In the fast-paced, technology-ridden world we live in today, time is the biggest luxury. Emergence of new scientific breakthroughs have placed game-changing skincare in the horizon: Medicalised skincare with the efficacy and efficiency of clinical treatments promises the precious gift of time for youthful skin, but without the pain, risks and downtime of facing the scalpel or needle. So while we can’t actually buy time, these two youth elixirs of the future will come pretty close.




Pacemaker, Penicillin and Post-it notes, are all great discoveries made by accident. The newest addition to the list of serendipitous success stories: XAF5. It sounds like a new addition to the Star Wars makeup line, and although it’s not, it may be more magical – this eye cream literally dissolves away unwanted fat below your eyes.




A fat-melting cream is at the top of many people’s beauty wish lists, but it has always been squarely in the realm of science fiction. Until now. XAF5 is a new prescription topical fat-fighter that has entered the trial stages (first target: eyebags), and it was discovered entirely by chance very much like the famed lash growth enhancer, Latisse. Glaucoma patients taking part in a trial of a medication to reduce eye pressure noticed diminished fat pad in the treated under eye. Seeing the possibilities, the ophthalmologists leading the study developed a non-irritating prescription skin ointment using the same molecule that was in the eyedrops to shrink the eyebag fat, without decompressing the eyeball, that is.


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A result of genes or age, those fat-filled lower lid festoons blow our beauty spots regardless. Currently, the surgical lower blepharoplasty is the weapon-of-choice in the battle of the eye baggage, with alternative in-office arsenal such as powerful yet eye-friendly lid toning lasers, Thermage radiofrequency skin tightening treatment, or natural fillers to mask the appearance of eye bags by smoothing the lid-cheek contour. So when study subjects age 40 to 70 saw improvement in their eyebags in just five weeks after using the ointment nightly, looked more rested and youthful in ten weeks, with 85 percent of them feeling “satisfied”, a star was born.


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While XAF5 appears to be bleph in a bottle to us, Michael Singer (ophthalmologist leading this study) predicts the first patients for this topical eyelift miracle will be holdouts, people who have been resisting surgery. “It’s not a replacement for surgery,” he says. “It’s a complement.” The medication binds to fat cells, and makes them spew out their contents, thereby deflating. It also prevents new fat cells from forming. Discontinuation of  XAF5 reverses results. Though FDA approval may not come before 2018, studies are already underway to test XAF5 on double chin fat.

Next on Topokine’s agenda is TAT4, a gel formulated to increase fat using a variation of the same molecule. It could be used on the backs of hands, cheeks and necks, all areas that lose volume with age. Down the road, it may even be used “for breast augmentation”, says Singer.






Botox is big. Not just big as in popular (although with 6.3 million procedures in 2013, it’s definitely that too). But it is physically a really big molecule, which means it can’t get past the skin barrier. Plenty of people shudder at the mere thought of a flu shot, much less a series of pricks into delicate skin around the eyes. So a topical alternative? Very attractive.




Imagine the ease: A Botox gel simply rubbed into wrinkles to magically melt years off your face. That’s exactly what Revance Therapeutics, the California company behind what might be the world’s first topical formulation of botulinum toxin type A has created. Named RT001, this “topica-tox” has entered the next phase of the FDA-approval process for the treatment of crow’s feet.

The secret lies in TransMTS, a sophisticated peptide delivery system to shuttle the large Botox molecule through the skin and get it to the needed depth without injections. Once the RT001 gel is applied to the skin and left there for about 30 minutes, it penetrates the skin and delves deeper, ferrying and releasing liquid youth at its target to unknot wrinkle-causing hyperactive muscles. Microinjections do the same thing, but arrive at the target via the tip of a needle.


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Trial results are impressive. 89 percent of study participants saw their crow’s feet ease away after a single treatment, with no significant side effects. Its effects are said to be soft and natural as the wrinkle relaxer diffuses very evenly to the muscle, and are reported to last three to four months (similar to injectable formulations). Still, for deeper lines on thicker skin, such as the frown lines between the brows, it remains to be seen if RT001 can keep up with an injectable. Like the fat-melting eye cream, it won’t be easy to get your hands on: The RT001 gel will be available only by doctor’s prescription and as an in-office procedure done by trained clinicians.


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For those with a phobia of both needles and wrinkles, this could be a game changer. But what’s exciting to doctors is the technology itself. This delivery method opens up doors for delivering other potent anti-ageing ingredients through the skin.

In the end, the FDA will decide when we’re ready for the topica-tox (Revance hopes to report data from phase 3 trials by year’s end). In the meantime, there’s the multi award-winning Sloane Inc. Miracle Lift to plump fine lines and enhance skin elasticity with collagen-boosting peptides and niacinamide; Dr Brandt’s Needle No More wrinkle-smoothing cream; and Rodial Glamoxy Snake Serum that mimics the effect of temple viper venom to freeze lines. Needles or not, the future looks smoother already.



– By Michelle Wenli 


*This article has been selected Editor’s Choice for Mar 2016*