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Don’t Want Botox? Here’s What To Try

Confessions of a Botox-adverse beauty editor.

By Sherine Youssef

I have no interest in Botox.

Of course, one should “never say never,” but I feel fairly confident publicly stating that botulinum toxin is not in my future. I’m just not that bothered by fine lines and wrinkles (my primary skin goal is to have a complexion that’s as evenly toned as a freshly painted wall).

Now, I’d like to provide some context to this statement because I think it’s important.

1. I am single and childless, so my body and skin have not undergone the lifestyle changes and hormone fluctuations that come with being pregnant/giving birth/breastfeeding/sleepless nights/morning school run/Saturday sport drop off and so on. I always tell my friends with children that we’re not starting from the same base. Or rather, the same face.

2. I have a job that offers access to the latest cutting-edge skin treatments and products, and the time to trial them all (see: not responsible for small humans). My job also taught me about the importance of prevention early on, and I’ve been wearing sunscreen every day since I was in my mid-20s.

3. I’m not on social media. I know we can all agree that selfies and scrolling play a huge part in how we perceive ourselves, and I don’t spend time doing either. I generally only look at my face when I’m applying skincare or makeup. Maybe that means I’m delusional about how my face really looks? It’s a possibility I have considered—and am ok with!

My sisters should also be mentioned. We’re close, and none of us is particularly fussed about ageing skin, so that’s the bubble I’m in. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to look our best, of course we do, but we’re only willing to go so far, and injecting Botox (or fillers) is that one step too far. For us, but not many of you, if the latest statistics are anything to go by: Australians spent $4.3 billion on facial injectables last year, and the industry is expected to grow more than 25% every year until 2030.


Australians spent $4.3 billion on facial injectables last year, and the industry is expected to grow more than 25% every year until 2030.

Those numbers don’t shock me because I see the evidence everywhere. Whether I’m at a work event or my local Westfield, I find that women are starting to look identical: the same over-injected lips that are unable to fully smile, frozen foreheads with sculpted eyebrows that don’t (can’t) move an inch, and too-plump cheeks.

There’s no differentiation from one visage to the next, an absence of the features that make a face unique. That’s not to say I haven’t seen some very excellent injecting work, but by and large, the sea of faces around me are becoming an indistinguishable blur of stretched skin and blank expressions.

If you, too, are Botox-averse, or just looking for something else, I’ve been busy trying… not Botox alternatives, exactly, because there really is nothing that truly compares to injectable intervention (sorry!), but Botox-adjacent options.


Wrinkles Schminkles Forehead Wrinkle Patches, $44
Made from medical-grade, reusable silicone, these come in various sizes and shapes for the forehead, eyes, mouth, décolletage or hands. You can wear them overnight or for a few hours during the day, and the idea is that, by restricting skin movement and keeping the skin beneath the patches taut, new lines and wrinkles can’t form. The patches also form an occlusive layer, meaning there’s less transepidermal (passive) water loss and more hydration in the upper layer of skin. (You’d be surprised how many fine lines are due to dehydration).

Verdict: I mostly wore these during the day (I didn’t like them overnight because you can’t apply skincare underneath, and the patch curled up around my temples when I slept on my side). I was rewarded with an ever-so-slightly smoother forehead.

E.S.K Ageless: Microneedle Patches, $39 and Beauté Pacifique Symphonique Micro-Needling Perfusion Therapy Treatment Kit, $35

These stickers-with-spikes have started cropping up in skincare the last few years, first as pimple treatments and now for fine lines and wrinkles. They’re tiny needles (around 1mm or less) that pierce the outer skin layer. This, in turn, is supposed to trigger the skin’s healing response and lead to enhanced skin cell, collagen and elastin production. The stickers also claim to deliver ingredients directly into skin in a slow and sustained way.

Both these brands use needles made from dissolving hyaluronic acid, so I pressed the patches over my 11s (the vertical lines between my eyebrows) and around my eyes and jumped into bed. The Beauté Pacifique has a serum that you apply in the morning, right after you peel off the patch (those needles have created tiny pathways for the serum to sink in).

Verdict: Not going to lie, I was skeptical about these, but was pleasantly surprised to see that my 11s did, in fact, appear less prominent by morning.

Not going to lie, I was skeptical about these, but was pleasantly surprised to see that my 11s did, in fact, appear less prominent by morning.

CurrentBody x Dr Harris Anti-Wrinkle Sleep Mask, $109
This patented and clinically proven (two of my favourite words) silk sleep mask works on multiple fronts: like a regular sleep mask, blocking out light so that you can get to sleep sooner, and with a set of raised silicone dots on the inside of the mask. The dots sit precisely over, and stimulate, the mechanoreceptors (aka the sensory nerve endings in your face), which in turn triggers the parasympathetic nervous system and nudges your body to rest and relax. It’s all supposed to induce muscle relaxation and better quality sleep, and reduce the appearance of dynamic expression lines.

Verdict: I ended up pulling this off at some point during the night, but a fellow beauty editor who struggles with sleep (she has two toddlers) swears this works, giving her a better night’s slumber and a fresher-looking set of eyes.

The takeaway: All four of these DIY treatments did something, but the effect is only temporary and restricted to fine and dynamic lines, not deep-seated and permanent ones, or wrinkles, for that matter. I like the microneedling patches best, and would probably use them as pre-event prep.



Dr. Harris



I’ve already told you about Fraxel, but here’s a quick recap: this is a non-invasive, microscopic laser that targets a fraction of the skin at a time, and penetrates several skin layers, for overall rejuvenation and resurfacing. It can help improve the appearance of tone, texture, fine lines and wrinkles, scars and dark spots.

Verdict: I love Fraxel. So much so that I recently had it done again. And I plan on doing it again in the future.

Facial acupuncture
I may not be a Botox girl, but I have nothing against needles per se. In fact, I loved this treatment, which, essentially, involved tiny needles being stuck all over my face.

Offering the same benefits as regular acupuncture—better circulation and balance—facial acupuncture can also shift excess fluid, dispel puffiness, and soften the appearance of lines. That’s because the needles trigger your skin’s “wound-healing response”—much like microneedling—which produces enhanced collagen and elastin production.

Tracy started the treatment with light cupping on my upper back and shoulders, to get the blood flow and lymphatic system going, before – how else to describe it? – using my face as a pin cushion. The needles are different from body ones (they’re finer, sharper and smoother), and the placement was a combination of classic acupuncture points, and lined and/or sagging areas.

On the most visibly aged areas, Tracy used a threading technique and slid the needle in almost horizontally along fine visible fine lines or angled it close to the skin to encourage a lifting result. Then it was under the LED light for some light therapy. I jokingly (not really) asked if I was about to become a barbecue skewer (metal pins + heat = good times?), but I was reassured the needles had plastic ends.

Post-removal, my skin was drenched in hyaluronic acid serum and treated to more gua sha, facial cupping and cool jade rollers – (MO+, $215 (90 minutes).

Verdict: All that massaging is glorious, and when I look in the mirror, my face appears sculpted and glowing, feels plumper and cushiony, and my laugh lines look softer. The next day, it’s even better: I just look really well-rested, and my skin is gleaming. I’m told initially I’ll require 10 weekly treatments to get deeper results, and then it’s a matter of maintenance.

The takeaway: Fraxel and facial acupuncture (and professional LED and microneedling) are probably where I’ll be spending my time and money for the foreseeable future.

*All products and treatments were provided courtesy of the brands and salons.


BY Sherine Youssef

Sherine Youssef is a freelance journalist and co-founder of gloss etc who isn't afraid of a few fine lines

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