Dermatologists will often tell you that injectible wrinkle relaxers, like Botox and Dysport, are the most effective way to smooth wrinkles. Because wrinkles are caused by the contraction of muscles under your skin, these neurotoxins work by temporarily weakening those contractions, which helps to diminish the appearance of lines on your face. But if you do decide to go the injectables route (which, of course, is totally up to you!), Shirley Chi, MD, a California-based, board-certified dermatologist, says you also need to keep up a solid skin-care routine.
"It's not like you can do one or the other. You shouldn't be doing just in-office procedures and not doing topicals. That kind of defeats the purpose," says Dr. Chi. She says the best products to use are those that slow the breakdown of the injectable and those that stimulate collagen production. "Your skin is going to look better because while your Botox is there, you're actually growing collagen while your muscles aren't moving, so that's why I like using all of it together. It's really important to have that regimen."
The effects of wrinkle relaxers generally last between three and five months, but according to Dr. Chi, a proper daily routine will allow you to make the most out of those months. She explains that anyone with Botox or a similar injectable should be using sunscreen, vitamin C, and retinol religiously. These three products are regarded by derms as the holy trinity for everyone, but they're especially important if you're getting injectables. These procedures are an investment—and you want to make sure you're getting your money's worth. Shop Dr. Chi's Botox skin-care routine must-haves below.
3 key items needed in a botox skin-care routine
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"You have to wear sunscreen because when you get a lot of sun on your skin, it breaks down everything," says Dr. Chi. "It breaks down collagen, it causes inflammation, and any kind of inflammation breaks down Botox faster."
Dr. Chi is a huge fan of this sunscreen serum from La Roche-Posay. It provides SPF 50 protection, plus antioxidants from vitamins C and E to fight free-radical damage. She likes to wear it on her neck, and since it’s clear, it won’t stain clothes the way tinted sunscreens tend to.
This sunscreen is from Skin by Anthos, a line that Dr. Chi has worked with a team of other board-certified dermatologists and nurse practitioners to create. It’s a weightless, quick-absorbing mineral sunscreen that contains niacinamide to make the skin brighter and less inflamed.
"In addition to Botox, it's really important to have the other anti-aging measures in place, like the vitamin C serum," says Dr. Chi. "Vitamin C and other antioxidants serums are really good because they're going to stimulate collagen. They also protect your cells against free radical damage from pollution and [other environmental aggressors]."
This vitamin C serum from Skin by Anthos has a gorgeous serum-oil texture that feels amazing on the skin.
"Retinol also stimulates collagen production on a cellular level, so you need to use a retinol," she says.
This night serum from Skin by Anthos contains retinol and bakuchiol, a natural ingredient that mimics the effects of retinol with less risk of irritation. The two actives work together to stimulate cell turnover and boost overall antioxidant activity while visibly reducing redness.
Differin is Dr. Chi’s go-to for an over-the-counter retinoid. Its active ingredient is adapalene, a more potent version of your standard retinol. Dermatologists laud the formula for its ability to smooth skin, and its drugstore pricepoint truly can’t be beaten.
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