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Although I've spent many years as a beauty writer, I've only recently dipped my toes into the Botox waters, having just tried the invasive wrinkle treatment at the ripe old age of 32. I must say, I'm a little disappointed I didn't do it earlier—I honestly felt like I looked incredibly refreshed and rejuvenated without feeling stiff or plastic-like. (Related: Why I Got Botox In My Twenties)
However, when I found out I was pregnant last fall, I had to give up Botox, as it's not safe while making babies (two of which I'm growing in my own womb currently). Rather than give up on the pesky in-between-my-eyebrows wrinkle, I hunted—and asked my favorite dermatologists, naturally—for the best noninvasive Botox alternatives that are 100 percent pregnancy-safe. Here's what I came up with.
Photo: Paper Boat Creative / Getty Images
Exuviance HA100 Micro-Filler Regimen
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Francesca Fusco, M.D., a dermatologist based in New York City, loves these innovative cone patches that smooth hard-to-treat expression lines. "The cones are designed to dissolve into skin overnight, plumping the look of lines with surface hydration thanks to 100 percent pure hyaluronic acid—a moisture magnet for wrinkles," says Dr. Fusco. (Related: The Skin-Care Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid)
Environ Focus Care Youth Plus Enriched Peptide Serum
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"When applied topically over time, lines are visibly reduced with this serum," says Dr. Fusco. "It works especially great on crow's feet, lipstick lines, and even 'bunny' lines (the fine wrinkles that appear when you scrunch up your nose)," she adds, thanks to the peptides, which are broken-down amino acids—also known as collagen—that help to restore wrinkled skin.
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Hadley King, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist, recommends silicone pads like Wrinkles Schminkles. "They're a great noninvasive option for lines coming from facial expressions or from folding and compression of the skin during sleep," says Dr. King. "The pads help prevent transepidermal water loss, locking in moisture so the skin will be better hydrated and better able to repair itself and produce collagen." As a bonus, the pad keeps the skin flat to help prevent the creases that form during sleep, she adds.
Photo: Wrinkles Schminkles
Frownies Forehead and Between Eyes Facial Patches
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Frownies are adhesive patches that are designed to be applied to the skin to help relax the muscles on your forehead and between your eyebrows. "In theory, they can help 're-train' the muscles on your face, but results may vary and will take a longer time," says dermatologist David Lortscher, M.D. He notes that the use of these types of products may cause irritation when used with topical medication, so proceed with caution.
Fillerina Dermo-Cosmetic Filler Treatment Grade 1
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Some topicals, like Fillerina, can have short term wrinkle-masking ability, says dermatologist Hal Weitzbuch, M.D. This 14-day, at-home cosmetic treatment utilizes hyaluronic acid—the same chemical that fillers Restylane and Juvéderm contain—and has five different grades, depending on age and severity of wrinkles. It also works well on those who have had injectable work in the past or who are putting off the in-office procedure for as long as possible.
Rodial Bee Venom Night Gel
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Bee venom is a popular—yes, you could even say buzzworthy—ingredient in masks and night products, notes dermatologist Erum Ilyas, M.D. "The bee venom is thought to relax the skin to give a 'Botox-like' effect while also slightly swelling the skin to make it appeared less wrinkled." Dr. Ilyas likes Rodial Bee Venom Night gel, but advises a patch test first (and notes that those with bee-sting allergies should be particularly cautious).
Sudden Change Under-Eye Firming Serum
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Although plastic surgeon Anthony Youn, M.D., admits that nothing works quite the same as Botox, he's a fan of Sudden Change's Under-Eye Serum to treat pesky fine lines and wrinkles around your peepers. "This inexpensive product acts like shrink wrap for the skin around the eyes, causing the skin to smooth after just three minutes and lasts a couple of hours," says Dr. Youn. "The product isn't permanent, but works in a pinch."
Photo: Sudden Change
SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum
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"This serum contains a combination of growth factors—natural substances responsible for skin repair, structure, elasticity, and firmness—along with antioxidants," says New York City–based plastic surgeon Joshua Zuckerman, M.D. (And he's not the only derm who's a fan.) Dr. Zuckerman adds that clinical studies have shown its efficacy in improving fine lines and wrinkles—plus it has over 200 5-star reviews on Dermstore from fans who swear by the serum's powers.