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Botox has been used successfully for years to get rid of wrinkles. The problem is that it's an expensive procedure, requires injections, and the results are temporary. And, since it hasn’t been around for very long, there is the concern for long term side effects.  

You may have seen a new kind of skin care product on the market - topical products that promise to do the same thing as Botox, but safely. The question is do they work? Are manufacturers' claims substantiated with a significant amount of clinical evidence?

Today, I'll provide an overview regarding how Botox works to eliminate wrinkles and fine lines. In doing so, it will be easier to understand how topical formulations might benefit your skin along with their limitations. We'll explore Argireline and a couple of other Botox alternatives.  

How Botox Works  

Facial muscles contract and relax based upon signals received from nerves. The muscles and nerves are connected by a neuromuscular junction. When the nerves send signals to the muscles, neurotransmitters are released and bind to receptors on the junction. This causes a chemical reaction which ultimately makes the muscles contract. Botox inhibits the receptors in the muscles that would normally identify the presence of these neurotransmitters. By doing so, it prevents the chemical reaction that causes muscle contractions. In effect, by paralyzing the underlying muscle, Botox doesn't allow the wrinkle to develop.

Topical Alternatives To Botox  

Topical Botox alternatives claim to work in the same manner, by blocking the receptors and thereby preventing the muscle from contracting. Here are a few popular products that manufacturers claim will do the same thing as Botox:

Argireline - Argireline claims to result in relaxed facial muscle tension by inhibiting the release of neurotransmitters. Studies by the manufacturer of argireline, Sederma, used a 10% concentration and demonstrated a reduction in wrinkle depth of up to 60% in one month.

Crease Release - this product was created by Dr. Fredric Brandt, who claims to have been involved in the clinical trials that eventually led to Botox's FDA approval. Crease Release uses GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) to encourage internal muscle relaxers to smooth the skin and get rid of wrinkles. It is difficult to find any clinical research to substantiate GABA's claims.  

Freeze 24/7 - another "solution" that purports to include a number of topical muscle relaxers, including GABA. Despite persuasive marketing, there is no research to support GABA's efficacy for inhibiting muscle contractions.

Formulations To Reduce Wrinkles

If you’ve tried other skin care products and want to consider a Botox alternative, then argireline has the most evidence to back up its use. Ensure that the product contains a minimum 10% argireline as used in the studies. And remember that more doesn’t necessarily mean better. The manufacturer hasn’t tested concentrations above 10% and you shouldn’t use yourself as a guinea pig just to get a larger dose.  

One of the best ways to reduce wrinkles is to minimize exposure to UV rays, which can result in the degradation of collagen and elastin and ultimately lead to wrinkles. Your anti aging skin care routine should include effective sunscreens, antioxidants like Vitamin C, a retinoid and moisturizers. If you still like the allure of argireline, then consider UltimaSkin Wrinkle Relax Formulated with 10% argireline, this product also contains 5 other peptides in a hydrating serum formulation.  

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who speicalizes in anti aging skin care. She owns and operates an online skin care store at www.PharmacyMix.com. 



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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Waxwing wrote Jan 10, 2009
    • My new user name should be “pharmacologically challenged ”  : )

      I am  soooo thrilled that you are online because I have SO MANY questions and all the info out there is very confusing ! So THANK YOU for all the info.

      I have two questions, if you don’t mind :  

      In what order do I apply what you have suggested ?  ( I currently use moisturizer, sunblock, I just started an antioxidant cream with alpha lipoic acid,  and Roc retinol ) . I have heard that the first thing should be the retinol because it makes everything else more effective, but I have read that the antioxident serums/creams should be first. HELP !

      Also, there is something new out called Vivite Vibrance Therapy and it has basically everything you mention plus glycolic acid and an alternative to hydroquinone to lighten sun spots. This thing is suppose to be amazing .....without the possible carcinogenicity of the hydroquinone. What is your take on it ?? And do you agree that it is dangerous to use something like Esoterica on age spots - even in very small doses  ???

      Thank you in Advance !!!!!!!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Newgoo wrote Jan 19, 2009
    • Not sure if you received an answer to your question about Vivite, but it is a fabulous product.  I’ve been trying it for about 2 months to decide if I will carry it in my clinical spa.  I recommend it as a great, safer alternative to hydroquinone.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Waxwing wrote Jan 19, 2009
    • newgoo,

      No I have not yet. so thank yo so very much for doing it !!!!!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Pharmagirl wrote Jan 26, 2009
    • Hi Waxwing

      Thanks for your questions. Hopefully this advice will help...

      1. In what order do I apply what you have suggested ?  ( I currently use moisturizer, sunblock, I just started an antioxidant cream with alpha lipoic acid,  and Roc retinol ) . I have heard that the first thing should be the retinol because it makes everything else more effective, but I have read that the antioxident serums/creams should be first. HELP !

      Answer: General rule of thumb is to apply lightest textured products first, progressing to those that are heaviest in nature. So general order would be serums, gels, lotions and then creams. The two products you mention could potentially go on in any order. Both contain active ingredients so use the lightest textured first, followed by the heavier. Waiting for the first to be absorbed before applying the second will help.

      2. Also, there is something new out called Vivite Vibrance Therapy and it has basically everything you mention plus glycolic acid and an alternative to hydroquinone to lighten sun spots. This thing is suppose to be amazing .....without the possible carcinogenicity of the hydroquinone. What is your take on it ?? And do you agree that it is dangerous to use something like Esoterica on age spots – even in very small doses  

      Answer: This does look like a good product. It includes 15% glycolic acid, which is a good concentration for exfoliation purposes associated with hyperpigmentation. It also has the benefits of Vitamins C, E, green tea which possess antioxidant activity to fight free radical damage. Lastly, it contains botanicals that have been shown to have skin lightening ability. The sites I visited do not list concentrations of the other active ingredients so we have to assume that they are included in concentrations needed to achieve results. In addition to being an alternative to hydroquinone, you could use this product in conjunction with hydroquinone to achieve faster results. Although there are some safety concerns with hydroquinone, any studies have been inconclusive and dermatologists still see it as being the gold standard for treatment of hyperpigmentation disorders.  

      Re Esoterica - it is a hydroquinone based product. If you are sensitive to hydroquinone (or pregnant), you shouldn’t use it. But as mentioned above, hydroquinone is very effective (in concentrations at 4%) and safe when used as directed.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Waxwing wrote Jan 27, 2009
    • THANK YOU for taking the time to look into this !



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