Aging is a gradual process, and one of the first places it shows up is on your face. Fine lines start to form around the mouth and eyes that gradually deepen and become more noticeable. At first these lines are noticeable only when you move your face. At this stage, the lines are referred to as "dynamic" wrinkles, meaning they're visible only with facial movements like smiling, frowning or grimacing. Over time, dynamic wrinkles become static wrinkles that are noticeable even when your face isn't moving.
One way to treat dynamic wrinkles and keep them from becoming static lines is to use an agent that relaxes the underlying muscles. This is usually done by a medical professional with injections of botulinum toxin or Botox. Although Botox is effective for treating dynamic wrinkles, it involves multiple needle sticks underneath the skin, and some people find this to be painful. Plus, some people are wary of treatments that involve needles. Until recently, there wasn't an alternative to Botox injections for relaxing the muscle. But now there's a topical ingredient called acetyl hexapeptide-3, trademarked under the name Argireline and manufactured by Lipotec. Argireline is an ingredient added to some anti-aging creams as an alternative to Botox.
How does Argireline work? Argireline is a peptide, a sequence of amino acids linked together to form a chain. Peptides have the ability to direct cells and tell them what to do. Because of their ability to affect skin cell function, peptides are popular in skin care products. For example there are peptides that tell cells in the dermis of the skin to make more collagen. Collagen is a protein that gives skin support and helps to prevent sagging and skin wrinkling. Argireline has a different function. When applied topically, it alters biochemical pathways involved in muscle contraction so that facial muscles can't contract with as much force. By doing this, it reduces the appearance of dynamic wrinkles. Wrinkles that are visible when smiling or frowning become less noticeable.
Does it work? The manufacturers of Argireline carried out a study on a group of female volunteers. The volunteers used a cream that contained 5% Argireline for 30 days. At the end of 15 days of continuous use, lines around their eyes were reduced by 17%. After 30 days, lines and wrinkles were diminished by 27%. Another independent study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science found that Argireline reduced wrinkles by 30% after 30 days of use.
The question with Argireline is whether it penetrates deeply enough underneath the skin to have an effect on muscle contractions. With a topical cream, you have less control over where the active ingredient goes and how deeply it penetrates. This usually isn't a problem with an injectable like Botox. There are also questions about what concentration of the Argireline is best for relaxing facial muscles. Some experts express concern that relaxing facial muscles could cause skin sagging over time since the muscle may not support the overlying skin as well. Still, there's little evidence to suggest this is a problem at the current time. The advantage of Argireline is it's a topical that's non-invasive, non-painful and less expensive than Botox injections.
Argireline also appears to be safe. According to a study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, it's non-toxic orally and doesn't cause skin irritation even at high doses. Unlike Botox injections, it doesn't require a visit to dermatologist or other medical professional trained to do Botox injections. It can be safely used at home. Like Botox, Argireline's main function is to treat dynamic wrinkles, and it may not have an effect on static wrinkles. If it works in the way preliminary studies suggest, it may reduce the formation of new wrinkles by keeping facial muscles from contracting with as much force. Repeatedly making the same facial expressions are one cause of skin wrinkling.
More research is needed to confirm the benefits of Argireline for treating dynamic facial wrinkles, but preliminarily it looks promising. It appears to be non-toxic and non-irritating and doesn't require needles like Botox does.