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DIY treatments without a needle (or chemical) in sight
By Sarah Tarca
While the last two years of Armageddon, ahem, “the pandemic” can basically just get in the bin, one of the upsides has been the amount of at-home beauty products, treatments and tools that have risen from the ashes. Suddenly forced to look after all our beauty needs ourselves (me, pluck my own eyebrows? How very dare you!) beauty companies had to get on the innovation train, fast.
This coincided nicely with the slow demise of the Kardashian-bots and over-contoured, over-Botoxed faces that had dominated our feeds for years. People started investing in their skin, looking after their gut, and wearing less makeup – partly because yes, we all had nowhere to go, but also because it was time. Time to put down the injectables and try something else.
As a beauty editor, this was exciting for me because it allowed new innovation to break through, and since my job means I volunteer as tribute to trial them all it was nice to know my face was in for a non-invasive good time.
Here are three of my favourite natural alternatives to Botox:
Whether you’ve had four too many Aperol’s or you just have a one-year-old slowly draining the life from you (hi!), waking up with a puffy, red face is life being a real jerk and kicking you when you’re down. As the story goes, Ms Tilbury used a version of this cold therapy backstage on models to de-puff, refresh and tighten skin, so with that promise, I was in. It uses cooling pockets filled with gel beads to target the chin, cheeks, jawline, forehead, and the lines from the nose to the mouth (nasolabial lines in beauty speak). You pop it in the freezer for 10 minutes prior to use, then strap it on your face and let it work the magic. There’s also these metal beads that target acupressure points on your forehead so you get an extra hit of stress relief too (just don’t be a fool like me and press hard on them unless you want dent marks for hours). I used it over a hydrating serum to really help my face in the plump-and-bounce department, and although it was kind of painful at first (because, ice) the de-puff and the firmness was immediately noticeable, which is totally my jam (I do not want to wait six weeks for anything). For me, this was the perfect pre-game treatment before you go to a meeting/event etc, and also helped makeup glide on smoother which was a win.
When this came across my virtual desk I had many feelings – conflicting ones. I desperately wanted it to work, because it’s the ultimate lazy-girl’s beauty tool, but also I desperately wanted to call BS on marketing hyperbole. What won me over was it was conceptualised by one of London’s best non-surgical aesthetic doctors, (because, science). Anyway, I tried it for a couple weeks and my frown lines were still frowny, so I did something wild and read the press release, and it all began to make sense.
See, the mask targets what they call “dynamic wrinkles” – that’s temporary, expression lines. And of course dynamic wrinkles can become permanent ones if the muscle contractions continue to move in the same repetitive way. Anyway, using silicone dots which are placed to correspond to – and stimulate – tiny nerve endings in your face, they kickstart the parasympathetic nervous system (that’s the “rest and digest” one) so you can relax emotionally, but also so your muscles can relax (and you know, stop frowning). Here’s the cool thing: it’s actually clinically proven to reduce those wrinkles (you can read a research paper here) and you get some relaxation in to boot. No, it did not erase my lines, but I’m definitely sleeping better (a WIN with two kids) and I can feel my face relax more. Plus, now that I know what I’m looking for I can also say that those finer lines are even finer.
This was one trend I couldn’t wait to get on my face because everyone with great skin knows the magical powers of “the light”. So for me, these were perhaps the best (beauty) things to come out of the pandemic. But not all LED masks were created equal – in fact far from it. I’ve tried three of them (another exey one and a budget guy) but this Omnilux one is *chef’s kiss*.
I know, I KNOW it costs more than your rent (sorry!) but the cost per wear brings it down to peanuts so you’re basically saving money after a year. Basically. Anyway, let me explain why I rate it: Omnilux practically invented the category; they’ve been around since 2003, are market leaders and conduct the highest number of clinical trials. This speaks deeply to the inner nerd who loves to follow the science. Also, it’s FDA approved which is kind of a big deal, and the kind of thing I want to know when exposing my face to light.
But the real reason I love it is because it actually works. The LEDs work at different wavelengths to target different concerns in the skin, encouraging things like healing and regeneration (which I definitely need on this side of 40). It’s low commitment (3-5 times a week for four weeks, maintenance when you need it after) and for me it gave instant (clarity, hydration) and also longer-term results (softer lines, brightness). I’m sorry, for your wallet’s sake I wish it wasn’t so good… but it is.
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