To the horror of most people I tell, I had my first ever Botox injections aged 23. I was offered it as part of a ‘profile-balancing’ treatment, which uses a personalised ratio of filler and Botox (in smaller amounts than usually administered) to ‘balance’ out your facial features. I loved it. A long-time fan of the RBF (that’s Resting Bitch Face), it gave me the emotionless, cold expression I’ve always desired.
Unfortunately, having three monthly top-ups of Botox is not an expense I can afford even on my wildest payday, so ever since I’ve tasked myself with finding a truly worthy alternative to Botox that would deliver that same smooth-skinned effect for less.
I’m 25, but there are some dynamic forehead lines that can sometimes stay around longer than I’d like them to, especially when I’m dehydrated (so basically, always). These were my main area of concern and the part of my face in which I was hoping to see the most change.
Ultimately, I’d like these fine lines to vacate the area before they turn into static lines (the ones which stay there all the time), so I set about trying a plethora of non-injectable skincare alternatives with haste.
For more insight into injectables, you can read our pieces on what to expect when getting Botox for the first time, and the experiences of Botox across different ages. But if you’re looking for a more affordable or non-invasive alternative, read on to see how these products performed when I tried and tested them.
The Ordinary Argireline Solution 10% and The Ordinary Matrixyl 10% + HA
Rating: 4/5 ⭐️
Ingredients: Argireline, Matrixyl
Anything that’s dubbed ‘Botox in a bottle,’ I approach with a serious amount of side-eye, but I couldn’t ignore the number of claims and conversations surrounding two of The Ordinary’s skincare serums on TikTok.
There’s a lot of hype around Argireline due to its apparent ability to help relax the muscles in a similar way to Botox. Obviously Argireline can’t penetrate as deeply into the skin when applied topically as Botox can when it’s injected. There’s been limited research on the effects of this ingredient so far, but one study did find that using Matrixyl with Argireline helped the ingredients to permeate deeper into the skin.
I started incorporating both serums into either my morning or evening skincare routine (a bonus of these is that they’re safe to wear in the day, unlike retinol which is best to use only at night), mixing them together in my palm before patting into cleansed skin.
While retinol is often the most popular skincare Botox alternative, I preferred combining these two serums due to their non-irritating formulation. By no means are these an immediate fix, but if you are patient enough to persevere, after a month or two you’ll start to notice a difference in your skin. In the first few weeks of using the duo, my skin felt noticeably tighter and in turn, I didn’t find my forehead moving or creasing as much.
At under £10 a bottle each, I highly recommend trying these out for a few months if tighter, smoother skin is what you’re after. It isn’t recommended to use these with vitamin C, retinol, or other actives, but I continued using my trusty hyaluronic acid alongside them with no issues.
Rating: 4/5 ⭐
Ingredients: Craft paper
You might have seen people taping their faces before going to bed on your TikTok ‘For You’ page and wondered what on earth was going on, but chances are they were just using their Frownies.
Similar to face taping, Frownies Facial Patches work to create a ‘cast’ that lifts and prevents the muscles from moving, therefore preventing dynamic lines and static lines from forming.
The patches are made from craft paper and a corn-based adhesive that becomes sticky when hydrated (allowing it to adhere to your face), so are a safer option for those with sensitive and hypoallergenic skin when compared to some skincare actives.
For full transparency, these smell odd. I can’t put my finger on what it is. It isn’t too offensive if you’re only using them on your forehead, but I can imagine if you’re using them on nasolabial folds the smell could be quite off-putting, so it’s something to bear in mind.
It’s recommended that you use these patches for around 30 days, or until your lines are visibly decreased, after which point you can stop using them until the lines start to reappear again.
I put these on at night before I go to bed and when I wake up in the morning, the area feels immediately tighter and looks smoother. My forehead lines usually start to make an appearance throughout the day, but I find that after a night of wearing these patches, I’m not as expressive in my forehead muscles and therefore my lines don’t appear.
Whether this is due to the overnight work of the patches themselves, or me subconsciously not expressing with my eyebrows as much, it works, and I’ll be continuing to use them a few times a week to keep up the good work.
Rating: 3/5 ⭐
I’ve been intrigued by face yoga for a couple of years now, and I truly believe that doing facial exercises can visibly alter your face. A friend of mine has one of the smoothest foreheads I’ve ever seen, and when I asked what skincare she used, she told me that she decided one day to just to stop expressing using her brows and forehead, and that was that.
Now, I’m an incredibly expressive person when it comes to my face, so preventing myself from moving certain areas of my face wasn’t going to be a one-day fix. This is where face yoga comes in. The idea is to use a mix of facial massage and movements to relax certain muscles in your face and retrain others, ergo avoiding the onset of dynamic lines.
Sound complicated? Well, it takes a bit of practice, but TikTok and Instagram are full of videos explaining how to practice face yoga and how to target different areas of your face, so make the most of these free resources.
These facial massages are incredibly simple and easy to start doing. I incorporated them into my morning and evening skincare routine, focusing on my forehead lines and nasolabial folds.
You don’t need anything other than your hands and a face oil to practice face yoga, but it is something that you’ll have to keep up to see results, so I would say this one is the most effort out of all three.
Another benefit I noticed other than the softening of my lines was the release of tension in the areas around which I practiced face yoga and massage, making it a great option to try if you suffer from tension headaches, jaw grinding, or just hold a lot of stress in your face in general.