Screw Botox: 5 Expert Tips for Reducing Wrinkles

5 Expert Tips for Getting Rid of Wrinkles
iStock/AntonioGuillem

Fine lines and wrinkles on the face are one of the most visible signs of aging. They happen as we age because collagen and elasticity which hold the skin in place begin to breakdown causing sagging and wrinkling of the skin. And while we’re told to go old gracefully that doesn’t mean that we can’t put up a fight against wrinkles. One of the most common tools for reducing wrinkles is Botox, but many of us find the idea of injecting this foreign agent into our skin to be far from appealing. If Botox isn’t your thing, not to worry, we’ve spoken with aestheticians, dermatologists, and beauty experts to unlock the most potent anti-wrinkle tools that don’t involve Botulism.

What is Botox?

Botox is made with botulism also known as Clostridium botulinum, an organism that’s naturally found in the environment. It’s a powerful neurotoxin that works by temporarily paralyzing the muscles of the face. It can also be used to treat excessive sweating, muscular disorders of the face, and migraines. While botulism is an extremely toxic nerve agent, when it’s used in tiny amounts, it is effective at reducing wrinkles. It works by preventing the release of acetylcholine—a neurotransmitter located where the nerve endings meet muscle cells—and preventing the muscle from contracting. Botox treatments usually last between three and four months, depending on the patient. Eventually, the signals begin to get through again and the skin begins to wrinkle.

How to Reduce Wrinkles Without Botox

When it comes to reducing wrinkles, most of us are well aware of the importance of drinking water, eating fruits and vegetables, sleeping, and avoiding smoking. But when it’s time to pull out the big guns, we’ve got a host of treatments that can dramatically reduce wrinkles, according to experts.

1. Chinese Medicine and Facial Rejuvenation

According to Dr. Elizabeth Trattner, an expert in acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with 25 years of training under Dr. Andrew Weil, many people are looking for ways to improve their skin without using harsh chemicals, or Botox to look younger and refreshed.

“Facial rejuvenation acupuncture or, cosmetic acupuncture, is a non-surgical modality of treatment for the improvement of the face. In addition to the many and varied health promoting effects throughout the body that regular acupuncture treats, facial rejuvenation acupuncture aims to correct the signs of aging by both local treatment and by treating the underlying causes of why an individual is specifically manifesting the aging process,” says Dr. Trattner. “Facial rejuvenation acupuncture is a painless, non-surgical method of reducing the signs of the aging process. It is a revitalization process designed to help the whole body look and feel younger. When acupuncture is combined with low levels of micro current it increases the production of both stem cells and blastocysts in the dermis promoting healthy new skin.”

2. Facial Rolling

Another technique used in TCM is facial rolling, which according to Dr. Trattner, uses jade rollers, or jade gua sha tools used to treat and create circulation on the face. She sites a study about gua sha and its efficacy when used on the face or skin. Facial massage, says Dr. Trattner, is another tool for turning back the hands of time.

“Facial massage, and massage done on a regular basis reduces puffiness because it creates lymphatic drainage, and removes toxins, (lymphatic drainage again),” says Dr. Trattner. “The combination of massage from the roller and the energetic properties of that specific mineral (jade, rose quartz, pearls) works.” Dr. Trattner says that she uses the jade rollers in her practice and that it improves microcirculation to the face which improves elasticity.

3. Vampire Facials

These are really popular right now. And while they don’t involve Botox, they may be freaky to those of us that want to go completely non-invasive. According to Dr. Joshua Zuckerman at Zuckerman Plastic Surgery, practitioners use a micro-needling device with or without a component of the body’s own blood, platelet-rich plasma.

“Micro-needling involves making shallow punctures in the skin to stimulate collagen production. When we combine this with the injection of platelet-rich plasma, known as the ‘vampire facial,’ [of which Kim Kardashian made famous] we inject a component of the blood into the living dermis that is rich in growth factors,” says Dr. Zuckerman.

4. Facial Exercises

A recent study published in JAMA Dermatology found that a facial exercise regimen made study participants look an average three years younger. The exercises, developed by Gary Sikorski, are called Happy Face Yoga, and they use 32 facial exercises that target muscles on the face.

“The improvement was actually greater than I had expected,” Dr. Murad Alam, vice chairman of dermatology at Northwestern University, who led the new study, said to The New York Times.

5. Oxygen Facials

Nearly every beauty expert interviewed for this piece said that once you get into your 30’s and 40’s getting regular facials can help keep your skin in tip-top shape. According to Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse of Rapaport Dermatology, the oxygen facial, popularized by Madonna, takes it a step further.

“Aka the ‘Red Carpet” facial, it’s a non-invasive, never irritating, non-painful, skin-calming facial during which pure oyygen is sprayed onto the face with an air brush,” says Dr. Shainhouse. “It can have the sensation of sitting in the direct path of a fan or air conditioning car vent. The theory is the that oxygen reduces the inflammation in the skin, improves circulation and facilitates the absorption of anti-aging or hydrating serums applied during or immediately after the treatment.

Dr. Shainhouse says that it leaves the skin feeling soft and plumped with a rosy glow. It can be done the same day that you apply make up and is perfect for when you have a big event coming up in a few days.

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Sara Novak
Sara Novak

Sara Novak is an independent journalist who reports on health, science, yoga, and travel. She was a writer for Discovery Communications from 2006-2013 and her work has been featured on Discovery Health, Popular Science, TLC, Animal Planet, What to Expect, TreeHugger, and many more. She’s also a certified yoga teacher. When she's not churning away on her laptop, she can be found atop her yoga mat or walking the beach with her husband, baby boy, and two lovable cocker spaniels.