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Can any face creams work like Botox?

Arthur W. Perry, MD
Plastic Surgery
Certain face creams claim to paralyze the underlying muscles, resulting in a Botox-like effect. These creams contain peptides called argireline or acetyl hexa peptide-3. In test tubes these drugs stop formation of the nerve chemicals that control muscle. It may be fantasy to think that this type of drug can safely penetrate an eighth to a quarter of an inch of skin and reach muscle. No controlled studies show these drugs to be effective.
Straight Talk about Cosmetic Surgery (Yale University Press Health & Wellness)

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Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
Dermatology

No. If they did, I suppose we'd all be using them. Consider that the neurotoxin botulinum type A (Botox, PureTox, and other new formulations) is injected directly into a muscle to block its nerve receptors and temporarily paralyze it. A topical product has low odds of penetrating to the dermis and zero chance of reaching the muscle. So how can these creams and lotions possibly relax muscle contractions? Many of these Botox-lite products contain a synthetic hexapeptide called Argireline (acetyl hexapeptide-3), which theoretically works by inhibiting neurotransmitters that signal muscles to contract. Another ingredient is GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, a neurotransmitter found in the body's nervous system. GABA analogs are used in antianxiety medication, and they act in a similar way to Argireline in cosmetic use - as a muscle relaxant. Since GABA can't penetrate the skin, cosmetic chemists add a plant extract to assist it. Even so, it's a tall order for any topical beauty product to inhibit nerve-to-muscle signals in the body.

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