With non-surgical injectable treatments like botox and filler now firmly planted at the forefront of current beauty trends, is there a better, safer, more natural alternative? A look at how we can take a more synergistic approach to a youthful appearance.

Anti aging has long been a scientific movement that examines how we can delay and reverse the effects of aging on the human body with different modalities. When applied to our skin, there are just as many schools of thought, from plastics and injectables that mitigate the effects of aging to facial workouts and massages that strive to re-engage facial muscles and invigorate the tissues, awakening and aiding the lymphatic system. But are the two really working in tandem? Neurotoxins like botox have been popular since the ’80s, with a steady incline since the ’00s in the treatment and prevention of wrinkles and loss of elasticity, and there has been a recent uptick since Covid in injectable treatments. With such focus on our health and immune systems, sales of natural remedies and supplements have also climbed, as have beauty and hair products, but if we look at how we are treating ourselves and our bodies as a whole, are our treatments, remedies and tricks working together? Are our sometimes self prescribed wellness and beauty rituals working synergistically?

According to Dr. Travall Croom, and he is not alone this assessment, “The use of botox eventually decreases the circulation to the face.” It is after all, a toxin injected under the premise that the repeated action of expression muscles is what causes wrinkles. Dr. Croom targets signs of aging by doing the opposite, but also encourages supplementing botox with facial acupuncture and other forms of stimulation, reawakening those channels. “Having facial acupuncture treatments, while using botox, will increase the circulation and blood supply to the face.”

“The use of botox eventually decreases the circulation to the face.”

Croom’s approach has gained popularity in New York City with models, editors and celebs alike, but his approach is different from traditional acupuncture techniques.
“…My specialty is in sports medicine and orthopedics. I look at the facial treatment as an orthopedic treatment. I address muscle, connective tissue, and skin issues the same way I would in other parts of the body.  My point locations are based on neuroanatomy, and not the traditional points taught in acupuncture school… I’m treating tight muscles, weak muscles, and adhesions in connective tissue… I use motor points in all of my treatments.  A motor point is the location where a nerve gives a muscle the signal to move.” In effect, a treatment with Dr. Croom will target the nerve to help bring a muscle back to a normal state, relaxing the muscle for a smooth skin surface as opposed to blocking a muscle with neurotoxic injections, which can have the long term effects that lend a plastic effect when our neuro pathways forget about an area.

Traditional, much older techniques have been in play for centuries, and the recent surge in facial massage practices is based on techniques like traditional Chinese Gua Sha, an incredibly soothing and meditative ritual of sculpting the face using tools made of cool semi precious stones or metal. Sandra Lanshin of the cult favorite Lanshin in Brooklyn, uses Gua Sha and traditional acupuncture techniques, but the goal is fundamentally different from injectables— noticing a trend here? When it comes to long term effects, let’s just say no one ends up with Gua Sha face, but we’ve all heard of Botox face.

“Facial Gua Sha supports the healthy functioning of tissues, circulation, and energetic system. In my practice, those are long term effects worth working for. For me, a cosmetic result that doesn’t also support/strengthen a patient’s skin health is fun, but not as meaningful.” So perhaps the best way to avoid looking a little too “done” is to take a holistic approach, choosing a combination of treatments for the results we’re after, but with long-term health goals in mind.  “The goal of Facial Gua Sha is to restore and strengthen circulation and the health of the skin and underlying tissue. Cosmetic changes are a welcome byproduct!” Lanshin’s informative, calming instructional videos are popular on instagram, and she regularly practices on herself and her mother.

Other products like microwave frequency and light therapy can also be used at home to lend a little lift and longevity to those treatments we decide to get in office, and while Dr. Travall Croom actually incorporates these into his signature facial, Lanshin recommends exercising caution and consulting our injector or dermatologist when thinking about facial sculpting soon after injections. Be sure to chose a device that works for your needs, and when practicing Gua Sha always use a facial oil to avoid pulling or tugging the skin. There are also topical product applications that promise lifting and tightening effects, such as Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Lifting Serum, which employs Biopolymers and Microalgae Extract to visibly lift the skin and reduce visible signs of aging for an instant effect that lasts around a few hours, or as long as the serum remains active on the skin.