If you’re looking to step up your anti-aging skincare routine, allow us to introduce you to argireline. Dubbed “botox in a bottle” by the TikTok set, science-backed research has shown that this ingredient is known for helping keep wrinkles at bay—except, of course, that it’s much cheaper and doesn’t require the use of needles. “Argireline is the brand name for peptide acetyl hexapeptide-3, otherwise known as acetyl hexapeptide-8,” says Dr. Alexis Parcells, MD, a New Jersey-based board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of SUNNIE, a skincare and anti-aging clinic, and Parcells Plastic Surgery. “Peptides are important building blocks for proteins such as collagen and elastin. Though commonly found in skin care products, argireline is the first peptide designed to reduce muscle movement, and therefore, decreases the appearance of wrinkles.”
According to Dr. Parcells, argireline is actually a fragment of SNAP-25, a substrate of botulinum toxin, so its comparison to botox isn’t just an exaggeration, as they both work at the level of the nerve-to-muscle junction to prevent contraction. “When applied, it inhibits the nerves that stimulate facial movement,” she says. “Additionally, argireline has been shown to promote and optimize the function of collagen, leading to firmer, more hydrated skin.” Specifically, a study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science showed that when argireline was applied daily at a 5 percent concentration for 28 days, it decreased wrinkles up to 30 percent.
Already have a bevy of other products in your beauty routine? The good news is argireline is very easy to add to just about any mix, whether you keep it simple or have a 10-step process. “Argireline plays well with other ingredients and is often combined with other anti-wrinkle and collagen-building peptides, such as matrixyl and formulyst, to enhance its effectiveness,” says Dr. Jessie Cheung, a board-certified dermatologist with practices in Chicago, Illinois, and New York City. “Argireline can also be combined with retinol, as they have different mechanisms of action but both support collagen formation.” Argireline is also a great complement to hyaluronic acid. Dr. Parcells’ only advice is to avoid pairing it with alcohol-based skincare products, particularly if your skin is dry, so you don’t counteract all the hydration and collagen stimulation argireline can provide.
According to Dr. Parcells, most products containing argireline, from serums to eye creams to moisturizers, recommend application on areas with deep folds or creases caused by repetitive muscle movement, much in the same way botox is used. “This includes forehead lines, ‘11’ lines between the brows, and around the eyes (‘crows feet’),” she says. You can apply your choice argireline product worry-free up to two times a day — morning and night on clean skin — since there are no known side effects of use at this time. If you have sensitive skin though, Dr. Parcells recommends testing argireline on a small area for a few days prior to full application, as irritation is always a possibility.
One quick note: Even though argireline has shown promising results in clinical trials, it’s never going to be quite as potent as botox in terms of wrinkle-erasing, and that’s partially due to its topical application. “Since botox is injected into the muscle, it has greater overall efficacy than argireline, which has to get through the skin to the muscle,” says Dr. Cheung. One study has suggested that when combined with another peptide, tripeptide-10-cirtrulline, argireline’s permeability increases towards the muscle layer, says Dr. Parcells, which could increase its benefits. All that aside though, Dr. Parcells says a difference in overall appearance with daily use is still possible; it just won’t be as quick or dramatic as botox.
While no major studies exist yet on how long argireline’s effects might last, it’s a great product to try if you’re needle resistant or you just want help with maintenance in between treatments. To find your best product match, consider these five formulas a starting point in your search.