This question came up for me when I was researching what ingredients I wanted in my skincare line. Because of the great skin-tightening benefits of DMAE, I researched it as thoroughly as I could. Here are my findings:

What is DMAE?

DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol) is made from fruit acid, a synthetic version in the CFFormulas™ skin care products. It is an organic compound. It is known to instantly tighten the skin and penetrate easily and readily into both skin and hair. The more often it is applied topically – this tightening effect is made stronger.  The skin therefore becomes softer and more elastic with repeated use.

DMAE is found in many of the CFFormulas™ products, giving you this more youthful result by layering the skin care products.  With its anti-inflammatory effects, DMAE can soothe irritated skin, effectively aid in the healing of wounds and is successful for hydration of the skin. When applied to the skin DMAE stimulates acetylcholine release which triggers a response in the muscles of the face. This activity creates a firmer facial tone and less sagging. As well, Carolyn’s Facial Formulas™ offer facial exercises for “free” when you buy any skin care product that also assists in firming up the muscles and therefore the skin of the face and neck.  DMAE is used topically to reduce fine lines and wrinkles showing a noticeable difference within 20 minutes of application.

What is the empirical – the firsthand experience – evidence of DMAE?

DMAE has been used in personal care for over two decades without any prevailing accounts of obvious skin damage. So based strictly on empirical evidence, this can lead one to believe that toxicity or adverse effects of commonly used strengths is highly unlikely.

Does DMAE damage skin cells?

Rabbit ear study

“Dr. Francois Marceau of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Quebec tested 2-dimethylaminoethanol in cultured rabbit and human skin cells. As the cells filled with DMAE, there was a quick swelling of the cells resulting in  a thickening of the epidermal layer. However, DMAE appeared to be toxic to the skin cells. Cell division was stopped and some skin cells were killed after 24 hours of exposure. However, Dr. Francois Marceau believes DMAE skin cream is safer than a real facelift, or botox injections. British Journal of Dermatology, 2007.” discussion

This study in question is well known, yet it is an inconclusive study in which DMAE was applied to rabbit ears. The end result was detectable damage to the skin cells in the area where the treatment occurred. This result has been published throughout the internet and remains a major backing for individuals and groups not in favor of DMAE.

Error in the study

The error in the study in my opinion as it relates to DMAE in personal care products is that a very concentrated, non pH balanced solution was being used to treat the rabbit ears. DMAE bears a pH of 10.5, when mixed in an aqueous solution at the concentration used in the study the pH would have been right around 9, which is still very high. When introduced to such a high pH for a prolonged period of time, skin becomes highly alkaline which can cause skin cells to become inflamed.

When DMAE is incorporated into a personal care product it is generally formulated in at lower concentrations, and the final product is pH balanced to remain friendly on the skin to achieve the desired firming result.

My personal experience

The first time I used my skincare products, following the schedule for radiant skin, I was pleasantly surprised at how firm and smooth my skin looked and felt immediately after using the layered products. When I stopped all the products for five days, my skin lost its luster and somehow looked less youthful and firm. As soon as I started with the CFFormulas products again, my skin looked glowing within 3 days. Certainly the combination of all the ingredients in the formulations are responsible, but DMAE no doubt made a huge difference in how tight and firm my skin felt, especially with repeated use.

In conclusion

Until negative claims are backed by conclusive scientific and medical research, the history and results of the ingredient will remain outstanding! Also, nearly every ingredient, beneficial to the skin or not, can be destructive under the wrong conditions or concentrations.

And, as a final note, it is worth mentioning that we all have our own unique biochemistry; what works for one individual’s skin may not work for another’s.

  • The application of a high pH solution could be the cause of the damage and not the DMAE at all.
  • Dose does matters
  • Delivery method matters
  • Consumers have been using DMAE on their skin for over 20 years with no reported ill-effects, but rabbits shouldn’t have high concentrations of alkaline DMAE solution applied to their ears.