I can’t wear 4 inch high cage shoes, don’t have access to the Conde Nast closets and the last time I wore size 2, I was two. So when you are over 50, getting ready for Fashion Week means turning to science rather than shopping. To give me a little extra confidence, I asked my wonderful Dr Ellen for her amazing “baby botox”. These are smaller than usual amounts of Botox to just give a little extra anti-aging smoothness, erasing the crows feet around my eyes. It actually takes a few weeks for the full effect to appear– erasing the years of worry lines and wrinkles that makes the whole face look happier and fresher. I also use a bit of Botox to relax aging neck muscles under the chin for a smoother jawline.
Bad News About Botox?
There has been some negative press about Botox, primarily from overuse. The glassy overstretched blank look that give Botox a bad rep is due to incorrect placement and too frequent injections. The original results are so delightful that there is tendancy to want to do it more frequently. In less skilled hands, even small amounts of Botox can inhibit muscles needed for normal expression. I think the best way to get a good “injector” as they are called, is from personal recommendations.
The effecs of Botox lasts about 3-4 months. I reserve my fix of Botox for big occasions– weddings, TV appearance, Fashion Week, and that special hell, school reunions. This is about once a year and I know it will give me more impact for my money than a great new dress or shoes. They will go out of fashion, but a smooth fresh face is always in style.
FYI: Botox is actually the trade name for the first approved tktk. Dysport which approaved a few yers later is an equally good option. Some people who do not respond to Botox may get better results with Dysport.
There are literally hundreds of exhibits at the International Beauty Show, so when I saw that one small booth was always three deep with visitors, I had to check it out. I managed to wiggle my way to the front ( I know, I’m a New Yorker) to see a table selling just one item– a small pink bottle called Instantly Ageless. The posters and brochures showed impressive before and after photos. Application of a few drops on the face promised instantly ( albeit temporarily) to erase crows feet and laugh lines.
A quick scan of the ingredients showed that Instantly Ageless contained Hexapeptide, aka ‘fauxtox” a protein that may produce Botox like effects in a product spread on rather than injected into the skin. Instantly Ageless also contains silicates which can form a film much in the way an egg white mask tightens the skin.
Directions were super simple. Apply a moisturzer to the skin and let it dry throughly. Then pat ( not rub) a half drop of of Instantly Ageless to targeted areas. Allow it to dry and stay still and expressionless for 1-2 minutes. Then top with an oil-free foundation. So far, so good. The serum-like fluid tingled a bit as I applied it to my skin and I could feel my skin tightening– not uncomfortable, but definately tighter.
Did Instantly Ageless Work?
So did it deliver as promised? The photo on top left is my before pix that highlights a nice deep crows foot at the corner of my eye. The photo on the right was treated to a drop of Instantly Ageless. Even in this less than perfect shot, you can see that the little line is shorter and less pronounced. I also felt that it made my eyes look a bit fresher and the dark circles less apparent. I think that, IRL, the improvements were more apparent. The changes last for just a few hours and is an affordable option when you want to crank it up for a event– eg high school reunion, blind date or job interview.
Instantly Ageless did not give me the same dramatic results that I saw in the brochure, but I definately saw a difference. It also did not give me the same degree of improvement as Botox, but at $40 a bottle, it is a safe, affordable and effective addition to my beauty tool kit.
Question: My Mom reads your blog and has been talking about getting Botox or the “lunchtime laser.” I want to get her a treatment for Christmas but don’t know which one to choose. I can afford only one and I want her to see the biggest results.
Answer: What a great question and you’re a great daughter! Both Botox and Intense Pulsed Light laser ( also known as the lunchtime laser) will make a major difference in her appearance. The choice depends on the condition of her skin. If she has spent many happy hours in the sun, its likely that she has lots of freckles and dark patches. An Intense Pulsed Light treatment will literally vaporize this aging pigmentation and leave her skin younger and refreshed. The results are permanent but brown spots will return if she goes out without sun protection. If she was not a beach bunny and her skin has lines along the cheeks, forehead and and around the eyes, Botox will erase them– for about 3-4 months. Because lasers leave the skin extra sensitive for a few days, you can also give her a stocking filled with a gentle cleanser ( eg Cetaphil), sunscreen ( Neutrogena for SensitiveSkin) and soothing water spray ( eg Dermalogica UltraCalming Spray).
The Right Tool at the Right Time
Which anti-aging tool to use and when to use it was the fundamental question behind the No-Nonsense Beauty Blog. Initially, I planned to start with Retin A to reve up the circulation and skin growth, add Botox to reduce lines and polish things up by removing large freckles and age spots with a laser. But as it turned out, lasers work best on darkest spots, so I started the anti-aging journey by removing them with a traditional laser and then continuing with my plan.
But in the past few years since I started, there have been so many new options that my new plan has become an exploration of new forms of Retin A, new lasers and new machines that deal both singly and in combination with a slew of aging issues. At a recent dermatology conference at Mount Sinai, the experts came up with an effective anti-aging game plan that started with gentle lasers like Intense Pulsed Light to brighten and Botox to smooth the skin.
I’d love to hear which treatment you chose. Happy holidays!
Question: Why doesn’t Botox work for me? After an injection I see a difference for a week or two, then I’m back to where I started.
Answer: Such an appropriate question since this year is the 10th anniversary of the FDA approval of Botox– the trade name for the neurotoxin that is arguably America’s favorite anti-aging tool. When properly injected, it relaxes the facial muscles including frown lines on the forehead and crow’s feet around the eyes. Botox can also make changes to the face that makes the eyes look wider and raise the eyebrows.
The key word here is “properly”. The face has 40 different muscles- some move up and some move downward. The injector has to know where to position the shots to get the desired impact.
According to Fifth Avenue cosmetic surgeon Dr Paula Moynahan, there are several possibilities to your lack of response.
1. The injector is not hitting the right spots on the face. Botox needs to be in the area of a specific muscle in order to relax a targeted wrinkle or lift a sagging spot.
2. If you were been tempted by an offer of a discount Botox treatment, it may have been over diluted. This could make the injection less effective with little or short lived results. The Botox arrives as a hard film at the bottom of a bottle. The physician adds liquid to the bottle to reconstitute the neurotoxin. To save money, an injector may add extra dilutant to make the dose go further.
3. And then there are the people who are genuinely resistant to Botox. FYI Botox is actually a brand name and there is a second FDA approved Botulism A product called Dysport. Dr Moynahan suggests that people who are resistant to Botox may have different results with Dysport.
Keep in mind that as good as it is, Botox cannot reverse all the natural and environmental signs of aging. It needs to be a part of an anti-aging game plan that includes Retin A and IPL to clarify the skin’s surface, lasers to erase freckles and facial hair and Zoom tooth whitening trays. And to preserve all these anti-aging efforts, never leave the house without a sunscreen.
True story. I was at a blogger meetup at the HBA, a huge beauty expo, when I was introduced to a very pretty young woman with a popular blog called Aging Backwards. I was a bit put off. What would this young woman know about aging? When she told me her age I was shocked– and impressed. I decided that if she could look like that at her age she certainly knew her stuff. Her blog is now part of the Fashion Flash group and Jackie also co-hosts the The Ageless Sisters, a well-known radio show with Cynthia Rowland — and this week I was delighted to be a guest. The Ageless Sisters asked such great questions that I uploaded the full interview to share it with you. From Invisalign to the new BB creams to the No-Nonsense beauty diet, The Ageless Sisters steered the conversation into useful fact- filled areas.
In a short interview I had to boil down my beauty philosophy to four key points. Since I can spend an hour discussing the differences between AHA’s like glycolic acid and Retin A, time limitations made me focus on what is really important. Compressing a file of info into the top four tips is a great way of getting to the most critical facts for just about any subject. From buying a car to writing a resume to choosing the name of a baby, selecting the four top ideas is a relevant way to cope in a busy world with a short attention span. Let me know what you think.
The Ageless Sisters also presented at Beauty Bash last October, demonstrating Facial Magic, their exercise routinue to firm up the skin. It was amazing to see the entire audience trying out the exercises that Cynthia and Jackie were showing on the stage. I could genuinely feel the muscles under my jaw working to build up contours. And FYI, without Botox or fillers their skin is smooth, taut and free of lines and wrinkles.
Question– In a few months I’m turning 50. After half a century, my skin is looking tired and I want to give myself a birthday present. Which would be better, microdermabrasion or Botox? You seem to really like both of them.
Answer– Happy birthday! I do like both microdermsabrasion and Botox, but they are very different anti-aging tools and deal with different problems. Microdermabrasion takes of the top dead layer of skin cells to leave the skin smoother, brighter and softer. In addition, removing these old cells actually stimulates the lower levels to grow. Researchers have noticed that mens’ skin seems to age more slowly than women’s– and they believe that part of the reason is the daily shave which encourages the growth of fresh new skin every day.
Botox injections at problem areas can erase fine lines and wrinkles, especially around the eyes and forehead. It can change contours of the face, while microdermabrasion changes the texture and color of the surface of the skin. The two tools actually work very well together– microdermabrasion to improve the texture and color of the skin and Botox to deal with contours that are a half a century old.
Your question actually gets to the heart of my anti-aging journey– which tools and techniques work and how to combine them to get the best possible results. I decided to start on the dark spots and splotches from sun damage- first with Retin A and then with microdermabrasion. When the skin’s surface looked smooth and fresh, I added Botox to erase the lines at the sides of my mouth and around my eyes. You can see these results on the No-Nonsense Beauty BLog Facebook Page. Just click on the Facebook icon.
Microdermabrasion, as much as I love the immediate results, lasts only a few days. For long lasting results, I suggest starting with a low dose nightly Retin A cream. You should see very nice results within six weeks. The skin will look fresher and clearer. Then try the Botox to deal with the after effects fifty years of laughing and talking. And here’s to another wonderful fifty years.
Question: I just found out that my old crush is coming to the holiday office party this week. I want to look amazing. Would you suggest IPL or Botox?
Answer: Both procedures are very effective, but I would be concerned about doing them right before an important event, especially if its the first time you’ve had them. Although its called the “lunchtime laser”, IPL can leave red splotches and scabs that will take a few days to heal. Botox injections can hit a little blood vessels and produce pretty big bruises. Rather than doing a full court press on your face, If you need to look amazing immediately I would start with a home microdermabrasion kit from Clarisonic, DDF, or Neutrogena. They will polish and refresh your skin and make an incredible difference, especially if its not something you do everyday. Then make certain that you hair is freshly colored, cut and blown out professionally for the night of the party. And I trick I learned in college, stop by a cosmetics counter and get a professional makeup. There’s no charge, but I always buy a lipstick or shadow since most stylists work on commission.
If you really want to own the room, make sure your outfit is new and reflects current style trends. For really great holiday fashion tips check out Fabulous After 40.
Answer: Its sounds like a back room beauty product– Botox in a gel that you simply apply to the skin. But its really happening. A true Botox topical gel is deep in clinical trials and results are very encouraging. The gel is applied to the skin by a physician and delievers about 25% of the impact of a Botox injection. According to Reverance Therapeutics which is developing the gel, more than 200 patients have been treated with it and it has been shown to be both safe and effective. It will be approved for treatment of wrinkles around the eyes and offer a reasonable option for those of us who cringe at injections. I’ve heard that the price for applications will be significantly less than true Botox, about $150/treatment.
However keep in mind that you won’t be able to use it at home. Every application will have to be done in a doctor’s office. Its still in clinical trials and probably won’t be available for another year. But its very nice to know its coming.
Currently there are a number of existing products that claim to have Botox-like effects. They often contain ingredients like argireline which is supposed to inhibit a unique protein in the cells that sends signals from nerves to muscles. At least that’s the way its supposed to work. Most experts are not impressed with the results and I am going to wait for the real thing.