Then How Does DMAE Firm the Skin?This needs to be addressed because DMAE has been shown to possess skin firming capabilities.
In that same comprehensive study cited above, which was done by Johnson & Johnson, a well-designed (multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled) experiment was performed to test the efficacy of a 3% DMAE gel over 16 weeks. Based on a physician’s subjective analysis (with the naked eye), there were statistically significant improvements in the reduction of forehead and periorbital fine lines of those using the DMAE gel, compared to those using the placebo. Furthermore, instrumental (objective) evaluations recorded an increase in skin hydration. After 16 weeks, the subjects were eligible to participate in an open-label 8-month extension of the same study. The skin firming benefits were maintained in the remaining thirty-five patients. No adverse reactions were seen, which indicate that DMAE has a good safety profile.
Now as we saw above, this increase in skin firmness cannot be attributed to ACh. Therefore, what mechanism of action is responsible?
This study suggests that the skin firming effects of DMAE can be accredited to a type of vacuolization, a process by which vacuoles or large pools of water are formed in cells. Upon application of 3% DMAE, rabbit fibroblasts were shown to swell to massive sizes, with the epidermis of the (rabbit) ear exhibiting significant thickening and clear perinuclear swelling. Cultured human cutaneous epithelial cells responded similarly. A similar study confirmed this epidermal and dermal thickening.
But is This Type of Firming (Vacuolization) Beneficial?If all you want is firmer skin, then yes DMAE will be beneficial. However, it is important to note that vacuolization is a process that will hasten cellular death or apoptosis; cells can literally drown if too much water is present inside. This vacuolization may be why this study demonstrated that DMAE affects the viability of cultured human fibroblasts. It was shown that “a decrease in fibroblast proliferation was associated with an increase in DMAE concentration…causing an increase in apoptosis.” And as all three of the previously cited studies indicated statistically significant increases in skin hydration from DMAE application, the claim that the increase of water in the skin is due to vacuolization, appears more and more valid.
Granted, any compound at sufficiently high concentrations will kill cultured fibroblasts; whether it’s water, L-ascorbic acid, retinol, or green tea. So consider this data cautiously.
Ingredient Profile of DMAE: ConclusionUltimately, the choice of whether or not to use DMAE is up to you. It’s pretty obvious that it does induce firming of the skin via vacuolization (which may or may not be harmful), rather than ACh generation. But is it worth the risk?
On one hand, clinical studies show that DMAE is able to penetrate and thicken the dermis, indicating that vacuolization does occur at that depth. On the other hand, volunteers used a 3% DMAE gel for an entire year without exhibiting adverse reactions.
Factoring in everything discussed above, I personally will not be looking for DMAE in my skin care products, as there are other more documented, effective, and risk-free ingredients that I can use to firm the skin, not to mention exercise and diet! Furthermore, because free DMAE requires a very alkaline pH (~10) in order to function, I don’t want to have to deal with the consequences of having a non-acidic epidermal environment. And while in theory, a neutral salt form can be just as effective as free DMAE, I’d still rather not have to deal with all the associated unknowns and risks.
I hope that was an enlightening.More about this article checkout here with Futurederm>