There was a time when Botox was reserved for the brightest of stars. There was no way anyone on the wrong side of the Hollywood hills could even think of waltzing into an office to get Botox, let alone afford it. Botox and fillers were an enigma to us all—and then influencers started getting them. They touted Botox as the cure-all for plumping up those little lines here and there and as the ideal tool to prevent wrinkles and fine lines in the future. It might just be the best anti-aging skincare product out there, and everyone seems to be getting it. But do we have to?
Obviously, Botox, injectables, or anything that promises tight, taut, wrinkle-free complexions isn’t a need. That whole myth about “aging gracefully” is a crock of BS. But that doesn’t mean we can’t work our hardest for amazing skin now and later, and if Botox isn’t in the cards for you, a skincare routine that mimics the same line-smoothing, wrinkle-reducing, and texture-eliminating quality is within reach.
We looked to injectors for the next best thing when you can’t (or won’t) step in for a little Botox touch-up—and they delivered on their favorites.
“If someone can’t get in for their Botox appointment, isn’t quite ready for injections, or just wants simple and effective skincare, sunscreen and a retinoid are absolutes to maintain a healthy skin foundation, fight off wrinkles, and keep them looking vibrant and fresh,” said Ginille Brown, aesthetic nurse practitioner in Santa Monica, California. Retinoids are forms of vitamin A that encourage cell turnover and quickly remove layers of skin to support a smooth, soft, even-toned appearance on the skin, making it a powerhouse for acne, hyperpigmentation, texture, and of course, anti-aging.
Brown recommended Altreno, a prescription-only tretinoin specifically made for adult acne that combines a retinoid and hydrating ingredients to eliminate irritation while still being highly effective. If you have acne or want a higher potency retinoid and have access to a dermatologist, Altreno is a great option to discuss with your doctor.
However, there are great retinoids available over the counter, especially if you have sensitive skin and want a milder option.
For a drugstore retinol, this one stacks up quite high. This formula is made with pure retinol rather than a derivative, which can help reduce wrinkles and fine lines and improve skin clarity and brightness faster. It contains hyaluronic acid and glycerin to moisturize and soothe the skin, so adding it to your routine won’t irritate you.
“Sunscreen is an underrated skincare product,” Brown said. “It protects the skin from harsh damage from the sun (skin cancer, fine lines, wrinkles, and sun spots),” which all contribute to aging. No matter the derm, esthetician, or skincare expert you talk to, the first product they’re going to make sure you’re using daily is sunscreen.
If you’re using active ingredients like retinol and alpha-hydroxy acids (like glycolic and lactic acids), sunscreen is imperative because these ingredients make you photosensitive, but you should really be wearing sunscreen any time you expose yourself to the sun (even when you’re sitting by a window and on cloudy days).
“[This] is a physical sunscreen mixed with vitamin C to protect against free-radicals and hyaluronic acid that gives a boost of hydration," Brown said. "I love its silky feel. It is tinted and blends into my brown skin better than most tinted sunscreens. I see a diverse group of patients, and they say that the sunscreen has a light-medium coverage that can help to hide some of the fine lines that are peeking through when their Botox starts to wear off. I advise my patients to wear it daily and make sure to reapply every two hours when having contact with the sun (outdoors, driving, being near windows, etc.).”
If you'd prefer a mineral sunscreen, this one has a green hue that doesn't leave a white cast and reduces redness, drying down to a satin finish that just looks like skin.
Peptides are one of the most important ingredients to include in an anti-aging skincare routine, which is why you are likely recommended peptide-filled formulas after a Botox treatment. Peptides keep collagen, protein, and keratin intact, as they send messages to your skin cells to keep producing collagen to keep your skin firm and bouncy.
Kennelly and Amie Martin, certified aesthetic nurse specialist in Chicago, both suggested adding a powerful peptide treatment into your anti-aging skincare routine if you want to keep your Botox results or mimic them at home.
"Alastin Skincare is backed by science and an anti-aging product line utilizing a patented formulation of peptides and antioxidants, called TriHex Technology, to stimulate the removal of damaged collagen and elastin responsible for the visual signs of aging," Kennelly said. This daily serum improves elasticity, evens skin tone, reduces texture, and increases volume—all in one fell swoop.
This dermatologist favorite was made to help your Botox last longer and improve your skin at the same time. It visibly reduces expression lines using five potent peptides and Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (which studies show can improve skin barrier and wound healing), going far beyond a traditional serum.
You don't have to spend a ton of money to add a peptide into your skincare routine, and this one from Good Molecules proves it. It incorporates two potent peptides, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin to smooth and brighten skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.