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By Elise Tabin
As the saying goes, “there’s nothing like the real thing.” But when the real thing—in this case, Botox—isn’t in the cards for whatever reason, there are alternative options that offer up smooth, wrinkleless skin without yielding a needle anywhere near the face. Sure, the mechanism of action is entirely different—Botox uses an FDA-approved toxin to reduce unwanted lines and wrinkles for a few months at most. In contrast, these needleless solutions rely on everything from supercharged active ingredients to simple hydrators and even state-of-the-art technologies to create a crease-free face.
Although at-home products and tools that hinder the formation of wrinkles do indeed work, the longevity of their results probably doesn’t stack up the same as what Botox offers, so consistency is majorly vital here. And your toxin-less option does not have to break the bank–nope, not at all. There are plenty of options that run the gamut from affordable to oh-my-gosh-is-that-ridiculously-expensive—remember it’s all about what works for you, your needs, your beauty routine, and your wallet.
Whatever the reason for opting not to use toxins, these are the closest options for sending those wrinkles packing.
This handheld at-home device counts microcurrent and nano current technology as its wrinkle-zapping powers, which sync up with an app that walks you through various treatments depending on the area you want to target. Microcurrent, which is in a bevy of at-home tools and professional treatments, uses electrical currents to deliver the energy down to the deepest layers of the skin to prompt collagen and elastin production for firmer, smoother skin.
Its results are relatively instant, and there’s zero downtime, which makes it a plus for those looking for more of a quick fix. However, the more you use the device, the smoother the skin becomes (it also provides instant wrinkle-reducing effects that last 48 to 72 hours). We especially like it for giving a natural lift to the brow area, similar to a Botox browlift sans the injections.
Retinol is a doctor’s favorite, and many recommend it for at-home use in tandem with in-office Botox treatments for youthful, glowy skin. One of many reasons retinol is beloved is that it helps soften wrinkles by increasing collagen production and speeding up the rate of cell turnover. It’s also perhaps one of the most widely scientifically studied and validated ingredients with proven data behind its ability to lessen wrinkles, thwart their formation, and improve the look of the skin.
But not every skin type can handle the side effects that come along with retinol, like redness, flaking, and irritation. That’s where bakuchiol, a retinol alternative, comes in. This lightweight oil harnesses the power of the wrinkle-fighting ingredients alongside antioxidants like vitamin E, sunflower seed, and rosehip seed oil for super soft, super smooth skin.
Another at-home device that works to improve skin tone and firmness is this one, which combines two technologies to delay the common signs of aging, like fine lines and wrinkles. The handheld, FDA-cleared device harnesses the power of radiofrequency (RF) energy and ELV, a specialized vibration for optimal device functionality that also encourages muscle tightening.
By delivering a steady stream of RF to the dermis, the tool stimulates collagen production and repairs elastin that has become damaged to reshape the jawline—an off-label use of Botox (dermatologists and plastic surgeons inject it into the jaw muscle to soften a square jawline). As a result, you can expect tighter, smoother, more lifted skin that rivals in-office procedures.
Peptides are another wrinkle-deleting, skin-rejuvenating ingredient that can positively impact the skin. Peptides are the secret sauce in this groundbreaking serum, which counts 1,500 bio-active proteins, collagens, and signaling factors to transform the skin by improving and supporting communication from within.
This wrinkle-filling formula, which ‘spackles’ wrinkles and halts new ones from developing, comes from renowned plastic surgeons Drs. John Layke and Payman Danielpour. The blurring product relies on a bio-lifting technology, polymers, and light-reflecting diamond powder to fill in visible lines, wrinkles, and creases for younger-looking skin–and fast. To use it, apply a bit of product directly over a wrinkle and pat the area until it’s seamlessly blended into the skin.
If doctor-administered micro-needling treatments are a little more than what you bargain for, know that the at-home variety is an option, too. This micro-needling tool revives skin by stimulating collagen production–think of this one as a dialed-down adaptation of the professional ones. After treating the 11s, nasolabial folds, and the rest of the face, neck, and décolleté, apply your favorite wrinkle-smoothing serum for enhanced absorption and penetration.
Red light is the unsung hero of the wrinkle-reducing community. This long-used technology helps improve the skin by stimulating collagen production deep within. According to Dr. Dennis Gross, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, red light connects to a “solar panel-like receptor, which signals the fibroblast cell deep in the skin to stimulate collagen production. “Think of collagen like the tent poles that hold the skin up—more collagen equals firmer skin with diminished fine lines and wrinkles,” he says.
“At-home technology has improved leaps and bounds over the past five years, and they are now becoming a staple in at-home routines because they work,” he adds. This mask delivers a whopping 100 red lights for excellent wrinkle-smoothing capabilities deep within the skin—the longer the wavelength, the greater its ability to penetrate for a noticeable difference. Bonus: the three-minute mask also comes equipped with a blue light mode to decrease redness and destroy the bacteria that causes breakouts.
Within the peptide world, there are a few specific ones, like Argireline, that are said to mimic the effects of Botox by working on how the nerves and muscles communicate. This one packs a powerful punch of Argireline, along with SNAP-8, which helps reduce muscle contractions to soften the look of expression lines and smooth out the skin’s texture.
Botox is loved for its ability to smooth out the dreaded wrinkles that like to take up home smack in between the eyebrows—also known as the 11s. These reusable medical-grade silicone patches fit precisely over the brow area to create gentle compression while simultaneously infusing the skin with a dose of hydration. After wearing the patch for a few hours or while sleeping, skin emerges smooth and less wrinkled upon removing the patch.
Injectable neuromodulators do an excellent job of diminishing the appearance of existing wrinkles and even preventing them from occurring in the first place. And if those two requests sit high at the top of your priority list, then a few shots of Botox work well for those exact purposes. This luxurious, thick cream works on similar principles to smooth out current wrinkles and prevent new ones from forming with six high-performance active ingredients—perfect for dry skin that demands hydration and wrinkle-fighting power.