Every second you're alive, you're aging.
And while getting older is nothing short of a blessing, not every woman is ready for her age to show up on her face — or body. And many aren't shy about it.
According to InStyle's Transformative Beauty study, which surveyed over 2,000 women across the U.S. about their attitudes about and experiences with cosmetic procedures, nine in 10 participants have had at least one facial treatment, and about one in two have gotten work done on their bodies, with injections like Botox being the most popular.
Most are motivated by the desire for a self-esteem boost, and according to participants — it's worth it. Several women shared that they felt more happy and confident post-treatment, with most adding that their results were so subtle, others could barely pinpoint what they'd had done.
But which features are women most commonly looking to treat?
Here, we spoke with a few trusted board-certified dermatologists and plastic surgeons to explore the most common aging concerns for women (as reported in our data), and the procedure or product they recommend when someone's really ready to see results.
"For patients who are concerned about fine lines, I always tell them that no treatment is going to be as effective or dramatic as Botox Cosmetic."
—Dr. Sarmela Sunder
When it comes to body features, some users shared that they saw an increase of cellulite throughout their bodies as they got older. In decades past, this was something women would simply have to live with, but in 2021, there's more than one treatment option if you want smoother-looking skin on your body.
"A non-invasive, no downtime treatment that delivers results that last is a great advance over treatments we've had before," she shares with InStyle. "Resonic is the only FDA-cleared medical device that uses sound in a new and innovative breakthrough technology to non-invasively improve the appearance of cellulite in just one session."
If this all sounds too good to be true, just know that it's about to get better. According to Dr. Tanzi, in addition to no downtime, patients won't even need anesthesia or lidocaine prior to treatment.
Another option is Qwo, which is becoming increasingly popular in the world of cosmetic enhancements.
"Qwo an injectable for cellulite that metabolizes the collagenous cords that holds aspects of adipocytes together," explains Dr. Rita Linkner. "In my clinical experience, this works exceedingly well in young women looking to target dimples on the buttocks and thighs."
Well, I bet you saw this one coming, didn't you?
Wrinkles are the tell-tale sign of aging, and among the most common complaints from women in our survey.
"For patients who are concerned about fine lines, I always tell them that no treatment is going to be as effective or dramatic as Botox Cosmetic," explains double board-certified facial plastic surgeon Dr. Sarmela Sunder. "Dynamic lines, lines which are caused by repetitive muscle movement, will only be treated adequately by treatments that limit muscle movement. Short of doing that, there will not be a true competitor to Botox."
The MD adds that while creams, devices, and various lasers can make a difference, they're only a bandaid solution.
"They are not addressing the root cause like Botox is," she continues. "Therefore, the results will never be as impressive or as long-lasting as targeting the muscle movement, which Botox does."
And it looks like there are improvements on the way.
"Super Botox is set to be FDA approved this year so look out for better, longer results from your toxin treatments," adds Dr. Linkner.
Loss of Elasticity
"My skin elasticity has suffered," said InStyle reader and Transformative Beauty study participant Jen, age 47, when asked what influenced her to try out cosmetic treatments. "I am getting saggier, wrinkles are becoming more noticeable. I am using creams and serums but I would like a little more help in fighting my facial skin aging."
If loss of elasticity is a concern for you as well, Dr. Linkner recommends Ultherapy to boost collagen production.
"Ultherapy is still the best way, in my opinion, to simulate type I collagen non-invasively," she explains. "Results need to be maintained every 18 to 24 months, but I can tell you from personal experience that this is the best way to anti-age deep layers of the skin."
Some study participants shared that aging around the eyes was making them look tired. For this concern, Dr. Linkner typically recommends patients go see an oculoplastic surgeon for blepharoplasty, a surgery that removes excess skin and fat to give the eye a tighter appearance. However, if you're not ready for a super-invasive procedure, there are some office treatments that can also be effective.
"Fractionated laser resurfacing, Fraxel, and Sofwave ultrasound technology deliver energy to the skin that triggers a powerful stimulation of new collagen production to tighten, firm, and lift skin," says Dr. Blair Murphy-Rose.
Hyperpigmentation and Sun Spots
Skin discoloration is a major concern for women of color, but anyone, regardless of skin tone, can experience hyperpigmentation and sun spots. Thankfully, there are a plethora of treatment options, and for most, you won't even need to leave the house.
"Exfoliate with a blend of AHA/BHA to promote faster skin turnover of dark spots," Dr. Adeline Kikam recommends. "For this, chemical peels such as the Dynamic Duo: Performance Peel AP25 from Exuviance are very effective. I like this one in particular because it combines 25% AHAs, glycolic acid, and mandelic acid along with gluconolactone and hydrating polyhydroxy acid (PHA), so it really gets at that hyperpigmentation, but at the same time it's gentle on skin."
To shop: $79; ulta.com
The MD is also a fan of the brand's Pure Retinol Correcting Peel. "It can be used overnight to exfoliate and resurface skin tone for a more even complexion and is gentle, as well," she explains. "I like that these products are clinically tested to yield results."
To shop: $72; ulta.com
Dr. Linkner, on the other hand, recommends Rodan + Fields Reverse Targeted Dark Spot Corrector.
To shop: $66; rodanandfields.com
"[It] has proprietary antioxidant technology that neutralizes discoloration during active sun exposure," she shares. "Clinical data showed exceedingly high efficacy rates with regards to targeting sunspots after just eight weeks of use. My favorite call-out ingredient is the licorice root extract, which is able to provide an amazing brightening effect."
There you have it — the final word on the single product or treatment for whichever skin concern really chaps your hide (and one to fix that, too).
This is the Glow Up, an examination of the most popular cosmetic procedures and products today, using survey data straight from readers like you.