Handheld light beams. Micro-pulse vibrations. The latest skin-transforming gadgets and treatments may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but don't let the high-tech flourishes intimidate you: These "skinovations" are actually making it easier to get younger, flawless-looking skin, without having to deal with prescriptions or invasive procedures. And that's no science fiction.
Save you from RX hassle!
New over-the-counter lotions deliver (almost) the same benefit as their prescription cousins—without the wait time at the pharmacy counter.
Derm-prescribed skin-bleaching creams often contain a skin-irritating ingredient called hydroquinone. Now there are new, non-hydroquinone-based OTC lighteners that are less likely to produce a reaction, says Tina Alster, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC. Both La Roche-Posay Mela-D Pigment Control Correcting Serum ($59; laroche-posay.us) and SkinCeuticals Pigment Regulator ($85; skinceuticals.com) contain 2% kojic acid to break down melanin in your skin and prevent new spots from forming.
Prescription retinoids, which are vitamin A derivatives that boost collagen and speed up cell turnover, give you smoother skin, but they also may cause redness and flaking.
Good news: New OTC products with retinol have time-release formulas or added moisturizers, to lessen irritation, says Heidi Waldorf, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Night ($21; neutrogena.com) mixes retinol with hyaluronic acid, while SkinMedica Tri-Retinol Complex ($55; skinmedica.com) contains time-released microparticles that slowly pump out vitamin A. You could also go the more natural route: Origins Plantscription Anti-Aging Serum ($55; origins.com) swaps traditional retinol for African Anogeissus, made from the bark of a West African tree.
Save you derm visits!
These at-home alternatives are the next best thing to a trip to the doc—and they're a whole lot more convenient.
Lasers that Smooth Skin at Home
A host of handheld devices emit beams of light that stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, helping to keep skin firm. Just run them over clean skin as directed for several minutes a day. You can plump fine lines with a red light–emitting diode (LED) such as Zeno Line Rewind Wrinkle Reduction Kit ($40; Walmart). For deeper lines and more long-term benefits, you could invest in a fractional laser like the PaloVia Skin Renewing Laser ($499; palovia.com).
Lotions with Laser-like Results
Rather repair your skin the old-fashioned way? Consider one of the souped-up moisturizers that actually mimics a laser treatment. Check out Dermadoctor Photodynamic Therapy Laser Lotion SPF 30 ($85; sephora.com): It contains enzymes that absorb UV light and convert it into a skin-plumping wavelength. Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus Wrinkle & UV Damage Corrector ($45; clinique.com) uses the energy from its enzymes to repair DNA and ultimately reduce wrinkles.
Save you from surgery!
Undergoing elective surgery is always a last resort—even more so now, thanks to these noninvasive procedures done in the derm's office.
A Skin Tightener with Zero Downtime
Firmer skin via ultrasound? Yep,the in-office treatment Ultherapy uses ultrasound to heat—then lift and tighten—sagging skin. "It's the closest thing we've seen that gives facelift-like results, incision-free," says dermatologist David H. McDaniel, MD, assistant professor of clinical dermatology at Eastern Virginia Medical School. The procedure isn't cheap ($1,000 to $5,000, depending on how big an area you're targeting). Expect to see initial swelling and redness, and wait two to three months for the full payoff.
A Pain-Free Way to Lift and Smooth Skin
Noninvasive skin-tightening treatments and resurfacing lasers have soared in popularity because they let you get younger-looking skin (on the face, abdomen, even thighs) without surgery. But in the past, some of these procedures really hurt. Two new treatments solve that problem. Thermage Comfort Pulse Technology, a radiofrequency skin tightener (prices range from $1,500 to $4,000), is the gentler version of its painful predecessor. It features a vibrating tip that interrupts the reception of pain signals by your nerve endings.
The Fraxel DUAL 1550/1927 (about $750 per treatment), an offspring of the original Fraxel laser for treating fine lines, pigmentation, and acne scars, now has an advanced cooling system that makes the heat sensation more tolerable. It can also treat pre-cancerous lesions. "Expect sunburn-like redness, swelling, and bruising for a few days," notes Dr. Waldorf. After that, wrinkle-and spot-free skin is all yours!
Feel Bad About Your Neck?
The New Fix Muscle—relaxing botulinum toxin injections—the go-to for de-wrinkling forehead lines and crows feet—have been around for a decade now, and docs are still discovering new ways to turn back the clock with the stuff. Up next? The neck!
"This area has been one of the hardest to treat, and its one of the first places on your body to reveal your age," says Neil Sadick, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College. "Weve been successful at smoothing the platysma bands in the neck, the same ones that are pulled up during a facelift, by carefully injecting the area with botulinum toxins like Botox and Dysport."
A flawless neck will cost you anywhere from $300 to $800, depending on how many injections you need. Youll see smoother skin after a week; results last about four months.
"These injections are only successful if they are properly placed," notes Dr. Sadick, "so be sure youre in the hands of someone experienced."