Botox can do wonders for self-esteem and self-empowerment—but when is the best time to go under the needle? We find out.
Thanks to photos being taken incessantly, validation via social media "likes" and the notion that "30 is the new 20," society is more image-conscious than ever.
Once a best-kept secret of the "ageless" set, Botox has become increasingly mainstream with 30-something women who want to look as young as they feel. Once my girlfriends hit their thirties and the inevitable lines started to surface, the big question surfaced as well: To Botox or not to Botox? Many resisted it—that is, until their sagging eyelids, crow's feet or laugh lines became all they noticed when they looked in the mirror. Now, Botox has become a welcome—but pricey—addition to their annual beauty budgets.
By temporarily paralyzing the facial muscles, Botox can drastically soften crow's feet and frown lines, eliminate forehead lines, shape and lift the brow and prevent wrinkles from becoming deeply etched into the skin as it ages. The results last for three to four months.
"No matter how good she looks for her age, every woman has something that gives away how old she really is," says Dr. Zel Krajden M.D, a cosmetic plastic surgeon who spends part of his time at Toronto's A-list favourite Spa Medica. While there is undoubtedly beauty in aging gracefully, for many, Botox works wonders in the self-esteem and self-empowerment departments.
"I started noticing the fine lines on my forehead, and my makeup would start to sit in the lines. I looked tired all the time," said JR, 34, of Toronto. "Now, I look and feel better. I feel 100 per cent more confident." Vanessa, 33, a hair stylist from Montreal has yet to take the plunge but is considering it. "Getting a tweak here and there is definitely something I'm not against at all," she says. "If something can make you look younger and feel better about yourself, why not?" The key, they both stress, is not to overdo it.
It's not just women in their 30s, however, who are opting for Botox; baby-smooth 20-somethings are using it for enhancement and for preventative purposes. "It's never too early to start Botox," says Dr. Jennifer Pearlman, owner of Toronto beauty staple PearlMD Rejuvenation, noting that aging—or lack thereof—often has nothing to do with Botox for younger millennials. Botox can be used to even out facial asymmetries, soften enlarged law muscles caused from teeth grinding, and contour the face.
"Young women these days are empowered and know what's out there. They're so beauty and health literate. They see through the filters and airbrushing," says Pearlman. "With such a global influence, the beauty standard has never been higher and they want it all: to be smart, strong, fierce, fit, and gorgeous."
Especially for the younger Botox users, the fear, however, is that Botox is the precursor to a plastic surgery addiction. Krajden stresses that there is no evidence to suggest this is the case. "While it's no surprise that many of the injectable patients are also previous surgery patients, it's rarely the other way around," says Krajden. "Many women stick with injectables as their only anti-aging secrets for decades." Another misconception about Botox is that people look fake, frozen or ‘done,' says Krajden. "At a reputable spot, the goal is for natural results that have you looking softer, smoother, and more rested, but not different," he says.
The irony is that—while the global beauty standard has reached new heights—the body positivity and real beauty movements continue to dominate headlines, offering an interesting dichotomy. Is Botox something to be ashamed of? Some think so. "I can think of a million more important places to spend all that money – it's so superficial," says Kathryn, 40-something medical professional from Vancouver.
The reality is, we live in a society of fake lashes, fake hair, fake eye colour and fake boobs. Even mainstream photo editing tools now allow us to do everything from plump up our lips to erase cellulite. To many, a little Botox seems pretty harmless in our culture of keeping up appearances. "Getting a bikini wax hurts much more than Botox injections, is more invasive and is usually something you're doing for somebody else," says Emma, 36, from Toronto.
So, the question comes back to when. If you wait until your 40s to adopt Botox, you'll still see results, but will likely need more work in the "repair" department, says Pearlman. Aside from the 25-40-year-old demographic, the other main age group she treats are the 40 to 60-year-olds who are focused on rejuvenation and redoing the signs of aging. "If you start at 45, the lines are often deeply etched in, and targets for treatment are very obvious, but over time you will get preventative results," says Pearlman. She says starting Botox in her twenties herself has eliminated her "need" for cosmetic surgery now.
If you're considering Botox, it will set you back $200 to $900 a session, depending on how much you require. "This is your face—don't settle for the most affordable or convenient option," says Krajden.