How to Replace Cosmetic Procedures With Active Ingredients, According to a Derm



Although this isn’t exactly news, I know many people out there are always looking for ways to keep their skin looking as young as possible. One of the many ways experts improve the overall look of the complexion is via injectables like filler. But it so happens that there’s a dermatologist out there who thinks these kinds of things could actually become a thing of the past. Meet Macrene Alexiades, MD, a celebrity dermatologist, scientist, dermatologic surgeon, and the founder of Macrene Actives, a clean, science-based beauty brand that aims to replace procedures with active ingredients.

That sounds like a pretty daunting task, right? Well, not for Alexiades, who has a list of degrees and accomplishments so long I could write a whole separate book on them. She spent the first half of her career working to replace cosmetic surgery with less-invasive procedures and now aims to spend the second half phasing out procedures in favor of advanced active ingredients. She discovered early on that if you can deliver key ingredients like hyaluronic acid to the dermis (middle layer) of the skin on a daily basis, you can improve your skin’s overall quality and eliminate the need for injectable filler. And that's just one of many ingredients that can replace the need for regular injections. 

Although this all sounds great on paper, I know there are still some of you out there who would like extra help that delivers faster results. Well, I’ve got some news for you folks, too. Alexiades shared two new youth-enhancing mechanisms her research has uncovered that will work wonders for the skin, too. If you’re curious about these new skin-enhancing methods and which active ingredients will help make procedures a thing of the past, keep reading below for what Alexiades had to share.

Radio Frequency Microneedling With PRP



The first skin-enhancing procedure Alexiades discussed is radio frequency micro-needling with PRP. Radio frequency micro-needling is a method brought to the market by Alexiades herself. It introduces radio frequency energy into the skin using hair-fine micro-needle electrodes. "It's kind of like micro-needling, but it's so much better because micro-needling alone doesn't work in the very long term—it's the radio frequency that does work in the long term. And the introduction of the frequency with micro-needles increases the efficacy and the targeting of the skin's different layers," she adds.

Over the past few years, she has also worked to add PRP (platelet-rich plasma) to this method of treatment. "This is where we draw your blood, run it through a PRP tube, and separate out the platelet-rich plasma, which is rich with growth factors. What I've learned is that the microchannels we create using the micro-needling radio frequency are an ideal reservoir for the PRP. So the PRP goes down there and stimulates collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid, which micro-needling alone does extremely well, but when you add the PRP, it is more than the sum of its parts, and the results are really impressive." This is also fantastic because it's pigment-blind, meaning it's safe on all types of skin. Radio frequencies bypass the pigment layer of skin, so it expands the ability to treat people with different pigment levels as opposed to resurfacing or fractional lasers, which are not always safe for darker skin tones.

Volite: A New Type of Injectable Filler



Okay, so Volite has been available in Europe already for years, but it's now making its way into the U.S. market. According to Alexiades, it was approved for use in Europe in 2017, and she has been working with it for years. She ran the first FDA trials here in the U.S. "Volite really is my baby," she says. "The key with Volite (as the name implies) is that it is a light filler. It's a completely new category of filler. I see Volite as something that could replace the need for laser rejuvenation procedures because it's such a light filler that it goes superficially into the skin and gives the rejuvenating effect that resurfacing devices give," she shares.

It's a hyaluronic gel that improves the quality of skin as opposed to traditional filler, which does not and simply fills in fine lines and wrinkles. It's used with 32-gauge needles that are extremely short, so you can target the dermis layer of the skin. This method of dermal delivery is what makes this filler unique. It delivers hyaluronic acid for the first time into the second layer of skin (the dermis). It's key for helping crepe-like wrinkles and solar elastosis—a degenerative condition of elastic tissue that can occur after prolonged sun exposure. Traditionally, solar elastosis has only been treated through resurfacing.

Active Ingredients That Can Replace Cosmetic Procedures

Although Alexiades is paving the way for innovative skincare procedures with these methods, she also has quite a bit to share about active ingredients (for us average folks) that can help eliminate the need for future procedures altogether. "With Macrene Actives, I have matched up different sets of active ingredients with the effects I seek to achieve in the skin. For example, the stimulation of skin elements, tightening, firming, clarifying, brightening, and so forth. By combining these scientifically active and clinically proven ingredients together in a delivery method that I have patented, it assures active and stable delivery to the targeted skin layers. I have been able to recapitulate the results of injectables, lasers, and devices using topical active ingredients. This is the future, and the future is here."

Alexiades says there are three categories of classic ingredients that everyone should look for: antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and peptides. "Not all hyaluronic acids are the same," she stresses. "And I don't want people wasting money on cheap hyaluronic acids that don’t make their way into the skin." The best hyaluronic acid is microencapsulated and comes in both a low- and high-molecular weight. Peptides, she says, are the fanciest of the youth-enhancing ingredients, as they actually build the skin, make collagen thicker, and eliminate the need for lasers.

With Macrene Actives, Alexiades has also incorporated DNA repair enzymes into her products that go in and actually replace mutations within the skin that are induced by UV exposure. That's where multifaceted antioxidants can also provide a huge boost because they essentially clean up the skin. They neutralize pollutants, toxins, and free radicals that can do damage to the skin. This provides it with the ability to repair itself on a daily basis and can truly help your skin look the way it did before the aging process began (around age 25, according to Alexiades). "Look for antioxidants like vitamin C, E, ferulic acid, or plant extracts that have antioxidant potential. Olive leaf extracts and green tea extracts are phenomenal. I'm really a fan of the tea extracts. And pomegranate and resveratrol. These are antioxidants that work, and they work to help with your skin's defense." Now that you're armed with this treasure trove of knowledge, I've rounded up a few highly advanced skincare products below that contain youth-boosting active ingredients that will help the skin maintain its overall health. 

SkinCeuticals' cult-loved serum is a fan favorite for a reason. It contains a good handful of the star antioxidants mentioned to help reduce oxidative damage.

This patented cream refills cellular lipids and nourishes dry skin.

The Ordinary offers a good budget option with this Buffet + Copper Peptides Serum. Copper peptides really support immune function, collagen synthesis, fibroblast production, and anti-inflammatory responses.

The addition of squalane to this copper peptide formula provides even more hydration.

I mean, Alexiades pretty much summed up how incredible this serum is above. It does the absolute most for your skin and will keep it looking extra youthful with extended use.

Neova's daily serum has a high concentration of three DNA repair enzymes and an antioxidant complex. It works wonders for UV damage and oxidative stress.

Drmtlgy's Vitamin C E + F is a budget-friendlier option than SkinCeuticals' and contains a lot of the same ingredients.

The Inkey List is loved by derms for its price point and high-quality ingredients. Try the brand's firming peptide serum for plump, healthier-looking skin.

Barrier+ provides rich hydration with active lipids, a peptide complex, small-particle hyaluronic acid, and rich shea butter.

Another great option from the Ordinary is this multi-peptide serum. It helps with fine lines, wrinkles, dryness, and loss of firmness.

Whew, the price tag on this one is hefty, I know. But the advanced formula is well worth the money. It's supercharged with a blend of peptides, growth factors, and immunostimulants that mimic the molecules found in human skin cells.

Peter Thomas Roth's formula contains a complex of 21 peptides and neuropeptides to help skin appear more youthful.

Paula's Choice Peptide Booster contains eight targeted peptides and a hydrating amino acid complex to help firm, smooth, and plump your skin.

This thoughtfully crafted and advanced serum from Vintner's Daughter contains the brand's unique Phyto Radiance Infusion. It's a 21-day process that begins with whole plants and, over time, infuses the formula with their rich nutrients. It's highly concentrated and includes ​restorative phytoceramides, phytonutrients, ​balancing minerals, brightening vitamins, free radical–fighting antioxidants, moisturizing fatty acids, and nourishing omegas to truly revitalize your complexion.