- Botox is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
- But it can be expensive and come with side effects like bruising or headaches.
- A dermatologist suggests trying other anti-aging products before dropping thousands on botox.
On “Sex and the City,” Samantha Jones made it clear there was something she trusted much more than marriage. “Now, Botox…that works every time,” she famously quipped.
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She’s not the only one who feels that way: Botox has seen a major boom in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, and its ubiquity doesn’t appear to be dying down.
When properly injected, neurotoxins like Botox and its cousin, Dysport, are “one of the best tools in our toolbelt to treat the appearance of aging skin,” Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Department of Dermatology in New York City, told Insider.
Botox is usually used to treat lines on the forehead and around the eyes, while Dysport is only approved for use on vertical “frown lines” between the eyebrows. By preventing facial muscles from contracting, both substances help creases fill out on their own.
Of course, there are some setbacks to getting these popular cosmetic treatments. Zeichner said they’re not recommended for people with neurological conditions that affect the nerves and the muscles, like myasthenia gravis. He also said it’s not a pain-free experience, and some people have headaches or bruising for up to two weeks after injection.
Then there’s the money: Cosmetic Botox isn’t covered by insurance, and prices averaged at around $466 per session in 2020. Most clients typically have to return every 3-6 months to keep seeing results, which could cost up to $2,000 a year.
So, what can you do if you want to reduce wrinkles, but don’t want to drop that much cash? Zeichner said that while anti-aging creams can’t offer immediate results the way Botox can, when used long-term they can help reduce wrinkles at a much lower cost.
Try skincare products with retinol, glycolic acid, or peptides
Zeichner recommended using anti-aging creams with ingredients like retinol, glycolic acid, and peptides to help stimulate collagen, thicken the skin and improve the appearance of fine lines. “They can also help the skin resist wrinkling in the future,” he said.
His favorite products include:
- RoC Derm Correxion Fill + Treat Serum ($39), which he said “combines stabilized retinol with hyaluronic acid to plump the skin and treat wrinkles at the same time.”
- Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum ($134), which “contains a blend of hydroxy acids to exfoliate and brighten the skin while improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.”
- Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Moisturizer ($27.50), a night cream that includes “a peptide to strengthen the skin and improve wrinkling, while maintaining skin hydration and barrier function,” he said.
Zeichner also said that if you feel like you aren’t seeing results with an over-the-counter retinol, you can talk to a dermatologist about prescription versions. He recommended Altreno, a prescription retinol lotion in a “non-irritating” formula. While it’s intended to treat acne, he said its active ingredient, tretinoin, is a retinoid known for its anti-aging benefits.
Don’t forget to use sunscreen every day for prevention
But ultimately, the most important part of an anti-aging routine is your sunscreen, Zeichner said. “Primary prevention of damage from UV is more effective than any other ingredient or treatment.” That means investing in a high-quality sunscreen and reapplying every day, even if you’re indoors.
He advised to look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen (which means it’ll protect against both UVA and UVB rays) that’s at least SPF 30. His favorite is Eucerin Age Defense SPF 50, which also protects against visible light and therefore offers extra wrinkle-reduction perks.