Spotlight On: Acetyl Hexapeptide-3

Ingredients, Skin Care
iQ Natural Line Serum contains 20% argireline (acetyl hexapeptide-3), the highest we’ve seen in any product thus far.

As per reader request, our Ingredients Glossary is back!  We’re kicking it off with acetyl hexapeptide-8, a neuropeptide sold under the commercial name of Argireline or AHA-3, which is used as a muscle relaxer.

What It Is, What It Does

Argireline is also found in Hydroxatone, advertised as “an alternative to Botox.” We wouldn’t go that far, but it is a solid product that works better for some people than others. We suspect it is due to differing thickness in skin.

You may remember a few years back when there were lots of radio commercials advertising Hydroxatone as an “an alternative to Botox”.  Well, the main active ingredient was none other than acetyl hexapeptide-3.  Argireline works on the same muscle-to-nerve connections as BotoxTM, which makes sense, given that it is actually a shortened peptide sequence of BotoxTMArgireline raised eyebrows literally and figurately after a 2002 study found wrinkles were reduced in depth by 30% when it was injected into the skin, similar to BotoxTM.

What Science Says

Botox is an injectible, and argireline has only been shown to have effects like Botox when it is similarly injected. As a topical treatment, some people exhibit facial freezing/firmness, others do not. Most, however, have some reduction in wrinkles over time. (Photo credit: AJC1)

Unfortunately, while injections of argireline produced similar results to BotoxTM, argireline in skin care creams have never been proven to diffuse through the top layers of skin to reach the crucial muscle-nerve connections like injectable BotoxTM.

Despite this, I have seen some people have wrinkle-reducing results after using creams that contain argireline.  In fact, a study in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science showed a 10% concentration of Argireline reduces wrinkles by 30% over a 30-day period.

On the other hand, unfortunately, some people do not have any results at all after using argireline.  It is likely argireline may diffuse through thinner skin and have a greater effect than in those with thicker skin, as I have noticed greater results in older people.  Still, the only way to know is to try.

Is it Safe?

English: Standing on a box to interview uniden...
This woman has lovely facial contours with no sagging. Despite internet rumors, argireline or Botox will NOT cause facial sagging. In fact, studies show Botox actually stimulates collagen production and facial firmness over time.

No studies to date have been directed specifically at argireline safety.  However, despite what you may read elsewhere, argireline will not lead to permanent facial sagging.  Though argireline temporarily inhibits the neurotransmitter neuroepinephrine (like Botox does), the effects of topically-applied argireline are temporary.  Even the most concentrated dose of topical argireline on the market today is not likely to last for more than 8 hours at a time.

Furthermore, even injectible Botox is found to stimulate collagen production due to stretching of the skin, which increases skin firmness over time, effectively fighting sagging (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2008).  This effect is even more pronounced when Botox is used in conjunction with a stimulating filler treatment like Sculptra.

Recommended Products with Argireline

Of those creams with argireline, your best skin care bet is IQ Natural Argireline, with 20% argireline.  I can’t guarantee that it will work for everyone, unfortunately, but it has the highest concentration of argireline of any cream I have seen on the market thus far.

Check our bestsellers!

  • @Maria – This sounds like an interesting problem I am not aware of. Let me investigate it more – I will post as soon as I’m done!

  • maria

    hi Nikki – i used Mychelle NoTox w/Argireline for 8 about weeks and my skin and eyes sagged noticeably after a while — I didn’t associate it with the product but then when i researched and then stopped using it my skin seems to be back to normal. I hope i haven’t caused permanent damage to my skin. I have read other posts (on where women have used high concentrations and their Derms tell them the damage is permanent so i’m worried. Can you comment? thanks ps: i’m in touch with Mychelle to see what the percentage of Argireline in their product. (is there an ingredient, like DMAE, that may reverse this effect?)

  • @Sharen – Yes, you can apply a product with peptides after retinol at night. The Olay Pro-x contains palmitoyl pentapeptide-4, which has been shown in published research studies to increase collagen production when used in concentrations typical to those in Olay products. However, argireline is more of a “wrinkle relaxer.” It has been shown to have these effects most prominently when injected into the skin, of course, but some people swear by it when applied topically as well. Still others get no results from topical application. I personally feel it has to do with the thickness of the skin, but that has not been verified. Hope this helps!

  • sharen

    Sorry I’m a little confused – Are you saying that you can put a product with argirline on after putting on retinol at night? Also, is this product more effective than olay pro-x?

  • Hi Ieva,

    I personally recommend using potent antioxidants and a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB in the morning, and retinol/tretinoin and a peptide-based moisturizer at night. Extra antioxidants at night, if you can find them, are also great for the peptide-based moisturizer. I’ve had excellent results with the Dr. Mary Lupo line, which has both. If you’re looking for drugstore, Olay Pro-X has niacinamide, peptides, and antioxidants.

    I’m actually coming out with a lightweight FutureDerm-brand time-release retinol 0.5% moisturizer in two weeks…stay tuned. 🙂
    Hope this helps!

  • ieva

    Dear Nicki,

    how would you suggest incorporating it into routine with retinol in the evening and vit c or aha’s in the morning?

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