Is Topical Botox On the Way?


Is Topical Botox On the Way?

The injectable is widely used but certainly not for everyone. Is a topical Botox the next big thing? And would you try it?

With the shift to natural ingredients in skincare on the rise, Botox may seem like a clean beauty villain. But once those deeper lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin make their appearance with age, many green beauty gals are giving the injectable a second thought.

You’ve likely seen facial creams hailed as Natural Botox or Botox Alternative. Sure, there are natural anti-aging ingredients that offer powerful line-smoothing, skin-plumping results. But the super smooth, creaseless effects of Botox? Not so much.

Once exclusively an anti-aging solution for celebrities, Botox is now used far and wide by both women and men. Botulinum toxin, the main ingredient in Botox, works by blocking signals to nerves which would ordinarily cause muscles to contract. In essence, muscles injected with the toxin are temporarily paralyzed. Effects last approximately 4-6 months.

For those who hate needles, and the redness and bruising they cause, topical Botox is on the horizon. RT001 is currently in the works by Revance Therapeutics, a Silicon Valley company who estimates the pharmaceutical gel formulation will be on the market in the next 2-3 years.

Can a Botox cream really work? We know that our skin is good at absorbing what we put on it, good or bad. RT001, which will be classified as a drug, will be administered topically by doctors only. So far clinical trials look promising, showing around a 20 percent improvement in crow’s feet with effects lasting about 2-3 months. Maybe not quite the results seen with Botox injections, but still…no needles. No word as yet on cost of the cream. (Botox injections run $10-20 per injection, or by the vile which could cost up to $2000, depending on the doctor.)

So, no OTC Botox cream just yet. However, leading derm to the stars, Dr. Fredric Brandt, who is working with Revance on RT001, has formulated a Botox-like cream. And this one can be used at home. The cream contains a peptide formulation that travels to nerve and muscle fibers in the skin and acts like Botox, freezing muscles so they won’t contract. The newly released cream, Needles No More, goes for $89 and is available at Sephora or Dr. Brandt’s website.

A simple swipe of face cream versus injection by needle may seem a safer route to line-less skin. The issue of toxicity, however, persists. Botulinum toxin is one of the most poisonous biological toxins. While the amount of the neurotoxin delivered by Botox injections is very small, larger amounts can cause the life-threatening illness Botulism. While no one has been reported to have died by Botox injection, there are other adverse side effects like muscle weakness, stiffness, rash, and trouble breathing.

Clean beauty aside, how safe is the stuff really? Botox has only been used for a relatively short period of time. Will we one day be horrified to discover the negative long-term health consequences of this skin fixer? Or will it continue to become even more mainstream? And do we really need to look as young as possible forever or learn to embrace our real age?

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Image of syringe and cream via Shutterstock

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Liz Thompson