I Tried the New Long-Lasting Botox Alternative...And Holy Wow
Ever since the news dropped that Daxxify, a new Botox alternative, was hitting the market this year, it’s all my friends and family asked about, especially since Daxxify is supposed to soften wrinkles faster and also last longer than other neuromodulators (a fancy name for chemicals, like Botox, that interrupt the nerve/muscle connection). So when I got the opportunity to try Daxxify myself to treat my forehead wrinkles, TMJ, and headaches, from board-certified dermatologist Ellen Marmur, MD, I booked an appointment immediately (you know, for ~work~).
And, because Daxxify is so new and not yet widely available, I asked Dr. Marmur and board-certified plastic surgeonJennifer Levine a ton of questions during my appointment, like how Daxxify actually works, how it’s different from Botox, how long Daxxify lasts, and more. Keep reading for all the details on Daxxify, plus my experience trying the new Botox alternative myself.
What is Daxxify?
Daxxify is a new neuromodulator that’s FDA-approved to soften the look of fine lines and wrinkles. Just like its counterparts (Botox, Xeomin, Juveau, and Dysport), Daxxify is made from a neurotoxin that’s produced by a bacteria called botulinum toxin, which is why you’ll often hear them referred to as botulinum toxin therapy or neurotoxin injectables.
When neuromodulators are injected into your muscle (like on your forehead or in between your eyebrows), they block your facial muscles from receiving signals from your nerves. And when that communication is interrupted, your facial movements decrease, which helps to temporarily smooth fine lines and wrinkles (little movement = little wrinkles, you know?).
How is Daxxify different than Botox?
Daxxify is different from Botox in that it works faster and for longer—most people will notice a major decrease in movement in two days with Daxxify, versus the usual 5-7 days with Botox, and Daxxify wears off after six months (on average), in comparison to Botox’s three to four months.
The way it works is also pretty cool—if you're into science. Each neuromodulator (except for Xeomin) needs something to help stabilize it, says board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD. “Think of a stabilizer as a cradle holding the molecule in place so that it doesn't move or roll away,” she says. Botox, Juveau, and Dysport, for example, are all filled with proteins that act as preservatives to stabilize them. But Daxxify doesn’t use proteins or additives to stabilize it—it’s instead coated with a peptide that acts like double-stick tape to keep it in place, says Dr. Levine. This peptide coating is also what helps it bind faster (and stick around longer) to your nerve receptor, which is how Daxxify works so quickly and lasts for so many months.
And, because Daxxify doesn’t use these proteins or additives to stabilize it, it’s known as a “pure” toxin (just like Xeomin), which some providers prefer because patients “can develop antibodies to these proteins over time,” says Dr. Levine, “which can potentially make the actual toxin less effective.” Anecdotally, Dr. Levine says she’s seen patients eventually need more units of Botox to get the same effect as the first few times, potentially due to these antibodies.
That’s not to say that the other non-“pure” competitors are worse or dangerous—it’s just a matter of preference. For example, Daxxify is also the only neuromodulator that’s made without any animal or human byproducts, so if you’re into vegan beauty products, you might prefer Daxxify, says Dr. Marmur.
How long does Daxxify last?
Because Daxxify isn't yet publicly available (it should be on the market by summer 2023), it's impossible to really know how long it lasts in the general population. But in clinical trials, Daxxify lasted six months on average (with a small, outlier percentage lasting nine months), but more studies need to be done to get a clearer sense on how long it really lasts.
Still, for what it’s worth, Dr. Levine tells her patients to expect Daxxify to last longer than their usual toxin, possibly up to twice as long. Similarly, Dr. Marmur says that her forehead (which she injected with Daxxify) was still smooth three months after treatment, which is when she would usually start noticing movement coming back with other neuromodulators.
Where can Daxxify be injected?
Daxxify is currently only FDA-approved for use in the glabella (aka the 11s, between your brows), but it’s already being used off-label in the same places as other off-label toxins, like your crow’s feet, masseter muscles (around your jawline), forehead, neck, under-arms (for sweating), above your lips for a lip flip, etc.
Personally, I got Daxxify injected in my 11s, masseter muscles, and temples to help with tension and teeth grinding, and I’m hopeful: Dr. Marmur says her patients who grind their teeth love Daxxify in their masseter, because it wears off more gradually and doesn’t need to be re-injected as quickly.
How soon do you see Daxxify results?
Clinical trials suggest you’ll see Daxxify results (meaning less movement in the muscles that were injected) in about two days. For me, I noticed a little less movement in 24 hours, and then no movement after two days, which is major considering Botox and Xeomin can take up to a week to take full effect.
How much does Daxxify cost compared to Botox?
And here’s your answer to “why doesn’t everyone switch to Daxxify then?!” Daxxify costs significantly more than Botox, Xeomin, and Dysport. In general, you should expect to pay 50 to 100 percent more for Daxxify than other neuromodulators, says Dr. Gohara, because you’ll need close to double the units to get the same effect as you would with competitors.
For example: The approved dose to treat frown lines with Daxxify is 40 units, compared to 20 units with Botox. The cost will also vary depending on your geographic location, the provider injecting you, where you’re getting injected, and how many units you need, but on average, Daxxify will likely cost between $15 to $25 per unit, as opposed to Botox’s $10 to $25.
Are there any downsides to Daxxify?
“The biggest downside to Daxxify is if you didn't like the injection pattern or don’t like how it looks, the results would potentially last longer,” says Dr. Levine. There’s also the higher cost to consider. And while you might get a few more months out of your results, you’ll regain a little bit of movement gradually as the toxin begins wearing off regardless.
All of this to say, your crow’s feet won’t be as smooth month five as they were month three. For some, staying on top of your Botox appointments might be more worth it than trying out something new that ultimately costs similar in the long run.
When is Daxxify available?
Daxxify has already become available at many dermatologists’ offices (!) and will become widely available by summer 2023. Check with your derm to see if they are offering Daxxify to patients and when you can set up an appointment.
Is Daxxify worth it?
IMO, Daxxify is totally worth it. There’s no saying for sure how long it will last for you, but I’ll take a longer-lasting alternative any day if it means I can go to fewer appointments (and ya know, get fewer needles injected in my face). Yes, it does cost more than other neuromodulators like Xeomin or Botox, but Daxxify’s quicker and longer-lasting results work out to be about the same in the long run for me. And because you’ll see results in around two days, you might prefer Daxxify if you’ve got a special occasion and want smooth skin fast.
As far as side effects, I noticed a little soreness for a few hours at the injection sites, but that was pretty much it. But keep in mind that you could also potentially experience a headache or swelling for a few days too, according to Dr. Marmur. It’s been a week since my Daxxify injection and my forehead looks so damn smooth, and I’m already waking up with less tension in my temples and jaw. I legit didn’t know what it would be like to wake up and not immediately crack my jaw. Ty, Daxxify.
Meet the experts:
Ellen Marmur, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Marmur Medical in New York, NY. She’s also the founder of a skincare line called MMSkincare, which offers topical products and LED light masks.
Jennifer Levine, MD, is a board-certified plastic surgeon out of her own practice in New York, NY. She’s an expert in all anti-aging treatments, from non-invasive options to injectables to invasive procedures.
Mona Gohara, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in Hamden, CT. Dr. Gohara is an associate clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine and president of the Women’s Dermatologic Society. Her areas of expertise include medical and surgical dermatology and treating skin of color.
Why trust Cosmopolitan?
Beth Gillette is the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan with four years of experience researching, writing, and editing skincare stories that range from how to get rid of cellulite to stretch-mark creams. She’s an authority in all skincare categories, but is an expert when it comes to Daxxify after interviewing top dermatologists and trying it for her own tension headaches and forehead lines.
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