It’s a tempting idea, that somehow, using the right skincare can make your toxin treatment last longer, but does the evidence stack up? Let’s look at the key factors.
How does toxin work to relax facial muscles?
Wrinkle-relaxing toxins are made from botulinum toxin A, which works by blocking the nerve receptors on the muscles, so the nerve signals telling the muscles to contract simply don’t get through – until the muscle has worked out what’s going on and grown some new receptors, at which point the signal gets through and the muscle starts working again, like it did before.
Can skincare affect this process? Nope.
How big a dose did you get?
How long your toxin treatment works mostly depends on how big a dose you’ve had, and whether your injector has had the skill to place it in the right muscles to have best effect. Having a higher dose of toxin zaps your muscles’ ability to contract and frown, or gurn, for longer.
Can skincare affect this process? No.
BUT here’s why you should still, always, use great skincare
Using the right skincare will keep your skin in top condition, and will reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Here’s what I’d try.
Hydration: Keep your skin hydrated with spritzes, hyaluronic acid serums, and moisturiser. That keeps skin cells plumped up, which softens fine lines.
Protection: Wear sunscreen every day, to reduce the way UV light breaks down collagen and elastin, the proteins in our skin that keeps skin firm and springy.
Renew: Use some sort of retinoid at night – pick a product with retinol or retinaldehyde (a stronger cousin of retinol), eg Medik8’s Crystal Retinal, to help your skin repair itself and create new collagen, which minimises wrinkles.
What about wrinkle-relaxing skincare?
Yes, there are a bunch of products that claim to reduce muscle movement in the skin. These products usually contain a blend of peptides – ingredients which contain signalling molecules, aka tiny chemical messages that affect various processes – in this case, muscle movement.
Argireline is the key peptide with these abilities, and studies have shown that products with 20% argireline can have an effect on reducing movement in superficial muscles, particularly around the eyes. At the bargain end of the scale, The Ordinary has a 10% Argireline Solution for £7.30 which offers what they call a ‘non-injective solution for dynamic lines’ (i.e., lines caused by movement in the face).
At the other end, Revox Line Relaxer from Revision skincare looks promising. It’s not cheap at £147 for 20ml but on the other hand if it works – and the studies done on it claim a 97 % reduction in horizontal and vertical expression lines and under-eye lines – it’s surely worth a try.
Because these products are working from the outside in, they’re not going to reach down to the muscle layer as toxin injections do, but the theory is that they quieten the superficial muscles, particularly around the eyes.
Or try the stick-on-plaster solution
What toxin treatment does is damp down the muscle movements that we use in our habitual expressions – whether that’s frowning, or scrunching up our eyes, or pulling down the corners of our mouth. If you can work out how to keep your face more serene (which is easier to do while the toxin is doing its thing), and train it to stay relaxed and serene more often, the longer your treatment will appear to last.
How to do this? Become more mindful of when you’re frowning or scrunching up your face. And, depending on who you’re keeping company with, try sticking a few Frownies on your face. These little strips of sticky-back paper adhere to your face and as soon as you crease your brow, this pulls at the paper and reminds you to back off the frown. They’ve been around for years, they’re not expensive and actresses love them because – obviously – they don’t inhibit your normal range of expressions.
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