No risk of pillow face, minimal downtime and brighter, smoother, plumper skin at the prick of a needle. At least that's the claim of injectable moisturisers such as Profhilo and Juvéderm...
Injecting moisturiser: we certainly don’t suggest trying it at home, but it’s the newest non-invasive cosmetic treatment promising brighter, bouncier and more even textured skin, without the stiffness or potential pillowy pitfalls of the likes of botox and dermal fillers . Basically, injectable moisturisers are intended to make your skin look and feel better, but don’t change the shape, volume or muscle movement of your face. Injectable skin boosters are becoming one the most booked treatments up and down the land – here's how they work according to derms and doctors.
What’s in the syringe?
This very much depends on the exact treatment you’re having (we’ll explain the doctor-approved options on the market), but on the whole injectable moisturisers mainline on one hydration boosting ingredient you’re likely already familiar with, as Dr Paris Acharya (BDS Honours MFDS RCS Ed MBChB) of the Waterhouse Young Clinic explains:
“Injectable moisturisers and skin boosters are generally hyaluronic acid based solutions that are injected into the skin to improve the appearance of skin on your face, neck, décolletage and hands. They provide optimal results due to their ability to work from the inside out, awakening cells within the ‘power centre’ of your skin to replenish, revive and rejuvenate.
“Hyaluronic acid is used as it’s a potent natural moisturising factor naturally found in skin, muscle and joints. Its ability to draw 1000 times its own weight in water into the skin makes it ideal for binding and retaining water molecules, providing the very best innate moisturisation.”
Below the surface hydration isn’t the only skin benefit either, as Dr Sarah Tonks, leading cosmetic physician and founder of The Lovely Clinic , highlights:
“The latest advancement in injectable technology, these skin boosters use a hyaluronic acid solution that is clinically proven to stimulate new collagen formation and increase elastin levels that have been depleted due to age or environmental factors. It has the added bonus of diminishing fine lines and improving glow and hydrating skin from within to leave skin looking fresh and radiant.
“The injections also change the light refractive properties of the skin to create a more even complexion. So, if you have fine lines and wrinkles these are visibly diminished, and if your skin is dehydrated, then the hyaluronic acid will help to hold water in the skin making it look far more dewy and delivering a long-lasting serum effect, without the serum.”
So hyaluronic acid is the hero here, but isn’t that also the key ingredient in your regular run-of-the mill dermal fillers too?
How injectable moisturisers differ from fillers and Botox
Firstly, the objectives of ‘moisture jabs’ differ from the volumising and muscle freezing effects of fillers and Botox, and advances in chemistry have allowed aesthetic experts to deliver hyaluronic acid in a whole new way, for skin health gains as well as appearance related appeal. Dr Acharya explains why injectable moisturisers are in a different field to more well-known injectables:
“The type of hyaluronic acid and the way it is formed differs from the hyaluronic acid delivered into skin by regular fillers. Traditional hyaluronic acid based dermal fillers have chemical bonds that give them properties that enable the augmentation of tissues via a lifting and volumizing effect when injected into specific areas. This allows corrective restoration of tissues.
“Injectable moisturisers or hydrators contain a form of hyaluronic acid that is produced in a different way to traditional methods, allowing the hyaluronic acid to disperse evenly in the injected plane of the skin, which instantly enhances hydration as well as stimulating multilevel ‘dynamic remodelling’ in the living layer of the skin Unlike fillers or Botox, they do not shape or volumise the tissues.”
It’s important to maintain the natural appearance of visible movement, rather than burying it under a thick layer of filler, which looks weird and unnatural.
The hyaluronic acid in injectable moisturisers is more viscous than the kind you’ll find in a dermal filler, and the runnier gel texture means that it can be distributed across the face (or body) more evenly, improving skin hydration and cell function from within while providing subtle, universal skin rejuvenation, without the static effect that fillers and Botox can produce. It’s more free-flowing texture also makes it ideal for treating trickier areas such as hands, necks and the décolletage, as consultant dermatologist Dr Stefanie Williams emphasises in her aesthetic treatment guide, Look great, not done! :
“One of my favourite areas for hyaluronic acid skin boosters are the hands. Hands can start to look bony and sinewy when we get older- a ‘deflating’ experience that’s easy to fix with HA (hyaluronic acid) skin boosters. In contrast to thicker fillers, there is no risk of ending up with a dreaded ‘pillow hand’. In my opinion, it’s important to maintain the natural appearance of visible movement of tendons, rather than burying them under a thick layer of filler, which looks weird and unnatural.
“Don’t forget about the neck and chest too- these are great indications for HA skin boosters. Remember that a congruent expression is important, so we musn’t treat the face in isolation ignoring other exposed skin areas such as hands and chest.”
Skin boosters are available at Dr Stefanie's Eudelo clinic in London on a 'price on request' basis.
Are injectable moisturisers the same as mesotherapy?
So many needles, so much confusion. Dr Acharya underlines how injectable moisturiser treatments differ from meso:
“The contrast between injectable moisturisers and mesotherapy lies in the additional components of the mesotherapy cocktails, which can include vitamins, minerals, hormones, amino acids, antioxidants and plant extracts. In this way, mesotherapy allows for the treatment of a wider range of conditions such as pigmentation, scars, cellulite, alopecia, and stretch marks, along with improving rough, dull, lacklustre skin. Mesotherapy cocktails are injected into the middle layer (mesoderm) of the skin, while injectable moisturisers plump and hydrate from just below the surface- the injections are shallower.”
Dr Williams also points out the hyaluronic acid used in mesotherapy (price on request at Eudelo ) differs from that used in injectable moisturisers and HA skin boosters:
“In contrast to native, non-stabilized HA molecules used in mesotherapy, the cross-linked, softer HA in skin boosters lasts much longer and results in more pronounced clinical improvements in areas where skin has lost plumpness.”
Why injectable moisturisers trump topical creams
Quite simply, you bypass the gatekeeper that is your skin barrier to deliver tricksy hyaluronic acid where your skin can best use it to stimulate skin to produce more collagen and elastin while “plumping skin directly where needed” according to Dr Williams. Given that our bodies own supply of hyaluronic acid naturally starts to tail off around our twenties, leaving skin drier and more prone to signs of premature ageing and environmental damage, injecting it uniformly and directly helps to slow signs of ageing and increase our skin’s moisture levels in a way that previously wasn’t possible.
That’s not to say that hyaluronic acid rich skincare is redundant- choose fast-absorbing serums containing small HA molecules for your best chances of penetration, while products containing weightier HA molecules can help to create a moisture-binding ‘film’ over skin. Dr Tonks recommends accompanying injectable moisturiser treatments with a topical hyaluronic acid to maximise results- her favourite is Skinceuticals HA Intensifier , £85 for 30ml, to seal in precious moisture and help skin to maintain firmness and elasticity.
Injectable moisturiser and skin boosters treatments that the experts rate
There are three key injectable moisturiser treatments to have on your radar, and which one you opt for depends on your unique needs- a thorough, bespoke consultation with an experienced licenced practitioner is required to determine whether injectable moisturisers are for you, and which type or combination would suit you best. Here are the main players:
This new treatment claims to be the first stabilised injectable hyaluronic acid based product that aims to improve tissue quality while treating skin laxity, and it won the award for the best injectable product in Europe at this year’s Aesthetic Industry Awards.
Dr Tonks states that “it’s recommended for patients citing concerns such as general dullness and dehydration who are looking for overall skin rejuvenation and an improvement in ‘glow’ and luminosity. Two to three treatments are administered one month apart, followed by a treatment every three to six months to maintain results.”
Prices per session can range between £300-600 (you’re looking at £450 at Dr Tonks’ clinic, £490 with Dr Acharya at Waterhouse Young and price on request at Dr Williams' Eudelo), and Dr Tonks reports that an overwhelming number of her patients are seeking the treatment - Profhilo is far and away the most popular procedure currently. This is possibly down to the fact that it also involves fewer injections than other injectable moisturiser treatments - just five on either side of the face, rather than a series of small jabs all over the face.
From the manufacturers of Botox, Volite launched last year and promises improved skin smoothness, hydration and elasticity for up to nine months. While it requires more injections than Profhilo, it contains an anaesthetic called lidocaine to numb skin and ease discomfort. Dr Tonks advises that “it’s best for crepey skin texture, such as vertical lip lines, backs of hands and around the eyes- the injections work to smooth out fine lines individually. One to two treatments every month and then one every six months is recommended to maintain smooth skin.” Downtime is minimal too- the makers report that 95 per cent of patients in a clinical trial involving 131 participants were able to return to social engagements a day after treatment. Treatments will set you back around £400, but prices vary.
Teosyal Redensity 1
Dr Tonks also offers this skin booster as part of her Injectable Glow programme- she explains that “it’s best for boosting overall skin health, with the addition of vitamins and minerals. It uses mesotherapy to concentrate hyaluronic acid and combines it with skin supporting elements such as glutathione, alpha lipoic acid, vitamin B6, zinc and copper. This injectable typically involves three initial sessions, a month apart, and then follow-up sessions every three to six months.” Dr Tonks relates that this treatment is also particularly helpful for brightening dark undereye circles, and it costs £450 per session at her clinic. It’s another trigger happy injection situation, but the ‘three-in-one’ formula contains lidocaine alongside hyaluronic acid and 14 vitamins and nutrients to take the ouch out somewhat.
While going under the knife is falling out of favour, interest in non-invasive skin treatments is up by 11 per cent
It’s not just the injectable formula that helps to boosts skin regeneration either- the act of medical needling itself can encourage skin to rev up collagen synthesis, as Dr Hilary Allan , founder of Woodford Medical , confirms:
“Injectable moisturisers are delivered by multiple tiny injections placed just under the skin in areas such as the face, décolletage and hands. Even the process of multiple injections is beneficial as each injection causes damage to the skin cells which kick starts repair and renewal and stimulates the production of new skin cells and more collagen .”
Who suits injectable moisturisers?
Dr Allen reckons they’re good all-rounders, with a few caveats:
“These injectables will be most appropriate for older or more dehydrated skin but can essentially be used on anyone provided they don’t have any allergies to HA or the vitamins contained in a skin booster solution.”
Dr Tonks generally treats patients in their 30s upwards, while Dr Acharya sees a lot of patients who are going through the menopause, as the menopause contributes to dry, thin skin thanks/no thanks to a natural drop in ‘glowy’, collagen enhancing oestrogen .
Dr Acharya states that contraindications to injectable moisturisers and skin boosters include “pregnancy, breastfeeding, active cancer, bleeding disorders, along with immunocompromising medical conditions.”
Side-effects and potential pitfalls
There will be bonafide damage to your bank account, and the effects of injectable moisturisers and fillers aren’t as pronounced or long-lasting as regular dermal fillers. Otherwise, here’s what to expect according to Dr Allen:
“Redness, swelling and pin prick bruising could take 48 hours to settle, which is all the more reason to choose a competent medical practitioner or clinic to perform such a treatment, with impeccable hygiene, as injections at such a level may produce some bleeding and bruising.”
Dr Allen urges that your skincare discipline needs to be on point:
“Looking after the skin by cleansing thoroughly and protecting it from UV damage by using SPF 50 is of paramount importance after such a treatment- the skin's own natural defences against UV light will be reduced for two weeks.”
A few lifestyle tweaks may also be required. Dr Acharya gives you the list:
“It is recommended to avoid alcohol, aspirin, NSAIDs and vitamin E for 24 hours before and after treatment. Avoid makeup for the first day after treatment, but if you must wear it, apply mineral makeup with clean brushes . Avoid strenuous exercise, laser treatments , waxing, sauna and steam rooms for 24 hours after treatment too.”
Other ways to refresh skin for the new season
Back to school skin doesn’t have to mean resorting to sharp objects- rechecking your skincare routine could be all that’s required, as Dr Acharya reflects:
“Autumn is a great season for skincare, the transition between summer and winter means that we can focus on sprucing our at home regimens as well as booking in for holistic, replenishing treatments to boost energy and hydration.
“The fundamentals to consider before anything else is to drink plenty of water, as this is the best way to hydrate your skin. Continue to use a high quality broad spectrum SPF too. Step up your exfoliation game, as exfoliating increases cellular regeneration and removes dead skin cells that may hinder absorption of your skincare products.”
If you are considering booking in with the pros, Dr Acharya explains the latest developments in clinic, and what’s restorative for post-summer skin repair:
“Autumn is a great time to book in for a series of peels. This will help to remove dead skin, allowing new layers to grow, resulting in a brighter, clearer, more youthful complexion. Peels can be used to treat a variety of skin complaints, from pigmentation and acne to texture and lines.
“In our clinic, for the right candidates we are moving away from traditional stronger peels towards lower strengths with reduced downtime so that you can continue your day-to-day activities without the obvious “peel effect”. We also offer a unique peel combined with stem cell technology to provide accelerated skin healing, excellent aesthetic results and minimal recovery time.
“If you would like to up the ante with injectable moisturisers, I’ve developed my own ‘Paris Glow’, which involves a combination of injectable moisturiser and intravenous infusion tailored to your individual needs, providing a truly holistic approach to reviving your skin from the inside out.
“Face contouring (or ‘liquid facelifts’) continues to be popular- it’s a ‘no knife’ face sculpting procedure that has gained real ground over the past few years and utilizes fillers and toxin restore volume to the face, naturally augmenting areas to provide a beautifully balanced profile.
“We’re also seeing lots of interest in a procedure called Radiesse, which is a unique calcium hydroxylapatite filler that plumps and lifts tissues with both immediate volume restoration and natural collagen stimulation, providing instant results that keep improving with time.
“Lastly, we have an exciting new whole body rejuvenation system that we will be launching next month, so watch this space.”
Whether you simply tweak your skincare regime for the new season or seek out a professional treatment, the current leaning towards more holistic, non-surgical procedures speaks of a general shift towards looking and feeling ‘better’, rather than ‘younger’, and stats released by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) bear this out. According to BAAPS research, there was an 8 per cent decline in cosmetic surgical procedures in 2017, with the number of facelifts performed on female patients falling by 44 per cent. Meanwhile, while going under the knife is falling out of favour, interest in non-invasive skin treatments is up by 11 per cent. The needle may be wielding more power than the scalpel currently, but a lack of regulation in the filler arena in particular remains an issue- as consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto stresses in her guide to the latest fillers and Botox options . All the more reason to play it safe, never be seduced by a deal and seek out the very best clinicians in the industry- having shots at your local salon is an accident waiting to happen.