Dermatologists in the U.S. are salivating. “Profhilo is the skin technology I am most excited about for 2023,” says Daniel Belkin, MD, of New York City (also known as Martha Stewart’s dermatologist). Since last spring, some of his well-traveled patients have been asking about the new injectable, which has been widely available in Europe since 2016. Lord Gavin, celebrity facialist for Augustinus Bader, has urged his clients to travel to London to get it. Bird Bakery CEO Elizabeth Chambers, who is partly based in the Cayman Islands, told New York Magazine she swears by it. “It’s such a simple, low-tech item; we don’t have anything quite like it in the U.S.,” Belkin says. The bad news: It’s not available in America yet.
Profhilo is part of a new category of injectables known as “skin boosters,” based on new formulations of hyaluronic acid (HA), occasionally mixed with other good-for-your-skin ingredients like amino acids. “I dream of the day such products make it here,” says Shino Bay Aguilera, DO, a Fort Lauderdale dermatologist. The shots seem like skin care at its best—if every claim on your moisturizer were true: They hydrate and smooth and help boost collagen and elastin, making your skin look glowier, less wrinkled (superficial lines in particular), and more supple. Lord Gavin refers to it as an “injectable moisturizer.”
If you’ve been anxious about doing anything to your face, skin boosters are a great way to ease in, since they don’t freeze muscles or add significant volume to the face. As Lord Gavin explains, “This isn’t about changing the face, but enhancing glow and luminosity while smoothing away lines, lifting, and tightening.” While traditional fillers stay where they are injected (which is why repeated injections can build up and look puffy over time), these new injectables slowly infuse HA through the skin, making them much more subtle. “It would be impossible to become ‘overdone’ with Profhilo,” Belkin says. “It spreads throughout the dermis to hydrate the [whole area].” Think of it as the difference between oil paint and a canvas wash. Both can produce beautiful colors, but the wash—aka Profhilo—does it in a more diffused way. It also requires only five small injections on each side of the face (they look like huge mosquito bites at first, but vanish within a day or two), and the results can last up to six months.
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And if you’re already a regular at the dermatologist’s office, Profhilo can be folded into your current injectable plan to make your skin look even better. London-area aesthetic doctor Sophie Shotter explains how: “Fillers are designed to make a structural change to the face—plumping out a line or a wrinkle, or recontouring a cheek or a jawline. But you can have the best jawline in the world, and if the skin’s canvas isn’t looking polished, then you still won’t look radiant and glowing,” she says. “So for me, these treatments often go hand in hand.”
As a UK-based journalist, I’ve tried many of these marvelous jabs. I started with Restylane Skinboosters—not the dermal filler used for lip volumizing, but a more fluid formulation of HA. It involved dozens of tiny, superficial injections into my dry, crepey décolletage. My chest might have looked like a miniature quilt of puffy blobs for a day or two afterward. But those vanished as the product spread through my skin like honey. Two months and two additional rounds of treatments later, my skin was smoother, plumper, and so well hydrated that the vertical creases that are the bane of the aging bosom were much less visible. I was a convert.
I particularly like Profhilo injections for my neck, where the skin is naturally drier and thinner and harder to coax into peak health with skin care. Adding a layer of skin-nourishing hyaluronic acid just beneath the surface makes my neck smoother, firmer, and less “out of step” with my face. I’m always eager to have the injections in my face, too, particularly because they give glowy radiance back to my postmenopausal skin.
Although Profhilo is the most common, there are other injectable skin boosters, some which target specific areas of the face. If you’re worried about forehead lines or those around your mouth, cosmetic nurse practitioner Frances Turner Traill, whose clinic is near Glasgow, Scotland, recommends Viscoderm Hydrobooster for superficial, static lines that Botox and other wrinkle-reducers can’t treat. A skincare injectable from an Italian brand called Sunekos boasts amino acids and works well for areas that need a lighter touch, such as around the eyes, where the skin is more fragile. Dr. Johanna Ward, an aesthetic doctor with clinics in London and Kent, is a fan. “It’s my go-to product for a more mature patient who might need the extra help of the amino acids for collagen production,” she says. Another product called Belotero Revive from Merz, a German company, adds glycerol to a hyaluronic acid base to help treat hyperpigmentation. “It’s the only skin booster that improves mild sun damage,” says Dr. Yusra Al-Mukhtar of Liverpool. I’ve personally tried it and loved how it can be targeted at your particular trouble spots—in my case, the crow’s feet wrinkles beside my eyes and the ‘barcode’ lines above my upper lip—which were softened and less evident for months after treatment.
Profhilo is rumored to be available at some point in the U.S. As Bay Aguilera tells me, “You are very lucky in Europe to have these products.” Don’t I know it! But if you’re visiting my side of the pond soon, now you know what to ask for.
A version of this article appears in the May 2023 issue of ELLE.
Alice Hart Davis is a British author, journalist, and founder of The Tweakments Guide.