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.”

The Surprising Pantry Staple Beauty Experts Swear By for Soft, Ageless Skin

It always comes back to olive oil, doesn’t it? In the kitchen, it’s a constant while others oscillate in and out of favor. Who remembers when everyone was cooking everything with coconut oil? Using olive oil for skin is also a wellness superpower. It’s a frequent fave in Blue Zones for any number of applications and health benefits. (Also, it’s delish.) And no, the claims aren’t overblown. If you want to age well, reduce inflammation, and enjoy the complexion-boosting benefits of olive oil for skin care, keep reading.

Rich in antioxidants as well as vitamins A, E, and D, olive oil is famed for its cleansing, moisturizing, and skin-protective properties. To uncover the secrets of using olive oil for skin, I went to the experts. Ahead, learn how to pick the right olive oil for your skin and where the golden elixir fits into your beauty routine.

Featured image from our interview with Laura Lee by Sara Ligorria-Tramp.

Image courtesy of Stella Simona

Meet the Experts

Alison Carroll, co-founder of Wonder Valley, has made olive oil the star of your tablescape and skincare routine. Wonder Valley does it all, developing olive oil-infused skincare and producing our go-to olive oil for any and every recipe. “Extra-virgin grade olive oil has endless benefits and uses for skin care and really is one of the oldest beauty ingredients,” she says.

I also spoke with Lena Philippou Korres, founder of the Greek beauty skincare brand, Korres. Korres harnesses natural ingredients bountiful on the Grecian islands, like Greek yogurt and olive oil, to create lush, effective skincare with a modern take on ancient rituals. “Anyone can use a product containing olive oil or its derivatives and enjoy multiple skin benefits,” says Korres.

Ahead, our experts offer insights into how to use olive oil for skin. Get ready—you’re about to take this underrated beauty secret way more seriously.

Image by Michelle Nash

The Benefits of Olive Oil for Skin

Of course, olive oil isn’t the only pantry staple known to make a skin-brightening impact. From probiotics to collagen, what’s good for your gut is usually good for your face. And fun fact: olive oil is an ancient beauty trick. With a history that can be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome, using olive oil for skin care isn’t anything new. (People literally bathed in olive oil to reap its moisturizing properties. I’d call that an ideal self-care ritual.)

But what makes olive oil so versatile is its laundry list of beneficial beauty ingredients. Korres lists them off:

  • High concentration of essential fatty acids. This includes linoleic acid, oleic acid, and squalene (a skin-strengthener) with “excellent emollient, nourishing, and antioxidant properties.”
  • Skin-compatible. Olive oil’s composition mimics our skin’s natural oils.
  • Natural source of vitamins. Including A, D, K, and E.

Carroll expands on this, noting olive oil’s potent polyphenols (antioxidant) content. “Antioxidants fight free radicals caused by pollutants, environmental toxins, and sun damage. These can have a premature aging effect on the skin, particularly its elasticity.”

Image by Michelle Nash

Olive Oil Skin Side Effects

Though olive oil can have many benefits, picking the right formulas is crucial. You shouldn’t raid your pantry for a DIY treatment, for example. Olive oil “is a heavier oil,” says Carroll, “which can clog pores if used directly onto your face or not balanced with other, more linoleic oils like sea buckthorn or rosehip.”

Korres adds: “Despite the superior beneficial effects of olive oil, there are controversial opinions about its effects on the skin with an epidermal barrier dysfunction such as atopy-prone skin or immature, newborn skin. Therefore, olive oil is not recommended for atopy-prone skin types or baby products due to its high content of actives.”

Tips for Use

The good news is, you can use this multi-tasking ingredient everywhere. “Olive oil is literally a skin-compatible multi-tasker,” says Korres. “It moisturizes and deeply nourishes the skin, while also improving elasticity. Even oily skin types can benefit from olive oil as long as the formula is balanced for their skin type.”

Image by Michelle Nash

The Best Olive Oil for Skin

“Olive oil is a universally beneficial ingredient that helps repair, hydrate, and soften skin. My favorite way is using it in [Wonder Valley’s] Oil Cleanser,” says Carroll. “Oil cleansing is a great alternative to using a face wash. It removes all the build-up, excess oils, makeup, sweat, and SPF without disrupting sensitive and hardworking microbiomes or our skin’s pH.”

Singing the product’s praises, she says: “Our Oil Cleanser has a gorgeous, thicker texture like honey that has the added benefits of boosting circulation and promoting lymphatic draining if you spend a few minutes massaging it in. When it comes in contact with water, it transforms from honey to a milky consistency and washes all those impurities away. This results in a soft, clean, balanced complexion.”

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.

Taking Carroll’s directions, I added the Wonder Valley Oil Cleanser to the first step of my routine. She was right, the texture was like no other oil cleanser or balm I have ever tried. The consistency was somewhere between the two—both fluid but thick and substantial—unlike other runny or more viscous formulas.

Applying it felt luxurious. I have begun using this when my skin is irritated and stressed. It instantly calms my skin and bathes it in a relaxing film with an almost-cooling effect. I also enjoy using it when my skin is extra grimy with sweat and SPF after a long summer day outside. Unlike other oil cleansers, I feel like this thick texture can handle it and effectively eliminate the day’s impurities.

Washing it off is satisfying too, as it turns into a milky consistency. I like to follow up with a foaming cleanser to make sure any excess oil comes off. Alternatively, I pair it with the Olive & Lotus Exfoliant, a powder cleanser that’s activated in water. This gentle exfoliant foams and instantly clears any residue that might be left on my face.

Afterward, I am left with softer, calmer skin. This cleanser is now a double-cleanse staple for me and a treat for the senses.

At a Glance: A nourishing oil-to-milk cleanser that removes impurities without stripping the skin.

“Our Pure Greek Olive collection is formulated with organic, extra-virgin olive oil from world-renowned Cretan groves along with our Korres Cretan Olive leaf extract. It is a luxurious, highly effective, non-comedogenic, and clinically tested formula.” — Lena Philippou Korres

At a Glance: A 3-in-1 olive oil formula for face, body, and hair.

Soothing green tea and moisturizing olive oil combine to create this gentle but effective cleansing balm. The sherbet-like texture melts into a balm on your skin, then washes away like a milky cleanser.

At a Glance: A green tea and olive oil balm for your double cleansing ritual.

Whether you’re looking for the second step for your double cleanse or a gentle cleanser for everyday use, this blend of barrier-boosting botanicals delivers. Olive oil and other antioxidant-rich ingredients help fortify and revitalize your skin while removing impurities.

At a Glance: A lathering cleanser to help support your skin barrier.

This holy grail face oil is a must-have for youthful skin. Olive oil moisturizes and fights free radicals alongside brightening vitamin C. Meanwhile, leaf water locks in hydration and plumps the skin. Together, they feed your skin barrier and create an envious glow.

At a Glance: An oil and water-based serum for glowing skin.

“Our new Hinoki Body Wash has a really hydrating and creamy lather,” says Carroll. Enriched with the natural scent of hinoki, it’ll have you smelling and looking your best. The fragrance is subtly piney—not too floral, not too spicy but with a hint of citrus that’s pure luxury.

At a Glance: A lathering body wash to hydrate and purify your skin all over.

This mineral SPF protects your skin with its non-sticky, lightweight shield. The oil-based spray uses olive oil for its moisturizing and UV-resistant properties while other antioxidants help fight sun damage.

At a Glance: An oil-based mineral sunscreen spray for both face and body.

This salve is great for dry or damaged skin, especially on your lips, hands, feet, or elbows. The olive and sunflower oils are known to be effective for wound healing. Plus, black seed oil combats damaged skin with anti-fungal properties and vitamin-rich oils.

At a Glance: A thick, healing salve for dry and damaged skin.

Take the power of olive oil wherever you go with this rollerball version of the cult-favorite, lightweight olive oil. The metal applicator is great for de-puffing and soothing skin. Pro tip: Keep it on hand for dry skin and eczema flare-ups.

At a Glance: A facial oil with a rollerball applicator for portable convenience.

In a perfect world, I simply do my skincare and rouge my skin with a few swipes of this multi-stick. Made with skin-supporting ingredients like shea butter, beeswax, and olive oil, it’s a hydrating and moisturizing option for cheeks, lips, and whatever else could use a little color. The clear version can even be used on hair or dry patches!

At a Glance: A tinted multi-stick that blends skincare and makeup for non-irritating, natural pigment.

The Surprising Ways Summer is Damaging Your Skin—and What to Do About It

Summer used to feel so pure. Picnic dinners, ice cream every night, and campfires by the beach. But in 2023, things look a little different. Sorry to bring (back) up the bad news, but climate change isn’t just the catalyst for our apocalyptic Instagram posts. Thanks to the early summer’s troubling AQI (Air Quality Index), we’re all scrambling for our masks once again. And our skin doesn’t like it either. Apologies to be the bearer of bad news, but as things worsen, many of us are seeking anti-pollution skincare to help combat side effects like premature signs of wrinkles, dark spots, and yes—so much more.

With these distressing details, it’s no wonder anti-pollution skincare is having a moment. As more brands declare themselves “anti-pollutant” and many buzzy beauty products claim to protect the skin from “chemical stressors,” you may wonder: what does any of that mean? Our skin gets exposed to many potentially harmful chemicals, toxins, and irritants every time we step outside. From the sun’s ultraviolet rays to man-made chemicals, our skin is faced with an onslaught of harmful agents all the time. For answers on the best anti-pollution skincare, we went to the experts.

Featured image from by Riley Reed.

Anti-Pollution Skincare: What an Esthetician Wants You to Know

Now that it’s summer, most of us are spending as much time as we can outdoors. Though it comes with benefits (vitamin D! serotonin!), our outside time can bring on hidden side effects as well. Just as we slather on our sunscreen before stepping outside, we need to become more mindful of our anti-pollution skincare rituals.

Anti-pollution skincare addresses oxidative stress with antioxidants and other free-radical fighting ingredients. Ingredients that target pollution can come with a range of abilities. Some actively fight pollutants, some reverse current signs of damage, and some help strengthen your skin barrier to prevent further damage. An ideal anti-pollution skincare routine would accomplish all of these functions.

To determine what to look for in anti-pollution skincare, I spoke to Erica Choi, Superegg founder and Licensed Esthetician. Below, she breaks down how pollution can affect the skin and shares the best anti-pollution skincare tips available. Read on for your ultimate anti-pollution skincare kit.

Image by Belathée Photography

What is pollution?

Pollution refers to harmful substances entering the environment. While higher pollution levels are often found in big cities due to their population densities and industrial activities, pollution exists in various environments. It is not limited to urban areas and can be influenced by factors such as industrial emissions, vehicle traffic, agricultural practices, and natural phenomena. Therefore, pollution is a concern that can affect different regions and is not just confined to big cities.

How does pollution affect your skin?

Pollution affects the skin in multiple ways. It contains free radicals that harm skin cells and accelerate the breakdown of collagen and elastin, leading to premature aging signs like wrinkles, skin discoloration, and loss of elasticity. Some pollutants stimulate melanin production, causing dark spots and uneven skin tone. Pollution can also clog pores and contribute to the development of skin imperfections.

Additionally, pollution weakens the skin’s protective barrier, making it easier for harmful substances to enter. This penetration causes irritation, redness, and increased sensitivity. Over time, chronic inflammation disrupts the skin barrier, resulting in dryness, eczema, and acne.

How to Protect Your Skin From Pollution

Wear SPF every day. UV rays from the sun can intensify the harmful effects of pollution on the skin. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 daily to shield your skin from UV radiation and pollution. Reapply often.

Cleanse effectively. It’s crucial to cleanse your skin at the end of the day to remove pollutants, dirt, and impurities that accumulate on the skin. Choose a gentle cleanser like our Gentle Elements Cleansing Foam, which effectively removes debris without stripping the skin of its natural oils.

Use antioxidant-rich skincare. Antioxidants play a crucial role in defending the skin against the harmful effects of pollution. Incorporate skincare products with antioxidants into your routine.

Moisturize and strengthen the skin barrier. Keeping the skin hydrated and maintaining a healthy skin barrier is essential for resilience against pollutants. Use a moisturizer to nourish and strengthen your barrier, which will help defend itself against harmful substances.

Image by Michelle Nash

The Best Anti-Pollution Ingredients

I wholeheartedly embrace the potency of antioxidants! These ingredients are essential for counteracting free radicals and diminishing oxidative stress, resulting in a radiant and resilient complexion. I particularly adore the benefits of vitamins C, B, and E, as well as green tea extract (with a special mention to EGCG), astaxanthin, snow mushroom, and various ferments. These ingredients work together to defend against environmental damage, ensuring skin remains nourished and protected.

Potent antioxidants to look for in anti-pollution skin care include:

  • Vitamin C
  • Retinol (vitamin A)
  • Vitamin E
  • Niacinamide
  • Resveratrol
  • CoenzymeQ10 (CoQ10)
  • Polyphenols
  • Flavonoids
  • Ferulic Acid
  • Astaxanthin
  • Glutathione

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.

Image by Michelle Nash

At a glance: A pre-, pro-, and post-biotic cleanser that gently lifts away impurities and pollution to protect and repair your skin barrier.

Key Ingredients: Apple Amino Acids, Hyaluronic Acid, Lactic Acid, Prebiotics, Probiotics, Postbiotics

At a glance: A barrier-protecting cleanser to balance skin and soothe irritation or breakouts.

Key Ingredients: Lecithin, MicroSilver BG™

At a glance: A do-it-all facial spray that soothes irritated skin and has the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance.

Key Ingredients: Hypochlorous Acid

At a glance: A daily powder exfoliant that fights pollutants and detoxifies skin.

Key Ingredients: Fruit Enzymes, AHAs, Activated Charcoal, Niacinamide, Red Algae, Tara Fruit Extract

At a glance: A revitalizing and protective serum that harnesses the power of antioxidants and other nourishing ingredients to shield your skin and brighten your complexion.

Key Ingredients: Vitamins B, C, E, F, K, Niacinamide, Licorice Root, Sea Moss, Hyaluronic Acid, Tremella Mushroom

Image by Belathée Photography

At a glance: A reparative serum that fades dark spots and soothes irritation.

Key Ingredients: Niacinamide, Vitamin C, Amber Algae, Papaya and Pineapple Enzymes

At a glance: A lightweight serum packed with antioxidants to shield against outdoor pollution and blue light.

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamins A, C, E, Cocoa Seeds, Exopolysaccharide

At a glance: An exfoliating and nourishing overnight serum to build your barrier and detox your skin.

Key Ingredients: AHAs, Phytic acid, Fruit enzymes, Spirulina, Seaweed

At a glance: A makeup-artist-approved moisturizer nicknamed the “a push-up bra in a jar” for instantly revitalizing your skin.

Key Ingredients: Peptides, Rosehip Oil, Rose Water, Aloe Vera, Vitamins A, C, and E

At a glance: Formulated with ingredients from the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, this detoxing mask provides a natural glow.

Key Ingredients: Blue Lagoon Microalgae, Blue Lagoon Silica

At a glance: This SPF creates a shield for your skin to protect against the sun and pollution.

Key Ingredients: Vitamin A, E and Aloe

At a glance: A setting spray-meets-mist that protects skin from every angle.

Key Ingredients: Marine Actives, Tara Extract

At a glance: Lightweight bronzing drops that double as an anti-pollution serum.

Key Ingredients: Cocoa Extract, Peptides