If glowing, dewy-looking skin is your forte, allow me to introduce you to Skinvive — the first in a new class of injectables that promises to add just the right dose of hydration to your complexion. Commonly referred to as both an “injectable moisturizer” and “skin booster,” it’s meant to increase your skin’s hydration levels to keep it looking perpetually moisturized, whether or not you actually applied your entire skin care routine.In essence, Skinvive is the first FDA-approved hyaluronic acid-based injectable that aims to improve skin quality, says Dr. Macrene Alexiades M.D., Ph.D., founder of Macrene Actives and lead investigator for the treatment. Note that while it involves hyaluronic acid and a needle, it’s by no means your traditional filler, which is used to fill or add volume, augment, or change the look and shape of certain areas of the face; rather, Skinvive works to improve skin smoothness and hydration on the cheeks, says Dr. David Shafer, M.D., a double board-certified plastic surgeon based in New York City.
With its debut in the U.S. market this past September, it’s set to be one of the hottest and most desirable new injectables — and I was fortunate enough to try it for myself. Read on for everything you need to know about the treatment and its effects on your skin.
The Lowdown On Skinvive
Injectable moisturizers have been popular for some time, most notably in Europe with the use of Profhilo, which made its debut in the European market in 2015 and has since skyrocketed in popularity (#Profhilo on TikTok has garnered about 69 million views). But the U.S. has been patiently waiting for the FDA’s approval of its equivalent. “Skinvive is the only FDA-approved HA-based microdroplet injectable from Juvederm that is injected into the dermis,” says Shafer. There, it’s focused on improving the appearance and quality of the skin by smoothing and boosting hydration to give you that little extra glow. Skinvive, BTW, is the first injectable of its kind to be injected into the dermis, whereas traditional fillers are injected below the skin subdermally, adds Alexiades.The treatment is suitable and safe for all skin types, and is approved for patients over the age of 21. “Skinvive is also approved in all [Fitzpatrick] skin types I-VI, meeting another unmet need in the category,” says Alexiades. It’s important to note that Skinvive is currently only FDA-approved to treat the cheeks. However, treatment for other areas of the body may very well be approved down the line, notes Shafer.
How Does It Work?
Skinvive, when injected intradermally or into the dermis, “is not intended to add volume to the cheeks or fill coarse lines, but rather to treat fine lines, roughness, and to improve skin hydration and skin quality,” says Alexiades.
As you age, your skin’s natural hyaluronic acid levels naturally decrease, which is where Skinvive comes in. “It works at the cellular level to upregulate the proteins involved with skin hydration balance, and improves skin texture and dullness,” says Shafer. Alexiades adds that the hyaluronic acid in the formulation acts as a humectant to help draw in water molecules, helping to give the skin that dewy, glowy look.Aside from the increased hydration, Skivive also helps to stimulate collagen production, improve skin elasticity, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
There is not much that goes into preparing for Skinvive. Much like with other neurotoxin or filler injections, Alexaides recommends that patients avoid taking blood thinners like aspirin and ibuprofen, vitamin E, omega vitamins, and other supplements to help avoid bruising.Though it’s safe for all skin types, Shafer says to talk to your provider if you have any allergies or sensitivities, especially to lidocaine or gram-positive bacterial proteins.
What To Expect During A Skinvive Treatment
I visited Shafer Clinic in NYC for my Skinvive injections with Dr. Shafer. First up, I sat with numbing cream on my face for 30 minutes before he picked up a needle. Shafer wound up using two syringes per cheek, noting that it’s recommended that you use anywhere from one to three per side. Once my skin was numb, Shafer then proceeded to perform about 40 to 50 injections per cheek — which sounds like a lot, but he did them quickly. “It is a microdroplet technique, so tiny amounts at approx 5 mm intervals [are injected] to erase fine lines on the cheeks, and to provide a diffuse hydration effect and glow,” says Alexaides.Despite the product containing lidocaine, a numbing agent, and using numbing cream, the injections were not painless — I’d rate them as slightly uncomfortable. Thankfully, it didn’t feel like I received such a sheer number of injections per cheek, which is largely thanks to the vibration tool Shafer used on my face (a technique that’s proven to relieve injection site pain). There was little to no blood post-injection, just a little bit of redness. To help with swelling, Shafer handed me two ice packs immediately to place on each cheek.
The Results & Aftercare
Unlike traditional filler, whose effects can be seen immediately, it takes two to four weeks to see the effects of Skinvive since it’s working at the cellular level, says Shafer. In my case, it took just under two to notice some changes in my skin.
My cheeks looked a little fuller and definitely appeared more hydrated, both with and without moisturizer. They were also smoother, which allowed my foundation to glide on a little bit easier. I had a noticeable glow about me and any makeup I applied simply complimented my new, dewy look. I also noticed that the small, sweet smile line on the lower part of my left cheek all but disappeared — something no other injectable I’ve tried was able to eliminate. As far as aftercare, it's recommended that you avoid exercising, sun exposure, or applying makeup for 24 hours post-injection. Other than that, it’s safe to continue with your regular skin care routine. Shafer says your results can actually improve for up to six months post-treatment, too — so you won’t need a follow-up appointment or additional injections until around that time.
Risks & Side Effects
Skinvive’s post-injection side effects are similar to those of any other cosmetic injectable, despite it being more of a superficial injection. “Mild side effects can potentially include redness, bumps, swelling, bruising, pain, tenderness, firmness, discoloration, and itching, but should subside within days of the treatment if they occur,” says Shafer. My cheeks were bruised the day following treatment, and they also felt tender around the injection sites. I could almost feel the product in my skin when I applied slight pressure while washing my face, which I was told was normal. In the days following the treatment, my cheeks looked noticeably bruised, but it was nothing that a little full-coverage concealer couldn’t hide — and they disappeared about a week after the injections.
The price for the treatment ranges from $500 to $3,000, which includes the cost of multiple syringes of Skinvive for both cheeks, though the price will vary depending upon the provider and location of service.I believe Skinvive is worth it — the results speak for themselves. That said, it may be costly to maintain, especially with having to make a trip back to visit your provider twice a year for a touch-up.
If you’re someone who’s concerned with fine lines, wrinkles, or roughness on the cheeks, Skinvive is a fantastic treatment option. “A large percent of my patients complain of issues with skin quality, and this is the first filler approved for that particular issue, making it a great option and alternative to lasers,” says Alexiades.I love my results and highly recommend the injectable if it’s within your budget. Personally, I’m already booking my six-month follow-up appointment.Studies referenced:Kuwahara, H. (2016). Using a Vibration Device to Ease Pain During Facial Needling and Injection. Eplasty, 16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4750366/Papakonstantinou, E. (2012). Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Dermato-Endocrinology, 4(3), 253-258. https://doi.org/10.4161/derm.21923Experts:Dr. Macrene Alexiades M.D., Ph.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of Macrene ActivesDr. David Shafer, M.D., double board-certified plastic surgeon based in New York City