What is it? You might be surprised to learn that GABA — or gamma amino butyric acid — is something that's naturally produced in our bodies that's necessary for our brains to function normally. Essentially, GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that decreases or inhibits nerve and muscle function.
But what does this mean for your skin? Dermatologist Audrey Kunin tells Health magazine that nerve and muscle movements play a role in the formation of wrinkles. When using GABA topically — in skin creams or lotions, for example — it might help to relax facial nerves and muscles that create lines and wrinkles, she adds.
Dr. Barry Eppley, board-certified plastic surgeon, notes that GABA is a peptide, which he says is important for building up collagen formation. Collagen helps to keep skin firm, filling out lines and wrinkles for smoother skin.
You'll find it in: GABA is often found in anti-aging products — in particular, products that treat lines, wrinkles and crow's feet. Some consider GABA products as alternatives to Botox, because they address lines and wrinkles without painful, expensive injections, writes family and health author Anne Marier. Essentially, Botox works by paralyzing muscles that cause wrinkles, and GABA works by relaxing nerves and muscles. However, Dr. Eppley cautions against comparing GABA directly to Botox, saying it's "a stretch."
Our product picks: Though GABA isn't Botox in a jar, it's an exciting ingredient that can minimize the look of your lines and wrinkles. And fortunately, you've got many options for GABA products, so relax — your lines and wrinkles will, too. Check out these GABA goodies.
- Dr. Brandt Crease Release relaxes muscles to help diminish the look of lines and wrinkles.
- Tracie Martyn Enzyme Exfoliant sloughs away dry dead cells for a smoother look and feel. Apply a small amount, and then rinse with warm water after five to 15 minutes. You'll not only improve lines and wrinkles, but also sun damage, redness and acne breakouts.
- pH Advantage Peptides Rhydex-2 uses GABA to relax muscles, peptides to build collagen and pigments that reflect light, decreasing the look of wrinkles.
- Freeze 24/7 Anti-Wrinkle Cream helps to plump skin and makes lines and wrinkles less apparent. It works on crow's feet, brow lines and lip lines. It's hypoallergenic and non-irritating.
What to expect: According to Marier, products containing GABA yield instant results, and the improvement typically lasts as long as 10 hours. And you can safely re-apply the products again at that time, she adds. Further research on topical GABA will provide more information about results.
Who should avoid it: GABA is ideal for all skin types. If you're unsure about the best product for you, pay a visit to your dermatologist.
Learn everything you need to know about anti-aging skincare in our Anti-Aging Handbook.