Does the 'Botox Trick' On TikTok Actually Compare to Injections?
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Does the $20 'Botox In a Bottle' Hack On TikTok Compare to Injections?

TikTok users have been applying two The Ordinary serums together as a Botox alternative.
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The effects of Botox last a few months, and the cost of regular appointments can quickly add up. If you're strapped for cash or just hate needles, TikTok is full of "Botox dupes" you might find intriguing. One example? Mixing two The Ordinary products reportedly compares to the muscle-paralyzing effects of Botox. With the products in question totaling $20, that's quite a claim.

TikTok users have been applying The Ordinary Argireline Solution 10% (Buy It, $8, sephora.com) and The Ordinary Matrixyl 10% + HA (Buy It, $12, sephora.com) together in hopes of mimicking the wrinkle-reducing effects of Botox. In a particularly popular post, @Sarahpalmyra posted footage of their ability to furrow their eyebrows, saying they used the combination of serums over the course of a few weeks. "I am trying really hard to make this expression and you can tell it's less intense," they say in the "after" video. (Related: These Botox Alternatives Are *Almost* As Good As the Real Thing)

Don't write the trend off as a hoax just yet. The first The Ordinary serum formula is 10 percent argireline, an ingredient that's been drawing comparisons to Botox since before TikTok existed. "Argireline is a biomimetic peptide," explains Ava Shamban, M.D., Beverly Hills-based dermatologist and founder of Ava MD. In layman's terms, that means it's a lab-created peptide, designed to mimic naturally-occurring peptides. (Peptides are collections of short chain amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins.)

Still following? The way that Botox and similar injections work is that they temporarily prevent nerves from releasing a neurotransmitter, which prevents muscle contraction and, by extension, creasing on the skin. That's the effect that argireline might be able to mimic. Argireline "may reduce the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in a similar fashion to injectable botulinum toxin, resulting in decreased movements," says Dr. Shamban.

As for The Ordinary Matrixyl 10% + HA, the serum contains matrixyl, which is a "peptide that has been shown to stimulate collagen production, which creates thicker dermal tissue over time," according to Dr. Shamban. "The best analogy here is changing tissue paper to construction paper making the thicker skin more resistant to folds or wrinkling," she explains. (Related: This The Ordinary Peeling Solution Is All Over TikTok)

So, in theory, when the two serums are combined, you'll get the muscle-relaxing effect and stimulated collagen production, which further fights against wrinkles. "Each has its role and combined they can act synergistically on fine lines and provide some support for static and dynamic wrinkles," says Dr. Shamban.

The catch: "some support" probably doesn't measure up to the power of neurotoxin injections. "Let's be real here," says Dr. Shamban. "Nothing is as good as Botox; nothing topical can come close. Botulinum toxin products are the gold standard for lines and wrinkles for a reason." Even @Sarahpalmyra — the creator behind that popular before and after — would second that. "This does not replace Botox and retinol in my opinion," they say at the end of the video. (Related: What Is Botox? (Plus, More Helpful Info))

With all that said, this is one of the more legit beauty trends Dr. Shamban has seen on TikTok, she says. "If you are looking for a quick fix topically or to support and maximize your neuromodulator, this TikTok trend does have its merits," says Dr. Shamban. If you'd like to judge the combo's powers for yourself, you can go forth with the knowledge that it's derm-approved.