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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.
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 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.
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.