There are many creams on the market that claim to contain ingredients that work as well as Botox. One of these ingredients is Acetyl Hexapeptide-3 (Argireline), a synthetically derived peptide manufactured by Spanish company Lipotec. Products with Argireline are expensive and cost almost as much as Botox, but are they effective? Is Argireline really Botox in a jar?
How does Acetyl Hexapeptide-3 (Argireline) work?
Argireline is said to prevent wrinkles by inhibiting muscle movement. How? Here’s how muscles move: a neurotransmitter sends to the synapses a signal for the muscles to move. However, for this process to work, the SNARE complex, which is made up of three proteins (VAMP, Sintaxina and SNAP-25), is needed. Argireline has the ability to mimic the protein SNAP-25, competing with it for a position in the SNARE complex, “so it destabilizes its formation, without breaking any of its components“. If the SNARE complex is destabilized, it won’t work and so the muscle can’t move. And no movement, no wrinkles (well, no wrinkles caused by facial movement as there are other factors that cause wrinkles).
What does Argireline do?
In a study published by the International Journal of Cosmetic Science in 2002, an emulsion with Argireline applied “on healthy women volunteers reduced wrinkle depth up to 30% upon 30 days treatment”. However, this is the only independent study I’ve found on Argireline. In addition, we don’t know neither its long-term benefits and possible side effects yet.
Concerns about Argireline
One thing to keep in mind is that, while Botox injections target a specific muscle, Argireline, when used in a cream, will work all over your face. And because it works by inhibiting muscle movement, it is possible in theory (although I couldn’t find any proof substituting this) that, used for a prolonged period of time, it could cause skin to sag. After all, when you paralyze a muscle, it will begin to weaken and atrophy (of course in theory this could be true for Botox as well). In any case, for Argireline to work as promised, it will have to penetrate into the skin all the way down to the muscle tissue and it’s highly unlikely that it is able to do that. And if it really could reach the muscle tissue, then it would be a drug, not a cosmetic, and should be regulated as such.
The Bottom Line
Research on Acetyl Hexapeptide-3 (Argireline) is very limited yet and, even though a study has shown promising results, there is still too much about its possible side effects and long-term benefits that we don’t know yet. Because of it, I wouldn’t buy a product just because it contains Argireline, but I’ll stick to sunscreen and antioxidants to prevent wrinkles and retinoids to help reduce them.
Do you use products with Argireline?