I’m no stranger to Botox. I’ve been a fan of the muscle paralyzer for nearly eight years—about the same time I first noticed a deep line between my eyebrows. I don’t do anything too crazy, just enough to get that smooth appearance—and, honestly, the younger look—that I crave.
The compromise? My wallet is always lighter once I get those needle injections at my plastic surgeon’s office. While it’s a trade I’m more than willing to make, I do admit that my ears perked up when I received several emails promoting a new “organic” form of botox known as Biotulin that’s supposedly the beauty secret of celebrities like former First Lady Michelle Obama, the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, and Meghan Markle.
“An insider revealed to the International Business Times UK, that Meghan is against Botox and uses Biotulin, an organic Botox gel made in Germany by Dr. Claus Bruer. Since Kate also uses Biotulin, the insider assumes that she gave Meghan the tip,” Vogue España wrote in 2017.
Another one of these emails claims that Kim Kardashian bought the rights to sell Biotulin, though I have yet to see new Biotulin gel on the e-shelves of KKW Beauty yet. My B.S. radar is pretty strong on this one. A cheap Botox alternative? Yeah, right.
But to be sure, I enlisted the help of a skincare expert who clued me in to what’s inside the Biotulin tube and let me know what this so-called topical Botox can—and can’t do in my skincare routine.
What Is Biotulin—and Can It Actually Work?
Yes, Biotulin is a real product for sale, but does it work as well as Botox for anti-aging?
“The answer is a hard no,” says Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist based in New York City.
A little primer on Botox: It’s the brand name for a botulinum toxin that comes from Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium.
You’ve probably heard of botulism, a serious poisoning, that comes from this same bacterium. One of the side effects of ingesting Clostridium botulinum is paralysis. That’s understandably terrifying, but small, diluted amounts of it can work to paralyze just the muscle it’s injected into (like the muscles that control my furrowed brow).
Why is this important? Because a paralyzed muscle cannot contract so it weakens and softens the wrinkles it creates.
Biotulin organic gel products, on the other hand, are made of main ingredients like Spilanthol. Taken from the plant Acmella Oleracea (paracress), Spilanthol is used as a local anesthetic in certain countries, as well as a treatment for malaria.
The idea is that Biotulin numbs the muscles, leading to almost instant results for all skin types that can last up to 24 hours. So while Botox is injected into the muscle, Biotulin products—like Biotulin Supreme Skin Gel, DayNite24+, and eyeMATRIX—can only be applied topically like other skincare products (lotion, moisturizer, hyaluronic acid serum, eye cream, etc.).
It sounds great in theory, but it won’t work. “The only way to prevent and soften dynamic lines [wrinkles] is by paralyzing the muscles of facial expression.”
Reviews online are mostly the same: It doesn’t do what it claims and their skin looks pretty much the same—or sometimes worse.
“The skin gel is supposed to tighten your face for 24 hours to minimize wrinkles. However, it did not hide even my tiniest shallow wrinkle. Do not buy, a complete waste of money!” one reviewer wrote on Amazon.
Another said it actually made her wrinkles worse.
“I’ve been using this product for four days now, and my skin has gotten progressively drier and more irritated,” the reviewer wrote. “The fine lines around my eyes look like full-on crow’s feet today.”
The Bottom Line on Organic Botox: Skip It
So while it might seem like a dream come true to find a topical Botox alternative, the tried-and-true method of eliminating my wrinkles is what I’ll stick to for the foreseeable future (along with daily applications of my favorite retinol cream, of course).
“If it sounds too good to be true, it most certainly is,” adds Dr. Mudgil.
Meagan Morris is the editor in chief of Celebribody. She's veteran health and wellness editor with over 15 years of experience. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic, Yahoo Health, Cosmopolitan, SELF, and Women's Health, among others. She spends most of her time writing, but her favorite part of the day is spent under a barbell doing squats.