There comes a time in (most) every woman’s life when she asks herself, “Do I need Botox?” Due to a lifetime of sun exposure and the ill-conceived notion that I didn’t need sunscreen because I have olive skin, I danced with the face-freezer long before many of my friends (since—don’t freak out—the age of 25). Still, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown more conscious of what I put in my body. So, when I scheduled a Botox appointment three months ago, a little voice told me I should try and up my product game before going under the needle. Hey, and if my crow’s feet were still acting up, I could always rebook. I did some research, asked around and what I found was an expansive set of products that made me say thanks but no thanks to Botox. Warning: It was an expensive endeavor, but a more natural one that I think will pay off in the long run.
1. Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser
Our under-eye area is home to some of the most sensitive skin on our face, yet when I remove my makeup, I act like I’m scrubbing a dirty tub. As such, I needed something that would, as the name suggests, melt my makeup off and remove the need for aggressive rubbing. The Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser ($34) does just that. Before bed, I apply a dab of the hardened oil to my face and massage it over my eyes and visage. Once I add warm water, the oil turns into a sort of milk and the makeup easily comes away. I wipe off any remaining residue with a Face Halo pad ($22) and continue on with my extensive nighttime routine.
2. Brandless Hydrating Rosewater Facial Toner
I snagged this $8 steal at a press event and was surprised that it wasn’t only extremely refreshing in the summer heat but also hydrating. Brandless’s Hydrating Rosewater Facial Toner is made from rosewater and soothing aloe vera and is vegan, cruelty-free and doesn’t include drying alcohol. I spray it on after washing my face and often use it to set my makeup or cool off. Thanks to the hydrating rosewater, it leaves my skin feeling dewy and my foreboding forehead wrinkle less noticeable.
3. Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence Moisture Boosting Toner
This doesn’t only smell beautiful, but model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley credits Tata Harper’s Floral Essence ($94) with keeping her skin taut and refreshed and I have to agree. (There’s one thing we have in common.) Although it’s a spray, it’s touted as more of a lightweight moisturizer that packs hyaluronic acid to hydrate and humectants like willow bark, arnica extract and calendula flower extract. It’s also toxin-, GMO- and filler-free. I use it right after my Brandless facial toner morning and night. You can also spray it on top of makeup for a dewy look, but it’s pretty damn expensive, so I try to only use it on bare skin.
4. Gregory Dylan Skincare Skin Slept In Serum
I fell in love with this product after getting a seriously relaxing facial (my first in three years) from the celebrity aesthetician himself. While Dylan’s Skin Slept In Serum ($78) isn’t meant to completely replace sleep (duh), it does make you look like you’ve gotten a lot of it. The cooling serum blends beautifully under a light moisturizer and makeup and you feel an instant firming that lasts all day. I use this one in the morning and another heavier serum at night.
5. Malin + Goetz Advanced Renewal Moisturizer
Since I tend to get a little oily in the afternoons, I wanted a lightweight moisturizer for everyday use. Malin + Goetz’s Advanced Renewal Moisturizer ($76) is just that. Like my daytime serum, it also firms and protects my complexion, as well as calls upon things like sodium hyaluronate, apple stem cells and amino acid plant-derived collagen to reduce the appearance of fine lines. Better yet, my Darphin Intral sunscreen ($48) mixes right in with it.
6. Grown Alchemist Instant Soothing Serum
For night, I turn to the Grown Alchemist Instant Soothing Serum ($95). This little-serum-that-could combats sun damage, environmental exposure and also—you guessed it—plumps and smooths the skin to reduce fine lines. In my personal experience, it goes on a little sticky, but the glow up is real.
7. Drunk Elephant Potini Polypeptide Cream
How do I love thee, Drunk Elephant Potini Polypeptide Cream ($68)? Let me count the ways. For one, this protein- and peptide-enriched moisturizer immediately seeps into your skin and gets to work. Although I only started using this product a couple of weeks ago, it’s already become a favorite. Upon using it, my skin looks revived and—dare I say?—more youthful almost immediately. It reduces wrinkles, sun damage and strengthens skin while I snooze.
8. CBD for Life Pure CBD Eye Serum
Admittedly, I got the CBD for Life Pure CBD Eye Serum ($32) in a swag bag and only started using it because I had just run out of my beloved Dr. Brandt Needles No More Depuffing Gel. But I quickly noticed that this little bottle packs a punch. It’s 95 percent naturally derived, free of parabens, phthalates, GMOs and formaldehyde, thank goodness, and it also softens and brightens the under-eye area like no other. I’ve taken issue with my budding crow’s feet since my early 20s and this has done wonders to make them nearly nonexistent. The verdict may be out on CBD-infused beauty, but this product is definitely high on my suggestions list. (Sorry, had to.)
9. Royal Fern Phytoactive Illuminating Ampoules
If my skin-care regimen were the royal family, the Royal Fern Phytoactive Illuminating Ampoules would be monarch, and unfortunately, at $195, it’s priced as such. But although the cost may be hard to swallow, this is probably the most impactful skin-care product I’ve ever used. This one was sent as part of a press package with little to no instructions, so I didn’t expect much. It was almost better that way since I noticed a huge improvement in my skin tone, pore size, wrinkles and melasma after using it only once. The ampoules, crafted by Dr. Timm Golueke, boost collagen production, improve skin structure, reduce redness and lessen uneven pigmentation with niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3). Vitamin C helps pigmentation issues, Chlorophyll acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and Asian lizard tail (yes, that’s a thing), reduces hyperpigmentation. Did I mention its plant-based and comes in these cool tiny glass vials? It’s very fancy and very worth the cost if you can swing it. Frugalistas take note: Because of the cost, I used it every other night and even scaled down to using half an ampoule at a time because I often felt like I’d applied too much. It still worked like a gem.
10. Crystal Clear Skincare’s The Wand
Last, but certainly not least, I integrated The Wand ($199) into my (almost) nightly routine. Ten steps are a lot and sometimes I’m just too tired to rub a vibrating wand on my face (insert sex toy jokes here). But clinical trials stated that the wand reduced fine lines and wrinkles by 27 percent and firmed the skin by 45 percent in 14 days, so I was curious to give it a whirl. It’s relatively new to my arsenal so the verdict is still out, but I can say with certainty that it’s helped to reduce my dark under-eye circles and puffiness. It’s also done a bit of a number on my forehead wrinkle and laugh lines.
So there you have it, my expensive but hopefully worth-it journey to stave off Botox. Happy anti-aging, friends.
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