Skin boosters are injectable moisturisers that improve the quality of your skin in a way few face creams can. They won't change your face shape like filler and give remarkably natural results
You will have heard of Profhilo, the injectable moisturiser that has cornered the ‘skin booster’ market. It delivers deeply hydrating and plumping hyaluronic acid (HA) into the skin at long-lasting depths that no topical skincare could ever reach. It has competition from similar injectable hydrators such as Restylane Skinboosters and Juvederm Volite.
Do skin boosters really work?
Injectable moisturisers are reliably successful at delivering long-term hydration and a real glow (see here for the skinny on how they work). But now, a host of competitors promise not only superior juiciness, but fast reduction of signs of ageing as well, thanks to bio-stimulating added ingredients that kickstart skin repair. In essence, these are skin-restructuring, age-defying serums that are injected into the dermal layer where cell regeneration takes place – something that is extremely hard to achieve efficiently with topical serums and creams.
And the best thing is, despite being delivered with a syringe, skin boosters won’t freeze or inflate parts of your face like Botox and fillers will. Aside from some very temporary swelling, these tweakments leave no trace – apart from significantly more radiant and, depending on the product, less lined, blotchy or saggy skin. This is basically turbo-boosted skincare that is guaranteed to work.
How much do skin boosters cost?
Of course, it comes at a price, as injections ought to be administered by medical professionals. Costs differ depending on the doctor and the product, starting at roughly £325 for a single face session Most products require three initial treatments, spaced two weeks apart, and top-ups every three to six months to maintain the results.
If needles freak you out, this is not for you: you can expect 12-20 (or in the case of some injectable moisturisers, many dozens) of stingy face jabs per treatment depending on the product. Most can also treat areas like the neck and hands, while some are suitable for the body and eye area too; each area has its own protocol and recommended number of injections. Also, despite them having skincare effects, skin boosters can’t quite replace topical products so you’ll still need to invest in a good moisturiser, exfoliant and, above all, a daily SPF.
What are the different skin boosters and what are they best for?
We asked a number of cosmetic physicians to take us through the array of injectable moisturisers and skin boosters on the market and explain what they’re best used for.
Hydration-boosting injectable moisturisers
The skin boosters by injectables brand Restylane are the only choice for plastic surgeon, injectables trainer and co-owner of the Cavendish Clinic Mrs Priya Chadha: “These are clinically proven, with 25 years of data behind them,” she says. “There are alternatives with no more than six months of data – to me, that amounts to treating patients like guinea pigs.”
Skinboosters Vital (for treating wrinkles, acne scarring and skin quality in the face and hands) and Skinboosters Vital Light (for the under-eyes and chest) are ‘cross-linked’ hyaluronic acid, a process that makes the HA more durable and therefore more long-lasting. “All the others are temporary fixes,” says Chadha. She also rates them for being “fast-acting, and having a firming, lifting quality.”
The most famous of all the injectable moisturisers, Profhilo’s HA is “not chemically cross-linked but heat-treated,” says cosmetic physician Dr Sarah Tonks. This means, says the brand, that the limited number of injections, which spread out under the skin, have a “prolonged stimulating effect on the dermal cells” meaning collagen is boosted and skin looks firmer.
“Anecdotally patients tell me that Profhilo gives a lot of hydration off the bat, but it that it doesn’t give as much improvement in luminosity as some of the other boosters I use,” says Tonks. The deep hydration means that many doctors, among them Dr Ayah Siddiqui, rate Profhilo for treating inflammatory skin issues: “It’s brilliant for improving water retention and subduing the inflammation at the root of skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis,” she says.
Apart from the lower half of the face, it can be used on many areas of the body such as the knees, arms and abdomen.
The skin booster by filler brand Teoxane is non-crosslinked (so very light and liquid) hyaluronic acid plus a host of antioxidants, amino acids and vitamins, which are all essential for skin health. It’s like mesotherapy but better, as the active substances and hydration are delivered much deeper. It’s best suited for skin that has lost its glow and needs a jolt of deep hydration. It requires over a hundred tiny injections all over your face per treatment.
Another non-crosslinked HA, this is good for an instantly noticeable moisture boost that leaves skin more supple. Administered as multiple small injections all over the face, surgeon and cosmetic physician Dr Apul Parikh prefers it to Profhilo as it is “more efficient at giving real hydration and a visible glow.” A big selling point is that it, unlike almost all other skin boosters, requires only one treatment that’s said to last six to nine months.
Bio-stimulating skin boosters
“This is cross-linked HA plus glycerol, a very hydrating substance that boosts the hydrating and plumping power of HA,” says Tonks. Revive quenches, stimulates the skin’s production of more HA long-term, and helps restore the skin barrier. “More so than Profhilo, I find it leaves skin luminous and softens hyperpigmentation; studies have shown it to improve skin discolouration for up to nine months, and firmness for up to seven months,” says Tonks.
Nucleofill is not based on HA but consists of polynucleotides, salmon DNA-derived messenger molecules that get the skin to heal damage and make more collagen. This means it improves elasticity, softens wrinkles and brown spots and can tighten pores. “I’ve seen it work pretty well on stretch marks too”, says Tonks. She adds that in Asia, polynucleotide jabs are routinely teamed with HA injections for a smooth-and-glow ‘sandwich’.
The substance has already spawned a number of alternative polynucleotide injectable brands, including PhilArt, Rejuran and Ameela. Polynucleotides can be used not only on the face and neck, but around the eyes, to minimise scars, and even to improve hair quality on the scalp and of the eyebrows.
This is non-crosslinked HA with a blend of amino acids that helps regenerate collagen as well as elastin. “I like Sunekos a lot because it’s so versatile,” says Tonks. “It works well for wrinkle and crepiness reduction, really improving skin quality, and you can use it anywhere, even in the forehead (many other skin boosters are only for the lower half of the face) and under eyes.”
Sunekos also has two applications for the body. One firms and plumps slack skin, for example above the knees, while the other, called Sunekos Cell, targets cellulite. “The amino acids and HA are contained in an alkaline solution, a combo that helps correct the inflammation and fibrosis [tissue thickening] that are major contributing factors to that lumpy cellulite look,” says cosmetic physician Dr Pamela Benito, who is enthusiastic about the smooth results she’s been getting for her clients.
By aesthetics brand Neauvia, this is a blend of HA, amino acids and calcium hydroxyapatite, a mineral naturally found it the skin that revs up collagen and elastin that is also used in the collagen-boosting dermal filler HArmonyCa. “It firms, tones and lastingly hydrates,” says cosmetic physician Lauren Hamilton of Victor & Garth clinic.
One for the brave: Gouri is not HA but “a liquid polycaprolactone, a version of which is also in the bio-stimulating filler Ellansé,” says Tonks. “It’s a very potent bio-stimulator that forms a sort of scaffolding under the skin for noticeable firming and a tiny bit of volume replacement. I’m astounded by the results: it makes skin look stunning.”
But before you stampede to her clinic, Tonks also warns that Gouri is “harder to inject because there’s risk of significant inflammation afterwards. The patient has to take antihistamines to try to avoid this as well as local anaesthetic injections because the jabs sting far more than your average skin booster.” To top it all off, “you better get a really good doctor because any bruises will hang around forever,” she says. Well, at least she’s honest!