Aging gracefully means something different for everyone. When it comes specifically to skin care, some turn to Botox while others embrace a mature look. Then there are those who fall somewhere in between.
If you’re not interested in something as invasive ― or expensive ― as Botox but want to do something to improve the appearance of your skin, we (and dermatologists) have good news: There are plenty of ways to minimise fine lines and wrinkles without injectables.
Here’s how injectables work, in case you’re still wondering.
According to Dr. Jeannette Graf, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, Botox works by relaxing “specific muscles in the face to decrease lines that are caused by repeated movements to create “a lifted, relaxed look.”
In a story previously published by HuffPost, cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Peterson Pierre explained that Botox is produced from the same toxin that causes botulism: “The signal from the nerve to the muscle telling it to flex is blocked by Botox, thereby relaxing the muscle and improving lines and wrinkles.”
There are several other injectables that produce a similar effect, including Dysport, Xeomin, Jeveau and Daxxify. Dr. Dustin Portela, a board-certified dermatologist at Treasure Valley Dermatology in Idaho, explained that these injectables “all use the same active agent as Botox, botulinum toxin type A,” but have different carrier proteins that cause them to work a little differently.
None of these injectables remove wrinkles permanently, but if they are used regularly they can continue to soften lines “by decreasing repeated movements, which can cause them to deepen again,” Graf said.
Are there less-invasive procedures that work just as well as Botox?
If you aren’t opposed to a procedure but don’t want to use neurotoxins (Botox), there are alternatives. But Graf said that “nothing can take the place of a neurotoxin,” so no one should expect the same result as Botox with other treatments.
However, she explained that “rejuvenation procedures such as laser resurfacing, chemical peels and microneedling can be helpful in diminishing the look of lines while improving overall skin aging” without the use of neurotoxins.
Can topical products reduce the appearance of wrinkles?
Those who don’t want to, or can’t, use more invasive procedures can take steps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles at home. Portela advised that “nothing you apply topically will have the same effect as Botox.” Nevertheless, Graf said that “retinol is a good anti-aging ingredient” because it “boosts collagen production and can prevent fine lines and wrinkles after a period of long-term use.”
Portela also recommended using products with vitamin C to help protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals, hyaluronic acid to help “plump up” the skin, niacinamide to help improve skin texture, and peptides to stimulate collagen production and improve skin texture.
How can you prevent fine lines and wrinkles?
It’s never too late to start taking steps to reduce the signs of aging.
“Wearing SPF, applying moisturiser and staying hydrated are some daily practices that can improve the look and feel of skin,” Graf said. Adding a hat and sunglasses offers even more protection.
For a simple at-home routine to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, Graf recommended cleansing the skin in the morning and then using an antioxidant and sun protection. “Bedtime is for skin renewal,” she said. Before going to sleep, Graf recommended cleansing the skin again, followed by “gentle exfoliation and retinol.”
In addition, Graf said that a “healthy lifestyle overall is the best counter to fine lines and wrinkles.” According to Portela, if you “drink plenty of water, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep” it’s possible to improve the look of your skin without the use of any procedures or special products.
Can makeup help reduce the appearance of wrinkles?
Another way to reduce the appearance of wrinkles without any Botox is to use makeup effectively.
Hydrating your skin with lightweight moisturisers before applying makeup will help plump up the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, said makeup artist Lidia Najera. Makeup artist Elaina Badro said that “priming skin before foundation application is very important if you want to minimise the appearance of fine lines via makeup” because it “helps to fill pores, lines, and blur imperfections.
Next, Najera recommended using liquid foundations and concealers instead of creams. “Liquid products are more lightweight and won’t sink into your wrinkles ... these formulas also won’t crease during the day.” Najera also recommended applying all products with a light touch to avoid anything settling into fine lines and wrinkles, which will accentuate their appearance.
After priming, Matthew Waitesmith, a makeup artist and founder of Artis, said to use makeup that will create a “blurring effect” by minimising the “textures and patterns” on your skin. To test whether a product will create this effect or will instead enhance the look of wrinkles, Waitesmith recommended putting “a little layer of product on the palm of your hand” and assessing whether the creases on your palm appear more or less prominent. “If you see a more defined skin pattern and texture where you put the product, then the pigments used in that formula are probably not great” at minimising wrinkles, he said. Waitesmith recommended going through a trial-and-error process “until you see a result that looks more smooth and less defined in terms of skin pattern.”
Another trick Waitesmith recommended to minimise the appearance of wrinkles is distraction.
“For example, if you don’t want people to be focused on the area under your eye where you believe you have lines and wrinkles, then distract their attention elsewhere ... with a noticeable and beautiful lip colour and really define your lips so they look full and luscious,” he suggested. “Or sculpt and refine your eyebrows.”