A synthetically derived peptide that is being used in a wide range of skin-care and makeup products, especially those claiming to have a muscle-relaxing effect similar to Botox injections. These claims typically have to do with relaxing muscle contractions when making facial expressions, thus reducing the appearance of expression lines.
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The company selling acetyl hexapeptide-3 (trade name Argireline), Centerchem (www.centerchem.com), is based in Spain. According to their Web site, “Argireline works through a unique mechanism which relaxes facial tension leading to a reduction in superficial facial lines and wrinkles with regular use. Argireline has been shown to moderate excessive catecholamines release.” Whether or not that is true when applied topically is only is only from Centerchem’s information. There is no published research substantiating any use of Argireline topically on skin.
Catecholamines are compounds in the body that serve as neurotransmitters such as epinephrine, adrenaline, and dopamine. Epinephrine is a substance that prepares the body to handle emergencies such as cold, fatigue, and shock. A deficiency of dopamine in the brain is responsible for the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. None of that sounds like something you want a cosmetic to inhibit or reduce. If acetyl hexapeptide-3 really worked to relax facial muscles, it would work all over the face (assuming you’re using the products as directed). If all the muscles in your face were relaxed you’d have sagging, not youthful, skin, not to mention it would affect your hand (you apply it with your fingers) which would inhibit you from picking up a cup or holding the steering wheel of your car.
For all the fear espoused by companies featuring this peptide in their “works like Botox” products, there is considerably more efficacy, usage, and safety documentation available for Botox. Despite claims being made for acetyl hexapeptide-3 (argireline), there is a clinical study revealing that this ingredient is not even remotely as effective as Botox in reducing wrinkles (Source: www.cremedevie.com/clinical_details.htm; International Journal of Cosmetic Science, October 2002).
It is also interesting to note, that even Botox when applied topically on skin has no impact on the skin or muscles in any way shape or form! (Source:Cosmetic Dermatology, July 2005, pages 521-524.) Still, like all peptides, acetyl hexapeptide-3 has water-binding properties and theoretical cell-communicating ability. It’s not a throwaway ingredient, but it’s also not as miraculous as the manufacturer would lead you to believe.