Skin-Filler serums: can the trend replace injectables?

The appeal of a fine line filler serum is obvious. No one particularly likes being under the needle, and many fear it outright. “Aesthetic procedures driving the market are those considered ‘non-surgical’, with the top three being Botox injectionshyaluronic acid fillers and hair removal procedures,” says Gisela Ballard, Vice President of US Training and Education for Shiseido. Thus, the emergence of “filler” serums, marketed as alternatives to hyaluronic acid-based injectable fillerhas set the skincare world in turmoil.

“The hype revolves around the name itself – filler serum,” says dual board certified pediatric and adult cosmetic dermatologist Karan Lal, DO, who notes that these serums contain ingredients that temporarily diminish the appearance of fine lines. But “nothing applied topically will fill your face.” Medical beautician Amy Petersonfounder of Miami MedSpa Skin care by Amy Petersonnames hyaluronic acidpeptides, lipids and growth factors as the main ingredient classes to look for in this product category.

Experts agree marketing claims mismanage expectations, with London-based plastic surgeon Yannis Alexandridesfounder of 111SKIN and 111 Harley Streetsaying, “Inventing a product as a ‘filler serum’ is a marketing mistake.”

Still, don’t discount these innovative plumpers just yet, as they have many benefits. “There are all kinds of claims about ingredients, molecular size, and how the smallest ingredients can penetrate the skin, and none of these claims have been backed up by research,” says a board-certified plastic surgeon dual advice. Ben TaleiMD, founder of the Downtown Beverly Hills. “However, it is hard to deny that many of them TO DO have a huge advantage [to the skin] — even if companies don’t describe them accurately all the time.”

Below, learn more about the category of skin filler serums, from exactly how they work to delivering on all the promises.

What are “filler” serums?

“Many companies and brands have released serums and creams that mimic filler and Botox, claiming to have created and manipulated ingredients designed specifically to achieve these results, which also sets them apart from conventional serums,” says Peterson. Most of these serums contain ingredients improved by new technologies, are enhanced by a unique delivery method to reach greater dermal depths, or in some cases offer new combinations of active ingredients.

“Most filler serums work by using ingredients of a smaller molecule size that can penetrate deeper layers of the skin, where they can work better and longer,” says a board-certified dermatologist. Corey L. HartmanMD, founder of Skin wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, AL. Dr. Talei clarifies that “filler serums therefore work either by hydrating the skin and drying in water, or by tightening the skin thanks to the surface tension produced by the product or by reflecting light”.

As for marketing claims referring to an injectable hyaluronic acid-based filler, experts are less enthusiastic. “It’s a question of diplomas”, says cosmetic chemist Ron Robinsonfounder of BeautyStat. “It’s one thing to hydrate and plump the skin, [but] it’s another [to claim to be able to] replace a dermatological injectable treatment.”

How Fillers Work

In a market as saturated as the skincare industry, it takes a lot for formulators to push the envelope. Sometimes that means taking a base active ingredient and finding a way to make it more bioavailable, pairing it with a physical delivery method to help it penetrate to new depths, or finding synergistic ingredient combinations. As we have seen with fibroquinesome chemists have even turned to AI to discover new ingredients.

1. Enhanced actives give a plumping effect to the skin

Hyaluronic acid, a hydrophilic molecule known to contain 1,000 times its molecular weight in water, is the most common active ingredient when referring to skin filler serums. “When additional moisturizers are applied to the skin, hyaluronic acid attracts that water and plumps up the skin,” says Dr. Hartman. Yet the conundrum has been finding ways for the more potent, high molecular weight hyaluronic acid molecules – which work on the surface of the skin – to reach deeper into the skin and hydrate from within. .

Ballard describes how Shiseido has spent decades developing its MolecuShift technology featured in the Shiseido Bio-Performance Skin Filler Serum Duo ($295). This allowed the two-part system to deliver potent, high molecular weight hyaluronic acid to the depths of the skin overnight before being restored to their original size with the daytime serum. “I’m very intrigued by this product,” says Robinson. “I see they have clinical data. They make a big claim, [and] I’d love to see before and after clinical photos.” Anecdotally, I noticed an overall smoothness and hydrated glow that makes this my favorite hyaluronic acid serum to apply; however, I wouldn’t compare it to receiving an injection.

Most fillers work by using ingredients of a smaller molecule size which can penetrate deeper layers of the skin where they can work more effectively and last longer.

Peptides are go-to ingredients for targeting skin elasticity. Made up of amino acids, they work to firm the skin by encouraging the fibroblasts in the skin cells to create more of the skin’s structural proteins, namely collagen and elastin. Yet the StriVectin Peptide Plump Line-Filling Bounce Serum ($89) uses a proprietary peptide blend to also target the skin’s innate hyaluronic acid stores for a three-in-one boost. In the case of the ultrapopular Lawless Forget the Filler Tinted Lip Balm Smoothing & Plumping Lips ($26), a double dose of the peptide-based ingredient MaxiLip promotes collagen and hyaluronic acid synthesis, plus additional moisturizers and occlusives, for immediate and long-lasting plumping results.

2. New Delivery Methods Maximize Bioavailability

Often formulations work by helping larger active ingredients work on newer skin by pairing them with exfoliants or retinoids. Micro-darts, or micro-cones, are another brand that delivers greater actives to deeper dermal depths on the patches. Although the brand’s founder, Dr. Alexandrides, takes issue with the marketing claims of so-called “filler serums,” he offers micro-patches that use a physical delivery method. THE 111SKIN Meso Infusion Overnight Micro Mask ($50) is a small patch containing dissolvable micro-cones that penetrate the skin at 0.3mm, delivering 95% hyaluronic acid and 5% vitamin C to wrinkled areas.

“The mask dissolves in the target area — most often under the eyes, or on crow’s feet, frown lines, or nasolabial folds — overnight to infuse the skin with the two-ingredient formula,” says -he.

Great notoriety abounds around the Ourself HA+ Replenishing Serum ($260) for its combination of low- and mid-weight hyaluronic acid molecules along with firming peptides, vitamin C, and niacinamide. Its potency is preserved through a patent-pending delivery system that uses lipids to protect the integrity of the active ingredients against longer-term oxidation and degradation. Yet another new delivery system can be found in the Fillerina PLUS Level 4 Treatment ($175). The targeted applicator tip allows you to apply the serum and its eight forms of hyaluronic acid and the Matrixyl peptide specifically to the wrinkles, folds and depressions you wish to treat.

3. Targeted Ingredient Combinations Show Promising Results

“Other ‘skin filler’ serums have manipulated or created peptide or lipid complexes in order to target and enhance collagen, elastin or hyaluronic acid in the skin. [supplies]”, says Peterson. In general, peptides like Matrixyl 3000 and Copper Peptide stimulate the production of collagen in the skin for firmer, fuller results. Copper Peptide is found in the skincare range of New Zealand skin cancer expert Sharad Paul, MD, featuring what the brand calls “No-Tox.” Two serums – Skin by Dr. Sharad Face+Neck Smoothing Elixir ($95) and Skin by Dr. Sharad Smoothing Eye Elixir ($75) – were developed to provide an alternative to injectable neurotoxins like Botox.

“No-Tox works based on a cumulative and proportional effect of ingredients, many of which are well known,” says Dr. Paul, who has conducted extensive research on skin wrinkles. The effect of its combination of vitamin C, niacinamide, copper peptides, hyaluronic acid and superfoods like sacha inchi oil was measured in a clinical trial using 3D imaging and published in the peer- reviewed Journal of Clinical and Cosmetic Dermatology.

Can fillers replace injectables?

As to whether or not topical skincare products can provide comparable results to injectable filler, expert opinion is a definite no, and Dr. Hartman stresses that no topical product will replace the skills of an experienced injector. “[Injectables and topicals] produce quite different effects and cannot be compared,” agrees Dr. Talei, who is skeptical of the lack of research to support marketing claims. “With the exception of retinoids and vitamin serums, most of these [skin-care products] do not penetrate much into the skin. The particles and ingredients adhere to the surface of the skin and deliver their benefits.”

In an industry where ethical debate abounds, there is something to be said for supporting companies that avoid deceptive marketing gimmicks. Still, experts vouch for the merits of many. Peterson points out that they’re a great way to prolong results between injection appointments or for those who want to avoid injectables altogether. As Dr. Talei points out, there is no A magic serum or cream for all skin types, and many products offer great benefits whether or not they work exactly as they do on the market.

Even more interesting is the reason for the mass marketing of filler serums, with Dr. Paul tapping into a sort of counterculture in the cosmetics-obsessed Zoom Boom era. The research to develop the proprietary No-Tox compound, he says, came from growing patient demand for toxin-free options. “There has been an increase in demand for injectables, but also for people looking for less invasive treatment options based on more natural, safe and vegan ingredients,” he says.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top