This new cosmetic trend is gaining traction as a sweat-reducing, blowout-preserving solution to your post-workout hair woes
Dry shampoo not quite doing the trick post-spin class? There’s an alternative treatment promising to save your blowouts—and it lets you squeeze in that morning workout without sending you off to the office with a sopping wet head of hair. It's scalp Botox.
When we first heard of the trend from New York City-based dermatologist Dendy Engelman, M.D., who reported an influx of women asking for the procedure to protect their blowouts over the past six weeks, we were admittedly a little skeptical. Are women really going to such extremes for a good hair day?
So we asked around. The verdict: “It’s definitely a trend. There’s no question about it,” confirms New York City-based dermatologist Julie Russak, M.D.
Botox for sweat is technically considered an ‘off-label’ use. The serum has only been clinically studied and FDA-approved to treat crow’s feet and frown lines. But the drug is a well-known and unofficial solution to sweating—it’s been used for this purpose in the armpits, palms, and soles of feet (ouch!) for about five years.
“When we first started using Botox, patients who were getting it on the forehead said it was helping with sweating too,” says Soheil Simzar, M.D., a dermatologist based in Los Angeles. And while it sounds crazy to inject something into your head, derms have been performing Botox scalp injections to help with migraines for years, he explains.
How does it even work? Well, Botox blocks the communication between the nerve and sweat gland, effectively preventing the glands from working and you from perspiring.
But, while the science is there, the trend has only started to gain traction recently.
Russak says that the first time she performed the procedure was about a year ago, when a patient complained that her head was sweating so much after a workout that it was impossible to keep up with washing it and stay sane. “You will still sweat afterwards, but so much less. It totally saved all her blowouts,” Russak confirms. (Want a quick fix? See these Easy Hairstyles to Boost a Second-Day Blowout!)
Since then, Russak estimates that she’s treated at least 20 women in recent months, primarily through word of mouth. “It’s great for people who work out a lot, and especially in the summer. It really makes a difference for someone who produces so much sweat that it’s affecting her life,” she says. “I mostly do it for women who take SoulCycle and hot yoga.”
It’s really taken off on the west coast in the last six months as well, according to Simzar. “In our Santa Monica and Beverly Hills offices, many of our patients do a lot of yoga, Pilates, and spin," he says, adding that Botox helps them head back to the office without compromising their professionalism (as sweat-soaked hair typically will).
The procedure itself involves extremely superficial injections throughout the scalp using the tiniest needle available (smaller than the size of a hair). Depending on the size of your head (injections are made every square centimeter!) and how bad you usually sweat, a full treatment may require anywhere from 100 to 150 injections per session.
Luckily, since the scalp doesn’t have many nerve endings, it doesn’t hurt as much as it would to get Botox on, say, your face or armpits. “Pain is never an issue,” Simzar says. In fact, it doesn’t even require numbing the area first.
And it can ‘deactivate’ the sweat glands for anywhere from six to 12 months, Engelman says, unlike Botox used for wrinkles, which typically wears off more quickly.
“If you’re not working out because you don’t want to mess up your hair, then it’s kind of life-altering. And if you only have to do it once a year, then it’s worth it,” she says. (Plus, there’s even some evidence that it may help with hair growth.)
Of course that doesn’t mean everyone should run out and book an appointment—after all, one session can run anywhere from $800 to $1,200. “It’s an indulgent procedure. It’s certainly a niche," says Engelman. "I have hair that behaves. I would not do this.”
If your hair isn't super unruly or sweating isn't a major issue for you, there are much less extreme options, like these 7 Ways to Extend a Blowout. But, if your sweat is affecting your workout routine or social life and you’ve got the cash to spare…have at it.