I suspect that many of us have thought about Botox and felt the lure of a quick fix for those pesky forehead lines. But there is a little wrinkle for Botox. Research from Harvard Medical School shows that Botox attacks neurons (the nerve cells that are the basic building block of the nervous system), but stops short of killing them off.
I’ve been put off by the potential health risks for some years. Back in 2008, alarm signals were sounded by a study claiming that injected botulinum toxin can travel to the brain, degrading proteins. My poor old brain does not need its protein degraded. So, what’s a girl to do?
I don’t know of anything that can replicate becalmed lake quite the way that Botox does. And I’m not at all impressed by the so-called Botox mimicking peptides that act on the proteins that cause muscles to move, such as argireline. These peptides never seem to really work, and I’m not sure that I’d want them to, since an immobilized muscle becomes an atrophied muscle and that leads to sagging (one of the other issues that I have with Botox). But there are some other solutions that I’ll keep working with — until I find better (or succumb to the big B).
1. Ultrasound or Microcurrent
Regular monthly microcurrent sessions with my esthetician and my at-home arsenal of ultrasound and microcurrent devices are what’s kept me from running and screaming to the nearest doctor with a needle. Non-invasive and utterly painless, regular use does result in firmer, lifted skin. Note that I said regular — unlike with Botox, results are not instant but cumulative over time and dependent on a regimen of at least three times a week.
Microcurrent works by delivering a tiny charge that stimulates facial muscles. Face and neck muscles feel toned — the equivalent of having done bicep curls. For an at-home microcurrent device, I recommend the Myotone Facial Toning System ($279).
With ultrasound, the waves pass from the treatment head into the skin, where they cause a vibration of the surrounding tissues, particularly those that contain collagen. For at-home ultrasound devices, Truth Renew and Ultra Renew Plus are two top choices.
2. Peptides (But Not Just Any Old Peptide)
Forget those peptides that inhibit muscle movement and hit the ones that improve elasticity and firmness. Look for serums that contain ChroNOline, Relistase and TT2.
ChroNOline, the name given to caprooyl tetrapeptide-3, is derived from a growth factor, namely TGF-ß, and stimulates production of laminin 5 (as well as collagen VII). By stimulating laminin 5 synthesis, the formation of the basement membrane is given a significant boost. And the basement membrane is like the skin’s scaffolding. This baby is anti-sag. You can find ChroNOline in the new (and very good) eye serum, Prana Precious Fluids ($135).
Relistase is actually a tripeptide and inhibits elastase activity and boosts collagen 1 synthesis. It has also been designed to treat sagginess and restore firmness to the skin. You can find Relistase in the facial serum Your Best Face Control ($160 in the shop), which also has Syn-Hycan.
TT2, or trifluoroacetyl tripeptide-2, works by inhibiting elastase (an enzyme that attacks structural proteins). You can find TT2 in E'shee Clinical Esthetic Alpha and Omega Gene Therapy Eye Cream ($284 in the shop).
3. Growth Factors
Human fibroblast conditioned media, or human adipose stem cells, or epidermal growth proteins are comprised of different proteins, and although they all send signals to cells, their roles differ. TGF-b stimulates collagen production, among other things. FGF-1 is a family of growth factors involved in angiogenesis and wound healing. The thing to appreciate is that growth factors are wrinkle repairers — in fact, they're the best that I know of.
You can find growth factors in the aptly named Medik8 Growth Factor ($160), AQ Skin Solutions Active Serum ($149 in the shop), and Stemulation Facial Serum ($135).
LED or low level light therapy (LLL) is a wrinkle reducer and collagen booster — if you are willing to put the time in for three to five at-home sessions per week. Plenty of research attests to LED’s efficacy, such as a study in Denmark. Researchers in Germany concluded that LED works "by targeting water layers on elastin” and that, as a result, “facial wrinkle levels could be significantly reduced”.
You can find LED for use at home with the Baby Quasar PLUS ($399), which has red LED light and Ultra Renew Plus ($159), which in addition to ultrasound (see above) and ionic modes, has red, blue and green LED lights.
Marta Wohrle is an anti-aging skin care and beauty expert and the founder/CEO of Truth In Aging. Marta is dedicated to uncovering the truth behind anti-aging product claims.