The medication doesn't contain "unnecessary proteins"—here's what that means.

By Leah Groth
September 18, 2020
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Just a few years ago, Gwyneth Paltrow swore that she'd never "do Botox again," in an interview with Harper's Bazaar. The award-winning actress, author, and businesswoman revealed she had a bad experience with the injectable. "I looked crazy. I looked like Joan Rivers!" she said. But this week, the Goop founder revealed that she's been relying on another anti-wrinkle medication to smooth her facial lines for the last few years. 

In a new interview with People, Paltrow, 47, announced that now she's not only a fan of Xeomin—a prescription injectable for frown lines between the eyebrows—but she's also recently partnered with them as the global face of the brand.

"I eat well. I exercise. I have amazing Goop products and everything. But sometimes you just need a little extra help," she told the magazine. After Paltrow tried it—as recommended to her by a plastic surgeon friend—she was obsessed with the "natural result," she said. "I just felt like, oh I look like I just had a really good nap or something."

Paltrow also said she was impressed with Xeomin's "clean" label. "Finding highly purified and proven products is so important. That’s one of the many reasons I started using Xeomin a few years ago," she said. She also opened up about her partnership in a new Instagram post. "I was excited to try @xeominaesthetic (incobotulinumtoxinA) for my frown lines, it’s a uniquely purified anti-wrinkle injection that does not contain any unnecessary proteins. I am a big fan," she said.

Clearly, Xeomin's got the Goop seal of approval—but what exactly is this injectable, and how does it differ from Botox? Here's what you need to know.

What is Xeomin?

Xeomin—which is owned by Merz Aesthetics—is a prescription medication and used to temporarily improve the look of wrinkles between the eyebrows, known as the "eleven" or glabellar lines. The medication is injected into the muscles around the area in a 10- to 20-minute office procedure, according to Xeomin's website.

Xeomin contains botulinum toxin type A, a protein purified from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. (Note that while this is the same toxin that causes botulism, a rare but serious illness that attacks the body's nerves, botulinum toxin has benefits when used correctly and in small doses.)

The injectable works as a neuromodulator to help relax lines caused by repeated facial expressions (like furrowing or raising your eyebrows), Kathleen C. Suozzi, MD, director of aesthetic dermatology at Yale Medicine and an assistant professor Yale University, tells Health. "It works by relaxing facial muscles to soften lines around the eyes, forehead, and mouth,” she says. The results of the injectable lasts for up to three months, per the product's website. 

Botox—another injectable that works to reduce fine lines—is also made from botulinum toxin type A, but Xeomin differentiates itself from Botox and other neuromodulators by omitting accessory proteins (it's why you may hear that Xeomin has "unnecessary proteins"), Nazanin Saedi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Thomas Jefferson University, tells Health.

In Botox and other injectables, those accessory proteins (technically called neurotoxin-associated proteins, or NAPs) help to stabilize the molecules of botulinum toxin, and aren't essential to its function. There's a theory that those accessory proteins may trigger an immune response in your body to the product—and that Xeomin's omission of those proteins may help protect against that, Lucy Chen, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist of Riverchase Dermatology in Miami, tells Health. But that's still just a theory. "There are no significant studies to prove this," Dr. Chen says. 

The lack of extra proteins in Xeomin may also prove to be "less allergenic," Dr. Saedi says, though that has yet to be proven, too. But for right now, "[Xeomin] has the same effect as Botox to relax the muscle," she says. "The company-sponsored studies show that it is not inferior to Botox and has similar efficacy."

And as for the claims that Xeomin is "purified" or "cleaner" compared to other injectables, Dr. Suozzi says "it is a simpler, smaller molecule when compared to other neuromodulators," but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a "clean" version of Botox. Dr. Saedi adds that, while Xeomin is “more purified in that it does not have the accessory proteins around the neurotoxin, at the end of the day, it is still a botulinum toxin.”

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