The combination of the power peptide Matrixyl 3000 and an active that inhibits the formation of expression lines (typically Argireline) has become a classic anti-aging formula. However, a brand that I have just started to get to know, Definitions Skincare, has given it an interesting update with a serum called Instalift ($79). I have been testing it and recommend it highly for anyone looking for a good version of this anti-aging combo at a price that won’t break the bank.

What makes Definitions Instalift interesting is that it uses something called Leuphasyl, which targets the formation mechanism of expression wrinkles in a new way. An amino acid containing five peptides, Leuphasyl moderates the electrical charge that is sent into muscle cells, thereby relaxing muscle contractions. For those of you who want to know exactly how the sausage gets made, Leuphasyl works by mimicking enkephalins. It couples to the enkephalin receptors on the outside of the nerve cells. This “turns down” nerve cell’s activity, thereby relaxing muscle contraction and, ergo, expression wrinkles are diminished.

Argireline, which is made by the same company as Leuphasyl, works in a slightly different way. For muscles to move, they have to enlist the help of proteins called the SNARE complex. Argireline (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).

Leuphasyl is supposedly useful around the forehead and eyes, where it reduces wrinkles that are formed by squinting and frowning. And so that is where I have been focusing my test of Definitions Instalift. My forehead has been looking more furrowed of late – partly because I have been testing the wrong things for it (e.g. good moisturizers that are not necessarily great anti-agers). So in the past month, I have been attempting to smooth my brow with targeted use of my Ultra Renew LED/Ultrasound device in the evenings and Instalift as part of my morning regimen. I am definitely seeing an improvement.

As I mentioned in the intro to this review, Instalift also majors on Matrixyl 3000. This is based on two peptides: palmitoyl-tripeptide and palmitoyl-oligopeptide. They are supposed work synergistically to mimic the appearance of broken-down collagen, causing your skin to react by producing more collagen, as well as elastin.

Instalift’s formula is rounded out with some well-chosen botanicals. Gingko helps to prevent capillary fragility and boost collagen formation as well as create fibroblast. A 2003 study also suggested that ginkgo may effectively halt de-pigmentation and aid in re-pigmentation as well.

Calendula is a tried-and-true skin soother and anti-inflammatory. Meanwhile, cucumber seems to be gaining popularity with cosmetic formulators. It has been found to be a useful free radical scavenger (source). Cucumber also contains silica, potassium and magnesium, all vital minerals.

With nothing to dislike apart from the preservative phenoxyethanol, Instalift is a great showcase for these two anti-aging workhorses – collagen-boosting Matrixyl 3000 and expression line-reducing Leuphasyl. Your Best Face Control used to include Leuphasyl, but it has been omitted from the new version launched at the beginning of this year. I’m not a huge fan of expression-inhibiting peptides and don’t miss it in Control (especially as the new formula has some impressive elastin-improving ingredients). However, if you want a good serum that features them along with Matrixyl 3000, then Instalift is well worth checking out.

In my experience, this is a serum that needs to be followed by a moisturizer. Definitions makes one called Gene Therapy that seems to be nourishing and pleasant to use. It also has Matrixyl 3000. However, I was not given enough of a sample to give it a thorough review.  Nonetheless, Definitions, a brand sold mostly through salons and spas, is a skincare range that I am looking forward to getting to know better.

Ingredients: Water, glycerin, Pentapeptide-18 (Leuphasyl), Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 (Matrixyl 3000), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Aloe Leaf Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber), Citric Acid, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Extract, Symphytum Officinale (Comfrey) Leaf Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Allantoin, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Polysorbate 60, Cetyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Carbomer, Polysorbate 20, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glyceryl Stearate, Stearyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin