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Photographer: Shana Novak Prop, Stylist: Michelle Longo, Hand Model: Divya Sethi, Design: Lauren Park, Art direction: Anthony Lasala

In the pursuit of amazing skin, there are certain things that are deal breakers. For some, that’s anything to do with needles.

So, what’s a needle-fearing, skin-loving person to do? Well, there are six needle-based procedures and alternatives worth exploring.

These methods are often lower in cost than paying for a round of injections but to make sure they work, you’ll need to be consistent and patient. You should also keep in mind that many alternative results won’t match that of those achieved with needles.

Botulinum toxin type A, more commonly known as Botox, is used to reduce fine lines and wrinkles by temporarily paralyzing the muscle below the skin. For reasons beyond needles, Botox is also expensive — prices vary depending on geographic location but may be as much as $250 minimum per treatment — and temporary, lasting three to four months.

Alternatives for your skin

  • FaceXercise. While the name suggests exercise, this includes a combination of massage and cupping, which has been called exercise for facial muscles. And apparently, Jennifer Aniston is a fan, too.
  • Retinol. This is seen as the gold standard wrinkle-reducing ingredient. It’s typically found in over-the-counter wrinkle-reducing products. Just like most popular ingredients, some are better than others, but it’s also not going to break the bank.
  • Chemical peel. These are less invasive than a needle, but can come with some discomfort. A chemical peel sloughs off the top layer of skin. The layer below tends to be smoother and younger looking. There are varying degrees or depths of a peel depending on your needs, but all come with skin sensitivity afterward.
  • Microcurrent facial. A specialist will use a device to send electric currents to stimulate your body’s nerves and provide a natural lift to your skin. One study looking at 30 women found that microcurrents worked best on the forehead area, and that effects stabilized a month later as well.

This temporary dermal injection smooths out the skin and helps with loss of collagen. Whether or not you find a suitable alternative depends on your injection goals. This filler can be used for everything from wrinkles, under-eye bags, and as a lip plumper.

Alternative for your skin

Hyaluronic acid itself is a transformative, topical ingredient that you can find easily online at almost every price point. To really boost the benefits, consider:

Keep in mind, a topical application won’t help with adding facial volume in your cheeks, lips, or under-eye bags.

If you’re hesitant about getting vitamins and antioxidants into the bloodstream through a needle, trust your gut. This wellness hack is still under review and is currently only proven to benefit folks living with chronic conditions.

Alternative for your skin

  • Supplements. Whether you opt for a boost of biotin or vitamin E or supplements such as collagen, there are several options that will aid in healthier looking skin, nails, and hair. Be mindful of over-supplementing and always talk to your doctor about adverse effects.
  • Serums or ampoules. Serums or supercharged serums known as ampoules typically have a vitamin take the spotlight such as vitamin E. A serum may be incorporated in a daily or nightly routine whereas an ampoule may be one of those extra care, pampering time treatments.

This filler, often used for deeper lines and folds, is used to help give the skin volume.

Alternative for your skin

  • Jade rolling. This tool is made from jade and has shown to reduce puffiness, under-eye circles, and fine lines with regular use. Other roller stone options include rose quartz among others.
  • Gua sha. Like jade rolling, this tool is derived from ancient Chinese medicine. The massage tool scrapes off skin and improves circulation in the soft tissue. While it can be used all over the body, a gentler technique is used on the face.

By taking small needles on a roller across the skin, these tiny puncture wounds actually promote skin rejuvenation and improvement of scars. Although the needles are small, they may cause harm when done unprofessionally or in an unclean environment.

Alternative for your skin

  • Exfoliation. Using acids, sponges, and microexfoliation cloths made specifically for the face can be a great way to remove dead skin cells and reveal brighter looking skin. Sometimes homemade, naturally derived recipes with soft textures may also do the trick — think sugar and salt-based scrubs.
  • Serums. If tackling hyperpigmentation and skin plumpness is your goal, aim for ingredients like vitamin B, niacinamide, vitamin C, peptides, and retinol.
  • Dermaplaning. A professional aesthetician will use a scalpel that “shaves” the top layer of skin on the face to reveal the smooth, fresh skin underneath. This method also enhances your skin care routine, ensuring more active penetration.

This offering is typically an add-on to full body acupuncture. An expert will insert small needles into the face to help with the look of the skin as well as tension.

Alternative for your skin

  • Facial yoga. Yoga for your body, why not yoga for your face? By doing a series of facial poses, this workout claim to give the look of lifts and tucks by improving relaxation and tone. Like any exercise, this takes time commitment and isn’t instantaneous.
  • Practicing stress relief. Often our expression reflects our internal imbalance, and if stress is starting to take a toll on your skin and face, sometimes an easier answer than getting needles in your face is deep breathing and stress relief.

Needle-based skin care often provides the quickest results — and sometimes longer-lasting ones, too. But, if needles aren’t your style or you’re just not to that point yet (slight pun intended), there are a whole host of alternatives you can do for little to no cost.

The trick to keep in mind with all these alternatives is consistency. From DIY exercises and homemade scrubs to drugstore finds, these tips and tricks require a lot more diligence and time than waiting in a dermatologist office.

Of course, if needles aren’t a problem, talk to your dermatologist about a skin care routine that combines these alternatives and injections together for even more long-lasting results.


Nichole DeMario is a communications consultant and freelance writer covering topics from health, wellness, and beauty to real estate and business. When she’s not consulting, writing, and volunteering, she can be found traveling and working out with her high school sweetheart husband outside of Chicago.