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Argireline: What it does and how it works

May 18, 2013 Reviewed by Marta 27 Comments

Julie K. ignited a debate on our Five Best products that contain Matrixyl 3000 post by saying that her experience with Argireline is that – over time – it seems to make wrinkles worse. I have always regarded Argireline (the trade name for an ingredient called acetyl hexapeptide-3) as one of those quick fix ingredients myself. But a longer term unfix is something else. It is time to take a deeper dive into Argireline and try to understand what it does and how it works.

Argireline: What It Is

Most of us know that Argireline prevents the formation of expression wrinkles by somehow inhibiting muscle movement. For this reason, it is sometimes called Botox in a jar. But, in fact, they work very differently. First a 101 on what happens when you frown.

So, here’s how a muscle contracts. A super lipid (called a vesicle) releases a neurotransmitter to the synapses, sending a signal for the muscle to move. Three proteins, called the SNARE complex, are essential for the final stages of this process (called exocytosis).  Got that? Now, here's where acetyl hexapeptide-3 comes in.

Argireline: How It Works

Argireline is made by Lipotec (based in Barcelona, Spain). Lipotec discovered that acetyl hexapeptide mimics one of the proteins in the SNARE complex and as a result can destabilize it. Even a slightly destabilized SNARE won’t work. No SNARE equals no muscle movement. No frowning equals no wrinkles (although there are many other ways that wrinkles are caused of course).

Lipotec does not claim that Argireline works in any other way, such as boosting collagen or repairing skin. As you would expect, Lipotec claims that simply ensnaring SNARE is enough to have an impact on wrinkles. Lipotec’s studies were based on a 5% Argireline) and female volunteers. Wrinkles around the eyes decreased up to 17% after 15 days of treatment and up to 27% after 30 days of treatment. The only independent study that I have found was conducted by a Spanish university and published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science that says that a 10% concentration of Argireline reduced wrinkles by 30% over 30 days.

Argireline: Concerns

There are fears that Argireline will make your skin sag with long term use. I haven't found any explicit evidence of this and I think the rumors are flying around because of a misunderstanding of the way that Argireline and the other Botox in a jar formulas) work. A rumor that has been perpetuated, if not started, Cosmetic Cop, who said: If all the muscles in your face were relaxed you’d have sagging, not youthful, skin, not to mention that it also would affect your hand (you apply it with your fingers), which would prevent you from picking up a cup or holding the steering wheel of your car.

This definition that they are muscle relaxers, as we have just seen, is not true. They prevent muscles from contracting rather than causing them to relax. Quite a different thing.

Nonetheless, my position is that I would never choose a potion because it has Argireline in it. If manufacturers think that it is so fashionable these days that they can't avoid it, that's fine. But I'll be looking for collagen builders and preventers of structural aging such as Matrixyl 3000 or the more recent Teprenone.

  • November 10, 2017

    by Melody

    Today I used a face cream with Argireline ingredient in it. It came as a free sample with something I bought. Now usually I use my sample and think nothing of them but this time I was impressed with the feel of the cream and how it lessens the appearance of wrinkles. The big test for me is to see if it breaks my skin out. I have sensitive skin. Really love me this ingredient.

  • May 16, 2017

    by Will

    I have been using ARGIRELINE™ peptide for a few month now and have been happy with the results. My eyes definitely look better as do the wrinkles around my mouth. Admittedly, I did not think it would work but it does just like one commenter said in the thread. It retards new wrinkles but did not improve my existing ones; so I'm happy to use a collagen cream for that. I love the ingredient.

  • March 28, 2017

    by Elizabeth

    Great info. So what would you recommend that contains Matrixyl 3000 or the more recent Teprenone? Thanks!

  • December 27, 2016

    by Dianeski

    Hi, Marta! You noted: "The only independent study that I have found was conducted by a Spanish university and published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science that says that a 10% concentration of Argireline reduced wrinkles by 30% over 30 days." Can you direct me to the issue of this journal with the article on that study? Is it available online? Thanks in advance!

  • October 24, 2016

    by Arden

    Most people misunderstand the term "muscle relaxant" they need to look it as a medical term, not a laymans term

  • August 29, 2016

    by Josh

    I am a male of 62 years and have been using the Jeunesse "Instantly Ageless" product every other day for 18 months now. I am very happy with this product, and has in no way made my wrinkles worse (as suggested above). It has effectively kept an otherwise very wrinkled face look at least 10-15 years younger for up to 9 hours following an application. (Being an X Golf Professional, my face has been severely sun-damaged over the years). One may need some practice on what amount to use each application. (Use too much and you'll get a white residue). Personally, definitely "less is best". Would highly recommend this product for a simple and cheap, albeit temporary, solution for nights out and special occasions.

  • July 27, 2016

    by Debbie

    I've been using Principle Secret's Argireline products Reclaim Age Braker [sic] Line Breaker Serum and Reclaim EyeMazing Eye Serum for over 10 years. I got on this site because I wondered if there was anything less expensive. I pay about $30/mo for it.

    As far as I can tell, it halted the development of wrinkles where they were 10 years ago. They don't seem to have gotten worse and my general skin tone remains good. I'm Caucasian, 59 years old and most people think I'm 40 something. That said I'm also a vegetarian, non-drinker, non-smoker, athlete and supplement with all the latest nutriceuticals, so I'm sure that helps.

    I did try the Jeunesse Ageless product that was mentioned in this thread for a few applications and it tightened my skin so that it actually made the wrinkles temporarily worse after it wore off. It looked great for an hour or so. Don't use that product.

  • June 3, 2016

    by Stephanie Tate

    I've been using a product that I found when I googled Argireline and it's from China - I thought well let's see so I mixed a few drops with some Rose Absolute and after 15 days I have to say there is a marked difference in my forehead lines; initially, I wanted to use this because I was screwing my face up at night, and having used a product quite a few years ago (from Spain) I found it seemed to numb my face at night, so I wanted to find this product once again! I didn't find this product but I did find the one from China that claims 6 peptides! I can only say it seems to be working but whether or not it is just a sugar syrup is a matter of using the product to see!

  • January 30, 2016

    by Suzanne

    I have to agree . I for one would never suggest this to anyone. You see I used a product name Ageless. for a month on my face .I had one small wrinkle under my right eye and three under my right eye . I now look like some one took my skin and folded one way then another. Ive cried for days now . this product should never have been put out there without the warning to which would have prevented me from using it.Devastated is and understatement .

  • September 26, 2015

    by Robbyn

    I love scientific concepts...being a scientist in genetics (not cosmetics) I can understand the process and function of different peptides and their effects on the human body...

    Nit that it's difficult...

    Speaking from a research pov, I can't see anything wrong with the chemical...I hate fear mongering like Cosmetic Cop or Food Babe...

    Listen to the Science...Argireline is fine to use...but as was said in the article...a collagen builder would be much better...

    No, your skin won't be damaged when using Argireline-based products...yes it'll reduce it is not an "anti" aging cream...

  • June 17, 2015

    by Juliette

    FYI everyone. When facial muscles are in a more relaxed state, the entire face appears softer and wrinkles are much less noticeable. As an aesthetician, one of my main goals when giving a facial is to completely relax my guest. Everyone leaves with a much more relaxed face. And, their skin is not sagging. We cannot stop the aging process. We can, with the use of high quality products and proper skincare techniques, intervene and have soft, smooth and glowing skin well into our elder years.

  • May 27, 2015

    by Joan

    I just ordered endure beauty off the Internet ,l wish list would of investigated it first.Sould l use it ,it contains 10 percent argireline in it.l am passed at myself.

  • April 9, 2015

    by Darrell

    Hi Dolly -- actually, Argireline was launched March, 2001. So perhaps that's close enough so as to not warrant calling someone a numbskull?

  • April 8, 2015

    by Dolly

    Love it when I hear people say they've been using an ingredient for over 14 yrs, Argireline hasn't been around that long.. numbskull.

  • February 19, 2015

    by dan

    There are no muscles in your fingers, the muscles are all located well behind the wrist they are pulled by tendons that are located nowhere near the skin.

    Also the epidermis of the hand is much harder to penetrate than facial skin

  • January 15, 2015

    by Robin

    Does skin not sag over time anyway?

  • May 22, 2014

    by Christine Byer, Esthetician for 15 years

    I have used argireline in a few different formulations and have to say it feels like a trade off: moisture for a tiny but of numbing or immobility of the muscles. I use it mostly on my furrow and it appears to me that argireline is very dehydrating to the tissues, at least on my skin. So I end up with a slightly less deep furrow that still looks bad because the skin is dried out by the argireline. Has anyone else had this happen? It's so irritating!

  • August 1, 2011

    by Julie Kay

    Yes, certainly, Karey. I believe continued use of Argireline can provide beneficial results- but, in my case, it's when one stops using it the reverse reaction sets in. And the decade between 50 and 60 is truly the glory years for your facial skin. I only offer my own experiences as cautionary advice. And using, especially in a too high concentration of, Argireline (at least for me) is one of them. ~jk

  • July 31, 2011

    by Karey

    I have used argireline 10% solutions for 14 years and have had fabulous results. No sagging here! People mistake me for 35 all the time when I am almost 50. Anyway, using the Isomers version now and love it. Also use Matrixyl and other peptide serums.

  • May 27, 2010

    by Jaysie

    I'm no scientist but in my world of logic, if you prevent a muscle from contracting, wouldn't it eventually lose tone and, therefore, sag? Yes, if a muscle doesn't move, it doesn't drag the skin on top of it into repetitive expression lines. Seems to me that what's really important is preserving the elasticity/tightness of the skin so it goes back to the way it was after we smile or frown, like when we were 10 years old!

  • May 20, 2010

    by Junko

    Julie, our voice of reason and years of wisdom worth heeding, it's good to get your thoughts on this.

  • May 20, 2010

    by Julie Kay

    As I have almost 10 years on Marta and Junko, I believe my skin is more fragile and unwilling to forgive missteps. After my recent debacle regards Argireline, I will avoid potions containing this active. Matrixyl 3000, other poly peptides, amino acids, spin trap, Syn-Coll, there are many excellent actives that work to rebuild the collagen superstructure- I'll be seeking those. ~jk

  • May 20, 2010

    by marta

    Great question Valerie. I wouldn't avoid it, but I wouldn't choose something because it contained argireline. I would choose something because it had Matrixyl 3000, or Treprenone, or Spin Trap etc.

  • May 20, 2010

    by Valerie

    Does that mean you would NOT avoid it, but wouldn't look for it?

  • May 19, 2010

    by Junko

    I've read a few articles which say that Argireline in cream form cannot penetrate deeply enough into muscle to do anything, but that it causes 'a distressing effect on the skin' that encourages growth of new skin and collagen. Then I've read the horror stories too. Must be something better than Argireline. Waiting to read Marta's post on Eshee & FGF 1 gene therapy :)

  • May 18, 2010

    by Angela


    Thank you for following up so quickly on Julie's comment and, once again, for separating the science from the rumors.


    Thank you too for sharing your experience with the Argireline that prompted this post.

    I love being well-informed!

  • May 18, 2010

    by Julie Kay

    Marta- we can count on you to get right down to the heart of the matter! Thank you. ~jk

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