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ARGIRELINE FOR WRINKLES: IS IT BETTER THAN BOTULINUM TOXIN, RETINOL?

Mya Care Blogger 07 Dec 2023
ARGIRELINE FOR WRINKLES: IS IT BETTER THAN BOTULINUM TOXIN, RETINOL?

You may have heard of a peptide called Argireline if you are searching for a non-surgical or non-invasive method to minimize the look of wrinkles and fine lines. This ingredient has been touted as “Botox in a bottle” for its ability to relax facial muscles and smooth out expression lines. But how does Argireline work, and is it really better than other anti-aging treatments such as botulinum toxin, retinol, or tretinoin?

This blog post will examine the benefits, mechanisms, and limitations of Argireline while contrasting it with some of the most well-liked substitutes.

What is Argireline, and How Does It Work?

Argireline is a brand name for a synthetic peptide that consists of six amino acids. Its scientific name is acetyl hexapeptide-3 or acetyl hexapeptide-8.

Peptides are small molecules of protein that act as messengers in the skin, stimulating various processes such as collagen production, wound healing, and inflammation. Argireline works by mimicking a fragment of a protein called SNAP-25, which is involved in the transmission of nerve signals to the muscles. By binding to the same receptors as SNAP-25, Argireline prevents acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that causes muscular contraction, from being released and inhibits SNAP-25's normal function. This causes the muscles in the face to temporarily relax, which lessens the depth and creation of dynamic wrinkles, including nasolabial folds, crow's feet, and forehead lines. 

Studies show that Argireline may increase type I collagen in the skin and decrease type III collagen[1], which may improve skin elasticity and firmness and help reduce age-related wrinkle formation. It is not yet clear how Argireline induces this benefit, yet it may be related to the way in which it binds to copper in the skin[2], potentially reinforcing the skin’s structure and promoting collagen production in a similar way to other skin-derived peptides[3].

Skin Benefits of Argireline

Research has indicated that Argireline is a useful treatment for dynamic wrinkles, which are most commonly found around the eyes and on the forehead.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, when Argireline is used at a 10% concentration in an oil-in-water based solution, it can decrease wrinkles by up to 30% after 30 days of daily application[4]. Several other studies confer similar findings, which are more pronounced in older women. Argireline may also have some moisturizing and antioxidant properties, which can enhance skin hydration, softness, and protection from environmental damage.[5]

Does Argireline Work?

Despite some of the great results published, Argireline does not work for everyone and does not work in every form commercially available.

Most cosmetic formulas using Argireline are water-based, which means that they do not penetrate the skin deeply enough to exert the desired effect. In vitro studies have highlighted this by showing that most Argireline remains on the stratum corneum, the oily layer above the skin, with approximately 0.01% making it to the epidermis and none penetrating into the dermis. The neuromuscular junction of the skin resides in the dermis, meaning that water based Argireline products are useless for most skin types.

Studies show that water-in-oil formulations are the best Argireline products and that the effects may be more pronounced in aged, thin skin. These are also known as liposomal Argireline solutions. When applied to these cases, Argireline can potentially improve dynamic wrinkles and collagen levels to the same degree as mentioned in the above studies.

Is Argireline Safe? Side Effects and Safety Concerns

Argireline is generally considered to be safe and well-tolerated, with no known serious side effects or toxicity.

Like any cosmetic product, some people may experience mild allergic reactions, irritation, redness, or tingling when using Argireline products, especially at high concentrations or when combined with other active ingredients. These reactions are usually temporary and subside with continued use. If they persist or worsen, it is advisable to stop using the product and consult a dermatologist.

As it is not clear whether Argireline is safe during pregnancy, it is best not to use the product while pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to conceive.

Oxidation Potential

When exposed to air or sunshine, Argireline, like any other component in cosmetics, can oxidize. It is best to opt for a formula that has a complementary mixture of antioxidant ingredients that can prevent too much oxidation from occurring, as well as conspiring to support the overall tone and health of the skin.

Does Argireline Cause Sagging Skin?

There is no scientific evidence that Argireline causes sagging skin or drooping, and of the trials conducted, it has never been observed before. As mentioned, Argireline may cause sagging or drooping if used in large quantities, applied too frequently, or if used daily over a long period of time. Short-term studies have shown that it can effectively enhance the structure of the skin when applied to drooping areas of aged skin that lack collagen and that may sag due to the weight of wrinkles, such as lines around the mouth.

To prevent possible sagging caused by Argireline, it is recommended to use it sparingly and only on the areas where wrinkles are most noticeable. If wrinkles abate, do not continue with the treatment and use it when necessary.

Possible Medication Interactions

While there is limited research on drug-drug interactions, Argireline may clash with some medications or supplements that affect the nervous system, such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants, or other muscle relaxants. It may alter the effectiveness or safety of either Argireline or the medication or supplement and may result in unfavorable side effects like fatigue, disorientation, or extreme muscle weakness.

It is important to consult with your doctor before using Argireline if you have a neurological condition or health condition indicative of muscle weakness or are taking any of the above-listed medications or supplements.

Other Potential Side Effects

It is also not certain whether Argireline can be absorbed if accidentally ingested or whether it can cause muscle weakness in one’s hands or other areas. Therefore, it is best to avoid using your fingers when applying it and to clean your hands afterward. If the Argireline is capable of reaching the brain or important inner body compartments, it may pose negative side effects for those with neurological issues or psychiatric problems due to affecting nervous transmission.[6]

Argireline vs Botox: Which is Best?

An injection of the neurotoxin botulinum toxin, also known as "botox," paralyzes and preventsthe muscles from contracting. It is the most effective way to eliminate dynamic wrinkles, as it can achieve results that are not possible with topical products. However, botulinum toxin is also the most invasive, expensive, and risky option, as it requires repeated injections by a qualified professional and can cause side effects such as bruising, swelling, drooping, and allergic reactions.

Many individuals are concerned that Argireline works in the same way as botox, making it potentially toxic. These concerns are not grounded in the science behind Argireline, with most studies (water-based or oil-in-water based) only demonstrating safe use without any side effects.[7] Argireline can be seen as a milder and safer alternative to botulinum toxin. However, there is no research to prove that it is superior to botox in terms of its muscle-relaxing effects. and it cannot replace botox completely.

When compared to botox, Argireline only lasts for 5 days as opposed to several months to years observed with botox injections. Argireline is not a toxic substance like botox, which refers to a type of botulinum toxin that the body needs to engulf, keep trapped in the skin, and take much more time to eliminate. While botox is usually thought of as safe, there are many complications linked to botox use, especially as not all people manage to trap or eliminate the toxin effectively. Some people who opt for botox find the toxin spreads systemically, leading to widespread muscle weakness, complete facial paralysis, dry mouth syndrome or swallowing difficulties, and even potentially fatal anaphylactic reactions.[8]

These complications are very unlikely to occur with Argireline, yet it is true that more long-term studies are required to verify it is safe to use over several years. So far, there have been one or two case reports of skin infections occurring after Argireline injections with mycobacterium abscessus. This is a relatively rare complication that can occur with any invasive cosmetic procedure.[9] However, it undermines the whole benefit of opting for Argireline in a cosmetic cream or solution, which is that you do not need an injection to benefit from its botox-like effects.

How Do Retinol and Tretinoin Compare Against Argireline?

Retinol and tretinoin are some of the most widely used and researched anti-aging treatments available. They all have different mechanisms of action, benefits, and drawbacks. Here is a brief comparison of how they stack up against Argireline:

Argireline and Retinol

A kind of vitamin A called retinol is transformed by the skin into retinoic acid. Retinoic acid is a powerful stimulator of cell turnover, collagen production, and blood flow, which can improve skin texture, tone, and elasticity. Retinol can also help fade hyperpigmentation, reduce acne, and prevent skin cancer.[10]

Argireline and retinol have different mechanisms of action that are highly complementary. Fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging are a few of the sun-damaged indications of aging that can be treated with retinol, as well as upregulate skin-related proteins that Argireline cannot (such as glycosaminoglycan) [11]. Argireline can target the expression lines caused by muscle movement.

However, retinol can also be very irritating and drying to the skin, especially at high concentrations or when used with other active ingredients. This is one reason retinol should probably not be used together with Argireline. Retinol users should start slowly, use sunscreen, and moisturize well to avoid adverse reactions.

Argireline and Tretinoin

Tretinoin is a prescription-strength form of retinoic acid that is more potent and effective than retinol for treating skin conditions. Those with severe cases of photoaging, acne, and scarring respond well to tretinoin, and it is sometimes used to treat or prevent precancerous lesions.

It is not clear whether Argireline and tretinoin can be used together without side effects. As tretinoin is more potent and more likely to cause irritation, peeling, and sensitivity, users should follow their doctor’s instructions carefully and avoid using other products that may interfere with its efficacy or increase its side effects.

How to Use Argireline

Argireline is available in various forms, such as creams, serums, and masks. It is advisable to use an oil-based or liposomal product that contains at least 10% Argireline to see noticeable results, which may only manifest in 30-90 days, depending on the condition of your skin.

How to Apply Argireline: Apply the product to clean, dry skin, preferably after cleansing and toning. It is best to apply Argireline to the areas where wrinkles and fine lines are most prominent, such as the forehead, around the eyes, and around the mouth. Typically, one pea-sized portion of the product is sufficient to cover the entire face, and it needs to be applied to the skin gently and allowed to absorb fully. To prevent getting it on your hands and to keep your face clean, use a cotton ball or pad.

When to Use Argireline: Argireline products can be used once or twice a day, depending on the skin type and tolerance. They can also be layered with other products, such as moisturizers, sunscreens, or makeup, as long as these do not interfere with the absorption or stability of Argireline. It may be best to apply Argireline at night before sleep without makeup on to improve its effectiveness.

Storage: Store Argireline products in a cool, dark, and dry place, away from heat, light, and air, to prevent oxidation and degradation.

Enhancing Argireline Benefits with Other Ingredients

Argireline can be used with other ingredients that may enhance or detract from its efficacy, depending on their compatibility and concentration. Here are some ingredients that can be used to complement the effectiveness of Argireline:

Matrixyl

Matrixyl is another peptide that stimulates collagen production and reduces wrinkles. It is often combined with other peptides to form Matrixyl 3000. Matrixyl 3000 is the first anti-aging ingredient based on matrikine peptide technology, which means that it mimics the natural process of skin regeneration and is capable of counteracting skin aging and damage. Studies show that it is highly effective when added to moisturizer at extremely low concentrations, around 3 ppm or a concentration of 0.0003%.[12] It also possibly treats crows feet better than Argireline.[13]

Matrixyl and Argireline can work synergistically to improve skin firmness and smoothness as they target different aspects of the aging process. One study suggests that using Argireline with Matrixyl can increase its penetration into the skin, making it more effective.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant, promotes collagen formation, brightens the skin, and shields it from damage caused by free radicals. Studies show that vitamin C also enhances the effects of various anti-aging peptides that also do away with wrinkles.[14]

Vitamin C and Argireline can be used together, yet they may require different pH levels to remain stable and active. A pH of less than 3.5 is optimal for vitamin C, while Argireline may require a slightly higher pH to prevent deterioration.Therefore, it is important to use stable forms of vitamin C, such as ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate or magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, that can work at a neutral or slightly acidic pH. Alternatively, vitamin C and Argireline can be applied at different times of the day, such as vitamin C in the morning and Argireline at night.

Niacinamide

One type of vitamin B3 that possesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and skin-brightening qualities is niacinamide. Niacinamide can help reduce redness, skin irritation, pore size, oiliness, and hyperpigmentation, as well as improve skin barrier function and hydration[15]. It may also complement Argireline by increasing the production of proteins that maintain skin structure, such as keratin and ceramides. Niacinamide and Argireline can be used together, as they have no known adverse interactions.

Conclusion

A peptide called Argireline works by relaxing the muscles in the face to lessen the appearance of fine lines and dynamic wrinkles. It can be used as a topical alternative to botulinum toxin injections for milder cases of wrinkles or as a complementary treatment to vitamin C, matrixyl 3000, or other anti-aging ingredients. Products containing Argireline are generally safe and well-tolerated, yet they may cause some irritation if used excessively or inappropriately. There is also a risk of inducing too much muscle relaxation, leading to sagging or hand muscle weakness if not used responsibly.

If you are interested in trying Argireline for your skin, consult your dermatologist first and choose a product that suits your skin type, needs, and preferences.

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Sources:

  • [1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23464592/
  • [2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37752675/
  • [3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9905273/
  • [4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18498523/
  • [5] https://www.mdpi.com/2079-9284/7/4/91
  • [6] https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnsyn.2016.00007/full
  • [7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8211334/
  • [8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7874868/
  • [9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7953399/
  • [10] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21533293/
  • [11] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17515510/
  • [12]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17515510/x
  • [13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10005804/
  • [14] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33038010/
  • [15] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17147561/

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