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Biotulin: the organic gel that claims to rival Botox

May 7th 2016 / Anna Hunter / 1 comment


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It’s acquired quite the celebrity following, but can a topical treatment really make you look younger in 60 minutes?

Everyone from Madonna to Leonardo DiCaprio are reportedly fans, and Kim Kardashian has bought the US licensing rights; as skincare brands go, Biotulin is looking likely to make it big. So why is this organic product making such waves in the youth-obsessed world of fame? It’s claims are certainly seductive…

With no downtime, pain or excessive expense, Biotulin promises effects ‘similar’ to those of Botox, ‘reducing muscle contraction and relaxing your features’. Available over the counter, benefits apparently include ‘skin that is visibly firmer after just one hour’, along with long-term skin perks:

“After just 30 days of continual use, both the depth and length of wrinkles showed a marked reduction - skin was generally smoother and firmer, " says the website.

The above is apparently achieved by way of the fragrance-free gel’s primary ingredient, three per cent spilanthol, a herbal extract which has anaesthetic properties to ‘numb’ facial muscles. It all sounds a bit too good to be true, and facial aesthetic specialist Dr Maryam Zamani laments that it probably is:

“I’ve read up about Biotulin, but I’ve not tried it personally yet. It really cannot claim to be a ‘topical organic Botox’, as it does not paralyze the muscles that cause facial movement for extended periods of time. Its mechanism of activity and duration are not at all similar and should not be referred to as similar.”

“Biotulin contains a herbal local anaesthetic spilanthol. Anaesthetics can work by blocking the nerve that causes movement temporarily, whereas Botox is a neurotoxin that blocks neurotransmission to the muscle rendering it inactive for prolonged period of 3-6 months. I am skeptical that Biotulin can completely block muscle movement but I have not had any experience with it. Its other two main ingredients are a local anaesthetic extract from the plant acmella oleracea and hyaluron that provides hydration to the skin. Hydrated skin always looks less wrinkled than dry skin, so that’s something.”

“In the short term, theoretically it can help soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles for up to 24 hours. There are several drawbacks to note, however. It has not had any long-term studies on safety and efficacy as it is a cosmeceutical, and there have been no peer reviewed scientific evidence to substantiate its claims. It is not classified as a drug or FDA approved and therefore has not gone through the safety measures that should be put into place for all so-called active products. As before, it is temporary, meaning it needs to be applied daily for best results, and the muscular contractions and wrinkles will not be as affected with a topical treatment compared with Botox.”

So far, it seems to be bad news for Biotulin, although Dr Zamani highlights that there could be a bright side to the £37 treatment:

“It has a temporary effect, so if you don’t like the results, there’s no need to continue using it. Also anything that helps to hydrate the skin will make the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles seem less severe.”

Without concrete evidence and further studies, Biotulin’s benefits seem overblown, and we would all be wise to be wary of a product pushed by celebrity culture (specifically Kardashian-led). Nevertheless, there are silver linings to consider, and Dr Zamani assures us that a non-injectable Botox equivalent shouldn’t be too far off:

“There is no topical Botox alternative available as of yet on the market, but there will be soon, and it will be an FDA approved product.”

We’ll be waiting it out, but if you’re curious, a vial of Biotulin won’t break the bank.

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