DMAE: What it is & How to Use it

Written by: | July 3, 2019 | 6 responses

DMAE is one of our favorite ingredients at Essential, and it’s ended up in many of our bestselling products. But like so much of the cosmetics industry, it’s an ingredient many people don’t fully understand. Here we’ll talk about what it is, how to use it, and why (we think) you’ll love it too.

What is DMAE?

DMAE (Dimethlyethanolamine) is a naturally occurring chemical found in fish, with higher concentrations in sardines and salmon (although ours is vegan—more on this later). It can also be found in small amounts in the human body, typically in the brain and adrenal glands.

DMAE has become popular as both a consumable supplement and in skin care formulations, and although its actual function on the skin is not fully understood, it has been shown to reduce the appearance of fine lines and pores. We love it for its effectiveness on maturing skin, although those with very sensitive skin may find it produces redness. It is considered to be an “active” ingredient that tingles on the skin in higher concentrations, and this is part of the reason I love the DMAE & OptiMSM Mud Mask—you can feel it working.


As mentioned, DMAE is typically found in fish, however, we use a vegan version. Although ours is technically synthetic because it is made in the lab, it is a nature-identical molecule that has the exact structure of DMAE found in nature. We prefer this source because the chemistry is still green and safe, lab-produced is more sustainable in this instance, and of course, no animals were harmed in its production!

How to Use DMAE

On its own, DMAE is dangerously alkaline and in skin care is commonly mixed with tartaric acid to make it usable. In this form, it is called DMAE Bitartrate and is available for purchase. Before use please store in a cool dark area in a well-sealed container.

Use at 3-5% in formulations for maximum benefit, not exceeding 5%. DMAE is water soluble, so ideally it should be added during the water phase of an emulsion. You can add it to a finished product, but there’s a greater chance it will form small granules you can feel when applying.

We use DMAE in a variety of products, including emulsions like lotions and creams, toners, masks, or really anything hydrous. It works well with most ingredients and there are no contraindications that would limit its use.

Essential Products with DMAE

Many of our favorite products have DMAE as a star ingredient, and it pairs well with MSM (read more about MSM here). With a little education, your customers will appreciate having this excellent ingredient as a star player in your line, so we encourage you to try a sample of any of the below!

DMAE Mud Gel Facial Cleanser – using two types of clay to purify skin, this cleanser focuses on toning and firming

DMAE & Kaolin Clay Powder Mask – complement the cleanser with a mild mask using updated plant-based extracts for color and delivering a strong dose of antioxidants

DMAE & OptiMSM Mud Mask – a thick clay mask that you can feel working to reveal toned, purified, and beautiful skin

DMAE & OptiMSM Facial Toner – lay the foundation for toned skin all day with this pH-balanced toner that absorbs fast and tones and smooths

DMAE Gel – use as a moisturizing aloe-based gel on the face, body, or specifically under-eye area. Or apply thickly as a mask to infuse skin with vitamins and soothing aloe

DMAE & OptiMSM Facial Serum – indulge your skin with a strong and effective blend of both DMAE and MSM, in addition to antioxidant-rich Blue Green Algae and Vitamin E

DMAE & OptiMSM Cream – a rich cream that targets multiple skin types and delivers a bright, youthful glow

Try one of our DMAE products and let us know what you think.

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