I've been telling myself that the subtle lines creeping up at the corners of my eyes and smile are all "laugh lines," and that I should attribute them to a life well-lived and full of joy. However. Whether I call them "smile lines" or "laugh lines," wrinkles are still wrinkles. I am not ready to turn to Botox injections as a preemptive strike, but the over the cosmetics counter options are starting to look appealing. There are a multitude of products out there marketed as 'Botox in a Jar' alternatives: forgo the needle and the price tag of the aesthetician's visit and instead turn to a wrinkle-eliminating cream! There are five primary ingredients leading the way right now: Argireline, SNAP-8, Myoxinol, Syn-Ake and Acmella Oleracea. But how do they work? And do they work?
Wrinkle-reducing agents focus on the use of neuropeptides, or small protein-like molecules used by neurons to communicate with each other. Neuropeptides can be used to target cells, communicate with them, and get them to perform specific tasks, like to repair and renew aging skin cells by stimulating the production of collagen and elastin. Our skin is naturally full of neuropeptides, but as we age, the count drops (Source
). While Botox smooths wrinkles by paralyzing the muscles through an injection of a solution derived from the botulism toxin, topical 'Botox' alternatives attempt to phone in the request to the cells to do the work themselves.
is the trade name for a synthetic peptide called Acetyl Hexapeptide-3
. It goes above and beyond collagen production by limiting the neurotransmitters that tell your facial muscles to move (a process known as exocytosis). The thought is that if the nerves that send signals to facial muscles are inhibited, subtle facial expressions will be limited and wrinkles will be reduced. The muscles will also be relieved of lingering tension, and the skin will relax as well. Although studies show that a 10% concentration over 30 days can reduce the appearance of wrinkles by 30%, some scientists and cosmetologists seem to think that Argireline would be most effective at concentrations as high as 25%.
is an octapeptide, or the combination of 8 amino acids which are linked together to create one particular peptide. SNAP-8, created by Kinerase, is being marketed as the second generation of Argireline, and is said to be 30% more effective. According to studies (albeit published by Kinerase and not seemingly backed by any independent researchers), it can reduce the depth and appearance of wrinkles by 34.9% (Source
). Again, SNAP-8 is a muscle contraction inhibitor that reduces the depth of wrinkles on the face caused by the contraction of muscles of facial expression, especially in the forehead and around the eyes. It is thought to be a safer, more economical and milder alternative to Botox, in part because it is more powerful at lower concentrations.
is a compound created with oligopeptides obtained from the seeds of Hibiscus esculentus L., or okra. Okra seeds pack power themselves, since they are high in unsaturated fats, rich in AHAs, proteins, and amino acids, and have lots of polysaccharides. Myoxinol
claims to work in a similar fashion as Botox, inhibiting the muscle movements responsible for all of those lovely wrinkles. The makers of Myoxinol set out to prove its efficacy by assessing the number of facial contractions over a 24-hour period in a control group, and a group using a topical cream containing Myoxinol. The study showed a significant decrease in facial muscle contractions, although the effect wore off after 24 hours. Another test done by the creators suggested a wrinkle-prevention effect as well, stating that after 3 weeks worth if application, crows feet were 26% less noticeable (Source
(also known as Dipeptide Diaminobutyroyl) is a combination of neuropeptides with a name that has some bite to it. And it should! Syn-Ake mimics the venom in the temple viper snake, which causes muscle paralysis by inhibiting neurotransmitters from entering the muscle receptor site, destabilizing the cell so it can't release neurotransmitters to make the muscle contract. However, 'mimics'is used loosely, since Syn-Ake doesn't actually paralyze the muscle, but only includes the component that relaxes the muscles, known as Waglerin 1. It does claim to fight against expression lines, preventing future wrinkles by temporarily debilitating the muscle, keeping it from contracting and thereby smoothing lines in the wrinkle prone area. An independent study done to compare Syn-Ake to Argireline found that after applying Syn-Ake twice a day for a month, patients saw 20% smoother skin and 21% wrinkle depth reduction, in comparison to 4% and 2% for Argireline respectively (Source
is considered a natural alternative to Botox, and is extracted from a plant called Acmella Oleracea (the scientists worked very hard on this clever name). Acmella Oleracea is considered a natural muscle relaxant and has been traditionally used as an herbal Orajel of sorts, used to numb toothaches thanks to the presence of analgesic alkylamides called spilanthol. This spilanthol is thought to have the same paralyzing effects on facial muscles as it does on gums, reducing wrinkles by relaxing the skin. It's seen in topical formulas and can easily penetrate the skin, inhibiting contractions in subcutaneous muscles. In a clinical study, 75% of patients immediately realized the smoothing effect of Acmella Oleracea, noticing results the day after the first application. Patents are being developed to use Acmella Oleracea as a safe alternative to toxic Botox. However, Acmella Oleracea does not pack the collagen-building peptide punch of the usual 'Botox in a Jar' ingredients (Source
All in all, the five ingredients aim to do the same thing; a few shine brighter than the rest, however. Although Argireline is the tried and true ingredient of the group, it seems as if SNAP-8 will surpass it as its main competition. Myoxinol has the nice inclusion of Hibiscus esculentus L. and all of its own benefits, but in the end, its short-term effects and lack of independent research mean it has a way to go before it proves itself as a strong contender. Acmella Oleracea is a great natural ingredient, and earns merits for that alone, in addition to its solid clinical results. Despite Marta's previous denouncing of Syn-Ake, it seems to hold some weight. It has the same overall benefits as the other ingredients, but gains an edge with direct comparisons to Argireline available from independent scientists. That said, in the end, I think SNAP-8 will soon pull ahead as the 'Botox in a Jar' ingredient to look for.
Recommended products containing Argireline include: Your Best Face Correct Eye Cream
, Avotone Anti-Wrinkle Relaxant Cream
, Glo Therapeutics GloSuper Serum
, Faitox 25 for Lip Lines
Recommended products containing SNAP-8 include: Faitox 25 for Lip Lines
, Your Best Face Correct Eye Cream
, April Rain Night Rainew
, Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Night
Recommended products containing Myoxinol include: Reviva Lab’s Collagen Fibre Eye Pad Kit
Recommended products containing Acmella Oleracea:
Kinerase Extreme Lift Eye
, Barbaria Rosa Mosqueta Eye Serum
Recommended products containing Syn-Ake:
Glotherapeutics GloPeptide + Defense
, Faitox 25 for Lip Lines
, Your Best Face Correct Eye Cream