Sitting on my kitchen table is an unopened face cream accompanied by a press release describing it as “Botox for bedtime”. I won’t name the brand or product because there are dozens, if not hundreds, just like it. This one just happens to have broken the camel’s proverbial and compelled me to correct this common and maddening misconception: botulinum toxin injections ( Botox) are never a replacement for skincare – and vice versa.
What Botox/toxin does is restrict specific muscle movement. In non-medical applications (remember that Botox is now used widely to treat migraines, teeth grinding, incontinence, excessive sweating and more), it is injected around “dynamic wrinkles” – that is, deeper lines that are moving constantly throughout everyday life. This prevents those habitual movements that both deepen the wrinkles and exaggerate their appearance. A serum or cream can never truthfully claim to do the same or have anything like the effect, regardless of your commitment to the cause (you can spend your life savings on skin serum and never see off those frown lines between your eyes).
Anything that describes itself as “Botox in a bottle” is dishonest and missing the point of skincare. Because what Botox cannot do is materially affect the quality of skin. It doesn’t concern itself with dark spots, acne, blackheads, pore size, redness or slackening. If you see a celebrity or model with a beautiful complexion and dismiss them as merely having had Botox, please know that, retouching aside, someone with smooth, clear, glowy, healthy-looking skin either has excellent genes, a diligent approach to skincare or both. Great skin is not Botox any more than crisp, clean cotton sheets are a sprung mattress.
If you’d like to avoid injectables while taking some action on lines and wrinkles, they can be softened somewhat by retinoids (over-the-counter products with retinol and retinaldehyde, or prescription tazarotene and tretinoin), which offer the significant additional benefit of helping to correct uneven tone, a loss of firmness, rough texture and breakouts. Or do both jab’n’jar in tandem if you fancy it and can afford to.
For myself, I love a bit of Botox a couple of times a year and strongly feel “each to their own”. But if I had to choose between those appointments and my daily product routine of cleanse, exfoliate, treat and protect from the sun, I would instantly, unequivocally, choose the latter. Because good and healthy skin is way more important than young.