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Argireline: What it does and how it works

Reviewed by Marta May 18, 2013 25 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.

  • 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.

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