Botox has its place, but it’s no substitute for a robust skincare regimen

Sitting on my kitchen table is an unopened face cream that came with a press release describing it as “Botox for bedtime.” I won’t name the brand or the product because there are dozens, if not hundreds, just like that. This one happens to have broken the camel proverb and compelled me to correct this common and infuriating misconception: Botulinum toxin (Botox) injections are never a substitute for skin care – and vice versa.

What Botox/toxin does is restrict a specific muscle movement. In non-medical applications (remember Botox is now widely used to treat migraines, teeth grinding, incontinence, excessive sweating and more) it is injected around “dynamic wrinkles” – it’s that is, deeper lines that constantly move throughout everyday life. This prevents those habitual movements that both deepen wrinkles and exaggerate their appearance. A serum or cream can never really claim to do the same thing or have anything like the effect, no matter how committed you are to the cause (you can spend all your savings on skin serum and never see those wrinkles on the lion between your eyes).

Beautiful skin is not Botox, any more than clean, crisp cotton sheets are a spring mattress.

Anything that describes itself as “Botox in a bottle” is dishonest and misses the point of skin care. Because Botox can not do is to materially affect the quality of skin. It doesn’t care about dark spots, acne, blackheads, pore size, redness or sagging. If you see a celebrity or model with a great complexion and dismiss them as simply having had Botox, know that, touch-ups aside, someone with smooth, clear, glowing, healthy-looking skin has d ‘great genes, a diligent approach to skincare, or both. Beautiful skin is not Botox any more than clean, crisp cotton sheets are a spring mattress.

If you want to avoid injectables while working on fine lines and wrinkles, they can be alleviated somewhat with retinoids (over-the-counter products containing retinol and retinaldehyde, or prescription tazarotene and tretinoin), which provide the added benefit significant in helping to correct uneven skin tone, loss of firmness, rough texture and breakouts. Or do both jab’n’jar in tandem if you feel like it and can afford it.

Related: Mushrooms Are Magic For Problem Skin, And You Don’t Even Have To Eat Them | Sali Hugues

For my part, I like a little Botox a few times a year and I feel strongly “every man for himself”. But if I had to choose between these appointments and my daily routine of cleansing, exfoliation, treatment, and sun protection, I’d instantly, unequivocally choose the latter. Because beautiful, healthy skin is far more important than youthful.

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