Relax Your Wrinkles Away, Part 1: The Truth About Topical Botox

In theory at least, argireline, gamma amino butyric acid (GABA), and other so-called “wrinkle relaxers” smooth and soften crow’s-feet and smile lines by inhibiting muscle contractions. Heralded by some members of the beauty industry as a major breakthrough in anti-aging science, these topical Botox alternatives command a hefty price. But are they worth it? That depends on whom you believe. Manufacturers of these anti-wrinkle products cite clinical studies that show “a reduction in wrinkle depth of up to 60% in one month” or  “an increase in firmness by as much as 40%.” But what do these scientific-sounding statistics actually mean? The Science of Beauty The truth is, a cosmetic manufacturer’s “hard data” can mean almost anything. Even the definition of the term clinical study is open to question. In the case of wrinkle relaxers, virtually all evidence of their effectiveness comes from studies conducted or paid for by the manufacturers. The only third-party research I could find on argireline, for instance, was a single report published in a cosmetic industry journal—evidence that falls far short of “scientific proof.” Are Botox  creams more hype than help? The Beauty of Common Sense To reach a balanced judgment on skincare alternatives, I’ve always relied on sources I trust:  scientific evidence, gut instinct, and what I can see with my own eyes. When I applied this approach to wrinkle relaxers, the sketchy scientific research and my woman’s intuition pointed to an obvious question: If topical Botox really works, why are people still lining up for injections and cosmetic surgery? Nevertheless, seeing is believing. So I treated my complexion with a top-selling GABA-based brand for a month. From the first application to the last, the mirror told me the truth: Scientists have yet to discover a “facelift in a jar.” Until that happens, a holistic, health-based skincare routine remains the safest, most effective method of delaying the signs of aging and minimizing the appearance of wrinkles. I’ll explain more about this noninvasive approach in upcoming posts. Image: br3akthru /