People Are Getting Botox for This Surprising Reason—a Derm Explains Why It’s Worth Considering

All your beauty questions—answered. Our resident dermatologist, Dr. Geddes Bruce breaks down the biggest topics in beauty, from hair loss to Botox and everything in between. Send us a DM @camillestyles with your own burning q’s and we may address it in a future column. 

My algorithm thinks I need Botox. Scrolling through social media, I see ads, testimonials, and before/afters all to convince me to make an appointment at my nearest medspa. I’m at the age where many of my friends have injected a syringe or two of Botox into their fine lines, foreheads, and even their armpits (apparently it can stop sweating)! But even with all the hype, Botox is still misunderstood. Board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Elizabeth Geddes Bruce, agrees. Beyond its aesthetic benefits, Botox is gaining more popularity as a wellness tool. Surprised? I was too! But as a painkiller, Botox for muscle tension could be the thing you’re looking for to ease your discomfort. Let’s investigate.

Featured image from our interview with Cyndi Ramirez by Belathée Photography.

Everything You Need to Know About Botox For Muscle Tension

I’ve starting hearing about people using Botox for muscle tension. I’m Botox-curious, but how do I know if this treatment is for me? And is it something that derms recommend?

As a beauty editor, I know the buzz around Botox is real. But could it be too good to be true? Or worse, could Botox be dangerous? Botox for muscle tension might be the next big thing, but it’s imperative to understand what you’re getting into. So I invited Dr. Geddes-Bruce to share her insights.

First things first, she told me that what we think of as “Botox” isn’t always… Botox. “Botox is a trademarked name but is used colloquially to refer to all neuromodulators,” Dr. Geddes-Bruce explains. It’s a brand, albeit the most popular, not the name of the treatment. Whether you’re opting for Botox or another neuromodulator, the possibility of an injectable painkiller might be right for you. But as with all treatments, be sure to consult a derm.

Why are patients using Botox for muscle tension?

Neuromodulators like Botox prevent muscles from contracting too strongly, thus causing a relaxing effect. We’ve capitalized on this effect in medicine and use it to safely treat painful conditions ranging from migraines to teeth grinding or jaw clenching, and much more.

How do you know if you need Botox for muscle tension?

This is subjective and depends on how your pain and tension affect YOU and your quality of life. Different tools help us as clinicians assess this in the office. In general, you should consult the appropriate specialist for evaluation before using Botox for muscle tension. For example, see a neurologist for migraines.

Which muscles can benefit most from Botox?

Neuromodulators work by binding to receptors on the muscle and blocking the signal sent from the nerve to “move.” The muscles that benefit the most are those that are contracting so strongly that they create medical issues, or those that can create a softer expression when weakened.

One of our most popular treatments is treating the masseter muscles of the jaw. We can improve tension headaches and save your tooth enamel by relaxing those muscles. Not to mention, an added benefit is a more tapered jawline and facial slimming. Another, newer treatment is injecting the superior portion of the trapezius muscle to relax the shoulders, elongate the neck, and relax muscle tension of that region. This has been popular for our patients who spend a lot of their day sitting at a desk, working on a computer.

Image by Belathée Photography

How long does Botox take to relax a muscle?

Depending on the specific brand of neuromodulator, you can start to see results a couple of days after the injections. However, full results usually take about two weeks to visualize. And full weakening of the muscle can take up to a month to fully appreciate.

The relaxing effect is twofold. First, we see an initial relaxing of the muscle when the neuromodulator fully kicks in around two weeks. Then, we see further relaxation when that muscle is no longer being used like it had been previously, which usually happens around one month after treatment. 

How often do you need to get new Botox injections?

Several factors determine how frequently you need to get new injections. Everyone metabolizes them a little differently. The most important is: how long does the effect last for you? On average, we see it last anywhere from 2.5-4 months. There are a few outliers that may go through it quicker or have it last closer to 6 months. And we’ve learned that the dosage used affects the duration—the more units, the stronger the initial effect, and the longer it will last.

Is Botox FDA-approved for tight muscles? Do Derms recommend it?

Yes! Botox is FDA-approved for the treatment for several conditions, including

  • Cervical dystonia, in which the neck muscles are involuntarily contracted and cause the head to twist to one side)
  • Overactive bladder leading to urine leakage
  • Prevention of chronic migraines
  • Blepharospasm and strabismus, aka involuntary blinking or crossing of the eyes).

All of these conditions stem from tight or overactive muscles. As dermatologists, we use many medications “off label” in the treatment of disease, as long as they have been proven safe for our patients. This includes neuromodulators for teeth grinding or jaw clenching, shoulder tension, excess sweating, and many different cosmetic benefits such as softening a gummy smile or frown line. 

Are there any risks to using Botox for muscle tension?

Thankfully, neuromodulators like Botox are pretty low risk because they are temporary. If Botox is placed incorrectly or diffuses into an unwanted muscle, then you can get undesirable effects like the dreaded eyelid drop or an asymmetric smile!

However, these things are rare with an experienced injector. Patients with baseline medical conditions involving muscle weakness (such as myasthenia gravis, for example) avoid neuromodulator injections, as well as anyone who has had a hypersensitivity or allergic reaction to neuromodulators, or pregnant women.

Are there any similar treatments to consider instead?

There are muscle-relaxing medications that are most often used temporarily after an acute injury, like a back strain. For chronically tight muscles, one can also consider gentle massage, physical therapy, targeted exercise, mindfulness, meditation, and acupuncture.

What else should we know before we go?

It’s not necessary to fully weaken or paralyze a muscle to see the cosmetic and medical benefits of Botox. We can tailor the dosage to your desired effect, and the results can be as subtle or strong as you please! Also, know that there are five different FDA-approved neuromodulators for use in the United States: Botox, Dysport, Xeomin, Jeaveu, and Daxxify. Each one has subtle differences in effect (and price) and you can discuss which one is best to fit your needs with your doctor. 

If you can, it’s best to avoid any blood thinners before receiving injections to minimize any risks of bruising. Things like aspirin, ibuprofen, fish oil, and even alcohol can thin the blood. After the injections, you can expect some mild swelling that will mostly dissipate in about 20 minutes, so it truly is a “lunchtime procedure.”

Half of all Women Experience Hair Loss—A Derm on the Best Treatments for Stronger, Thicker Hair

All your beauty questions—answered. Our resident dermatologist, Dr. Geddes Bruce breaks down the biggest topics in beauty, from hair loss to Botox and everything in between. Send us a DM @camillestyles with your own burning q’s and we may address it in a future column. 

One day you’re carefree—the next, you’re obsessively checking your hairbrush and drain every morning. How much hair shedding is normal? How much is concerning? It feels impossible to know. There may be countless tricks and trade secrets to prevent hair loss—from hair oiling to avoiding ponytails—but what about treatments for addressing hair loss when it starts? The world of hair loss treatments for women is wide, but thankfully, we have an expert to help us make sense of it all.

Whether your hair is thinning or falling out in certain spots, noticing a change in your hair can be panic-inducing. Sure, when your hair gets dry in the summer from too many beach trips, you can do a few hair masks to revive your locks. Even when it gets thin from over-coloring, you can take a break from the salon, pop a biotin supplement, and soon your locks will be back to normal. But hair thinning and loss feels like a minefield.

Featured image from our interview with Babba Rivera by Belathée Photography.

Image by Michelle Nash

Ask a Derm: Hair Loss Treatments for Women

Over the years, I’ve noticed my hair shedding and a loss of thickness. I’ve seen tons of hair growth supplements and treatments across social media—but I’m at a loss for where to start. Could you share insights and advice into these treatments, as well as your thoughts on which may be the best?

— Amy K.

Clearly, I didn’t write this as a hypothetical—many of you have written in to get a dermatologist-backed opinion on hair loss treatments for women. We heard from you, and today, we’ve invited Dr. Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce, MD to share her answers. In our first installment of our newest series, Ask a Derm, Dr. Geddes-Bruce is addressing your concerns on hair loss and sharing insights to help you prevent and treat thinning hair.

Image by Teal Thomsen

Everything You Need to Know About Hair Loss in Women

As a board-certified dermatologist, I know that losing up to 100 hairs a day is within the range of normal. However, I tell my patients that if they are concerned, I am concerned. Only you know your hair baseline, and what is a significant change for YOU. It is not helpful to be told that everything is fine because you still have hair. You need to act when you notice a considerable increase in shedding that persists beyond a few washes, or when you notice visible hair thinning/decreased density, or patches without hair.

We have a number of medical interventions that can stop and reverse hair loss when caught early, and in the most common forms of hair loss, the hair regrows even if nothing is done!

Is there a difference between hair loss and hair thinning?

Not really. Most people use the terms interchangeably, but in reality, hair loss refers to an increase in the hair falling out (with or without visible change) and hair thinning refers to a decrease in the density of the hair (i.e., it takes twisting a ponytail holder around three times instead of two to secure your hair or your hair part appears wider).

The size of your hair shafts is pretty set and related to genetics/color/ethnicity. Sometimes we see a change in this when people regrow hair after chemotherapy or when their hair loses pigment/goes grey.

Image by Michelle Nash

What are the leading causes of female hair loss?

There are many different forms of alopecia (the medical term for hair loss). Some of them are autoimmune conditions themselves, and some are associated with autoimmune conditions that can affect the rest of the body. Other times hair loss can indicate a nutritional deficiency or calorie deficit. These are the times that hair loss can mean something serious and is work getting checked out.

The most common cause of hair loss is, thankfully, a temporary condition called telogen effluvium. I is when the hairs in the resting phase of growth start to fall abruptly and you can quickly lose up to 30% of the hair on your head. The most common trigger is a stressful event, and it’s also the cause of post-partum hair loss. Despite how scary it can be, it’s reassuring that the hairs will grow back with time.

What do doctors recommend for treating female hair loss?

There are several different treatments available for female hair loss, depending on the specific diagnosis/what is causing the hair loss. We may prescribe medications that increase blood flow to the scalp or block specific hormones. We may recommend specific supplements or perform anti-inflammatory injections.

Sometimes we recommend a treatment called PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections. Not all dermatologists offer this treatment, and it is unfortunately not covered by insurance, but it can help stimulate hair regrowth. I love performing this treatment on the right candidate, as the results can be very rewarding.

Image by Michelle Nash

Is there a “best” hair loss treatment for women?

It’s hard to say what the *best* treatment is for hair loss because it all depends on the cause. However, almost universally, all women can benefit from topical minoxidil, which is a solution or foam found over the counter. It can take a few months of consistent use to see the results, and a small percentage of people actually see a temporary increase in shedding when starting, but overall, it’s a win for most women.

Almost universally, all women can benefit from topical minoxidil.

Other potential treatments include:

  • Hair fibers can provide nice camouflage for exposed scalp and are easy to apply.
  • Hair toppers and extensions have come a long way and are way less traumatic and very natural appearing.
  • Now, we have exciting new medications that can treat severe, extensive hair loss so even if you’ve seen a board-certified dermatologist in the past for your hair loss, it might be worth a re-visit to explore these new options.
  • There are also a few new laser treatments available where specific growth factors are applied to the scalp after a laser, and this can stimulate growth as well.

And last, PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections are about as safe and natural as can be. We draw your blood in-office and spin it quickly so it separates the growth and healing factors from the red blood cells. We then inject this part of your blood back into your scalp like fertilizing a lawn. It’s a series of injections, usually three or four done once a month, and then every six months for maintenance.

Image by Michelle Nash

What supplements or vitamins would you recommend to treat hair loss?

There are a few vitamin blends/supplements that can help reduce hair loss. Sometimes they contain stress adaptogens like ashwaganda, anti-inflammatory herbs like turmeric, and ingredients like saw palmetto, in addition to vitamins and micronutrients like vitamin D, zinc, and selenium. Contrary to popular belief, biotin in large amounts won’t help with hair loss and instead can make certain lab tests (like thyroid tests) show incorrect values.

There is also some evidence for a few essential oils in helping hair loss—things like rosemary oil and tea tree or pumpkin seed oil when used topically. For a long time, patients have used castor oil for thickening/lengthening hair and there is at least one animal study to support that. Other things often included in topical hair loss products are menthol and caffeine to increase blood flow and stimulate growth.

Image by Michelle Nash

The Best Products for Hair Loss

Traders Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo and Conditioner

Trust Trader Joe’s to have it all. This shampoo and conditioner duo makes your hair stronger and thicker with every wash. Tea tree and botanicals invigorate your scalp and strands to detox your scalp and keep it healthy.

hers 5% Minoxidil Foam

This topical treatment delivers 5% strength Minoxidil straight to your roots to stimulate hair growth and address thinning hair without clogging your scalp. The foam formula is quick to dry and easy to apply.

ISDIN Lambdapil Hair Density Capsules Daily Hair Supplement for Thinning Hair

There are many hair growth supplements on the market but Dr. Geddes recommends this one for thinning hair. It contains powerful ingredients like saw palmetto extract, vitamin B3, biotin, and more

Nutrafol capsules

Backed by science, data, and rave reviews, Nutrafol uses natural ingredients to deliver proven hair growth. It contains vitamins A, C, D, and E, as well as collagen, zinc, keratin, hyaluronic acid, and other hair-loving ingredients for stronger, thicker hair.

SPF Products That Make Reapplying A Breeze—A Derm Shares Her Faves

I am, without a doubt, 100 percent Team SPF. I now know how important it is, come rain or shine, to don my daily sunscreen shield. And yet, I still find myself wondering how to reapply sunscreen over makeup. I’m sure you can relate—the last thing I want to do when I’ve gotten my makeup just right is slather lotion all over it. Fortunately, I began noticing a trend: more and more innovative, barely-there sunscreens that make applying (and reapplying) an on-the-go dream.

Featured image by Michelle Nash.

How to Reapply Sunscreen Over Makeup

It started with a brush-on, powdered sunscreen. When I discovered ColorScience’s Sunforgettable mineral powder in a gift bag, it almost seemed too good to be true. I’d carry the lipstick-sized container with me wherever I went, casually dusting myself in broad-spectrum SPF 50 throughout the day. There was no white mess, no tinted smearing, and my face felt decidedly unlike an oil slick. It practically felt like cheating.

I began catching advertisements for luxurious serums and chic-looking sprays armed with SPF. Suddenly, there were sun-focused lip balms, eyeshadows, hyaluronic acid serums, and more new products that worked double duty or offered niche sun protection (even your hair part is covered thanks to brands like Supergoop!).

To help navigate the brave new world of SPF, I tapped the sunscreen queen herself, Dr. Heather Rogers for her expert insights and advice.

Sunscreen Non-Negotiables

With off-the-charts SPF numbers and confusing descriptors (“mineral,” “chemical,” “broad-spectrum,” … the list goes on), it’s nice to have a baseline when hunting for your go-to UV shield.

“I wear sunscreen that is broad-spectrum, SPF 30, and only contains physical blockers with at least 10% zinc,” Dr. Rogers shares. “In my research, that’s what works best and has the lowest risk of unwanted outcomes, be it in my body or our world.”

“The good news is the testing required for sunscreen in the USA is significant and regulated by the FDA,” Dr. Rogers explains. “Since 2011, the FDA has required all sunscreens to undergo additional testing to claim broad-spectrum protection.”

According to Dr. Rogers, there are two tests required before products can be marked as “broad-spectrum.” The first is a clinical measurement of its ability to protect against sunburn (primarily UVB rays). Then, the Broad Spectrum Test measures a product’s protection against both UVA and UVB radiation.

“But big picture, any sunscreen will only work well if you do a good job of applying and reapplying it!” Dr. Rogers adds. “On a typical workday, I use sunscreen in the morning before makeup. If I am inside seeing patients all day, then that may be my only application. But if it’s a Saturday and I’m out and about with my kids, I have my powder sunscreen in my purse and reapply it throughout the day.”

Image by Teal Thomsen

Brush-on Sunscreen vs. SPF Mist

“Powder sunscreen is typically zinc oxide-based, while mists are often chemical sunscreens,” Dr. Rogers says. “Since I am a physical sunscreen girl, it’s brush-on sunscreen all the way!”

Just remember not to rely purely on powdered sunscreen for your daily SPF—think of it more as a makeup-friendly supplement for sunscreen touch-ups throughout the day.

Image by Kristin Corpuz

The Best Sunscreens for Reapplication on the Go

Maintaining your SPF shield throughout the day is no longer a chore thanks to the new niche, innovative, and—most importantly—barely-there sunscreen products on the market. Ahead, discover some of the best sunscreens for reapplication on the market today.

Every product is curated with care by our editors and we’ll always give an honest opinion, whether gifted or purchased ourselves. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a small commission at no cost to you.

This post was originally published on May 11, 2022, and has since been updated.

A Derm Settles the Retinol vs Botox Debate Once and for All

If you think everyone is getting Botox, you’re not alone. The once-taboo treatment is no longer the stuff of secrets. People are more empowered than ever to talk about what they’re getting done—from fillers to procedures—instead of secretively ducking into med spas with shame. Aesthetic touch-ups are way more accessible, and in many cities, you can get a shot of Botox before brunch on the same block. What’s more, as a culture, we’re way more accepting of high-maintenance routines and so-called “vanity” treatments.

On the one hand, it’s encouraging that people are way less judgemental about what others choose to do with their faces. Transparency for the win! On the other hand, the ubiquity of so-called preventative treatments like Botox, filler (or filler alternatives), and complex facials can make them seem almost compulsory. Here at Camille Styles, we support doing what feels right for you. But even so, I’ve begun to wonder: am I falling behind? Do I need injections? Or, in the battle of retinol vs Botox, can I get away with an elaborate skincare routine?

Featured image from our interview with Sanetra Nere Longno by Michelle Nash.

A Dermatologist’s Tips for Choosing Retinol vs Botox

As with any solution promising to deliver eternal youth and keep your precious collagen reserves intact—or at least, make it look like they are—the best time to start was yesterday. Cue: preventative treatments.

And when it comes to reducing wrinkles and fine lines, as well as promoting skin elasticity, retinol and Botox are the two top contenders. Both promise more youthful-looking skin in different ways.

But how can you truly know if retinol or Botox is best for you? The answer, as it is for most skincare woes, is to speak to your dermatologist. To unpack the truth about retinol—is it as good as skincare TikTok claims? Can retinol really reverse wrinkles?—and allay some of my fears about Botox, I spoke to Dr. Rachel Reyes-Bergano, the Medical Director of SkinSpirit Pasadena.

Known on Instagram as “Dr. Rachel Injector,” Reyes-Bergano is an expert at creating natural-looking results in her practice and creating a patient-first experience. But even this magic-fingered injectable administrator is a lover of retinol. So with expertise in the retinol vs Botox debate, Dr. Reyes-Bergano is weighing the pros and cons of both treatments to help you decide which one might be right for you. Spoiler alert: the answer might be both!

Image by Michelle Nash

What is Botox?

Botox is an injectable that paralyzes the muscles in the treatment area to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and more. Most commonly used by the eyes, forehead, and lips, Botox gives the impression of firmer, tighter skin.

One of the most common misconceptions about Botox is that it’s permanent. It’s not! This can be great because it means it’s not a forever commitment. But it also means you have to get periodic touch-up treatments (usually every few months) to keep up with the results. And with an average cost of $150-$300 per treatment, this can get pricey.

Botox Benefits

Reyes-Bergano shares that Botox Cosmetic is a type of neurotoxin that will help stop muscle contraction in areas injected to make skin look smoother. “Botox works on dynamic wrinkles (those that are most pronounced upon facial expression),” she says, noting that “results take about 10-14 days to set in.”

She continues, saying that “Botox Cosmetic is FDA-approved for forehead wrinkles, the Glabella region (in between eyebrows), and the crow’s feet area (around the eyes). There are several off-label areas that are commonly injected in clinical practice: to slim down the lower face, help with teeth grinding/jaw clenching, reduce chin dimpling, and improve nostril flaring.”

Best Candidates for Botox

The good news, according to Reyes-Bergano, is that “Botox is for almost anyone looking to treat but also prevent wrinkles!” Of course, it’s important to “seek proper consultation from your physician” to confirm whether or not Botox will best support your skincare goals. So long as you’re not pregnant, nursing, or have any history of neuromuscular disorders, Reyes-Bergano says you may be a good candidate for Botox.

Image by Michelle Nash

What is retinol?

Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that has the potential to be one of the most powerful ingredients in your skincare routine—but only if you use it right. Retinol works by increasing cell turnover to boost collagen and skin elasticity, essentially revealing a new layer of skin and turning back the clock on your whole face.

Perhaps that sounds too good to be true. Spoiler: it’s not! But the key is in your consistency. Retinol works over time, and prescription-strength retinoids can even come with a “purge” during which you experience more breakouts. (It has to get worse before it gets better, right?)

But with consistent use and patience, retinol has almost miraculous results. You can get a prescription for tretinoin or other retinoids for about $120 per 20-gram tube, which lasts a few months. For an easier-to-swallow sticker price, you can get over-the-counter options with lower concentrations of retinol. These take longer to work but still give you the same benefits.

Best Candidates for Retinol

Reyes-Bergano notes that retinol, with consistent use, keeps our skin looking smooth and firm. And luckily, almost anyone is a good candidate for retinol’s magical benefits. “Anyone who is not pregnant or nursing can use retinol for its skin benefits as long as sunscreen is used daily.”

The Truth About Retinol and Wrinkles

According to Reyes-Bergano, “Retinol works to improve the appearance of fine lines in conjunction with daily SPF to protect against UV damage which will prevent further wrinkles.” The nuance here is that retinol “does not work on wrinkles that occur with dynamic muscle movement (facial expression).”

Image by Belathée Photography

What is more effective: retinol or Botox?

As I foreshadowed earlier, for many people, retinol used in conjunction with Botox treatments could be your best bet. Reyes-Bergano confirms my hypothesis, saying that “each product does a different job and the two together are synergistic. Retinol works overtime to stimulate collagen to give smoother, firmer skin while Botox helps to relax muscles that are causing the skin to wrinkle.” So, depending on your goals, Botox and retinol can target and support the skin in different ways.

But Reyes-Bergano emphasizes again that when it comes to Botox (and retinol, for that matter) consistency is key. “Preventative Botox is only beneficial if you plan on keeping up with maintenance touch-up doses. From many years of clinical trials, it is recommended to return for Botox touch-ups at least three times a year.”

Are there any side effects of preventative injections?

Reyes-Bergano proceeds with caution when roping in the term “preventative” with Botox injections. “Sometimes, consumers are under the impression that if you are a young patient, you don’t need the full recommended dose. However, it’s important to remember that injectors treat or dose based on the strength of your muscle and not your age. I have had some patients in their early 20s with stronger Glabella muscles than a naive Botox patient in their 50s.”

The Takeaway

So, can you receive Botox treatments and use retinol as well? “Most definitely!” encourages Reyes-Bergano. In fact, she recommends that all of her Botox cosmetic patients use retinol between treatments. For soft, smooth, and ageless skin, pairing the two together is oftentimes your best bet.