The Needle-Free Alternatives To Under-Eye Fillers

It might seem like almost every popular modern beauty treatment uses needles to achieve the desired effect, and that is certainly true to an extent. With treatments like microneedling and cosmetic acupuncture getting a lot of buzz these days, it can be easy to overlook the needle-free alternatives to them. But if you are afraid of needles (no judgment here!) or are otherwise hesitant about receiving beauty treatments that make use of them, there are several options available to you. If you want a treatment with the same plumping effect as under-eye fillers but don't like the idea of having needles near your eyes, you're in luck. 


In this piece, we will be covering the various beauty treatments that can be used as needle-free alternatives to plumping under-eye fillers specifically, including what you need to know about them. If you're looking for needle-free alternatives to Botox to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, we also have you covered.

Avoid some so-called needle-free fillers

First, a word of caution. The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) is very clear that not all needle-free alternatives to traditional fillers are safe. Specifically, the organization warns patients against the use of fillers that use pressure, rather than needles, to inject substances into the skin. Both the AAD and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) have warned the public not to use these types of fillers due to the risk of serious injury that has been associated with them. Particularly when used in the under-eye area, possible injuries include eye damage and blindness.


Some of these so-called needle-free fillers — often marketed as "hyaluron pens" — have included products intended for home use, making this method even more concerning due to the lack of oversight, per Self. To be safe, you should avoid using hyaluron pens on yourself and also avoid having the treatment done by a professional. 

Facial exercises may be a temporary option

Depending on what you are looking to achieve, facial exercises could be an option for you. Self notes that there are many different brands that have marketed their exercises, though dermatologist Gary Goldenberg, MD, warned the publication that this could lead to more wrinkles later on. Dermatologist Doris Day, MD, was more optimistic, sharing, "As people age, they have very bad facial posture — they tend to furrow brows, purse lips, and kind of implode on themselves." Targeting certain muscles, then, could be beneficial, says Day.


In a piece from Northwestern University on a related academic study, dermatologist Dr. Murad Alam shared, "Now there is some evidence that facial exercises may improve facial appearance and reduce some visible signs of aging. The exercises enlarge and strengthen the facial muscles, so the face becomes firmer and more toned and shaped like a younger face."

With many different exercise programs and treatments that fall under this category, you might have to do some additional research into what specific facial exercise would work best for you.

Retinol can be used on the under-eye area

Another needle-free alternative to fillers is retinol, an ingredient that is widely used in many beauty products. Though there are some things to know before you use retinol as part of your beauty routine, it could be one option for you.


In particular, it's important to note before you use retinol on your under-eye area that you need to be careful with it. Dermatologist Neda Mehr, MD, explained to Shape that this is because of how thin the skin is relative to other areas of the body. "What that means is that the strength [of retinol] that we use on the eyelid is very different from, for example, the strength of a retinol we would use on the back, which is one of the thickest skin of the entire body." Mehr added that even facial serum should not be used on your under-eye area and you should find a product that has been formulated as an eye cream to use instead.

While Healthline explains that hyaluronic acid itself can also be applied topically as part of your beauty routine, topical application won't result in the same plumping effects as having the ingredient injected into your skin.


You could choose a chemical peel

Depending on your skincare needs, chemical peels could be another option for your under-eye area. Skin Deep Laser Services explains that chemical peels can aid in the production of collagen, for example, which could help lessen the effects of aging, such as wrinkles. Keep in mind that chemical peels around the eyes should always be administered by a professional, as a DIY job can lead to unwanted side effects on the delicate eye area. 


If you have a darker skin tone, however, you should be aware that a 2010 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found increased risks of hypopigmentation associated with some chemical peels for darker-skinned patients. We would suggest that you consult a certified dermatologist to discuss if this could pose problems for you and what the best alternative to a chemical peel might be if this is the case.

Make time for a microcurrent facial

Yet another option if you would prefer not to use traditional under-eye fillers is the microcurrent facial. Per MedicalNewsToday, this facial treatment uses a handheld device that delivers small electrical currents through your skin to address signs of aging that might be treated with fillers. While you are likely to see some benefit from a microcurrent facial, it may not be very significant (this could be a positive or negative element in its favor, depending on your personal preferences).


Microcurrent devices are also available for purchase for home use, which may make this a more accessible treatment option for you. There is one very important safety warning we need to mention, though. You should avoid microcurrent facials if you have some medical conditions that could be triggered by it, such as epilepsy or heart conditions. This also applies if you have a medical device such as a pacemaker.

Address sun damage to your skin

If you are looking for an alternative to fillers, you might want to look into addressing sun damage to your skin. Dermatologist Nancy Samolitis, MD, told Who What Wear, "Many of the aging changes that people seek filler to correct are caused by sun damage. Although most people consider sun damage to primarily cause dullness and discoloration, it also causes loss of skin thickness and volume of underlying fat."


Taking steps to avoid sun damage now — such as using daily sunscreen — might help you prevent problem spots before they occur, and treating any existing sun damage  could also help your skin. This is especially important for the skin around your eyes, which you might be neglecting with your sunscreen without realizing it. Scripps writes that the treatments you might need for sun damage are likely to vary based on its severity, and range from topical creams to laser treatment.

Use natural treatments

Although you might see better results from a treatment performed in a clinical setting, there are simple alternatives that you can try that don't require any sort of medical supervision. If you find that you have bags under your eyes and want some relief, Healthline suggests using caffeinated tea bags or coffee ice cubes on your eyes to address dark circles. Also, placing those stereotypical refrigerated cucumber slices on your eyes could make them appear less puffy.


Those cucumber slices aren't just causing a placebo effect because you've seen them in the media. Dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar, RN, told Byrdie that they really do work: "Because of a cucumber's high water content, antioxidant properties, and isolated bioactive compounds including cucumerin A and B and cucurbitacins, these fruits are fantastic for reducing swelling and inflammation, hydrating, gently brightening, and soothing the skin."

If you find that an inexpensive alternative to fillers is what works best for you, there's certainly no reason to knock it.