Why all the fuss about “Notox” Ingredients?

Why all the fuss about “Notox” Ingredients?

In 2023, we are increasingly subscribing to the 'no makeup’ makeup look while remaining glowing and effortless. To achieve this aesthetic, cosmedical grade skincare, in clinic facial treatments such as micro needling and facial NOTOX tweakments are typically required. However, as the cost-of-living crisis continues, many are seeking more cost-effective alternatives to achieve the look. A 56% increase in Google searches for 'creams like Botox' was recorded in 2022.

The efficacy of Botox relies on eliminating of expression wrinkles which are formed by repetitive contraction of underlying facial muscles, through the inhibition of these contractions.

Several botanical cosmetic active ingredients with 'botox-like' activity exist on the market, along with Neuropeptides, which are a family of peptides (signalling proteins) that work on our neurotransmitters to limit muscle movement and inhibit expression lines in a process known as exocytosis. Although they  have been touted as “Botox in a bottle”, this is actually a little misleading as the muscles are not immobilized and you won’t get the “freeze face” from application. However, they have been clinically proven to reduce the number of muscle movements. Hence the term “Notox”. 

The neuropeptide and botanical actives family is a growing one. There are now many different actives that work on expression lines and they do this in different ways, and often offer additional benefits to the skin. This opens opportunities for layering various actives in your skincare routine for optimal results. I apologise in advance for blinding you with the science following, but if nothing else, you will be wowed by all the complex activity taking place on every time you squint/frown/smile.

So what exactly is happening when you activate facial muscles? A super lipid, called a vesicle, releases a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) to the synapses (space between the end of the nerve cell and another cell), sending a signal for the muscle to move. Three proteins, called the SNARE (SNAp REceptors) complex, are essential for the final stages of this process, which is known as exocytosis. Got that? Well, neuro actives basically intervene in various ways in different parts of this process.

How can we inhibit expression lines?

Botulinum toxin exerts its effect at the neuromuscular junction by inhibiting the release of acetylcholine, which causes temporary chemical deprivation. At the cellular level, botulinum toxin separates the SNARE proteins, thereby inhibiting the release of acetylcholine, which is the messenger which excites the nerve cell and causes it to activate.


This family of peptides work in various ways, some work by blocking the release of acetylcholine into the nerve cells that are responsible for these muscle contractions. Other neuropeptides don’t block acetylcholine from its release, but rather prevent its uptake by the receptors and therefore acts as a modulator of the neuromuscular transmission that translates to being an instant line relaxer when it comes to cosmetics. According to the manufacturers in-vivo (made on people) study, a single application of this peptide results in a visible and significant reduction of wrinkle depth and rugosity 2 hours after application. (Favreau, Philippe, et al.) You’ll find this in Juvenate Uplift Eye and Lip Serum (talk to your Juvenate Regenerative Skin Therapist for added tips and tricks with this product – seriously not just for eyes and lips!)

A natural, aqueous extract derived from summer snowflake bulbs, in an in-vitro study showed the 'botox-like' activity on motor neurons derived from human-induced pluripotent stem cells stimulated with glutamate. In this model, the release of acetylcholine was monitored, together with the release/trafficking of synaptic vesicles (using SNARE proteins as markers). The extract significantly inhibited synaptic vesicle trafficking and/or release and blocked the induced acetylcholine release, just like botulinum toxin.”

This extract also blocks the release of acetylcholine from peripheral nerve endings of capillaries, so it reduces  flushing. It has also been shown to inhibit the release of substance P and other naturally occurring peptides, which leads to reduced skin inflammation, making it a fantastic ingredient for skins presenting with inflammation such as Rosacea, Acneic, sensitised and compromised skins along with minimising expression wrinkles. You can use Juvenate PhytoProtect Mist multiple times during the day to benefit from and enhance activity of this ingredient.

Still other actives work by mimicking enkephalins, the peptides associated with pain relief. Coupling to the enkephalin receptor on the outside of the nerve cells results in a decrease of its “excitability.” In other words, the nerve cell’s activity is turned down and the release of acetylcholine is modulated. One of these actives contains the N-alkylamide spilanthol.

The spilanthol mimics a botox treatment by slowing down contractions and relaxing the face muscles. it has been clinically tested to target the loss of skin firmness and appearance of deep wrinkles by stimulating the fibroblast biomechanical functions. Spilanthol also prevents the contraction of subcutaneous muscles.

The benefits? Fine lines and wrinkles caused by muscle tension will be reduced, and leads to a smoother and firmer skin.

Using a skincare product , such as Juvenate Reactivating Complex, with this extract can produce more youthful-looking skin and fewer wrinkles in just 2 weeks (clinically tested skincare formula by Savic, et al, 2021).

This is accomplished through the production of collagen. Collagen helps produce healthy skin, and the compound Spilanthol, helps increase the production of collagen (according to the clinical study Joseph & George, 2013, 2785). This is what makes it such a perfect ingredient for anti-aging skin care products. It strengthens the collagen network providing anti-aging effects.

As well as being considered a natural alternative to botox, it may  also help to prevent hyperpigmentation which is considered to be another sign of ageing skin. A study from 2016 showed that organic compounds found in this extract are able to reduce, prevent, and slow down the hyperpigmentation process in the skin.

All of these ingredients offer an alternative to Botox treatments, but if you prefer to have botox, you can still benefit form these ingredients as they will extend the lifespan of your botox treatment.

Jumping on the Notox bandwagon doesn't have to be a daunting decision.

Here are some further actions that can enhance results of your “Notox” regime:

Facial Massage: Benefits of facial massages include increased circulation and improved lymphatic drainage, resulting in firmer skin and fewer wrinkles over time. Your Juvenate Regenerative Skin Therapist may offer specific massage treatments such as the ReShape massage, which combines lymphatic drainage, muscle remodelling and buccal massage to reveal lifted, smoother, healthier skin

LED Light Therapy: Benefits of LED light therapy include improved collagen production and reduced inflammation resulting in smoother, brighter and improved skin tone.

Lipoic Acid: Benefits of this antioxidant acid include increased cell turnover and collagen formation, resulting in firmer skin these can also help treat acne scars.

Granactive Retinoid: a new generation, more skin friendly form of Vitamin A used in Juvenate skin care products to create a healthier, functional, more youthful looking skin which can also assist with acne, scars and wrinkles. Containing peptides from various families – Remember peptides act as natural messengers that trigger changes within your skin cells. They help reduce wrinkles, fine lines, and sun damage by boosting collagen production, as well as repairing damage caused by free radicals.

Hyaluronic acid: Hyaluronic acid helps to retain moisture in the skin, resulting in a more youthful, hydrated complexion with fewer wrinkles.

Antioxidants: Antioxidants help to protect the skin from environmental damage and stressors that can lead to wrinkling or sagging of the skin. Vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidants for skincare

Additionally, applying ReShield sunscreen daily can protect the skin from damaging UV rays and junk light which are known to detrimentally impact on the skin. Benefits are much more than just a sunscreen as it contains strong and effective anti-inflammatories, junk light protectors and rebuilding the structure of skin.

It is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

This includes eating a balanced healthy diet, exercising regularly and very importantly, getting enough  restorative sleep. Maintaining good hydration by drinking plenty of water will also help keep skin looking youthful and refreshed.

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