Of course, these topicals do have their limits. It’s not like someone with severe sagging will see transformative results—but when used in conjunction with cosmetic procedures, Russak notes, these topicals can totally enhance the process. 

“Once we’ve started the process in the office, procedures that amend regenerative signals like exosomes, peptides, growth factors, and they continue using them at home, that’s where we’ve seen really amazing results,” she explains. 

Not to mention, these topicals are wonderful for post-treatment care—that’s how cosmetic nurse practitioner and aesthetic medicine specialist Anush Movsesian prefers to use them. “We have to drive [these ingredients] in somehow, and the best way to do that (which is what I do), is use them after skin treatments,” she shares. Think: lasers, microneedling, etc. “That way, you’re actually driving the exosome, peptide, or growth factor into the skin.” 

Medical physiologist Sanjay Batra, Ph.D., co-founder of WE THRIVV, agrees: “It’s a really good combination, because microneedling stimulates the wound healing response in and of itself. It produces new collagen and elastin, which is what you’re losing,” he tells mbg. “But then when the channels are open, if you apply growth factors, you can get the peptides and proteins into the skin to replace what you’re losing.” 

But let’s say you apply these ingredients on their own without a cosmetic treatment—will they have any effect? “I would not go and claim that topical products are suddenly going to help us with jowliness. That’s probably not going to happen,” says Russak. “But starting to think about it sooner rather than later and helping our cells maintain their useful energy production… That’s really going to make a big difference in the future.” 

Essentially, it all ties back to skin longevity (which is what we’ve been talking about for years now!). Rather than targeting issues as they arise or committing to preventative procedures (“baby Botox” and the like), these topicals can enhance your skin’s energy production for the long haul, which will inherently delay aging concerns from cropping up. 

Put it this way: To kill a fly, you can use a simple flyswatter; you don’t need to grab a sledge hammer. To smooth a few fine lines or an area of looser skin, you can find success with these smart topicals before resorting to a more invasive method. 

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