At least once a week, a friend frantically texts me asking how to get rid of her fine lines, as if she just noticed them for the first time that morning. And though literally every human over the age of the Degrassi cast has fine lines in some place and size (they’re a perfectly normal, natural part of growing up, folks), it seems as though the general feeling towards wrinkles is still GTFO.
Listen—I could spend all day waxing poetic about how beauty standards are bullshit and how you should love and accept yourself for the perfect little gem that you are…but you’re not here for that. You’re here to find out how to get rid of wrinkles in the fastest, cheapest way possible. And I aim to please.
So I broke down every single possible way to get rid of fine lines, no matter your price point, your pain tolerance, or your patience. Check out your options, ahead.
LEVEL 1: TOPICALS
Unless your trusty eye cream is packed with one of the following ingredients, toss it out and find a moisturizer (which, fun fact, is essentially the exact same thing as an eye cream, but in a bigger jar) specifically formulated with either:
, and for good reason: The little antioxidant “softens rough patches, shields your skin from damage, and fades acne scars and dark marks,” says Dr. Gohara. It even helps prevent fine lines while smoothing the ones you’ve got by stimulating your collagen production.
The cons: It’ll take a few months to see any impact on your lines, and even then, don’t expect miracles. “The anti-aging aspect is really just an added bonus to vitamin C’s list of pros,” adds Dr. Gohara.
“Retinol is the only ingredient in skincare that both increases collagen production and stops collagen breakdown,” says Dr. Gohara. Translation: It tricks your cells into thinking they’re younger than they are, so they work faster to create fresh, bright, non-wrinkled skin. And that means your dark spots, wrinkles (even deep ones), scars, and acne will all diminish, too.
Just be aware that retinol takes at least three months of consistent use to see results—but at least they’re permanent results—and that you'll likely experience some dryness, flakiness, and possibly even breakouts (if you’re acne-prone) within the first month of use. Yes, it sucks, but you need to tough it out for the anti-aging results.
To help mitigate the side effects, start off slowly: Use a retinol one night a week for one week, twice a week for two weeks, three times a week for three weeks, and then every other day for, well, life.
“The little molecule acts like a sponge in your skin, pulling in water from the air to plump fine lines and smooth your face,” says Dr. Gohara. It’s lightweight, ultra-hydrating, works immediately, with absolutely zero irritation. The only downside? It’s temporary, and it won’t help with deeper lines or wrinkles.
LEVEL 2: BOTOX
Ah, yes—good ol' Botox. “Botox temporarily paralyzes the muscles that make you squint, which causes your wrinkles and fine lines to relax and soften,” says Dr. Gohara. It’s super effective (it starts working within a few days), and as long as you go to an experienced, board-certified dermatologist, you won’t end up with the cliché “frozen” face you see in movies.
The only downside: It’s temporary. Though it totally depends on your rate of metabolism, you’re looking at 3-4 months of line-smoothing action before the Botox wears off. Plus, it can cost around $500 per treatment area (though costs vary by region), which may not be feasible for everyone.
LEVEL 3: MICRONEEDLING
Microneedling (AKA dermarolling) involves puncturing tiny holes into your skin with a needle-covered roller to stimulate collagen production. “You’re essentially damaging your skin to create newer, younger skin,” says Dr. Gohara.
"It sounds barbaric, but it's the most effective way we currently have to treat fine lines and wrinkles fast." And don't worry—the procedure is fast and only moderately irritating, despite how it sounds.
The cons: It takes 4-6 weeks of once-weekly treatments to see some brightening and smoothing results, but even longer for fine-line reduction. It’s also too harsh for most sensitive skin types, like those with rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, or any type of inflammatory condition.
And though, yes, you can microneedle yourself at home with DIY kits, Dr. Gohara warns against it: "You can really mess up your skin if you don't know what you're doing." Save the face-puncturing for the professionals, okay?
LEVEL 4: LASERS
And now for the laser portion of our wrinkle treatments: Fraxel. Fraxel (which is a brand name for a whole class of lasers used to resurface your skin) is magical, face-changing, and pretty freaking painful (basically like a hot rubberband snapping your face over and over again).
“Resurfacing lasers use heat energy to create trauma within your skin that leads to new collagen,” says Dr. Gohara. In case you haven’t noticed, most anti-aging treatments just damage your skin to make it “better.” Yay for technology!
As you'd expect with, you know, shooting lasers into your face, there are some downsides: Your skin will look and feel badly sunburned for a few days and then have a sandpapery texture for a week or two.
But after that? Bright and smooth as a baby angel—or, like, as bright and smooth as you 20 years ago, before life hit you in the face.