15 November 2018Last updated


Think you want botox? Try these first

Turn back the clock this new year with heavy-duty face-savers that plump cheeks and erase wrinkles without invasive fillers or chemicals

8 Feb 2015 | 09:37 am
  • Fight wrinkles without the fillers.

    Source:Corbis Images Image 1 of 2
  • Fight wrinkles without the fillers.

    Source:Corbis Images Image 2 of 2


Delivering an intense dose of anti-ageing ingredients in a lightweight formula, serums are the skincare equivalent of a sleek new sports-car – lighter, faster, and seriously impressive. As dermatologist Dr Piali Chatterjee from the Kaya Skin Clinic in Dubai explains, “Serums play an important role as a home-care product to hydrate the skin and keep it more plumped and elastic. Good serums contain hyaluronic acid, retinol or vitamins like E and C, which are pharmacologically accepted anti-ageing agents, providing nutrition to the skin and helping to prevent the early signs of ageing.”

Serums are normally clear with a watery gel-like consistency, designed to target areas on the face and neck and to combat specific concerns and problems. Eliminating many of the thickening ingredients found in traditional creams and with most fluid being removed, the molecular structure of serums is smaller, which means they are able to penetrate quicker and deeper to maximise results. Add to this the fact they contain a higher concentration of active nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants than any other type of anti-ageing product, and you’re on to a winner.

Dr Hala Fadli, a specialist dermatologist in Dubai, says, “Anti-ageing serums are among the best skincare innovations in recent years – the beauty being that they offer intense treatment via the most lightweight formulation.”

Always apply to clean, dry skin (or slightly damp if you suffer from dryness) and dab a small amount on to the face, neck and décolletage. Wait for a few minutes until it’s fully absorbed, and then you can apply your face cream or moisturiser to load up on hydration.

Three to try


No7 Protect & Perfect Advanced Serum, Dh165, and Intense Advanced Serum, Dh175, Boots
Providing protection from free radicals thanks to a patented antioxidant complex, the star ingredient in this pair of serums is a peptide complex made of Matrixyl 3000, which drives the repair of fibrillin, a structural protein in the skin. Available in regular and intense formulas – one for fine lines and wrinkles and the other for deeper ones – results are said to be visible within two weeks.


Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair, Dh595 for 50ml, Paris Gallery
The first serum ever created and the first skincare product to ever use hyaluronic acid, this isn’t one of Estée Lauder’s biggest sellers for nothing. With anti-pollution technology, it offers daily protection and continuous hydration to dramatically reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles while improving the appearance of skin radiance and tone.


Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Anti-Wrinkle Defense Serum, Dh603, BinSina Pharmacies
Bursting with natural goodness, this super-serum is packed with hyaluronic acid, olive extracts and polyphenols (powerful antioxidants found in grapes – 10,000 times more active than vitamin E) to tackle ageing head-on. Blocking free radicals (the main cause of wrinkles) while defending against daily aggressors such as UV rays and pollution, skin will be brighter with lines and wrinkles visibly corrected.


If you’re after a refreshing treatment with the added bonus of looking younger, you’ll find it in cryotherapy – the use of extremely low temperatures to benefit the body. Used for centuries in medicinal therapy, cryotherapy treatments use liquid nitrogen to freeze tissues at a cellular level to treat various disorders including insomnia, muscle pain, rheumatism and stress. It’s also now one of the hottest (or should we say coldest?) trends in anti-ageing treatments as it stimulates collagen production and boosts circulation by exposing skin to extreme cold for a short period of time.

By briefly freezing skin, the deeper layers of collagen are disrupted and respond by creating more collagen, resulting in increased elasticity and younger, smoother skin. “Production of collagen naturally decreases as we get older, causing the skin to wrinkle. Cryotherapy counteracts this by activating collagen production in the deeper layers of the skin, resulting in smoother skin and an improved overall ‘youthful’ feeling. In facials, the effects can be seen immediately as you’re using nature’s elements for beauty, rather than chemical treatments,” says Ali Omar, general manager at Cryo Health. “Celebs such as Jessica Alba, Jennifer Aniston and Demi Moore have been known to use cryotherapy as a beauty secret to get ready for the red carpet and as a youth elixir to retain a youthful glow.” Well if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us.

Three ways to feel the freeze

Cryo Health Ultimate Age Defying Facial, Dh465 for a single treatment (or five for Dh2,250 or 10 for Dh4,000) 60 minutes, Dubai Ladies Club
Known as a non-invasive alternative to Botox, this is a complete facial treatment incorporating a cleanse, scrub, mask, moisturiser and massage, while the intense cold activates collagen production: -160°C to be exact. During the treatment, toxins stored in the layers of the skin are broken down and flushed away, while the intense cold activates collagen production in the deeper skin layers to leave your face looking and feeling firm and tight.

Freeze Facial Treatment at Biolite, Dh650 for 60 minutes
According to Mona Syed-Mirza, CEO and founder of Biolite, “The CryoFacial is truly one of a kind; cold nitrogen is used to freeze the skin, producing instantaneous tightness and eliminating fine lines and wrinkles. Collagen is activated to produce more cells, which causes the skin to become more elastic through repeated use.
In addition, the CryoFacial also leads to the skin’s pore size being reduced, keeping toxins, dirt and grime out.”


Freeze 24-7 Instant Targeted Wrinkle Treatment, from Dh260,
The latest It cream (fans include Halle Berry and Penelope Cruz), this has been dubbed ‘Botox in a jar’ thanks to its freezing effects. Providing a numbing sensation on the skin when applied, it’s claimed you can instantly experience a 50-90 per cent reduction in fine lines and wrinkles as it targets all those creases.


Collagen is the protein that gives skin structural support and is key to maintaining firm, supple skin. It slows the formation of fine lines and wrinkles, improves elasticity and helps retain moisture. The good news is that we naturally produce collagen. The bad news is that as we get older, we produce less of it. Thankfully, though, supplements are now smarter than ever, containing natural ingredients that are easily and effectively processed by the body.

Roz Martin, CEO and founder of supplement company MedColl, explains, “When we apply creams and serums, we are really only treating the outer layer of the skin – the epidermis. This layer is formed of dead skin cells that are constantly being renewed. Most important is the basal layer, which is deeper in the dermis and cannot be accessed by rubbing or applying creams to it. So when we ingest ingredients like collagen precursors, hyaluronic acid, vitamins and antioxidants, they travel via the bloodstream and capillary system, which feeds the basal layer, providing it with nutrients and oxygen.”

Martin adds that when the basal layer skin cells are full of new collagen, hyaluronic acid and a stronger cell membrane, “then we have a healthier, plumper looking skin cell, which results in an improvement in the skin’s appearance and quality. This can only be achieved by supplying the body with those ingredients. We call this ‘intrinsic cosmetics’, they work from the inside out while creams and serums would be ‘extrinsic cosmetics’, working on the outside.”

She advises you pick pills and potions that are made of natural ingredients, rather than synthetic, as these are safer and more effective.

Also check to see if your chosen brand has scientific research to back-up its anti-ageing claims, this will separate the gimmick products from the ones that will really knock back the years.

Three savvy supplements


MedColl Natural Collagen Boosting Supplement, Dh299 for one month’s supply, BinSina Pharmacies
With a unique patent-pending formula of 100 per cent pure Type I Collagen Pre-Cursor Complex (responsible for getting your body to switch on its own collagen), these souped-up supplements also contain high-potency hyaluronic acid with antioxidant ingredients to protect collagen and elastin fibres.


Pure Gold Collagen, Dh299 for 10 bottles, Boots
Containing hydrolysed collagen derived from fish, hyaluronic acid and a host of vitamins, this drink is said to pack up to 20 times the punch of a regular collagen pill. With its peachy, passion fruit flavour – what better reason do you need to get guzzling?


Holland & Barrett Hydrolysed Collagen Caplets 1000mg, Dh179 for 180 capsules
These clever capsules contain 100 per cent pure protein in soluble amino acid form, so they’re effectively used by the body for maximum anti-ageing power. There’s also the addition of antioxidant vitamin C to contribute to normal collagen formation in the skin, bones and cartilage, helping you look and feel younger from the inside out.

Cosmetic acupuncture

Acupuncture has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,500 years, and is all about realigning the body’s energy (chi) by inserting small needles into various pressure points. But now acupuncture is being used in the world of natural medicine as a way of combating ageing.

As Dr Li Xiao Ling from Dubai’s Chaslu Clinic tells us, “This uses very fine needles on certain points of the face where wrinkles are most noticeable. The needles promote blood flow and energy where there are blockages, working to clear them and restore well-being. The insertion of needles helps to strengthen the facial muscles, which increases the production of collagen, providing skin elasticity to promote a youthful appearance.”

Yes that’s right, sticking your face full of needles really does help you look younger as it reduces fine lines and wrinkles, tightens pores, improves muscle tone, lifts and firms sagginess, increases collagen and elastin production and gives you a glow. Dr Wang Ping from The Chiron Clinic adds, “Rejuvenation acupuncture is more than a cosmetic procedure. For thousands of years, the Chinese have known beauty comes from inside. A person’s face reflects the health of their internal organs. Facial rejuvenation acupuncture regulates energy flow and balances the body’s blood and chi circulation, assisting with the restoration of health and well-being. One course of 10-12 treatments delays and reduces the effects of facial ageing, lifts sagging skin and drooping eyelids and increases collagen and elastin production.”

Three treatments to try

Dubai HTC AyuAcu Facial, Dh250 for 90 minutes
Fusing together the traditional Chinese medicine technique of acupuncture with the Indian tradition of Ayurveda, this facial will leave you feeling relaxed and looking fabulous. After your acupuncture session, the treatment is complemented with the Ayurvedic Rejuvenating Facial using natural products to soothe, moisturise and revitalise skin.

Acupuncture Facial at Chiron Clinic Dubai, Dh600 (or make the most of their current offer, buy five treatments and get one free) 10 sessions, Dh4,800
Lasting approximately one hour, this facial focuses on relaxation. After deciding upon the agreed areas to concentrate on, fine needles are placed on the face and you are left to unwind while listening to relaxing music for up to half an hour. Once the needles are removed, you then get a facial massage.

Chaslu Clinic Dubai, Dh200 for a consultation and Dh250 per acupuncture session
With each session being tailored specifically to the needs of the individual, first comes a thorough consultation with the doctor to determine the problem areas and the results desired. It’s then on to your facial acupuncture session to knock off those years.

Hormone therapy

When it comes to ageing, hormones are one of the most important factors to consider. Hormones are natural chemicals produced in various parts of the body, which are then secreted into the bloodstream to be used by organs and internal processes. As we age, our hormone production decreases and slows down – eventually resulting in those dreaded wrinkles and lines that appear on our faces.

As Dr Graham Simpson MD, chief medical officer and founder of Intelligent Health in Dubai, explains, “Hormones govern your sex drive, energy levels, sleep patterns and mood. They affect your skin, your muscle tone, and your overall appearance, and play a role in whether you age quickly or slowly. Imbalance can lead to serious illness, including heart disease and diabetes. Hormones influence just about every cell, organ and function of your body.”

So one way to take years off your face is to get those hormones back in check, and with an increasing number of treatments that use bio-identical, natural hormones instead of synthetic ones, they’re safer and more effective than ever. “Bio-identical hormones are able to mimic the exact structure of the hormones produced in the human body,” says Dr Nasim Ashraf MD from the DNA Health Center in Abu Dhabi. “For years hormones have been prescribed in synthetic form, however bio-identical hormones are better used by the body. Unlike synthetic forms, bio-identical hormones are molecularly identical to the hormones produced by the human body. Giving therapeutic doses of hormones is known as bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT).” Traditionally associated with the menopause, the big news in the beauty world is that bio-identical hormones are safe enough to be used at every stage in life, to keep you feeling and looking younger from the inside out. The particular type and amount of BHRT needed will be prescribed upon individual consultation.

Three of the best Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy Clinics to check out

  1. A BHRT consultation at DNA Health costs Dh2,000 for 90 minutes.
  2. An initial consultation for BHRT at Dr Leila Soudah Clinic costs Dh700 for 30 minutes.
  3. The BHRT programme at Intelligent Health (Dh2,500-Dh3,300) includes a one-hour consultation, two hours of full testing and
a 30-minute follow-up visit.


By Frankie Rozwadowska

Beauty Editor