When it comes to fighting wrinkles, there are a dizzying number of procedures and products that claim to turn back the clock—and many of them carry costly price tags. But what really works? We asked two leading dermatologists to rank the treatments that will truly lead you to line-free skin and are worth your hard-earned dollars. Here’s the lowdown.
By Grace Gold
You may be surprised to see this unsexy workhorse at the top of the list, but simply wearing sunscreen all year round will both help prevent wrinkles and heal fine lines by protecting and allowing your skin to naturally repair itself, says Doris Day, M.D., clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center. However, your results will only be as good as the formula you choose: Make sure it’s an SPF of 30 or more for adequate protection, and apply it every morning to your face and neck—or else it doesn’t count!
Botox, Dysport, and Xeomin
Known as neuromodulators, these three popular injectables help block muscular nerve signals. The blockage weakens and prevents the muscle from contracting, which results in a relaxation of wrinkles into smooth skin. “Botox is still the leading minimally invasive procedure for wrinkles,” says David E. Bank, M.D., dermatologist in Mount Kisco, New York. Results typically last between three to four months before another session is needed. According to RealSelf.com, the average cost of Botox across the U.S. is about $525 per session—though this can vary depending on location and the amount of skin treated.
Retinol and Antioxidants
Of all skin-care ingredients, retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, is the most rigorously studied and published for battling wrinkles and helping skin rejuvenate. “Retinol builds a thicker collagen layer that makes skin look smoother and younger,” says Day. Other top antioxidants that work well include peptides, growth factors, stabilized vitamin C, and copper, says Day. “Used in the daytime, they help sunscreen work better in preventing damage, and used at night, they help skin repair damage done from the sun, pollution, and stress,” she says.
Laser resurfacing like Fraxel is an in-office treatment that works beneath the skin’s surface to erase the sun damage that creates lines and wrinkles, as well as pigmentation and scars. It’ll also help decrease the appearance of pores as a bonus. “The light energy that is used with Fraxel exfoliates the superficial skin layers and stimulates skin’s natural collagen production to help smooth the creases and pockets that cause wrinkles,” says Bank. A series of a few sessions spaced a few weeks apart may be needed for optimal results, and treatments typically have about three to four days of downtime recovery afterwards. Expect to pay anywhere from $800 to $1,500 per treatment, depending on your location.
Unlike tneuromodulators that are injected directly into wrinkles, Voluma is injected into cheeks to restore volume and lift skin back into place, causing wrinkles produced from sagging to disappear. Hyaluronic acid, which the body naturally produces, is the main ingredient found in Voluma. It provides the elasticity and fullness we lose with age, causing the loss in facial volume that leads to wrinkling. “The results are almost instantaneous with little recovery time, and benefits last for up to two years,” says Bank. Injections should go beneath blood vessels to minimize bruising and swelling, he adds. Voluma has a wide cost spectrum since the amount used can vary so widely, but RealSelf approximates the range to be between $800 and $2,500 per treatment.
The beauty supplements containing antioxidants and minerals that are flooding shelves these days really do have results rooted in science. “This is a relatively newer category of specific supplements to help your skin rejuvenate and anti-wrinkle from the inside,” says Day. It’s thought that supporting skin with certain nutrients will give it the fuel it needs to replenish more effectively. There’s a catch, though: You have to take the supplement consistently to see smoother skin—and have the patience to do so for at least three months before assessing skin results.