The iconic Botox is not the only show in wrinkle-smoothing town. Most people don’t realize it, but there are two other almost identical injectables you can request from your dermatologist’s office called Xeomin and Dysport. The three are competitors in a class of drug called a neuromodulator. “Botox was the original one and has become the generic term, like Kleenex or Coke,” explains New York plastic surgeon David Shafer when I visited his office two weeks ago (he’s a favorite of Coveteur staffers for their own treatments). “But Botox, Xeomin, and Dysport all work by very similar mechanisms: You inject it; it blocks the signal going between the nerve going to the muscle so the muscle can’t make the wrinkles.” All three brands take about three to five days to kick in and are said to last for about three to five months.
“Molecularly, at the core, they’re all the same,” says Shafer. “Think about an M&M. They all have the chocolate in the middle, but they’re all different colors with a different shell. [At the molecular level] Botox and Dysport both have a thick shell around the molecules, and that’s what protects it as it goes into the body. Xeomin differs because it doesn’t have the shell; it’s the raw kind of protein that you inject.” (Xeomin is also the one Christie Brinkley gets.)
This is why I’m in the surgeon’s 25th-floor office looking out over midtown Manhattan. What I’ve heard over the years—and Xeomin has been in the U.S. since 2010—is some people really like that Xeomin seems like a more “clean” formula. And, having tried and liked Botox about three times, I figured I could explore something new. “One advantage [to Xeomin’s formula] is that there are fewer molecules for your body to have a reaction to,” says Shafer. “It’s very rare to have a reaction, whether it’s any of the three brands, but if it’s someone who tends to have a lot of allergic reactions or sensitivities, Xeomin might be a good one to start with because there are less proteins around it.”