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What do we actually mean by skin tightening?

5th March 2024

When we discuss ‘anti-ageing’ treatments there’s one phrase that crops up time and time again – skin tightening. But, what does that really mean in practice, how ‘tight’ is even the right amount of ‘tight'(!), and how can it actually help reduce our wrinkles and sagging skin? Plus, most importantly, what are the best treatments that fall into this category that will actually help you get the results you want? We’ve got the answers… 

From thread lifts to targeted lasers, these are the treatments to try in order to non-surgically tighten and lift your skin, with options available for all skin types:

What do we mean by skin tightening tweaks?

If you think about the last time your skin felt ‘tight’, it may conjure up memories of when you used a really stripping foaming cleanser – but luckily that’s not the sort of tightening we are talking about here. It’s really the quest for smoother, firmer skin – like we enviably had when we were younger.

Specifically, skin tightening tweakments are designed to target one of the most common causes of ageing – sagging skin. Whether its affecting your neck, face, hands, bottom, tummy or even your knees, that’s something most of us are going to experience over time. That’s because the structural proteins in our skin, namely collagen and elastin, deplete as we age. This causes the skin to become more crepey and it loses its ‘snap-backability’, meaning our skin doesn’t look as plump and lifted.

Luckily, there are various methods to give our complexions back their ‘tightness’. The latest devices tend to focus on two methods: firstly, stimulating your skin to supercharge its natural production of collagen and elastin (refirming your skin from within); or, secondly, minimally invasive techniques that to provide a more ‘physical’ lift while avoiding surgical levels of downtime like a face lift. The type you want or need is likely to depend on the area and severity of sagging skin you have.

Our favourite skin tightening tweaks:


Laser-based skin tightening really works – but it’s often been limited as an option for Black skin due to the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. That’s where this nifty UltraClear laser comes in. The world’s first ‘cold’ laser for wrinkles (and age spots too), it uses a specific wavelength –  2910nm – to ablate (aka remove) targeted skin tissue, while also stimulating collagen remodelling in the deeper layers of your skin. This all happens while leaving little residue for unwanted thermal damage in the surrounding area, reducing side effects. What’s more, your skin tightening and smoothing results can last up to five years. Find out more


Emface is a completely non-invasive treatment that beauty editors and celebs alike adore. Targeting both your skin and muscles (which is important as your muscles as a supportive frame for your face), the device uses a combination of synchronised radiofrequency – using heat to trigger collagen and elastin production – with HIFES (high intensity focused electrical stimulation), to selectively contract your muscles like a facial workout. It’s designed to lift, tighten, and reduce wrinkles in just four sessions. And, the brand behind Emface – BTL Aesthetics – has clinically-proven body-sculpting devices too, including Emsculpt Neo. Find out more


You can see the results first-hand of a Neogen Plasma treatment because Alice documented her experience, and the papers went potty for Shirley Ballas’ transformation too. Especially good for sagging jawlines, it can also be used to treat sagging around the sensitive eye and lip area (where wrinkling can be very visible but hard to treat). The skin-tightening treatment treats the whole surface and all the tissues of your face for really noticeable rejuvenation as well. That’s possible due to the use of nitrogen thermal plasma technology that remodels collagen, tightens and resurfaces the skin using controlled heat that doesn’t immediately blitz away the outer layer of the skin. Find out more 


Threads can be a brilliant alternative for anyone considering a facelift who doesn’t want to go under the knife just yet, as in the hands of the right practitioner, the relatively minimally-invasive sutures quickly lift your skin. Aptos threads in particular are a great option for achieving longer-lasting results from your thread lift, as they also contain leading collagen stimulators to rejuvenate your skin over time. You can trust their quality too. The brand is the seven-time winner of the Aesthetic & Anti-Aging Medicine World Congress ‘Best Suspension Thread in the World’ award – which is certainly impressive. Find out more


Wherever your skin is sagging – be it the eyebrow, cheeks, jawline or the neck, Silhouette Soft’s bio-resorbable threads offer the definition and skin tightening you need, as a fast, non-surgical solution. The threads contain patented bidirectional cones that distribute lifting force evenly so you can be less concerned about having a wonky result. Plus, the threads come in different lengths, including a 12-cone short suture that gives practitioners more precise control over close-range lifts, so you can achieve a really personalised look that you’ll love. It means the tweak can be used to even out any natural facial asymmetry you may have too. Find out more


You might be used to laser treatments working from on top of your skin, but Endolift works differently. The tiny, precision laser is set on the end of an optic fibre, finer than a human hair, which can be slipped underneath the skin. This means it heats, tightens and remodels the collagen in your body from the inside-out, delivering the required energy exactly where you need it. Practitioners also say it is especially good if you struggle with excess fat around your lower face and jaw, as it can contour and redefine your facial contours while providing its lifting effect. Find out more

The final word

While non-surgical tweaks are getting better and better at transforming your skin and provide the tightening effect you are aiming for, there’s a limit to their brilliance. In particular, most can only help with mild to moderate sagging because they do not treat the deeper muscular layer of your face. Anything more severe is likely to require surgical intervention. Visit a trusted (and TTG-recommended) practitioner who will be able to manage your expectations and give you the advice you need to make the best decision.


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