If you're a little confused about the headline, I don't blame you. You might be wondering why I'm lumping botox and retinoids together in one story—sure, they're both ways to reduce fine lines and signs of aging in our skin, but aside from that, botox and retinoids are two entirely different worlds which only collide during a very expensive trip to the dermatologist or a plastic surgeon. So how did I find myself getting both at once? Keep reading.
Peachy Studio is a New York City based "wrinkle prevention studio" that specializes in Botox, retinoids, and SPF. You might now them already from our recent reward drop (the Mineral Body Spray Sunscreen) and Live event with Peachy Studio's own Lauren Kluesener, NP-BC.
When I visited their SoHo studio a little over a month ago, Kluesener was the one to give me the "one, two, poke," i.e. preventative botox. On my way over I posted an AMA on my IG stories, and my DMs were flooded in minutes. People wanted to know why I was doing it, how much it cost, if it hurt, and if I now looked like The Lion Woman of New York. We are here today so I can answer all of these questions and tell you about what to expect after the first few weeks following preventative Botox and starting topical retinoids.
Peachy Studio specializes in wrinkle treatment, and they only offer products and treatments that have been scientifically proven to do so: preventative Botox, retinoids (their own formulation), and everyday SPF.
First, let me say, Kluesener has the tightest, most gorgeous forehead I've ever seen in my life. It was also the only part of her face I could see—the entire process is done while wearing a mask.
While discussing my options, she described the areas of the face that most often need it: the lines across your forehead, the "angry 11's" (the two lines that form between your eyebrows when you frown), and crows feet. Kluesener said she doesn't get her crows feet done because she likes how they look, and that's when I knew that I wouldn't be talked into anything I didn't want. We settled on a small amount of injections for the lines on my forehead and my "angry 11's,' as seen below.
My botox injection sites
At Peachy Studio, one session costs $375 for "unlimited injections." Keep in mind that they would never give you an unreasonable amount of injections just for the sake of giving it. Kluesener explained that the low price at Peachy removes their incentive to charge for more injections than you need, because the price is fixed.
Botox typically costs between $40 to $250 for the forehead, depending on how many injections you get. The same goes for crows feet, which can range from $180 to $400. I asked a few people I know how much they had paid for Botox in the past and it was much more (hundreds more in some cases) than what it cost at Peachy. If you're looking to try it for the first time, this price can't be beat.
First you ice your forehead for a few minutes, and the whole injection process is 5 minutes tops. I describe the pain level as equal to popping an angry pimple, that sting that lingers for a few seconds. Afterwards my forehead was slightly bumpy and I had no pain at all. The swelling went down before I got home.
I was warned before my injections that there was a very small possibility that the Botox causes an eyelid to droop. However, the upside to this is also the downside to Botox in general: it wears off after a few months, and your eyelid will return to normal.
Botox lasts 3-4 months, but for some (lucky) people it can last up to 6 months. It is recommended to start Botox around the age of 30—for the record, I'm 27.
At first, nothing changed. I still could see my wrinkles and I could move my forehead normally. Over the course of the first 2 weeks, starting around day 5, my forehead began to freeze. I couldn't emote from my eyes up, and I could barely raise my eyebrows. The feeling was kind of weird, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't make my eyebrows move. But, my forehead looked amazing, and the lines which were normally very deep and dramatic (and the place where my makeup liked to settle into) were gone. It's now been a month, and I have the best of both worlds; I can move my forehead again, but it looks tight and wrinkle-free when my face is relaxed.
Now on to retinoids...
If you live in New York, you can go in-person or book a virtual appointment with one of their specialists. If you are deemed eligible for a prescription, they offer a flat-rate of $80 for a 3-month supply of prescription retinoids. You receive the product in 1 to 2 weeks.
There are OTC (over the counter) and prescription Retinoids, and they were originally conceived to help teens with acne (Acutane is a form of prescription retinoid). It was later proven through studies that Retinoids encourage the skin's cellular turnover, stimulate collagen, soften wrinkles, fade pigmentation, and give the skin an overall glow. And all this on top of making your breakouts disappear for good. The ideal time to start using Retinoids is your late 20's to 30's.
For over-the-counter retinol, it can take up to six months and with prescription retinoids it can take up to three months for results.
Folks, I'm here to tell you that it's gotta get bad before it gets good. The retinoid-uglies is the term that describes the first few weeks of retinoid use, when your face starts to peel off, or get red, or purge, or all of the above.
This is a question for my therapist. Kidding (but not really).
I have dry and sensitive skin, and within two weeks of using retinoids about 2 or 3 times a week my skin started to get scaly and peel off, particularly around my mouth and on my forehead. My skin got really itchy and irritated, so I applied Aquaphor and moisturizer every hour, which soothed the discomfort. It's all normal and a part of the process, so don't worry if this happens to you—you're on the right track. The negative side effects should stop after a few weeks.
When properly administered, Botox doesn't give you a scary, Real Housewives-esque look. It doesn't change the shape or your face, and if someone is trying to convince you to get more than you want, walk out. I am still really happy with the way my forehead looks and I will absolutely be returning for more in a few months.
As for retinoids, I will keep you all posted for my final thoughts in 6 months. I'm now 4 weeks in and my skin is already free of hyperpigmentation from acne scars, and it looks a lot more glowy than when I started. My pores look significantly reduced as well.
Book an appointment with Peachy Studio here.