Several compounds found in cosmetics are just as complex as medication—they are absorbed through the skin, flow through the bloodstream, are expelled by the kidneys, or stocked in cells or even in the liver. Yet, the laws regulating their use are far less restrictive than those regulating drugs.
2-dimethylaminoethanol, a compound commonly used in many antiwrinkle products causes a destruction of skin cells.
In vitro tests [story] revealed a quick and spectacular swelling of skin cell vacuoles called fibroblasts, which act as reservoirs and interface between the inside and the outside of the skin cell.
In the hours following the application of DMAE, the researchers observed an important slowing down of cell division—sometimes coming to a complete stop, the inhibition of certain metabolic reactions, and the death of a significant percentage of fibroblasts.
The mortality rate of fibroblasts, which varied according to DMAE concentration, was above 25% after 24 hours in the case of a concentration similar to the one resulting from normal use of an antiwrinkle cream.
The thickening of the skin induced by the pathological swelling of the fibroblasts would explain the antiwrinkle effect of DMAE, according to the researchers.
2-dimethylaminoethanol or DMAE is found in cosmetics, creams, lipsticks, shampoos, soaps, and baby lotions, although the way they work is not yet understood.
Some of the ingredients recently used in skin creams and lotions are: Alpa and Beta Hydroxy acids, Vitamin C Ester, Vitamin E, Alpha Lipoic Acid, DMAE and Idebenone.
Though in vitro testing provides only fundamental and early results, this study points to the need to reinforce adequate testing prior to over-the-counter and cosmeceutical marketing.