Thursday, January 31, 2008

PAY ATTENTION: The truth behind trends: DMAE effects on the skin (part 2)

Hi All! Let's just make it through today's post and tomorrow will be light and easy! Here's part 2 to yesterday's blog about DMAE.

These last 2 blogs are important because they illustrate how things can become a public phenomenon without hard science to back it up. Probably like most of us, I have always felt this feeling of protection, as if there were government agencies that watch over everything that a consumer might get their hands on; there was someone or some agency to protect us always. As I started learning how things worked, in other words, the older I got :-( , I soon came to see that this was not true, and probably not very possible. This is why we must be vigilant and educated as consumers and take responsibility for what we put on and into our bodies (as well as into our hearts and minds!).

Onto DMAE and the skin!
More importantly, does it work? The answer depends on what the claim is.

Products claiming that it tightens/firms the skin, well, they're probably right. The limited research (and some sponsored by cosmetics companies) have nevertheless shown that indeed there is a tightening and firming effect when using DMAE on the skin. The tightening effects diminish the appearance of wrinkles and viola! a "more youthful" look. So I agree actually that using DMAE does indeed tighten the skin and I'll agree with the fact that it may help you look younger, temporarily.

Products that claim it as an anti-aging product, thus far, this is an unfounded lie! So what's the difference between the above statement that it firms the skin and using it as an anti-aging product. Well, first of all, the tightening & firming effects are most likely direct effects of DMAE on skin cells. NOTE: This does not mean that it is preventing or even repairing the skin aging process.

HERE IS WHY:
The only research-proven effect that DMAE has on the skin is that it causes cells to increase vacuolization. Huh?? This means that applying DMAE causes skin cells to swell up (absorbing water and DMAE). Vacuoles are kind of like membrane-bound blobs that can hold food, water, enzymes, a bunch of stuff. Click on the picture below to see an illustration of a vacuole.




What does the increase in vacuolization of skin cells mean? This causes the skin cells to swell up. This, in turn, causes the skin to be plumper, looking tighter and less wrinkled. Please continue to remember, we have very limited research on what DMAE does to the skin any way! This is only one of the few research studies done on DMAE. SIDE NOTE: This vacuolization phenomenon has also been linked to other amine compounds acting on the skin like the ever popular triethanolamine, used often as a preservative.

GUESS WHAT?
The same study also demonstrated something else! Fibroblast death. Fibroblasts are connective tissue cells and they are responsible for producing substances like collagen and elastin that help to form the skin tissue and give it structure and mass. Fibroblasts and the products they produce are crucial in many functions including keeping the skin plump and strong (not to mention healthy).

DON'T FREAK.
Let's put things into perspective again. Many substances in the wrong proportions can cause cell death (even vitamins, hey, even too much water causes death!). My point is this: there simply isn't enough research to know the full extent of what DMAE does to the skin, body, and mind. We do know that it certainly does affect the body, but we don't know any details! But we do know under some conditions that it can and does induce the death of some fibroblasts.

Critical thinking point:
What happens if you stop using DMAE on the skin? Well, the limited research we have shows that its "skin firming/tightening effects" will cease as well. Besides, if the effects of it were longer lasting, trust me, the cosmetics companies would be all over this claim!

Have you seen how many times I've said "most likely", "we don't know", "not enough research"? I want to reiterate that I, personally, would not use DMAE especially on my skin unless there was a lot more research conducted on it and its effects. I want proof that it's safe or at least is not damaging to the skin.

Click here to read an interview with the doctor whose research illustrated DMAE effects on cells.
PubMed link to his paper here.

Summary
Now I'm sure you can see how a product that most definitely has effects on the skin, can become a public hot seller without any safety data behind it! In fact, very little data at all. I hope these last 2 posts will help you realize that we must be more careful and be wary of what we put in and on the skin. We must also be careful where we get out information.

I SAY:
"Once an ingredient proves, not to be effective, but to be a hot seller, then the vast majority of the market will follow."

This just means that, really, skincare companies are after the bottom line. The whole fashion and beauty market runs on chasing the "next hottest thing" and you'll notice most just jump on the wagon like copycats. Effectiveness and the best interests of the consumer often lag behind the concern to make more money. This is what the modern capitalist markets have created, but at the same time, we are in an age of phenomenally increased information and knowledge that is at the tips of our fingers. In todays world, being a smart consumer means having to be a highly educated consumer. But the research will pay off in more ways than just being able to pick out a better skincare line!

To always check for the latest research publications, please go to my "LINKS OF TRUTH" on the right sidebar. Click and search the PubMed library of research journals. Don't get intimidated, click here for the tutorial page on using the site.

Peace out!
dr. david

enjoy your day . . . and tomorrow's FRIDAY !

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thankyou for writing this article. I was hesitant to use a "all natural" skin care product that contained DMAE but after reading this article and the inconclusive findings on DMAE I will not be using it on my skin. And thanks for sharing your informed opinion. After reading a few sources on the internet on DMAE it is your article that has helped me make a decision on whether or not to use a skin care product containing DMAE. I am not going to chance it. Thanks!