Botox has become so popular that even twentysomethings are holding Botox parties and lining up for injections. Listen, I get it ... all of us want soft, smooth, wrinkle-free skin. But here’s the problem: Botox can be downright dangerous.
In case you aren’t aware, Botox is derived from a strain of botulinum, one of the most potent neurotoxins on the planet. The bacteria used to be almost exclusively associated with improperly canned food, where it can cause botulism, a condition that damages nerves and ultimately leads to paralysis and death if not treated immediately.
Now people are using the paralyzing power of botulinum to get the smooth, wrinkle-free skin they desire. The toxin works by inhibiting the release of acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction, thereby paralyzing the surrounding muscles. When you inject the toxin into specific muscle groups they “relax” (aka become paralyzed), smoothing out the skin over the muscle and reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
(Of course, this is also why botched treatments lead to telltale signs like drooping eyelids, lopsided smiles, and other facial muscles not working properly.)
Proponents claim Botox is safe, and I admit some initial short-term studies seem to corroborate this. But there's still reason for concern. First off, no long-term trials have been conducted on the safety of the injections. Additionally, this is just one of those treatments that doesn't pass the common sense test. Is injecting a neurotoxin into your muscles really the best, safest way to tone your skin?
Here’s the real irony: There are natural interventions that are better than Botox. Here are my top five all-natural strategies that'll keep your skin looking young, healthy, and wrinkle-free for years to come:
1. Wear sunscreen.
I can't stress this enough. If you want to avoid lines and wrinkles on your face, do everything in your power to protect your skin from what causes them in the first place: oxidative damage from the sun. Choose a nontoxic sunscreen and use it religiously.
2. Drink water.
Hydrating your skin cells fills them with water, tightens them and gives your skin a smooth, clean appearance. Remember that juice, sodas and other sugary beverages aren't going to cut it. Water is the source of life — and the source of great, ageless skin — so stick with pure H20.
3. Avoid age accelerators.
To take care of your skin, you need to take care of your body. When you drink alcohol and eat sugary foods, your blood sugar spikes. This leads to excess blood glucose that can bind to collagen and elastin, damaging skin. This process is called glycation and its end products, called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), cause our skin to become rigid and less elastic, resulting in wrinkles.
Get regular exercise to improve circulation and keep your hormones balanced. Focus on foods that are rich in vitamins and nutrients (check out the list below). And if you're still smoking, quit: It's one of the biggest triggers for oxidative damage and therefore age-enhancing effects.
4. Power up on age-reversing nutrients.
Your skin cells need to have enough of the essential raw materials that allow them to repair damage, function optimally, and keep you healthy (and beautiful!). Feed your skin the nutrients it needs. Here are my top recommendations: