“So, how did you get the inspiration for Syn-ake, your new revolutionary anti-aging ingredient?,” the hopeful young reporter asked the Pentapharm representative.
“Well, we at Pentapharm have always been fascinated with snakes. We are the largest snake breeders and keepers in the world, you know. Their transfixing gaze, their slithering crawling, they are so powerful. But snakes can also be dangerous. Take the deadly South Asian temple viper. It bites its victims, injecting them with a poison that paralyzes them. And so we thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could paralyze muscles like that? Maybe we could use their venom for it!’ And that’s how Syn-ake was born”.
“Clever play on words, there, Syn-ake. I like it. But isn’t it dangerous to apply snake venom on the skin?”
“Oh, but snake venom is just its marketing name. It’s more familiar and even intriguing than Dipeptide Diaminobutyroyl Benzylamide Diacetate (DDBD), the active ingredient in Syn-ake. Syn-ake is a synthetic tri-peptide derivative that just mimics the activity of Waglerin 1, a compound found in snake venom. It blocks some receptors, keeping muscles relaxed and smoothing out wrinkles.”
And then, he handed her some papers with the results of a study the company had conducted that proves just how effective Syn-ake is. But the smart reporter, although she really wanted to believe she had found a miraculous anti-aging ingredient (hey, how great would it be if this stuff worked like Botox, but didn’t need to be injected?), decided to take a look at the science behind Syn-ake and to examine the research done by Pentapharm closely. Here’s what she found out.
Does Syn-ake really work?
Pentapharm, the chemical company that makes Syn-ake, has conducted an experiment on 45 people, divided into three groups. The first group was given a cream with 4% Syn-ake, the second a cream with 10% Argireline (which is said, like Syn-ake, to mimic the effects of Botox), and the third a placebo.
The results showed that the group who used Syn-ake experienced a 52% reduction in wrinkles. The other two creams, instead, didn’t show any significant results. While this research is impressive, it is also flawed. This study wasn’t peer-reviewed and hasn’t been repeated by any independent researchers.
After some more digging, I could find only another study that researched the effects of DDBD. 37 women with “mild-to-moderate, fine and coarse periocular and perioral wrinkles” were asked to use twice a day for 3 months a cream with “multiple growth factors, antioxidants, and a collagen-building peptide”, including DDBD. The researchers concluded that:
“The early onset of efficacy observed within minutes of application suggests that this unique combination of HA filling spheres and a muscle contraction-inhibiting peptide may work synergistically to promote rapid reductions in wrinkle appearance. The ability of HA to attract and retain moisture may contribute to the observed smoothing effect on lines and wrinkles. [...]
The immediate improvement in wrinkle appearance may also be due to the muscle-relaxing effects of the Waglerin-1 mimicking peptide as wrinkles in the periocular and perioral areas are often associated with repeated muscle movement. In addition, the light-diffusing polymeric microspheres in the line treatment may also soften the appearance of fine lines in these facial areas.”
While this looks promising, the cream used was full of so many beneficial goodies for the skin, such as antioxidants Vitamins C and E, and humectants such as Hyaluronic Acid, that it is difficult to tell how much snake venom contributed in smoothing out wrinkles. Would the cream have worked just, or almost, as well even without it?
The Bottom Line
Snake venom may have slithered its way into skincare products, but there is no convincing evidence yet to support that it works. Until further research is done, don’t let the hype bite you! Instead, save your money and invest it in some serum or moisturizer chock-full of antioxidants and retinoids, which have been proved to help skin fight premature aging.
Would you use a cream with snake venom?