woman rubbing DMAE product onto her face

Ask a dermatologist: What is DMAE?

Last Updated: March 28, 2022

DMAE, ASAP! If your skin could use a lift, we’ve got the solution for you. We asked a dermatologist all about the benefits of DMAE and how to incorporate this innovative ingredient into your skincare routine.

If you’ve grown weary of beauty products that sound more like something Grimes and Elon Musk would name their baby, you’re not alone. Between CoQ10, gluconolactone, and cyclopentasiloxane, it’s a wonder our tongues aren’t permanently twisted. But the legion of sci-fi sounding skincare ingredients has a new addition, and we promise you’re gonna like it.

DMAE, aka dimethylaminoethanol, is a skincare wunderkind that boasts a range of benefits – from skin-tightening effects, to reducing age spots and more. We spoke with our fav dermatologist, Dr. Anna Chacon, to give us the download on DMAE.

What is DMAE?

illustration of a bottle

DMAE is an organic compound that’s naturally found in the body. “In the body, DMAE works to increase acetylcholine — a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating REM sleep and muscle contractions, among other things,” Dr. Chacon says.

And in skincare?

“DMAE for skincare has powerful antioxidant effects that stave off free radicals that play a part in the signs of aging,” she says. “It’s been proven to reduce facial lines and add fullness to aging skin, strengthen collagen fibers, and hydrate the skin.” Count us in.

Curious about collagen? Read our collagen guide to learn all about this glow-giving protein.

How to use DMAE

illustration of a face in profile

DMAE comes in facial creams and serums that can be used daily – in the morning, and at night. "Anyone can benefit from products that contain DMAE, but especially people who want to combat aging skin concerns like wrinkles, sagging, and dullness," says Dr. Chacon.

Because of DMAE’s antioxidant effects, it pairs well with other antioxidant products like vitamins A, C, and E. Dr. Chacon notes that topical applications of DMAE don't have any known reactions with other skincare products.

Can you use DMAE with retinol?

Yes! According to Dr. Chacon, "DMAE is safe to use with retinol. Retinol stimulates collagen production, and when paired with DMAE, these effects are amplified.” She adds, "Bakuchiol, a vegan alternative to retinol, is a good choice for people who want the benefits of retinol without the irritating side effects."

6 benefits of DMAE for skin

Helps tighten and firm the skin

“DMAE is a firming agent that’s been shown to improve the appearance of sagging skin,” Dr. Chacon says. It even has a cumulative effect – meaning the firming results get better with continued use.

Reduces fine lines and wrinkles

“The thicker collagen fibers and hydrated skin associated with DMAE have a dramatic plumping effect, resulting in the decreased appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” Dr. Chacon says. This effect is also increased with regular use.

Provides hydration

Increased hydration has also been shown as a result of using DMAE, especially when it’s paired with products that contain potent humectants (products that attract water), like hyaluronic acid or jojoba oil.

Brightens dull skin

“DMAE helps increase the thickness of collagen fibers in your skin, which in turn gives skin a brighter, plumper appearance,” says Dr. Chacon.

Evens skin tone

In one study, DMAE reduced the pigment that causes liver spots – also known as age spots – evening out skin tones affected by aging.

Soothes irritation

“While more research needs to be done, some studies have shown that DMAE could have strong anti-inflammatory effects, making it a solid choice for people with red or irritated skin,” Dr. Chacon postulates.

The best DMAE creams for firmer skin

Derma E Ultra Lift Firming DMAE Moisturizer

Affectionately called “face lift in a bottle,” Derma-E’s Ultra Lift Firming DMAE Moisturizer has it all. DMAE is paired with powerful copper peptides that work to firm, lift, and tone the skin of your face and neck plus antioxidant-rich kakadu plum, skin-brightening resveratrol, and hyaluronic acid to hydrate. Best part? It's dermatologist recommended, vegan, and cruelty-free.

Andalou Naturals Age Defying Hyaluronic DMAE Lift & Firm Cream

This innovative DMAE cream from Andalou Naturals is ideal for total skin rejuvenation. It’s got DMAE, plus a fruit stem cell complex that offers a major boost in dermal vitality while supporting the creation of collagen and elastin. CoQ10 offers extra firming action while hyaluronic acid and aloe vera nourish and moisturize. Best of all, it’s made from cruelty-free and fair trade ingredients that feel good on your face — and your conscience.

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