to form on the skin"

melian1 said...

would you please tell us what the molecular size of these are as you cover them? i understand that anything over 500 Daltons or 13 nanometers will not penetrate the skin to do the job.

i'm not clear on what a dalton is, or a nanometer is either! would you please give us a little info on that also?

Happycraftster said...

Not all dmae is ph 10, the dmae I am using is ph 4.
All additives should be checked from each supplier.

Tara said...

Have you heard of DMAE bitartrate being banned in Canada: ?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Tara. Thanks for the link! I had not heard about this, but it's something to think about if we're ordering this ingredient from the States.

Stacy said...

I know this post is fairly outdated but is this the MSDS sheet for the same ingredient? If so, it seems pretty dangerous!

"Material is extremely destructive to the tissue of the mucous membranes and upper respiratory tract.Harmful if inhaled."

"Causes burns.Harmful if absorbed through skin. May cause allergic skin reaction."

I apologize if this is not the same ingredient, the last thing I want to do is spread propaganda on a perfectly safe product!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Stacy. Two points - MSDS forms can get quite reactionary when they want (see one for olive oil some time!), but you are right to be concerned, but the one to which you link isn't a cosmetic grade or concentration. It's used as an accelerator for epoxy resins. We use the powdered version that should have a lower concentration than this and has suggested safe usage levels. Having said that, we should be really careful around ingredients that are at either end of the acid/base scale - AHA, lye, various acids, and so on - because they can hurt our skin.

Here's the MSDS for a version from The Personal Formulator.

Thanks for bringing up this topic!

Tonje Richards said...

I found this on Ebay. Can this be used in lotions?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

You'll have to contact the supplier and ask her whether or not this is approved for cosmetic use. As a note, I wouldn't use things that aren't approved for cosmetic use in our products because we don't know how they'll react when we put them in something emulsified or oily or whathaveyou.

Sam said...

Hi Susan,

This sounds like a great cosmeceutical!

Before I run to the store, I'd just like to make sure I'm buying the right form of DMAE.

Because you say DMAE is very alkaline, but the product page of Personal Formulator you're linking to sells DMAE bitartrate, which if I've understood it correctly is a neutralized version of the DMAE. (I don't have a very good source on this though; mostly I find it on forums like these:

In addition, the PF product page says that the DMAE bitartrate only contains about 37% of DMAE. Does the recommended percentage of 1,5-3% apply to the pure DMAE or the DMAE bitartate (so that the actual DMAE percentage is ca. 0,5-1%)?

Thanks in advance!


Renia said...

Hallo, does anyone know if deanol water solution can be heated to 70 degrees C without any problem? I make my own cream with deanol and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate and its a bit of a problem to add them at cold phase dissolved in water/hydrosol.