Your guide to needle-free anti-ageing: 4 best alternatives to Botox

Whether you’re needle-shy or just curious about what else is out there, here are some alternatives to consider.

Written by
Molly McLaughlin
Medically reviewed by
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Does your face have a couple more lines than it used to these days?

As we get older our skin inevitably begins to change, often showing signs of thinning, sagging, wrinkles, dryness and pigmentation, which is partly due to a natural decrease in collagen production [1].

Lifestyle factors like smoking and sun exposure can worsen these age-related effects, while moisturising and using sunscreen can help maintain a more youthful appearance.

Although crow's feet and frown lines are a part of life, Botox (a medication that is injected into the skin) is a popular treatment used to decrease their appearance.

Botox can be effective in preventing wrinkles, but it is also costly when compared to skincare products and its effects generally only last 3-4 months. Luckily, some less-invasive treatments on the market have also been shown to reduce the appearance of fine lines [2].

Whether you’re needle-shy or just curious about what else is out there, this article will explore Botox alternatives for facial wrinkles.

What is Botox used for?

Botox is the brand name of a medication that contains botulinum toxin, a neurotoxic protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.

The medication, which is used for both medical and cosmetic purposes, works by blocking nerve signals in the muscles where it is injected.

This prevents muscle contraction, causing temporary paralysis and therefore minimising the development of wrinkles and expression lines.

There is also some evidence to support the use of Botox to treat chronic conditions that cause headaches, spasms, and pains in the head and neck [3].

Dermal fillers are another well-known treatment used to fight the decreased collagen and elastin production that comes with age. These are gel-like substances that are injected beneath the skin to increase volume and smooth out forehead lines.

Fillers are made from a variety of ingredients, including hyaluronic acid and calcium hydroxylapatite. Results vary, but they may last longer than Botox injections.

As always, we recommend consulting with a medical professional to figure out the best option for you.

3 reasons you may not want to get Botox

Botox isn't for everyone, and there are a few reasons why some people avoid it:


Botox injections require maintenance every 3-6 months to retain their anti-ageing effects, which can add up to a significant financial investment over the long term.

In Australia, costs range from around $200-450 per treatment area [4].


Then there's the worry that too many Botox injections can result in an unnatural or extreme appearance.

Use of large amounts of Botox over a long time period can even lead to muscle atrophy and reduced skin elasticity, worsening wrinkles in the long run [5].

Medical risk

Although it is considered a safe procedure when administered by a trained professional, Botox injections do carry a small amount of risk.

Patients can experience pain, swelling, bruising, and headaches after the injection, and more serious complications like partial facial paralysis or disfigurement are possible if the Botox is not administered correctly.

4 effective Botox alternatives

If needles aren't your style, there are plenty of other ways to fight your frown lines and unwanted skin texture.

Topical alternatives can be highly effective and offer a variety of advantages over Botox injections.

1. Chemical peels

A chemical peel is a skin-resurfacing procedure where a chemical solution is applied to the skin, causing the top layers to peel off over several days.

The new skin that grows back is likely to be smoother, giving your face a more youthful appearance and decreasing fine lines and wrinkles [6].

There are different types of chemical peels each targeting different skin layers and addressing various skin concerns.

However, the after-effects can be painful, often compared to a sunburn, so make sure to discuss the procedure with your doctor.

2. Facial exercises

Have you heard of face yoga? While the name sounds a bit silly, face yoga has shown some promise as a Botox alternative.

In 2019, a study found that facial exercises made participants' cheeks look fuller and their faces appeared more youthful overall [7].

However, the participants engaged in facial exercises for 30 minutes per day and the long-term effects were not tracked, so more research is needed to definitively establish the effectiveness of the practice.

3. Laser resurfacing

Laser resurfacing has become more common in recent years thanks to technological advances that have made the treatment cheaper and more accessible.

Like chemical peels, laser resurfacing removes the top layer of skin to reveal the newer skin cells underneath and is used to address ageing and acne scars.

The heat from the laser is also thought to stimulate collagen production, and there are different types of lasers to suit a variety of patient needs [8].

Depending on the chosen intensity, laser anti-ageing treatments can range from relatively quick and pain-free to more intense. A series of treatments may be needed to achieve the desired results.

4. Skincare

The most accessible of all the Botox alternatives is looking after the skin you have.

While your collagen production may not be what it was, cleansing, hydration and exfoliation can improve skin tone and achieve smoother skin.

Software’s Advanced Ageing Set is designed to address fine lines and wrinkles via a 3-step routine made up of our:

Enriched with targeted actives, this set softens signs of ageing and boosts elasticity for your healthiest skin yet.

If you're looking for something a little more targeted, Software's ageing treatment is designed by a dermatologist and tailored to your skincare goals. Simply complete our online consult to get started.

The best skincare ingredients to achieve a Botox-like effect

Whether or not you use Botox, the key to preventing further ageing and achieving younger-looking skin is sun protection.

A daily SPF routine will go a long way to reducing avoidable damage to your skin, while a hat and sunglasses reduce the dreaded squinting that can lead to forehead lines.

Along with sunscreen, there are a bunch of ingredients that have tangible effects on skin health.

Retinoids, vitamin A and retinol are some of the most well-supported anti-ageing ingredients and have been found to improve the appearance of crow's feet, frown lines, and sagging skin through increasing cell turnover.

This group of ingredients can be tricky for those with sensitive skin, so make sure to introduce them into your routine slowly.

There is also evidence for the positive effects of niacinamide, which helps the skin retain moisture.

AHAs have promising exfoliating effects, while ascorbic acid (vitamin C) can provide extra sun protection and promote collagen synthesis [9].

Ceramides are known for their role in rebuilding and maintaining the skin barrier [10]. Plus, many of these ingredients are also employed to treat acne and hyperpigmentation.

Are topical treatments as effective as Botox?

The choice between Botox, chemical peels, laser resurfacing and skincare is a complex one.

Each treatment has its pros and cons, and the final decision will come down to personal preference.

Those looking for an immediate, dramatic method to treat and prevent wrinkles will likely favour Botox injections and filler.

On the other hand, a consistent skincare routine (including SPF every single day) will help protect healthy skin and therefore decrease the visible signs of ageing.

Topical hyaluronic acid, for example, is an effective moisturiser that has flow-on effects for skin plumpness and elasticity, but the results will not be as pronounced as filler [11].

For many people, a combination of treatments will give the best results.

What alternative to Botox lasts the longest?

Unlike Botox, laser resurfacing and chemical peels achieve wrinkle reduction by exposing the younger skin underneath.

With the help of a regular skincare routine, you can slow down the ageing of this fresh skin layer, extending the results of the treatment.

In some cases, the results of deep chemical peels and laser resurfacing can last for many years — but again, it's the right skincare products that will help you prolong these anti-ageing effects for as long as possible [12].

Whether you choose to reduce your wrinkles or embrace your laugh lines, it may take some trial and error (as well as expert advice) to figure out what works for you.

Fortunately, there is a wide range of options to help you maintain healthy, glowing skin at any age.

Image credit: Getty Images

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