Fillers, For Broke People

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OK, first things first: There are no injections happening over the course of the next 1000 words or so. No carnage, very boring, I know. Fillerina's Replenishing Treatment comes with two syringes that are useful for reasons I will get to, but they do not pass through your epidermis at any point—unless you are extremely clumsy. Mostly, the syringes are cute. A little joke, from a Swiss chemist to you. Fillerina the actual product is no joke, however. If you can't afford biannual Juvèderm, allow me to show you something that's going to change the whole game.

My introduction to Fillerina happened when Ashley Weatherford mentioned it in her Top Shelf interview. Ashley has gorgeous skin that is the result of a devoutly scientific approach to skincare—her recommendations are as good as smooth, poreless gold, and my daintly little boyfingers could not have Googled about them quickly enough. When the box finally arrived, it contained two very clinical bottles of Replenishing Gel (1) and Nourishing Film (2). Plus the aforementioned syringes. It's a chic white box of grade A hyaluronic acid molecules—they put the "fill" in "Fillerina."

The competitive landscape for fillers is astounding. Juvèderm, Restylane, Perlane, etc. are brand names of the same thing: hyaluronic acid. Those shopping for fillers are looking at a few things: molecule size, placement, and price, obviously. If you've ever wanted to kill 15 minutes, google "Types of dermal fillers". It's like comparison shopping for laundry detergent.

There are topical hyaluronics too, which are good and fine, but something of a different product. Hyaluronic is a popular humectant and on the surface of your skin, it helps preserve that moisture barrier thing you've got going on. When it gets underneath the skin, that's where the plumping and volumizing happens, but topical hyaluronic doesn't get there—the most common hyaluronic molecule is too big to go deep enough, and it ends up rinsing off sooner or later. Fillerina doesn't. It's got six (6!!!!) different types of hyaluronic that are all small enough to get underneath your skin. Unlike other topicals, this one is getting HA where it belongs.

At this point, my cynicism meter is beeping like crazy. The smaller-sized molecules are proprietary, which in the beauty world, is something I don't necessarily trust. ("Rare Turkish White Mud?" Bye.) But Fillerina just secured the patent for its particular cocktail of hyaluronic—"A Swiss patent, actually, which is a hard patent to get because it covers most of the world." said Melissa Peverini, Fillerina's Director of Education, over the phone. "I saw a beauty brand's website which had a campaign about their 'three kinds of hyaluronic acid,'" she said. "And I laughed. We have six!"

They have six. Imagine the Apollo 11 charging through the atmosphere and shedding equipment as it goes, becoming more nimble along the way. That's kind of what's happening here—each molecule reaches deeper and deeper into the skin, finally landing at the innermost dermis and depositing skin-plumping HA. Injectables will take the big molecules (the ones that can't penetrate the skin topically) and put them right into the dermis for maximum plumpage, which'll give you visible and lasting results. Fillerina operates on the smaller scale. The effects last almost as long as injectables, but the payoff is subtler. A natural lift, instead of an administered one. It just depends on your filler style, I guess.

Oh, and I tried it! I buckled down for the Grade 1 treatment over my Christmas holiday. It was grueling—14 days of drinking a festive six glasses of wine, going to bed, waking up because I remembered I forgot to do it, cordoning myself off in the bathroom in the middle of the night, the moonlight glinting off the metal prick of the syringe...

This is where I tell you why the syringes are important! They make it insanely easy to measure out the product and they're also great for precision placement—in your nasiolabial folds, on forehead lines, etc. I focused on my undereyes, where my skin is so thin and dark, you can see through to my brain. Then a little on the cheekbones, because why not? Draw 2mL from the Replenishing Gel, apply it only to the areas you want it, and then pat it in. This is the pure hyaluronic stuff. Wait for 10 minutes, and look! It's Kylie Jenner!

Just kidding—it's only you, wine drunk in your bathroom on Christmas. After 10 minutes, follow up with 2mL of the Nourishing Film, which is an all-over moisturizing serum of sorts. This goes everywhere and kind of locks it all in. The process repeats itself every day for two weeks and can be customized according to what you need, but here's the wonderful thing: Injectable fillers will give you 20mg of product per session (which in turn run upwards of $500). The maximum daily Fillerina dosage is...

...are you even prepared?

OK, here it is:

170mg!!!!!!

Wild, crazy, an embarrassment of riches. The molecules are smaller than brand-name injectables, so the effects are subtly lifting and volumizing, as opposed to instantaneous and dramatic. Fillerina's treatments are tiered—Grade 1 (starter HA, my choice), Grade 2 ("visible"), and Grade 3 ("severe"). They start at $150, which is not cheap. But considering how expensive fillers are and how well the product works, it's an investment I have no trouble making every two months. Skip two facials; buy this instead.

To this day, Fillerina remains the only thing that's treated the dark circles under my eyes. They're not gone—that would be dramatic—but they've noticeably improved and have stayed that way. The rest of my face has a newfound plumpness I no doubt attribute to the six sexy molecules in Fillerina. Others report decreased wrinkling, increased cheekbone volume, and even bigger lips, according to the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 98% satisfaction, guys. That's a good product.

—Brennan Kilbane

Photographed by Tom Newton.

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