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Can ‘NoTox’ Skincare Ever Measure Up To Toxin Injections?

7th November 2023

For anyone looking for an alternative to wrinkle-relaxing toxin injections, ‘NoTox’ skincare, which is marketed to ‘work like botulinum toxin’, can feel like a no-brainer. That’s especially true if you happen to be scared of needles, want to retain natural-looking movement, or are working with a limited budget.  But, how far can such products actually deliver on their ‘toxin-mimicking’ claims? 

What is ‘NoTox’ skincare?

As the name suggests, ‘NoTox’ skincare refers to products that are designed to offer a remedy for fine lines and wrinkles that ‘mimics’ the effect of toxin without going under the needle. With almost 200 million views on TikTok and a 56% increase in Google searches for “creams like Botox” according to WGSN, the interest in ‘No-Tox’ skincare is sky-high.

What brands exactly mean when they discuss ‘NoTox’ skincare however can be a bit of a grey area. Here we will be referencing its original context, referring to products with ingredients touted to help reduce facial muscle movement (and thus stop fine lines forming) in a similar way to toxin. But, it should be noted that the term is sometimes more broadly used to refer to any skincare that aims to reduce wrinkles, regardless of the mechanism. That’s why you’ll often see retinol thrown into the mix – despite the ingredient working to reduce fine lines by predominately boosting cell turnover, not by targeting facial muscle contractions.

How does ‘NoTox’ skincare work?

‘NoTox’ skincare specifically aims to harness ingredients that can soften (and avoid us getting) dynamic wrinkles – those pesky lines formed from repeated muscle movements. The most famous is acetyl hexapeptide 8 (brand name: Argireline), which comes from a family of ingredients you’re probably familiar with – peptides. Peptides are short chains of amino acids that, when used in skincare, are said to trigger your skin’s natural repair process as they are the ‘building blocks’ of collagen and elastin. However, what sets Argireline apart is that the peptide is also designed to interfere with a specific protein receptor in the skin to reduce line-inducing facial movement. That’s what bears the comparison to toxin injections.

Some ‘NoTox’ skincare products like to pair Argireline with other research-backed peptides such as Matrixyl 3000 to maximise the wrinkle-reducing benefits. Others may rely on other synthesised peptides that mimic the temporary ‘freezing’ effects of snake venom, notably Syn-ake. You may see formulas that market an instant skin ‘tightening’ effect too. This is often achieved by film-like polymers that commonly wear-off throughout the day. More long-lasting components to look out for include hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, to ‘plump out’ dehydration lines, plus antioxidants like vitamin C to protect against UV and pollution-based ageing.

Can ‘NoTox’ skincare match the results of toxin injections?

Let’s get straight to the crux of the issue: no topical skincare product can ever deliver exactly the same results you get from wrinkle-reducing tweakments. Any product saying so is merely buoyed up by a hefty dose of marketing. That’s because while these creams and serums may contain gold-standard topical anti-ageing ingredients, they still work predominately on the top layers of the skin, unlike toxin which is injected into the muscle.

However, that’s not to say that ‘toxin-mimicking’ products won’t work or have any effect on your wrinkles – it just won’t be as instant or likely as significant as injections. Our recommendation: focus less on the ‘NoTox’ marketing and more on the skin quality-boosting qualities of the peptide blends to be found within them. There’s real science there, and, what’s more, peptides can work without causing any irritation to the skin, which is a big benefit. That means the formulas – like our recommendations below – can actually improve overall skin appearance, as well as targeting fine lines.

The shopping list

The Ordinary Argireline Solution 10%, £8.40: One of the most famous Argireline-based serums on the market. The hero ingredient is included at 10% concentration, to specifically target your forehead and other expression lines.

Meder Anti-Wrinkle Myo-Fix Concentrate, £85: Containing four of the most popularly discussed peptides, Meder’s luxury concentrate pairs wrinkle-softening Argireline and Syn-Ake, with skin-calming Leuphasyl and collagen-boosting Matrixyl.

Indeed Labs Snoxin II, £29.99: This clever cream also contains the collagen-boosting peptide Matrixyl, plus another peptide that aims to mimic Cone Snail venom to avoid the creation of further dynamic facial lines.

Strivectin Peptide Plump Line Filling Bounce Serum, £69: Strivectin has been at the head of peptide research for years due to its trademarked Alpha-3 peptide blend, which aims to stimulate your skin’s natural collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid production.

Scientia Notox Youth Boost Eye Serum, £26: Designed to target pesky fine lines around your eyes, Scientia have combined a ‘Notox’ peptide blend with bakuchiol, hyaluronic acid and ferulic acid to firm, plump and brighten your skin.


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