Skip to main content

Botox vs. cosmetic acupuncture: Which is right for you?

Should you try Botox or facial acupuncture for skin rejuvenation? Here's what the experts say

You’ve undoubtedly heard of Botox. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, about 250,000 men received Botox in 2020, making it the most popular cosmetic procedure.

Acupuncture is likely another word you’ve heard before. The practice, a hallmark of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), involves inserting needles along specific points of the body known as “channels” and “meridians.” It’s commonly used for relaxation, pain relief, and digestive disorders.

Another type of acupuncture, known as cosmetic or facial acupuncture, is being hailed as a Botox alternative and for its ability to support rejuvenated skin.

“Cosmetic acupuncture and Botox are both popular treatments for reducing the appearance of wrinkles and other signs of aging,” says Jamie Bacharach, a licensed medical acupuncturist and the head of practice at Acupuncture Jerusalem. “Both treatments can be effective in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but they work in different ways and have different pros and cons.”

Which one is best for you? Is it possible to do both facial acupuncture and Botox to rejuvenate skin? We asked the experts to smooth out the details.

a person administering botox
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What is Botox?

Botox is a cosmetic procedure that uses injections to paralyze facial muscles and smooth wrinkles.

“[It] uses a toxin called botulinum toxin A to temporarily paralyze the muscles that cause wrinkles,” explains Bacharach. “This can help to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, especially on the forehead and around the eyes.”

The FDA approved Botox for cosmetic use in 2002, and a 2019 review found that Botox was a safe and effective way to reduce wrinkles.

That said, it’s not without its drawbacks.

“There is a risk of side effects such as bruising, swelling, and drooping of the treated area,” says Bacharach.

Women are more likely to get the minimally-invasive procedure (4 million women received Botox in 2020, compared to 250,000 men). However, more men are embracing it — and sometimes referring to it as “Brotox.”

a man receiving acupuncture on his face

What is cosmetic acupuncture?

Facial acupuncture involves inserting super-fine micro-needles into the face. The number of needles varies, but Dr. Babak Azizzadeh, MD, FACS, of the CENTER for Advanced Facial Plastic Surgery says it’s usually between 60 and 80.

“The concept is that these needles go probably deeper than what typical micro-needling does [and] create a small area of micro-injury,” says Azizzadeh, a globally recognized and Harvard dual board-certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon and facial plastic surgery expert.

What’s the point?

“It results in essentially enhancement of the collagen and elastins that are [in] deeper layers,” Azizzadeh continues. “So, in a sense, cosmetic acupuncture is closer to the concept of skin rejuvenation [than Botox].”

On the other hand, Botox focuses on relaxing overactive muscles to reduce crow’s feet and forehead lines.

“Botox is really more focused on muscle changes that enhance aesthetic outcomes, whereas cosmetic acupuncture is more related to impacting the skin and the deeper skin layers for improving the texture and quality of the skin,” Azizzadeh says.

Is there data to back cosmetic acupuncture’s benefits like there is for Botox? Not according to Azizzadeh. “It’s a very holistic Eastern medicine approach,” he says.

It may take longer to see results if you opt for facial acupuncture over Botox.

“Cosmetic acupuncture is not as immediately effective as Botox, and the effects may not be as dramatic,” Bacharach says. “It also typically requires a series of treatments to achieve the desired results, whereas Botox can produce noticeable improvements after just one treatment.”

a man in a robe in front of a mirror
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Facial acupuncture vs. Botox: Which should you choose?

Now that you know exactly what facial acupuncture and Botox are all about — and how they’re different — which one is best for you? It depends on your goals and preferences.

“In general, there is no ‘better’ option between cosmetic acupuncture and Botox,” Bacharach says. “When choosing between cosmetic acupuncture and Botox, it is important to consider your individual needs and preferences. Some people may prefer the natural, holistic approach of acupuncture, while others may prefer the immediate, dramatic results of Botox.”

Botox has data behind it, which may appeal to people who prefer evidence-based approaches and treatments.

Even if you’re leaning toward one or the other based on face-value analysis, Bacharach recommends getting an opinion from a qualified expert, such as a dermatologist. The two are pretty distinct; you can even argue that facial acupuncture is not a Botox alternative, even though they both seek to rejuvenate the skin. Is it possible to do both if each appeals to you? Yes, says Azizzadeh.

“Botox and cosmetic acupuncture . . . can probably be used more complementary with one another,” he says. “They’re not a replacement for one another.” 

Facial acupuncture and Botox may leave your skin looking and feeling glowing, smooth, and rejuvenated. However, it’s important to remember that many factors play into your skin’s appearance and how quickly it ages, including genetics, sun damage, and diet. Though it’s possible to slow down and some visible signs of aging, you can’t turn back the hands of time completely or forever. If procedures make you feel good and you can afford them, great — there’s no shame in them. However, it’s critical that you manage your expectations.

Other ways to keep skin in tip-top shape include applying broad-spectrum sunscreen daily, using a moisturizer twice per day, and eating a balanced diet full of vitamins and antioxidants. If you’re concerned about your skin’s health, reach out to a dermatologist. You can typically get a referral through your primary care physician or insurance company. You should speak to a provider before starting any treatment.

BethAnn Mayer
Beth Ann's work has appeared on healthline.com and parents.com. In her spare time, you can find her running (either marathons…
Why everyone is saying bakuchiol is the new (natural) alternative to retinol for your skin
skin

Expected to reach USD 1.79 billion by 2030, the global retinol market has been on the rise recently -- offering an easy and accessible way to achieve brighter, more youthful skin at home. Retinol works by helping to increase your skin's proliferation (creating new skin cells) and helps increase your skin's collagen production to help target acne, fine lines, wrinkles, and other common skin concerns.

Although many people find they have great success with retinol, it's not for everyone. Not only can retinol be harsh on certain skin types, but it's not always the best choice for those who prefer a more natural skincare routine or one that is plant-based. That's why many people opt for Bakuchiol, a natural retinol alternative. Below, we'll break down the hype about Bakuchiol and its potential benefits for your skin.
What is bakuchiol?
Bakuchiol comes from a plant grown in India known as Psoralea corylifolia. Also known as the "babchi" plant, this botanical extract has been used in ancient Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic practices for centuries. Recently, Bakuchiol has gained popularity in the skincare world, offering properties similar to those of the well-known retinol. Bakuchol extract is offered in many forms to add to your skincare routine, such as in serums or moisturizers. Sometimes, Bakuchiol is also combined with other botanicals, such as jojoba or rose hip, to help improve effectiveness.
What are the benefits of bakuchiol?

Read more
Mineral vs chemical sunscreen: Which one should you actually use?
mens skincare routine changes to make man in sunscreen

Even on cloudy days or days spent indoors, wearing sunscreen every day is a non-negotiable part of a healthy skincare routine. Not only can excess sunlight cause premature aging of the skin, but it's also critical to wear sunscreen to protect against various types of skin cancer. When choosing sunscreen, you'll find two main types -- chemical and mineral sunscreen. The mineral vs chemical sunscreen debate has been an ongoing one, as both forms of sunscreens have their pros and cons. Below, we'll dive into the pros and cons of each type of sunscreen to help you choose the best option.

Pros and cons of chemical sunscreen
Chemical sunscreens, often made of chemicals such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octinoxate, or other similar chemicals, are absorbed into the skin when applied. This type of sunscreen is generally easy to apply to the face and body and absorbs UV rays that touch the skin.
Pro: hydrating for the skin
Due to the thin and blendable nature of chemical sunscreens, they are generally hydrating for the skin and can be added to cosmetics such as moisturizers, skin tints, or foundation products.
Pro: sweat and water resistant
Many cosmetics that market "SPF included" contain chemical sunscreens. People also like chemical sunscreens because they are quite sweat and water-resistant.
Pro: no white residue
Chemical sunscreens also blend well into the skin and do not leave any white residue. If you think back to the sunscreen you used as a kid, chances are it was a chemical sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens have become more popular in recent years as consumers are paying more attention to the ingredients in their skincare and health products.
Con: not the best for sensitive skin
Although chemical sunscreens are easy to use, they are not always a great choice for those with skin conditions or sensitive skin. The chemicals found in this type of sunscreen can cause allergic reactions or worsen conditions such as melasma.
Con: chemical ingredients and environmental impact
In addition, some of the chemicals used in these products may be linked to cancer, as trace amounts get absorbed into the bloodstream. Another con to consider is the environmental impact of chemical sunscreen, which may damage reefs and other marine environments.

Read more
5 essential anti-aging skincare tips every man needs to know
Keep your skin looking great with these simple tips
man looking in mirror

Aging is a natural part of life, and while there’s no way to stop it, you can take hold of it. Along with the typical aging of gray hairs and frown lines, plenty of signs of aging can start to appear. Some signs, like sun spots or dry skin, are completely avoidable with the proper care. If you’re not a fan of signs of aging, taking care of your lifestyle and skincare can be your best bet for combatting it. Celebrities like Brad Pitt or Jeff Goldblum, who have been on the silver screen for decades, have shown us that you can age in a way that you’re proud to show off your gray hairs. By following some of the tips your favorite celebrities use, you can also age the way you wish and look your best. 
Sunscreen is your friend

No matter your age, sunscreen is the most essential step to add to your daily routine. Whether you precede it with a more detailed skincare routine is a personal preference, but there’s no doubt that sunscreen will do wonders for helping you with your anti-aging journey. As The Skin Cancer Foundation states, sunscreen can help reduce the risk of cancer and precancer diseases by up to 50%, making it the easiest way to avoid these issues. Besides these health benefits, sunscreen also has an anti-aging benefit that can help you keep your youthful glow. 

Read more