Dermatologists Call This Ingredient “A Needle-Free Alternative to Botox”—These 9 Products Fit the Bill

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There are plenty of serums and moisturizers on the market that promise to diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. But if you actually want to make them disappear, injectables like Botox, Xeomin, and Juveau are really the only things that can make that happen. These neurotoxins work by weakening the muscle movement that causes wrinkles, effectively "freezing" the area into smoothness. But if going under the needle doesn't feel quite right for you, there's a buzzy topical ingredient that dermatologists have deemed the next best thing.

Enter: argireline. The active is often referred to as "Botox in a bottle" thanks to its ability to inhibit muscle movement in almost the same way as the real deal—no needles required. Moreover, it boosts collagen, giving your skin a smoother, firmer appearance overall.

Experts In This Article

To be clear, this isn't Botox, so you'll want to level your expectations accordingly. But if you're looking for an accessible alternative that you can snag for as little as $10, no needles required, this might just be for you.

What is argireline?

"Argireline—which is written in ingredients lists as acetyl hexapeptide-3 or acetyl hexapeptide-8—is a peptide that works by hindering the release of neurotransmitters to activate muscle movements, producing a Botox-like effect," says Jodi LoGerfo, DNP, a cosmetic nurse practitioner. "Argireline has also been shown to help encourage the production of collagen, possibly increasing skin tone and firmness. Studies show that it can improve the appearance of dynamic lines and wrinkles, especially in the forehead and around the eyes."

And how does it do that? "Argireline works on the neuromuscular junction just like Botox does, but with a different form of action and revealing a different result," says Rebecca Marcus, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of skincare brand Maei MD. According to a 2021 study that called argireline "a safe, needle-free alternative to Botox," the ingredient works by "inhibiting the release of neurotransmitters in the neuromuscular junction, producing a botox-like effect."

In simpler terms, this means that argireline penetrates the deeper layers of skin and targets the neurotransmitters (aka brain chemicals) that stimulate muscle movement. This keeps the muscles from contracting, which prevents them from causing wrinkles, leaving skin smooth and firm.

How does argireline compare to Botox?

"Argirilene's effects are temporary and much less dramatic than those of Botox," says Dr. Marcus.

While Botox can completely erase wrinkles and lasts for months, argireline needs to be used more regularly to see comparable effects. According to 2018 research, a twice-daily application of the ingredient reduced wrinkles by up to 48 percent over four weeks. "Compared to Botox, argireline's effects are much more subtle," says Dr. Marcus. "In addition, Argireline yields a very temporary effect, whereas the effects of Botox can be expected to last around three months."

Divya Shokeen, MD, a board-certified medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatologist and founder of Ocean Skin & Vein Institute, adds that argireline is especially useful for those who are not yet ready to undergo more invasive treatments like Botox but who still want to see similar—albeit temporary—effects.

"While both argireline and Botox work by targeting the facial muscles responsible for wrinkles, they are not interchangeable," she says. "Botox is a prescription medication that is injected into the muscles and paralyzes them, while argireline is a topical cosmetic ingredient that relaxes the muscles. Botox is generally more effective than argireline, but it has more potential side effects and requires a medical professional to administer it."

If you're looking for a Botox-like effect that doesn't require a trip to the dermatologist's office, argireline is the ingredient to try.

Shop the best argireline-infused skincare products

Dr. Dennis Gross, DermInfusions Fill + Repair Serum — $75.00

Clinically proven to improve the look of fine lines, this offering from Dr. Dennis Gross is a plumping, firming masterpiece. It contains argireline, four weights of hyaluronic acid, four different peptides, niacinamide and ectoin to rejuvenate the skin and act like filler, in that it visibly fills lines and gives the skin a plumper, fresher, bouncier look. We’re sold.

Estée Lauder, Revitalizing Supreme+ Youth Power Creme Moisturizer — $98.00

Estée Lauder’s Revitalizing Supreme+ Youth Power Creme Moisturizer is so beloved that it has just under 3,000 reviews on Sephora at the time of writing, and we can see why. Its ingredient list includes cactus stem cell extract and hyaluronic acid to drench skin in up to 72 hours of hydration, and hibiscus morning bloom extract provides lifting and firming properties. All of these powerhouse actives come together in a gentle formula with a luxurious texture, that smells beautiful.

Medik8, Liquid Peptides 30% Complex Hydrating Peptide Serum — $62.00

For the price point, this serum really packs a punch in terms of its ingredients. It features a blend of peptides (including argireline) to envelop your skin in plumping and nourishing goodness. It also uses a Matrixyl 3000 complex to further reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, plus hyaluronic acid for its hydration properties. Bonus? It’s also vegan, cruelty-free, and alcohol-free.

Paula’s Choice, Calm Rescue and Repair Weightless Moisturizer — $33.00

Your new summer moisturizer is here! The feather-light formula keeps skin hydrated and nourished for up to 24 hours, with argireline, mushroom extract and squalane working to reduce redness, fine lines and helping to keep your skin barrier healthy. A great option for sensitive, oily and combination skin types, it leaves skin looking bouncy without clogging pores or causing any irritation.

Peter Thomas Roth, Super-Size Un-Wrinkle Eye Concentrate — $200.00

This is no ordinary eye cream. It contains no less than six neuropeptides (including argireline), plus matrixyl 3000, a dual peptide, to reduce fine lines, wrinkles. and crow’s feet. After four weeks of use, 91 percent of testers agreed that their under eye area was left feeling soft and smooth, and 86 percent said that their skin felt tighter and more taut. It’s also suitable for those with sensitive skin around the eye area, and those who wear contact lenses.

Asterwood Naturals, Triple Repair Matrixyl 3000 + Argireline + Hyaluronic Acid + Organic Vitamin C Serum for Face — $18.00

As the name suggests, this serum delivers four key ingredients, which work in tandem to stimulate collagen production, increase hydration and protect against pollution and other free radicals. It’s also safe for all skin types, and was specifically designed to deliver anti-aging solutions to those with sensitive complexions.

La Mer, The Revitalizing Hydrating Serum — $255.00

Though on the pricey end of the spectrum, the Revitalizing Hydrating Serum is a light-as-air formula infused with microdroplets of green, brown and red algae, which is designed to absorb deep into the skin’s surface quickly and efficiently, plus antioxidants to prevent the skin from free radicals and, of course, argireline to target fine lines and wrinkles. Simply apply one to two drops over your face morning and night.

The Ordinary, Argireline Solution 10% — $9.00

The Ordinary is renowned for its affordable formulas that actually work, and its argireline-infused Solution is no exception—so much so that it frequently sells out because fans refer to it as “Botox in a bottle.” Apply on the forehead and around the eyes morning and night to see results, such as smoother skin, lessened fine lines, and a brighter, firmer complexion.

111SKIN, Celestial Black Diamond Eye Cream — $300.00

In addition to argireline, the 111SKIN Celestial Black Diamond Eye Cream boasts a cocktail of impressive ingredients, including centella asiatica to boost collagen production and plump fine lines, arbutin to improve pigmentation, and fine diamond powder to ensure the ingredients are absorbed by the thin skin under the eye. Yes, please.

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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