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Can this TikTok-loved ingredient really reduce wrinkles? Dermatologists weigh in

Some people have said that it can help improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
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Even if you have a dedicated anti-aging routine, you still may notice fine lines and wrinkles popping up around your eyes or on your forehead. It's a natural part of getting older and nothing to be ashamed of, but still, when they start to appear, some of us might reach for serums and moisturizers promising to "smooth" or "reverse." They might even make some consider more invasive procedures like fillers or Botox.

But before you take that step, there's one product making the rounds on TikTok that people say could be a needle- and pain-free way to stop wrinkles in their tracks. The Ordinary's Argireline Solution has been dubbed "Botox in a bottle" by some users on the app and is so popular the #botoxinabottle tag has more than 65 million views, while the #argireline tag has more than 31 million. Both are filled with videos featuring people testing the solution, with some saying that the product has helped improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

It sounds too good to be true, right? That's why we asked two top dermatologists whether the anti-aging ingredient lives up to the hype.

What is Argireline?

Argireline is a brand name for the peptide acetyl hexapeptide-3 or acetyl hexapeptide-8. Peptides are amino acids that help you make proteins, like collagen and elastin, so they're a common ingredient in beauty products, said Dr. Dendy Engelman, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.

Similar to Botox, Argireline works by inhibiting your nerves' ability to release a signal to your muscles, therefore limiting the movements that lead to wrinkles, said Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic & clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

It's one of the first topical ingredients that has been shown to have some effect on muscular contraction, Engelman added.

Does it work?

"Argireline is the closest ingredient that we have to Botox in cream," Zeichner said. "That being said, Argireline-containing creams do not come close to the effects that botulinum toxins actually provide themselves."

Wrinkles, like the crow's feet around your eyes or the vertical "11" lines on your forehead are caused by contractions from the muscles deep under the skin, he said. The injectable treatments that you'd receive at your dermatologist's office can be targeted specifically to the location and the depth needed to limit these contractions. With Argireline solutions that are applied on the skin, Zeichner said that it's questionable just how deeply the creams can penetrate, and that the efficacy can vary from person to person as well.

That being said, anecdotally and in select studies, there has been some evidence that it may work to improve the appearance of wrinkles.

"The way that I approach it with patients who talk to me about it is that it’s certainly worth a shot, especially if it’s a $7 serum from The Ordinary," said Engelman. "It really has very few side effects, if any, and there have been some results where people say that it diminishes wrinkles by ten to 30 percent, depending on the study you read."

For those who are needle-phobic or know that they're never going to go the Botox route, it's something that may be worth trying, especially considering that some of the options cost less than your go-to takeout order.

"Is it the Holy Grail of anti-aging? No," Engelman said. "But is it worth a shot if you’ve got that in your budget, and you’re curious ... by all means, I think that’s certainly feasible, and I wouldn’t advise against it if they were my patient. But I also would want to temper the expectation that they’re going to look 20 years younger."

If you want to give it a try, there are a number of formulas on the market that contain Argireline, and Engelman said that many of them have other beneficial additions, like other peptides and hydrating ingredients. Here are six options to consider.

Argireline beauty products

The Ordinary Argireline Solution 10%

The Ordinary's Argireline Solution is the most popular (and most affordable) way to incorporate the ingredient into your routine. According to the brand, formulas with higher water content may improve the utility level of Argireline, which is why this formula is water-based. The Ordinary recommends applying a few drops to your forehead and around the eyes twice per day.

Estée Lauder Perfectionist Pro Instant Wrinkle Filler With Tri-Polymer Blend

Another pick from Engelman, this Argireline-containing treatment is made to be applied directly to problem areas. It has advanced filling spheres, a concentrated tri-polymer blend and skin-plumping sodium hyaluronate, which work together to create a smoother base for your makeup or fresh-faced look.

The Ordinary "Buffet"

This formula from The Ordinary also contains the ingredient. Though it is more expensive than the other Argireline solution, it is still on the affordable end and includes other potent peptides and hydrating hyaluronic acid.

Good Molecules Super Peptide Serum

Made with a tri-peptide blend (that includes hexapeptide-8), this formula is said to target fine lines, wrinkles and other premature signs of aging. According to the brand, it can be used morning or night to boost your anti-aging routine.

Paula's Choice Pro-Collagen Multi-Peptide Booster

According to the brand, this multi-peptide serum contains six different peptides and says it will smooth the appearance of fine lines within 15 minutes. You can apply it alone or mix it in with sunscreen or moisturizer, says the brand.

Asterwood Naturals Matrixyl 3000, Argireline and Vitamin C Serum

This top-rated pick has an average 4.4-star rating from more than 7,000 reviews. It features Argireline, along with vitamin C and Matrixyl 3000, another peptide that, according to the brand, can help stimulate collagen production. We haven't tried it ourselves, but verified reviewers say that it helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and sunspots — a few people have even called it the "Fountain of Youth."

Cos de Baha Peptide Complex Facial Serum

Like the above option, this popular serum combines Matrixyl 3000 and Argireline, and the brand says it may help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Along with those ingredients, the formula also includes niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, which are said to help improve skin elasticity and hydrate skin.

Medik8 Liquid Peptides Serum

This treatment is formulated with not just one, but 10 different peptides, which the brand says work to target expression lines and deep-set wrinkles. Plus, it's designed to be suitable for all skin types.