Dr. Perricone is a dermatologist who has taken the anti aging industry by storm. With several best-selling books and a wildly successful product line, Dr. Perricone is quickly becoming a house-hold name.
One of the main ingredients in Dr. Perricone's product line is DMAE. DMAE(dimethylethanolamine) is a chemical produced in the brain. DMAE has been used in the treatment of Alzheimer's and senility. People who supplement orally with DMAE have reported higher levels of concentration and an overall increase in energy and cognitive skills.
For the past 6 years or so, a lot of buzz has been floating around about DMAE and the effect it has on aging skin-particularly sagging skin. As a matter of fact, DMAE as an anti aging product has become extremely popular as a result of Dr. Perricone's book- "The Wrinkle Cure". "The Wrinkle Cure" advocates using DMAE topically as well as orally for toned, wrinkle-free skin.
Many of Dr. Perricone's clients in his book have used DMAE topically with almost miraculous results. Some claim that the results were almost instant, making their skin tighter and more toned only a few minutes after application. If these claims were accurate this would make DMAE one of the biggest anti aging breakthroughs of the century.
As always, I decided to be my own guinea pig and try DMAE out for myself.
You can purchase DMAE in 2 forms: DMAE bitartrate and DMAE amine. (All Dr. Perricone's DMAE products contain DMAE amine.) I purchased both forms to see if there was any difference in the two. Here's my experience:
Even though I am 37 years old, I don't have sagging skin on my face. I wanted to use DMAE where I would notice a viable difference in the tone of my skin. I decided to use it on my neck and chest where I didn't have any sagging but where I did have some sun damage and change of skin texture.
I tried the DMAE bitartrate first. I applied it every morning and evening right after washing my face. After using the DMAE bitartrate faithfully for 2 weeks, I noticed no difference in the texture of my skin or in the tone. There was absolutely no difference in my skin-good or bad.
It was time to give the DMAE amine a try.
About 20 minutes after my first application, I noticed a big difference in my skin. It became tighter and more toned. After a few days of regular use (2x a day) the texture became thicker and more resilient. Naturally I was thrilled. I thought I had discovered a true miracle product. No other product I had used was able to produce these kinds of results so quickly. I continued to use the DMAE amine and it continued to work its magic. Very few anti aging products impress me-most of them are all hype. But I was very impressed with the results I got from the DMAE amine.
After using the DMAE amine 2x a day for about a month, I began to notice a redness developing on my chest and neck. I continued to use the DMAE, thinking that I had come in contact with something my skin didn't agree with. After 3 more days my skin got progressively worse. I developed a nasty rash that looked like poison ivy on the front of my neck and chest. I stopped using the DMAE and after a few days the rash cleared up.
I decided to do a little more research on DMAE before using it on my skin again. Here's what I found:
DMAE bitartrate is PH balanced for skin and is less likely to cause irritation or rashes. Results using this form of DMAE have been mixed. Some people have had good results using DMAE bitartrate, but these results can take up to 2 months or more to take effect. Others, even after using DMAE bitartrate for up to a year, did not notice any beneficial difference in the elasticity or texture of their skin.
DMAE amine is a pure form of DMAE and is highly alkaline. It is not good for the skin's PH and may cause rashes and extreme irritation even when applied with a high quality moisturizer. But the results when using this form of DMAE have been astonishing. Skin is noticeably tighter and more toned in about 20 minutes- unlike the DMAE bitartrate which can take months to see results- if at all. And remember, all of Dr. Perricone's subjects in his book have gotten their results using DMAE amine.
I have also found evidence that DMAE, no matter what form, has a damaging effect on skin.
Canadian researches have found that DMAE produces incredible results in skin and skin tone by damaging the very skin it is purported to help.
How does DMAE damage skin?
According to the researchers, when DMAE is applied to skin, it causes swelling of the skin cells as they fill with DMAE and water. This causes the epidermis to thicken. (This is what produces the toning and tightening effect of the skin.) DMAE has also been shown to be toxic to the skin. Cells stop dividing and after a 24 hour period, most of the skin cells that have come in contact with DMAE die.
But before you throw away your DMAE lotions or cream, some researchers believe DMAE may not be as bad for your skin as you think. Even though the evidence is pretty strong that DMAE does in fact cause some skin damage, it may actually help the skin by doing so.
The damage caused by DMAE in turn causes the skin's healing process to kick in. This can improve the structure and tone of the skin, making it stronger and more resilient. Skin peels and Alpha Hydroxy Acids work in exactly the same way. There is a controlled damage to the skin followed by a healing process which then brings about glowing, radiant skin. (Although AHAS and skin peels don't cause skin cells to die, only to repair themselves.)
What researchers still haven't discovered is if prolonged use of DMAE is actually helping the skin's ability to renew itself or damaging the skin too severely for the repair process to be of any benefit. Long term studies still need to be performed for these questions to be answered.
If you are currently using DMAE, especially the amine form, please pay attention to any changes in your skin- such as sudden irritation or redness or a raised rash. Remember, your skin can repair itself, but there is a point of no return.
I hope this information has shed some light on DMAE and the effect it has on the skin. Whether you use DMAE or not is a decision you have to make on your own.
The intent of this article is not to dissuade you from using DMAE nor is it a ringing endorsement. Use this information to make the best decision for you and the health of your skin.
British Journal of Dermatology