Miracle skincare – Too good to be true?

You have probably heard about the new ‘miracle’ wrinkle and eye bag reducing product with instant effects. In fact, there are dozens of videos on YouTube showing its immediate effects in reducing bags under the eyes and softening wrinkles – much to the amazement of the viewer. However, does it really live it to its claims, if we have a close look at the ingredients?

I have ordered a tube and tested it myself! I have also closely looked at the INCI list (i.e. the exact ingredient list) to find out more about this supposed miracle. Let me tell you what I found!

The main active ingredient is called Argireline. It’s a synthetic peptide also referred to as Acetyl hexapeptide-8. It is actually a commonly used peptide in many skincare products, so it’s nothing inheredly new. What do I think of Argireline in general? Well, in my opinion Argireline is a good anti-ageing ingredient with clinical studies behind it.

HOWEVER (and this is a big however!!), the instantly visible effect in all those videos can’t possibly be down to the ingredient Argireline. Argireline’s mechanism of action (I tell you more about that in a minute) would not support such an instant action in my professional opinion.

What do we actually want from an anti-ageing product? I for my part would certainly want my anti-ageing skincare to help regenerate my skin and boost collagen and elastin production to have long-lasting benefits.

But you see – true changes in skin biology (such as an increase of collagen and elastin production with improved skin elasticity and firmness) do take time – typically at least 4-12 weeks. It’s impossible for a skincare ingredient to induce true biological changes such as the ones I mentioned in a few minutes or even seconds, something we are made to believe when watching those YouTube videos with miraculously disappearing wrinkles.

Any immediately visible effects are pure visual effects for that moment, not changes in skin biology with increase in collagen production or anything like that. So what is causing those instantly visible ‘effects’?

I suspect what might be responsible for the demonstrated immediate miracle ‘effect’ is that one or several of the ingredients (maybe the silicone derivatives also present in this product) form an invisible film on the skin surface. When drying, this transparent film might retract and shrink, thus making the skin APPEAR tighter – nothing more and nothing less. This is in my opinion a purely temporary effect and I don’t think it’s even the Argireline causing this.

As mentioned I have also self-tested the product. I tested it under my eyes this morning. What I experienced was exactly in keeping with what I suspected it might do. After a couple of minutes, I felt as if there was a dramatically shrinking film on my skin, causing the skin to ’tighten’. Even too tight for my liking actually, as it pulled my lower eyelid down a little, causing what looked like an ‘ectropion’ (this is the medical term for the lower eyelid turning outwards away from the eyeball).

Anyway, no worries there, as this was of course a very temporary effect. Once I had applied my make-up and was ready to leave the house, the effect had already worn off, so much so that during the day I couldn’t see any beneficial effect on eye bag and line reduction under my eyes any longer. A very interesting self-experiment in deed!

So what’s my conclusion? Well, Argireline itself is a good anti-ageing ingredient in itself and has been shown to have some beneficial anti-ageing effects (albeit at a much, much, much longer time scale and much more subtle, nothing to do with the immediate strong ‘tightening’ we can see in the videos).

How Argireline (really) works is the following: it is said to interact with the neuro-muscular junction (the junction between the nerve and the muscle) and subtly inhibit neurotransmitter release here. With that it is said to reduce activity of tiny muscles in the skin, thus reducing micro movements in the skin.

On paper, this mechanism of action is similar to that of injected botulinum toxin (i.e. Botox or Bocouture). However, of course Argireline in topical form does not have anywhere near as strong an effect compared to injected botulinum toxin. And in fact, I have never in my entire career experienced any effect as remotely dramatic with injected Botox or Bocouture as the supposed ’tightening’ I saw under my eyes after applying the Argireline serum. Also, if this topical serum would really inhibit facial muscles to such a strong degree as it makes us believe, I would certainly expect it to be prescription only. In any case, I saw myself that the effect was very short-lived.

So my verdict: short lived shrinkage of some transparent film on the skin surface, but no true changes in skin firmness and elasticity. Too good to be true? YES!