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In lieu of finding the actual fountain of youth, humans have used various means to reverse the effects of time on our skin. We’ve recently started using Botox, which was first approved for cosmetic use in 2002.

What was once reserved for aging celebs has now become a common way to improve the signs of aging. But this invasive procedure comes with its fair share of risks. Many of these downsides outweigh the rewards of smooth, wrinkle-free skin.

The Bad Side Of Botox

Syringes on a pink background
(Ivanova Tanja/Shutterstock.com)

Botox uses botulinum toxin to block nerve signals that cause muscles to contract. As a result, Botox relaxes the muscles that cause wrinkles. The skin appears smoother and more supple. However, this is only temporary.

“Surgical solutions such as Botox provide a quick fix,” explains cosmetic chemist Dr. Marta Poza. These quick fixes often revert the skin to the same or worse as it was pre-injection. “Your skin is not going to like anything that doesn’t naturally occur. So, it will fight back against it, especially when a toxin is involved.”

Senior cosmetic scientist for Invity, Priya V., says this kickback can happen four to six months post-injection “without any permanent benefit to the skin.” Botox rejection symptoms include pain, lopsided features, and eye dryness. More severe symptoms, like muscle weakness or vision problems, are also possible.

Natural Solutions To Botox

Botox is temporary, risky, and expensive. The average round of Botox injections costs hundreds of dollars. Considering you can expect these effects to diminish (or even worsen) within four to six months, is that investment even worth it?

We didn’t think so, and neither do these experts. Here’s what to do instead.

1. Using The Right Ingredients (In The Right Order)

Woman applies skin cream in mirror dressed in robe
(Jacob Lund/Shutterstock.com)

If you want to mimic the effects of Botox without injections, then you’ll need to pay close attention to the ingredients in your skincare. And as Dr. Cheryl Rosen, Director of Dermatology at Bowtiedlife.com, explains, the order in which you use them matters, too.

“First, begin by using a gentle cleanser every morning and evening. A good rule of thumb is to choose one that doesn’t contain soap (like this gentle cleanser from Garnier), which can be harsh on aging skin,” Rosen begins.

“Second, use an antioxidant serum or moisturizer with SPF in the morning, followed by your foundation and other makeup. At night, apply your retinol product (if you’re using one), then your moisturizer. Women over 40 can get smooth and supple skin without Botox by using natural ingredients that help replace and rejuvenate the skin.”

Rosen explains that these ingredients include Vitamin A-derived retinoids (like this texture-improving option from Naturium), which “are one of the most effective ingredients for reversing signs of aging. They help increase collagen production, reduce wrinkles, and improve complexion.”

Rosen also lists peptides as important, which are “small chains of amino acids that help stimulate collagen production and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.” Additionally, antioxidants help further by “scavenging harmful toxins and free radicals that can cause damage to cells, leading to premature aging.” To get both of these powerhouse ingredients in one product, we love this hydrating face serum from PCA Skin.

2. Actively Protect Against Aging

Woman in her early 60s with glowing skin
(fizkes/Shutterstock.com)

We often think of external factors contributing to our skin’s appearance, but what we put in our bodies is important, too. One of the major causes of skin aging is glucose metabolism, explains Eugene He, skin researcher and CPO at Invity.

“Glucose metabolism [is] a normal human activity which produces advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in the body. AGEs not only inhibit the production of collagen; it also accelerates its degradation in the skin. This results in the formation of wrinkles, enlarged pores, and dry skin.”

“Anti-glycative ingredients are commonly plant-derived antioxidants found in tea, algae, flowers, and berries,” He continues. “Consuming these foods and reducing dietary sugar will reduce the accumulation of AGEs in the body.”

Herbal-infused green teas like mint and verbena have been shown to have potent anti-glycation abilities that exceed that of green tea alone. For a tasty option to enjoy at home, we love this Organic Moroccan Mint Green Tea for its refreshing bright, crisp flavors.

In addition to consuming anti-glucative ingredients, it’s important to avoid foods that promote AGEs. This includes animal products high in protein and fat like meat and dairy. Sugary, highly processed foods are also high in AGEs.

3. Put Some Elbow Grease Into It

Woman in her 60s touching face, showcasing great skin.
(insta_photos/Shutterstock.com)

Sometimes you need a little elbow grease to get the job done, and skincare is no exception. Director of Product Development at City Beauty Jess Hernandez recommends a five-minute facelift massage.

“In addition to minimizing stress, massaging your face can boost your body’s natural collagen levels and stimulate blood flow, drawing more nutrients to the skin’s surface. The process can also depuff under-eyes and other parts of the face holding extra fluid.”

Moreover, this quick and easy massage “soothes eye strain, delays the appearance of wrinkles, invigorates tired skin cells for a brighter appearance, and promotes a tighter, more lifted, and more supple look.”

4. Alternative No-Needle Procedures

Woman receiving laser facial treatment
(BearFotos/Shutterstock.com)

Dr. Jeffrey Hsu, founder of Oak Dermatology, says there’s no true alternative to Botox. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Botox might produce noticeable results, but it does so at the expense of injecting harmful toxins into your body.

Luckily, “there are still other treatments that can improve the appearance of the skin,” Hsu explains. “Resurfacing lasers such as the Alma Hybrid of Sciton Halo can smooth the surface texture and improve the appearance of wrinkles. Microneedling can also benefit by stimulating collagen production.”

“Another option for those that may be Botox-resistant or allergic to toxins (but not opposed to injectables) is skillful injection of fillers,” Hsu continues. This can “smooth out or fill in certain types of wrinkles to mimic the effect of Botox. I do caution that this is something that should only be performed by a seasoned provider.”

Just because Botox is more common doesn’t mean you should hop on the needle (er, bandwagon). Pazos says she has yet to meet someone who says they have had a surgical procedure and are a happy customer without buyers’ remorse.

“More and more people are realizing that the photoshopping trend of Insta models is just that, a trend,” Pazos says. “It’s okay to show signs of aging, just minimized. So, you look like a healthy and happy version of you.”

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