Some women will do anything to make a blowout last for as long as possible. The latest hair craze taking hold? According to a recent article published in WWD, more and more ladies are getting Botox injections in their scalps to block sweat along the hairline. We admit, it’d be pretty awesome to not have to sacrifice a great blowout for a sweat sesh at the gym. But is this method really safe—or effective?
Botox has been FDA-approved to help prevent sweating in the underarms, hands, and feet since 2004. It works by blocking the communication between the neuron and the sweat gland, says Dendy Engelman, M.D., a dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in New York City. Specifically, Botox blocks acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. Results (the minimization of sweating in the area Botox is injected) last anywhere between six to 12 months, she says.
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And while scalp injections aren’t FDA-approved, dermatologists can and do use all sorts of products (like injectables and prescription topicals) for off-label uses as long as they’ve been demonstrated to be safe, says Engelman.
She had one patient come in with an “indoor-cycling addiction” who complained of scalp sweat. The patient asked for a topical medication to decrease the sweating, and Engelman suggested trying Botox since it works the same way it does for your underarms, palms, and feet.
While Engelman has only recently started to inject women’s scalps with Botox, she estimates that the results will be similar to that of the underarms and feet. She also says there’s a good chance this use for Botox could become FDA-approved in the future. “The mechanism of action is the exact same as injecting under the arms—which is already FDA-approved,” says Engelman. “And injections in the scalp are already used in neurology for migraines.”
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So should you head to your derm ASAP for a shot? Not so fast—consider the benefits and risks first.
Keep in mind that you may not stop sweating completely. Whether or not Botox stops sweat or decreases it is different for each patient. Some can go through multiple workouts without sweating, while others will just sweat less, says Engelman.
However, she says her patients who’ve tried it have told her they’re making fewer trips to the salon for blowouts. As an extra bonus, when Botox is injected close to the hairline, it may also mildly reduce the look of upper-forehead wrinkles, says Engelman. Adds Francesca Fusco, M.D., CLEAR Scalp & Hair dermatologist: “Some women who receive Botox to their frontalis muscle for horizontal forehead lines have reported less frizz at the hairline due to less sweating at the area where the skin meets the scalp.”
That being said, injections aren’t totally side effect-free. “Like anywhere Botox is used, if too much is injected to this muscle—which keeps the forehead up—there is a risk for a droop in the brows and eyelids,” says Fusco, who refuses patients who request scalp injections of Botox for this reason.
What’s more, because the scalp is such a large section of skin, you’d have to shell out quite a lot of dough (each session would cost you $1,200 to $1,500) and you’d have to get more injections than if you were trying to freeze forehead wrinkles.
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“I think it’s interesting, though, and indicative of the lengths and depths women will go to have great hair,” says Fusco.
The bottom line: Scalp injections could very well help you sweat less and cut back on blowouts, but before there’s more concrete evidence on results and side effects, you may want to stick to dry shampoo.