"The magic principle when I'm treating a patient is to add lift, not volume," explains Dr Michael Moore, a practitioner at Dr Dray, an A-list approved West London aesthetic clinic which counts Gwyneth Paltrow as a client.
When Dr Moore has a patient on one of his plans, the ideal outcome a few days after an appointment is for "friends or family to say 'you look great, you look refreshed,' but without knowing why or what they've done. They may think they have slept well or they've been on a wellness retreat.”
A former NHS medical doctor, Moore works alongside the pioneering founder Dr Maurice Dray, whose philosophy is rooted in a less is more approach to aesthetics. And they’re at the forefront of a palpable shift towards undetectable non-invasive aesthetic procedures. Filled, frozen and more recently ‘snatched’ faces had come to embody the injectables and tweakments landscape since the Noughties, but the tide is changing.
In 2023 a slew of celebrities spoke out about having the dermal fillers dissolved, with names such as Kylie Jenner, Blac Chyna and Courteney Cox publicly lamenting the changes they'd made. And civilian patients are following suit in what's been dubbed 'filler fatigue'. “People are going towards looking a more natural look and coming from other clinics to dissolve these fillers," Dr Moore confirms.
While ‘trends’ persist on social media for looks such as the 'cat eye lift' or 'cupid lift', Moore and Dray’s clinic has always been about enhancing a look as close to natural beauty as possible. And their clients are on board. “They aren’t looking for that tight, very pulled-back look. They’re looking for subtle lift and rejuvenation. This is why there’s a shift towards injectable treatments. They’re subtle and natural and reversible as well. If you go for surgery it’s very difficult to reverse in a few years if it goes out of trend or fashion there’s nothing you can do,” he cautions.
The non-invasive aesthetic procedures industry was valued at $60 billion last year, and the figure is predicted to triple by 2030 — numbers which not only shine a light on the fact that far more people than we might know are likely getting undetectable tweakments or injectables, but that a majority of these people are committed to long-term plans.
This long-game is what Dr Moore says the new wave of treatments gaining pace are all about. While Botox (botulinum toxin) remains highly requested (an estimated 900,000 of the injections are carried out in the UK each year), the popularity of what Dr Moore calls skin boosters and “active injectable products” is growing apace. These treatments are administered via tiny injections directly into the skin.
While wrinkle-relaxers have effects for around three to six months, skin boosters work on a bio chemical level to improve skin quality, enhancing hydration texture and tone gradually. By now most au fait with tweakments have likely read about or had Profhilo (which has been compared to an injectable moisturiser), but this is just one of these regenerative or longevity medicines.
“I'm doing a lot of treatments now for restoration of the face. I'm creating lift mid phase and lower phase, and we're also working to improve the sort of quality of the tissues as well," explains Dr Moore. He name drops Polynucleotides (a gel which increases the elasticity in the face by stimulating cell turnover) as a treatment gaining traction in recent months, though his clinic was one of the first to offer them in London. While Dr Dray is credited with creating Mesotherapy which administers a cocktail of vitamins to the lower layer of the skin (aka the mesoderm).
Once he is familiar with a client, Dr Moore will grow their plan and use a mix of treatments to address multiple concerns, be it dryness, pigmentation or fine lines. Moore says that while his older clients may be looking for "lift, younger clients perhaps looking for hydration or glowing of the skin."
The shift mirrors the mood that has been prevalent in the wider beauty industry for a while now towards skincare over makeup, condition over concealing."At the end of the day, the skin is the first thing you see when you meet someone. It can tell you so much about that person: are they eating well? Are they drinking well? Are they exercising? Are they sleeping? It's the biggest telltale sign for everything," Dr Moore explains.
The skin is the first thing you see when you meet someone. It can tell you so much about that person
Dr Michael Moore
The skincare boom means many come to Dr Dray knowing buzzed about boosters by name or the actives such as amino acids and vitamins that they think could benefit them. "A lot of people now want to know what are in the products. They don't want to just be injected with something that fills, we don't use just fillers so much," says Dr Moore.
Though working with a highly skilled doctor is also imperative to get the most personalised treatment — 70 per cent of those administering injectables in the UK are not medical professionals. “[Patients'] knowledge is is good, but because the field is constantly growing and we're bringing in new products, we will really narrow that down and find the product that is just right for them. Every treatment is tailored,” says Dr Moore.
And the work continues at home — the long-game approach relies as much on great maintenance with your at-home skincare regime between appointments. Moore suggests making Vitamin C, retinol, hyaluronic acid and SPF an essential part of your routine, to make people look like “a refreshed version of themselves."
Here's Clinic Dr Dray's need-to-know tweakments for 2024Skin boosters
Administered into the deeper dermis in the skin via tiny injections, they are most commonly used on the mid and lower face, as well as neck and décolletage. They can be administered around every six months.
Downtime: The areas to be treated will be numbed beforehand. Skin boosters lead to small bumps on the skin. These tend to dissipate within a few hours and can last up to 24 hours. If you'd rather keep your plan private, you may wish to skip plans immediately after your appointment.
Dr Moore describes Profhilo as an "injectable hydrator or moisturiser", it's a hyaluronic acid treatment that boosts the skin. It stimulates the production of collagen and elastin to improve skin condition and can improve the appearance of superficial lines.
Mesotherapy and Polynucleotides
"Mesthoerapy is a really natural boosting skin treatment, which we can combine with Polynucleotides. They contain vitamins which really glow up the skin. They really complement someone's skincare routine," Dr Moore suggests.
He explains that Polynucleotides are injected as a gel with myraid benefits. "It doesn't just sit there and take up space, it increases the elasticity in the face by stimulating cell turnover and collagen production. It's anti-inflammatory, so it also reduces redness and inflammation. It can even help with pigmentation and impurities in the skin. It's like skincare but also promotes lift."
Another skin booster used at Dr Dray is Neauvia, known for its hydrating benefits. "It contains glycerol and it will hold the water in the skin," explains Dr Moore.
While there are other options to ease fine lines in the mid and lower face, Dr Moore says muscle-relaxer Botox is predominantly used "for the deep wrinkles in the upper face," though in his appointments, he mainly uses what's known as Baby Botox. "I don't use a large dose, I don't freeze the face, I leave the muscle able to create movement, but soften the lines and wrinkles. It allows the skin to be a little bit more relaxed, and heal a little bit better."
Downtime: There is no downtime as such with Botox as it's minimally invasive, though may feel a tightening or heaviness as the brain get used to the relaxation of the muscles, which is said to subside within a week or so.
Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy is gaining popularity for rejuvenation as it promotes healing and cell regeneration. It can even be used as a hair loss treatment. "This is where we take plasma [from a blood sample], and we inject that into the scalp, and it can stimulate the follicles to be more healthy, and encourage more hair growth," explains Dr Moore.
Downtime: This treatment is done under local anaesthetic and can cause some redness and swelling at the site of injection afterwards.