Costly DMAE cream delivers little more than common moisturizers

anti aging products

DMAE cream is being marketed as a face lift in a jar, but dermatologists say you're better off saving your money and using a standard moisturizer. Image: CC Crystalwood Naturals/Flickr

DMAE cream is an anti-aging product being hyped as a “facelift in a jar.” A doctor hawking DMAE cream appeared on the “Dr. Oz” show this week and buzz about the substance spread like wildfire. Dermatologists and the FDA dismiss anti-aging claims about DMAE as pseudoscience, but evidence does exist that DMAE creams provide certain cosmetic benefits.

DMAE cream and the dreaded facial sag

DMAE cream is being marketed as an expensive anti-aging product that reverses wrinkles and facial sagging. Facial sagging is the dead giveaway of aging that has made face lifts so popular. A standard face lift can cost $6,000 to $15,000, according to the Consumer Guide for Plastic Surgery. Less than two ounces of DMAE cream can cost as much as $80, depending on the marketing sophistication behind the brand. Unlike drug companies, cosmetics companies aren’t required by the FDA to prove with scientific evidence that products are safe and effective, but a 2005 Johnson & Johnson study found that DMAE cream may have anti-inflammatory effects that could tighten skin.

DMAE branded as the fountain of youth

DMAE is shorthand for dimethylaminoethanol, an organic compound naturally produced in the human brain. Natural DMAE sources include sardines, anchovies and salmon. DMAE has been researched far more as a potential drug than a topical agent. Studies have shown the DMAE may stem the decline in cognition and memory related to aging. Until DMAE creams came along, DMAE has been commonly marketed in anti-aging supplements that claim to enhance learning, memory, sleep, energy and mood. Research of DMAE creams have documented a measurable reduction in facial sagging, but the effects were perceived as more dramatic by the DMAE user, rather than the observer.

Cost of DMAE cream inflated by hype

A combination of marketing psychology and suggestions of scientific credibility have many people convinced that DMAE creams are indeed a face lift in a jar. But most dermatologists aren’t’ impressed. After being used since the 1990s, DMAE cream hasn’t been proven unsafe for anything but a person’s wallet A cheap moisturizer may work just as well. DMAE is about as cheap as aspirin and doesn’t need exotic stabilization compounds. Based on economic realities and cost of production, a DMAE cream should cost less than $10.


Calgary Herald

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