The Face-Lift That Never Happened

The pressure to “do something”—meaning dramatic steps, like a face-lift—about aging is everywhere in our society. The opposite pressure, to “age gracefully,” is at least as powerful, and neither is particularly helpful: One half of the population is supposed to look young as long as possible but also reflect no signs of that struggle against nature.

Actual face-lifts have come a long, long way from the pulled-tight caricature, but as Dr. Julius Few, a top plastic surgeon in Manhattan and Chicago, explains, they are also—for some—becoming obsolete. Surgeons like him, he says, are busier than ever yet doing fewer face-lifts. “Of course, I still do face-lifts,” he says. “If you’re in your sixties and you haven’t taken care of your skin, a thread-lift isn’t going to give you the results you’re looking for. But for people who’ve taken care of themselves, combination therapies—especially involving the new thread-lifts—are starting to approach face-lift-like results without the surgery. I love being able to say, ‘Here are some options for you,’ rather than simply ‘Surgery or nothing.’”

Few’s technique involves what he calls stacking treatments—starting with healthy, cared-for skin and building on it with ultrasound technology, like Ultherapy; new minimally invasive thread-lifts from Silhouette; and dermatologic staples, like Botox, fillers, and lasers. “There’s a whole new category of patients who aren’t trying to look like they’re a different age than they are—they’re just trying to look better,” says Few. “Many of these people would never get surgery; others might have in the past but are now finding they might not need it.”

Face-lifts address sagging and wrinkling but don’t address skin texture, color (age spots), or—most critically—the volume that’s characteristic of a youthful face. “Dr. Woffles Wu, a plastic surgeon in Singapore, pioneered the idea of the three-dimensional lift, where you’re stimulating collagen as you’re lifting the skin,” Few says. Volume added back into the face via fillers alone can easily look out of kilter, he observes. “Those therapies alone can look a little unusual,” he says. “The cheeks, in particular, end up with an outward projection that’s not as natural-looking as I’d like.”

“Now, with the new Silhouette thread-lift, I lift the cheeks and stimulate collagen the way it would naturally grow in those areas,” he says. “And we achieve those results without the negatives of the thread-lifts of the early 2000s, which used barbed sutures and nondissolving threads, both of which caused problems. The Silhouette technique is critically different in that it uses cones instead of barbs to hold the threads within your skin, and biodegradable threads.” The results—skin that’s both lifted and plumper, thanks to the collagen-stimulated effects of the threads and cones themselves—last at least two years, but Few says he augments those benefits by layering it over Ultherapy treatments: “Ultherapy stimulates the collagen further, deep within the skin, and it tightens the skin, too. It’s a great combination with the thread-lift.”

Botox, smaller amounts of filler, and lasers to treat discoloration and other texture issues can be used later to further enhance the effects. “You can use less filler, so the results are much more natural,” says Few. “My colleagues are excited, and patients are excited, too. The minimum benefit I’ve seen so far in a patient is one and half years—and it can extend to four or five years.”

Recovery, he reports, involves spotty bruises at the most: “You can go to work that day, but no working out for a week or two while it really settles.” If recovery time is dramatically different from that of a face-lift, cost is not: A Silhouette thread-lift alone costs close to $3,000, on average; Ulthera, too, approaches $3,000 (prices depend on your skin, your doctor, your region, and how much work is being done). Botox, lasers, and fillers add on even more.

But the point here, Few says, is that you can be much less aggressive and have much less downtime and pain, with potentially much more natural results. “This is the future,” he says. “It’s about tackling all the components of aging—and many, sometimes all, of those components can be nonsurgical.”

The Aging-Gracefully Routine

Essential No. 1: Daily Mineral-Only SPF

If you do nothing else, this is the single thing that will keep your skin looking youthful, longer.

Ursa Major Force Field Daily Defense Lotion

Ursa Major Force Field Daily Defense Lotion with SPF 18

goop, $54

This lightweight, ultrahydrating, all-mineral SPF 18 blends in so beautifully it’s truly unbelievable. Unscented and infused with skin-supporting vitamins, it leaves skin radiantly smooth. It provides year-round, broad-spectrum protection and just feels incredible.

Kypris Pot of Shade Heliotropic

Kypris Pot of Shade Heliotropic

goop, $75

This broad-spectrum, beautifully translucent formula is perfect for everyday protection. Boosted with moisturizing botanicals (and no essential oils so it’s ideal for reactive and sensitive skin) and zinc oxide, it’s brilliant as primer, leaving skin radiant and smooth. It feels incredible going on, blends like a dream, soothes any skin type, and makes serious, long-lasting protection a luxurious daily ritual.

Naturopathica Daily UV Defense Cream

Naturopathica Daily UV Defense Cream SPF 50

goop, $64

Sleek and softly, subtly matte, this daily moisturizer is also a nontoxic (to people and to coral) SPF 50 that sinks in so easily. Amazing on its own, over makeup, on the backs of your hands…we keep one in our makeup bag and one in the glove compartment for emergency sun situations.

Beautycounter Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer Light Coverage

Beautycounter Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20

goop, $45

This glowy, translucent, instantly perfecting SPF 20 has to be the ultimate no-makeup makeup of all time. It’s less about masking flaws and more about looking and feeling like you—but better. The delicate, deeply hydrating formula smooths in like a dream; zinc oxide soothes all day; black currant, peony-root extract, and vitamin C enhance brightness; and powerful moisturizers leave you with smoother-looking skin. If you’re looking for coverage, this is not your product, but we guarantee it makes anyone’s skin look instantly more beautiful. It’s so sheer that different shades work for many different skins—if you’re in doubt, try No. 2, which works for practically everyone who tries it.

Vive Sana Serum Crema

Vive Sana Serum Crema SPF 20

goop, $75

The love child of a super hydrating day cream, a serious SPF, and a potent serum, this nourishing moisturizer protects from UVA and UVB rays while rejuvenating skin. There are four hydrating oils—argan, apricot, avocado, and jojoba—plus glycerin to soften and further moisturize skin. Antioxidant astaxanthin, green tea, red raspberry, rosemary, and vitamin E soothe and even skin tone. It feels incredible, sinks in instantly, and leaves skin healthy, glowing, and protected.

Essential #2: Oil

The key takeaway here is moisture. We love oils, but we also love lotions and creams. Moisture makes your skin instantly look and feel better: It keeps makeup from settling in creases, gives skin all-around vitality and glow, and of course gets rid of dryness, which often reads as aging on skin.

goop by Juice Beauty Enriching Face Oil

goop by Juice Beauty Enriching Face Oil

goop, $110/$98 with subscription

This nourishing, potent miracle oil sinks instantly into skin and starts to work. Made with a pure blend of organic oils, it leaves skin remarkably supple, soft, and glowing. It turbocharges any moisturizer and also hydrates beautifully on its own. It can even be patted on over makeup for a midday pick-me-up. The Enriching Face Oil is formulated with USDA-certified organic ingredients and contains approximately 99 percent total organic content.

Balmyard Moonlight Lover Facial Oil

Balmyard Beauty Moonlight Lover Facial Oil

goop, $95

Made from a potent blend of botanicals, this golden oil is a seriously nourishing overnight treatment. Prickly-pear-seed oil works while you sleep to reveal brighter, softer, plumper, super hydrated skin. Rose hip seed, evening primrose, and sea buckthorn deliver powerful support to promote healthy, glowing skin—and they smell incredible, too.

May Lindstrom The Youth Dew Hydrating Facial Serum

May Lindstrom The Youth Dew Hydrating Facial Serum

goop, $140

Apply this moisturizing, enzyme-spiked botanical serum before bed and wake up with a plump, gorgeously hydrated complexion.

Alternatively, creams and lotions do the same job, in a different form.

Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Cream Women

Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Cream Women

goop, $215

Smooth on this luxurious daily face cream to feel its exquisite, delicate texture as it cocoons your skin in rich moisture. It leaves skin glowy, smooth, plump, and addictively silky. Purslane, a botanical Dr. Sturm prizes for its beautiful effects on skin, soothes, while shea butter intensely hydrates.

Alpyn Beauty PlantGenius Melt Moisturizer

Alpyn Beauty PlantGenius Melt Moisturizer

goop, $60

TWild-crafted with high-altitude plants, this supermoisturizer is rich enough for the very driest skin, yet it’s whipped, so it sinks in instantly and feels absolutely incredible. Seven powerful hydrators—hyaluronic acid, ceramides, olive fruit oil, linoleic acid, coconut, apricot kernel oil, and squalane—brilliantly combine with antioxidants and aloe vera to support skin health. Bakuchiol, a plant prized in Ayurvedic tradition, and tripeptide-29 smooth, plump, and revive the appearance of skin over time.

goop by Juice Beauty Revitalizing Day Moisturizer

goop, $100/$90 with subscription

The Revitalizing Day Moisturizer is a lightweight daily cream that softens and nourishes skin, hydrates deeply, and targets dark spots for a brighter, more even skin tone. Infused with linseed extract, vitamins C and E, and powerful peptides, this moisturizer works throughout the day to rejuvenate the skin. The Revitalizing Day Moisturizer is formulated with USDA-certified organic ingredients and contains approximately 73 percent total organic content.

Moisturizing masks can supercharge your moisturizing routine.

Tammy Fender Restorative Radiance Masque

Tammy Fender Restorative Radiance Masque

goop, $235

You think of clay as drying, but this soothing rose-water-and-pink-clay concoction is ultramoisturizing. It feels incredible going on, and your skin is left dewy and totally hydrated. Somehow detoxifying and totally moisturizing all at once—this is, like Fender and her spa, heaven.

Alpyn Beauty Calming Midnight Mask with Melatonin & Wild Dandelion

Alpyn Beauty Calming Midnight Mask with Melatonin & Wild Dandelion

goop, $68

This miracle mask is made with detoxifying, antioxidant, wild-crafted dandelions from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It detoxifies and deeply moisturizes your skin overnight, when skin is already in repair mode. Magnesium, valerian root, and bakuchiol—a natural, nonirritating retinol—help smooth and plump skin, leaving it hydrated and glowing by morning.

Essential #3: Exfoliate

Regular exfoliation makes your skin act as if it’s younger, in that young skin sloughs away dead skin much faster, so young skin not only looks fresher but absorbs and retains moisture better. Exfoliate regularly for glow, smooth texture, better hydration, and better results from the treatments you use.

goop Beauty GOOPGLOW Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliator

goop Beauty GOOPGLOW Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliator

goop, $125/$112 with subscription

GOOPGLOW Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliator is a dual-action microdermabrasion exfoliator that delivers the benefits of both physical and chemical exfoliation, instantly polishing away roughness, smoothing uneven texture, and revealing a healthy-looking, glowing complexion. The air-whipped, almost marshmallow-like formula is densely packed with a blend of four powerful glow-inducing microexfoliating minerals (quartz, garnet, alumina, and silica) plus glycolic acid to help sweep away dry, dead skin cells and refine the appearance of pores for skin that is visibly softer, smoother, and more radiant.

goop Beauty GOOPGLOW 15% Glycolic Overnight Glow Peel

goop Beauty GOOPGLOW 15% Glycolic Overnight Glow Peel

goop, $125/$112 with subscription

Inspired by professional chemical peels, these intense exfoliating overnight acid peel pads refine, retexturize, and brighten skin while you sleep. A powerful level (15%) of glycolic acid and potent fruit extracts (mango, banana, yellow mombin, and Australian kakadu plum) work together with naturally moisturizing hyaluronic acid so you wake up with fresh, soft, smooth, beautifully glowing skin.

Essential #4: Treatment

Active skin-smoothing ingredients range from vitamin A derivatives and alpha hydroxy acids to peptides and antioxidants. New compounds are constantly being discovered and developed; the key is to find the products that bring your skin beautiful results.

Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum

Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum

goop, $185

It’s not surprising that this oil has a cult following: It’s an infusion of twenty-two active organic botanicals mixed with powerful essential oils. Phytonutrients and minerals help balance skin; phytoceramides, nourishing fatty acids, and antioxidants stimulate and brighten dull complexions. The revolutionary formula beautifully sinks in, leaving skin smooth and glowy.

Goldfaden MD Needle-Less

goop, $115

Infused with pure hyaluronic acid, high-tech yet all-natural hexapeptides, and seaweed extract, this incredible serum really smooths skin. Perfect for all skin types, it leaves skin with a long-term, youthful glow.

goop by Juice Beauty Replenishing Night Cream

goop, $140/$125 with subscription

Our Replenishing Night Cream is a luxurious, highly active night cream that works to plump, brighten, and firm skin overnight. The nourishing formula visibly improves skin texture, reduces the appearance of wrinkles, and increases luminosity for a noticeable, healthy glow. Sandalwood-nut oil helps to increase elasticity, while linseed extract and hyaluronic acid hydrate, lift, and firm. The Replenishing Night Cream is formulated with USDA-certified organic ingredients and contains approximately 89 percent total organic content.