Botox or Faux-tox? Can You Really Stop Aging with a Cream?
From the moment we see that first dreaded wrinkle on our delicate skin, our beauty product stash morphs from an acne-fighting armory to an anti-aging arsenal. So it’s no wonder Global Industry Analysts reported that the Global Anti-Aging Products Market is projected to reach $291.9 billion by 2015. One of the latest-and-greatest “stop-aging-miracle” ingredients that has made its way onto the market as a so-called “liquid Botox” is a peptide called Acetyl Hexapeptide-8 (AH-8 or Argireline©). Like Botox, AH-8 weakens the muscles, and, in turn, reduces wrinkles; however, unlike Botox, AH-8 is available in creams and not as an injection, making it very appealing to anyone fearing needles or who is averse to injecting botulinum neurotoxin into his or her face. But is this peptide too good to be true? We got the dish from board-certified dermatologist F. Victor Rueckl, M.D., of The Spa at Lakes Dermatology in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Myth or Miracle?
While many have been calling AH-8, “liquid Botox,” Dr. Rueckl doesn’t buy it. “It is impossible for something topical to ever be as effective as something injected. The muscle simply doesn’t have the ability to absorb something applied on the skin versus something injected directly into the muscle,” he says. Dr. Rueckl went on to bring up other Botox-alternative claims from products in the past.
“Remember Strivectin from several years back and its claim: ‘Better than Botox’? No, quite simply, it wasn’t even close.” While Strivectin doesn’t contain AH-8, Dr. Rueckl points out that most companies are just trying to sell us a product, so by using words and terms that we all know to work, like Botox, they can at least get us to dish out our money to give it a try. “No one will probably repurchase it, but it will drive sales initially,” he adds. Side note: Dr. Rueckl shared that Strivectin was, in fact, sued by Allergan, the manufacturer of Botox, for claiming it was in any way similar. And more so, Allergan will not allow any AH-8 products to have the name “topical or liquid Botox.”
Ok, fair enough that AH-8 cannot possibly have the immediate and lasting effect (up to four months) of injectables like Botox, but can it provide a viable supplement to injections, or would it work in between visits to maintain a wrinkle-free face? “[AH-8] may help with thinner-skinned areas like crow’s feet, but it won’t help with larger muscles or areas like the forehead or glabella. It simply won’t be potent enough to alter those muscles,” explains Dr. Rueckl. (The glabella is that tiny space between our eyebrows and nose that tends to be a prime location for wrinkles, and yes, I totally had to Google it.)
Dr. Rueckl also expressed that his main concern wasn’t so much that AH-8 wouldn’t work as a topical anti-aging ingredient, but rather that consumers would misuse it.
“Botox is a medical device that needs to be used by professionals only,” he says. “Many people tend to overuse products, and so if something says it’s ‘like Botox,’ I’m concerned with where or how much people will use. A lot of people hate lines around their mouths, and they often think Botox can work there. But if injected with too many units or improperly, the mouth simply won’t function correctly. That means that you couldn’t eat, smile, drink, or even talk properly. So a product that in any way can inhibit muscle function, applied topically at home, screams to me that we are going to have problems with people overusing it or putting it on [the wrong areas].” Scary stuff!
Keep in mind, there is no set dosage amount for AH-8 at this time so while some products contain 10 percent, others can contain 100. “What consumer is going to know or understand the difference in those and what effect might different concentrations, or other added ingredients, have?” Dr. Rueckl continues. “It’s simply unknown, and could be terrible.”
If you’re set on trying out AH-8 creams instead of going for the injectable alternative, you should expect less than a 30 percent change, and likely only in a thin area like your crow’s feet, depending on the cream’s concentration of AH-8 and proper usage, Dr. Rueckl says. As well, “it would probably take a minimum of 30-45 days to see change. This is the most common amount of time it takes for changes to begin when using topical products of any kind,” he continues.
Out of curiosity I asked Dr. Rueckl if there were any other topical cream or gel ingredients that would give similar results to commonly used fillers—for instance, Juvederm, which has proved to give lips a plumper, more youthful appearance—and if, in his experience, there were “natural” products that could be as effective as chemical ones. “Hyaluronic acid, what Juvederm and Restylane are made of, is a natural product. It’s found in every human’s body. So it’s about as natural as you can get,” he tells us. Many consumers don’t realize that while products marketed as “volumizing” lip treatments, including Juvederm and Restylane, do contain things that are “natural,” these products are still made in labs, so they are, in fact, chemical versions of natural products. In fact, lip plumpers specifically aren’t actually volumizing our lips at all. “They contain ingredients that cause immediate swelling; think of a bee sting,” Dr. Rueckl says. “So no volume is actually being changed or added—it’s simply swelling to an irritant, and it goes away quickly.”
We’re in the process of trying out a few AH-8 creams (safely) and will be sure to post our findings. So if you’re interested in the so-called “liquid Botox” to stop aging, be sure to come back and read our results.
What are your thoughts on AH-8? Let us know!
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