How Botox Can Fast-Fix (and Slow Down) the Signs of Facial Aging

Once upon a time, Botox would make us think of one of the Real Housewives. Now, millions of Americans get Botox every year for smoother, younger-looking skin—and none of us aren’t ashamed of it (well, we shouldn’t be anyway). Why? Because not only can Botox be injected for natural (think: undetectable) results, but it offers short-term and long-term results.

If you have darker skin, you might be wondering if Botox is something you can do without adverse effects. Will your experience be the same as our lighter-skinned counterparts? Read on to discover everything you need to know about Botox.

What Exactly Is Botox and How Does It Work?

We’ve all heard of Botox, but what is it, exactly?

Botox is a drug made from Botulinum toxin Type A, which is a kind of protein that is produced by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. Yes, it’s a mouthful, and yes, you read that right—Botox is a toxin. However, Botox is only used in small quantities and when it is, it’s safe to use (more on that below).

The drug works by stopping muscle movement associated with many daily expressions, most commonly smiling and frowning, which result in the eye and forehead wrinkles Botox is FDA-approved to treat. [1]

Over time, these facial expressions can cause permanent lines on the face from where the muscles keep moving and stretching the skin in a certain way. We also have decreasing collagen levels to thank for wrinkle formation, as declining collagen in the skin happens with age and can cause skin to look less firm, smooth and supple. [2]

So by getting Botox treatments to stop muscle movements, you keep skin smooth, treat wrinkles and even delay wrinkles from forming in the first place.

Is Botox Safe?

Not quite convinced of Botox’s safety? Consider that Botox has been used for decades and has been FDA-approved for the treatment of glabellar lines (those pesky wrinkles between your eyebrows, sometimes called 11 lines) and lateral canthal lines (crow’s feet).

Although Botox hasn’t technically been approved to treat other types of facial wrinkles, many physicians use Botox to prevent and treat wrinkles in patients with excellent results. In fact, one study that reviewed data from 65 clinical trials with nearly 15,000 participants concluded that Botox was relatively safe and effective for reducing wrinkles. [3]

What about side effects? Botox has a low risk for side effects, with the most common being minor bruising, bleeding, swelling and pain at the injection site. Researchers note that “the cosmetic use of Botox is safe even in cases of repeated injections.” [4]

How Botox Can Enhance Your Anti-Aging Journey

So how exactly can Botox deliver anti-aging benefits to dark skin? Here are three major ways Botox can enhance your anti-aging journey.

Botox Smooths Existing Wrinkles & Reduces Future Ones

Research shows Botox helps reduce existing wrinkles, which is good news for those of us who already have laugh lines, forehead wrinkles and crow’s feet. [5] However, tentative research also shows that Botox may help slow the development of future wrinkles. [6]

Although this doesn’t exactly translate to the prevention of wrinkles (remember, no anti-aging regimen is entirely effective—we can slow the aging process but not prevent it!), it does help us keep wrinkle formation at bay and minimize the appearance of wrinkles with aging.

But what wrinkles can Botox treat, exactly?

  • Bunny lines. Botox can successfully treat bunny lines, which is the name for wrinkles on the upper part of the nose. [7]
  • Crow’s feet. Have moderate or even severe crow’s feet? Botox has been shown to improve these wrinkles for younger-looking skin around the eyes. [8]
  • Forehead lines. If you have horizontal forehead lines, even severe ones, know that Botox injections can significantly reduce the appearance of them. [9]
  • Glabellar lines (11 lines). Research notes that Botox is “remarkably safe and effective in reducing glabellar lines”, so you can kiss those between-the-brow wrinkles goodbye! [10]
  • Marionette lines. Marionette lines (those creases between your lower lip and chin on either side of your mouth) can be successfully treated with Botox. Most commonly, marionette lines are treated with a combination of Botox and fillers. [11]
  • Neck lines. Research shows that Botox injections can provide “excellent” results for horizontal neck lines and wrinkles, resulting in smoother skin and a younger-looking neck. [12]
  • Upper lip lines. Botox can also successfully be used to treat wrinkles around the lips, including upper lip lines. [13]

Repeated Botox Injections Can Keep You Looking Younger

Like most good things, Botox doesn’t last forever. The effects can last several months (with three months being the most common), but you will need to have the treatment repeated to maintain your look.

Fortunately, getting subsequent Botox injections can actually prolong the effects. So if you get Botox at regular intervals, the less you will need it, and the longer the results will last.

How long is long though? Results can last as long as six months, so you would only need to get injections twice a year to maintain your youthful, glassy skin. [14]

Botox Pairs Well With Other Anti-Aging Skincare Practices

One of the cool things about Botox is that it works well with other anti-aging skincare practices.

This means that if you’re doing your dazzling dark skin a favor and using sunscreen, staying hydrated, eating healthy, exercising and using the right skincare products, Botox will help you look even younger for a more dramatic anti-aging effect.

You can even use Botox with other professional treatments, just not on the same day. For example, you can get Botox and then do a chemical peel a few weeks later, or use retinol in the months between your injections.

What to Expect During & After Your Botox Procedure

Botox is a quick procedure typically done in a dermatologist’s or plastic surgeon’s office that only takes a few minutes.

Although administering Botox requires a needle, it’s super tiny, so all you’ll feel is a slight pinch. If you’d like, your practitioner can likely apply a numbing cream to help you feel nothing during the procedure.

After the procedure, take it easy for the rest of the day (a great excuse to skip the gym!), avoid touching your face and wearing makeup for at least 24 hours. You’ll also need to remain upright for a few hours after the procedure.

You’ll also want to avoid drinking alcohol before or after the procedure and avoid getting additional professional skincare treatments on the same day. Go easy on your skin the rest of the day—no chemical peels or exfoliating!

Your practitioner may also advise you to gently exercise your face after the Botox procedure, such as smiling, frowning or squinting to help the Botox take effect faster. [15]

Is There a More Natural Alternative to Botox, Such as Fillers?

Since Botox is derived from a natural substance, as is the active ingredient in fillers, one isn’t necessarily more natural than the other.

But should you use fillers instead of Botox? It depends on what concerns you have with your skin.

Botox is used to slow down the wrinkle formation process, while fillers are used to restore lost volume in the face. So although fillers can certainly help with wrinkles, they are designed for plumper, smoother skin, while Botox is more targeted to treat and prevent wrinkles.

One review notes that both Botox and fillers are “very operator-dependent and have very similar side effects.” [16] So, as with Botox, fillers or any professional skincare treatment, you must do your homework, ask questions and find an experienced and licensed professional to assist you.

Worried about having a frozen, unnatural-looking face after Botox? Not to worry—if you work with an experienced professional, you will still be able to make all your usual facial expressions, just without the wrinkles. [17]

And here’s a little secret: You can use both Botox and fillers to reduce wrinkles, restore facial volume and still look natural!

Are There Special Considerations for Different Skin Tones or Types?

Botox works well for all skin tones and types, so Botox can work for you whether your skin is a Fitzpatrick type III (olive or medium brown) or a Fitzpatrick type VI (dark brown or black). Research confirms it—Botox is considered a safe and successful treatment for darker skin types. [18]  With that said, make sure you do your due diligence and find an injector who has lots of experience working with melanin-rich skin. At the end of the day, Botox is an injection—and you want to make sure you’re injected safely to prevent hyperpigmention.[19]

Key takeaways

  • Botox is a safe cosmetic treatment that can improve existing wrinkles and slow the development of new ones.
  • Botox is considered to be safe and effective for darker skin types.
  • It’s imperative to do your homework and work with a licensed professional (a dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or registered nurse) for your Botox treatments.

[1] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10989-020-10146-z

[2] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/collagen/

[3] https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD011301.pub2/full

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7874868/

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6489637/

[6] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2732501620984761

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5434487/

[8] https://academic.oup.com/asj/article/36/5/591/2584147

[9] https://academic.oup.com/asj/article/40/6/668/5524572

[10] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12973229/

[11] https://www.dermatologytimes.com/view/marionette-lines-targeting-dynamic-static-components-melomental-fold-rhytids-0

[12] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29922842/

[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6489637/

[14] https://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/blog/how-long-does-botox-last

[15] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181025084035.htm

[16] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6489637/

[17] https://www.aad.org/public/cosmetic/wrinkles/botulinum-toxin-faqs

[18] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10027327/

[19] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3865975/