Long gone are the days when skin care was simply a case of washing your face with Pears Transparent Soap and a flannel. Then followed by a quick slick of Pond’s Cold Cream.
These days, with the advent of so much science and technology when it comes to what we put onto our skin, we’re all a bit more informed. We know that there’s a difference between a cleanser and a face wash. And we know that our moisturisers are best kept to the specific areas of the body they’re meant for. (Or at least we do if we keep up to date with all the latest in our skin journal!)
But every now and again, a new ingredient comes along, with a confusing, unpronounceable name. And we get flummoxed.
Are we being blinded by science? Are we paying good money for something that’s simply got a great marketing team (and budget) behind it? Or is the latest buzz ingredient truly going to change our skin care regime, and our skin, forever?
Here, we aim to separate the fact from fiction and tell it how it is. In the spotlight this week, we look at an ingredient called argireline. Hailed as an alternative to Botox, what is it about argireline that makes it work, and does it really work?
We don’t include argireline in our skin care range, so here’s our impartial view on this new skin care ingredient on the block.
Anti ageing skin care - a brief history
One of the most effective, and quickest ways, to banish wrinkles and skin drooping is to have Botox. Botox (and other injectable neurotoxins) works by freezing the muscles that are causing fine lines and wrinkling, effectively stopping them from moving. This makes the face appear younger, because we’re unable to frown or ‘scrunch up’ the areas of the face we’ve had treated.
But the only way to administer Botox is to inject it directly into the face. Once there, it can work its magic on our frown lines and crow's feet.
Until now, if we didn’t want to have our face injected with biological toxins, our only other option is to choose one of the many skin care products on the market that help to turn back the tide on ageing.
Products containing collagen have always proven popular, for example. Collagen is a protein that forms a sort of ‘biological scaffold’ under the skin. This scaffold supports the skin and stops it from sagging. As we age, we naturally lose our normal levels of collagen and this scaffold loses its strength.
The skin then begins to droop, causing fine lines and wrinkles - the tell tale signs of ageing. That’s why taking steps to boost collagen production or to introduce more collagen to the skin, are popular alternatives to going under the surgeon’s knife (or needle).
But now, step forward, argireline.
What is argireline and how does it work?
As we mentioned above, argireline is being touted as an effective alternative to Botox. Scientifically speaking, argireline is a synthetic peptide. Peptides are short chains of molecules called amino acids (that also form long chains, forming the proteins in our body, including our skin). They go on to form proteins such as collagen and elastin, that keep our skin youthful and supple.
Argireline has two main benefits for helping to restore the skin’s natural youthfulness. First of all, it helps to reduce the movement of the muscles that cause wrinkles to form.
In this way, it’s much like Botox, only it doesn’t need to be injected. Argireline has this paralysing effect on muscles because it interferes with the messages that are sent from the nerves to the muscles. This means that the muscles aren’t told to contract by the nerves, meaning that they stay relaxed. The more relaxed the muscles, the less they can cause wrinkling.
Secondly, argireline also stimulates the production of collagen. Collagen, as we discussed above, helps to keep the skin lifted, youthful and plump. The more of it that we have, the more youthful our skin.
In addition to an increased production of collagen, this also helps to keep the skin more hydrated. Properly hydrated skin looks fresher and younger looking, than dehydrated, parched skin.
How to use argireline
Argireline is best used in a product that’s water based, rather than alcohol based. Water helps to deliver the active peptides deep into the surface of the skin, where it’s needed the most.
Some cheaper skin care brands tend to mix argireline with alcohol as it’s easier to manufacture. But this can have a drying effect on the skin, and won’t have the desired anti ageing effect.
Each product will have its own directions for use. But in general, argireline is best used on targeted areas, such as on the fine lines around the eyes, or the deep lines that can form between the eyebrows, the so called ‘11’ lines.
It’s best to use slowly to begin with, to make sure you’re not sensitive to any of the ingredients. Then you can build up to using twice a day.