As a very facially expressive woman of 25, I am now developing slight grooves across the length of my forehead. I call them my sarcasm lines, which actually now that I think about it, doesn’t sound appealing at all. Me, being anxious and a chronic over-thinker – I was quite jittery about getting Botox. But I knew that I had to do it, having the same skin as my father, who has sea-salt weathered skin and deep-set forehead wrinkles (also from sarcasm, another trait I inherited). I had to nip these little skin rivulets in the bud… and inject a paralysing serum into my wonderfully-expressive face.
I have a delightful dermatologist named Joy, who also does my micro-needling, and is famed throughout Auckland city as being the gentlest with a needle. Only slightly mollifying.
The age of 25 is a good age to start thinking about Botox. Obviously, if you have Nicole Kidman skin then you can push your first Botox experience back until you’re about 65, but for me, it was time. There’s been a lot of talk lately about preventative skin treatments. For the past 20 years, skin specialists have been focusing mainly on how to repair skin damage… but what if we can prevent it from happening in the first place? That was my reasoning today. I’d rather have a very light sprinkling of Botox to stop me looking 50 years old when I’m in my mid-30’s, than having proper, settled-in wrinkles that I can only semi-fix by completely freezing my face.
It’s important on the day to only use a light skin-regime, so none of my prescription creams – only a light cleanser, moisturizer, and some light makeup (but know that she’ll cleanse your skin in the problem area before she starts). There is no numbing cream like in micro-needling (but no stress, it’s not needed anyway). She’ll only ask you to frown and act surprised, and then pinpoint the areas with a marker where she plans to inject. A normal dose of Botox is 40 units, but if you’re using Botox preventatively like me, we start off with just under 20 units.
The best way to continue Botox treatment is to go every 3-4 months, and keep consistent with the light sprinkling of units. Obviously, if you’re super busy, you can go every 6 months, but you’ll need a heavier dose. It’s like a trim at the hairdressers – just a little bit and often.
As for the pain – I went in expecting the worst, and I was pleasantly surprised. We’ve all heard our mothers complaining at one point or another how painful Botox is, but be assured – it’s become a lot less painful as doctors become better at injecting it. What the pain was is this: a prick of the needle (akin to getting a vaccination) and then shortly after a deeper, slower pain as it hits the muscles and nerves. This sounds scary, but it was at most a 4 out of 10 on the pain scale, and for such a short amount of time. Once the needle is removed, the pain is immediately gone. Hopefully that eases your nerves. I usually compare all beauty treatment pain to a Brazilian wax, and so far, only laser hair removal is more painful. If you can deal with a bikini wax – this is a walk in the park.
It’s important not to touch your wounds after, or rub your forehead. The serum is still mobile, and can easily move around your face if you press on it – which could make you look all out of whack. We don’t want a dodgy eyebrow! For the first 4 days, don’t wear tight hats, swimming goggles, anything that puts pressure on your forehead. Your skin will also feel quite tight – it’s normal, don’t freak out, it won’t be like that forever. The tight sensation is just the Botox finally settling in and working it’s magic, but your face will reach its final feeling/look after two weeks. If it’s your first time, it’s a good idea to check in with your surgeon after the two weeks, just to make sure it’s all looking as it should, and if they think you need any more (or less next time, if they’ve been over-zealous). Likely your surgeon will go lighter than needed, as it’s better to top you up next time than to have too much!
I can only equate the feeling of initially not being able to move my forehead to this situation: when you wake up thirsty in the middle of the night and you have to open a new bottle of water. Your muscles haven’t woken up yet and for a scary second, you can’t grip the bottle with any strength to twist the cap. Then – alas! Your muscles awaken, you take a quick drink, and delve back into blissful sleep. Except, in this case, your forehead muscles don’t awaken, there’s no strength to correctly express how surprising that thing your bestie said, and the only thing you can do is raise the pitch of your voice a little higher. But don’t worry – it’s only temporary. Well, you get used to it, and stop raising your eyebrows at everybody who says something mildly irritating.
Not sure how I feel about not being able to be as expressive as usual. I believe that most of who we are as people and the character we portray to others comes out of our facial expressions, and if I can’t make exaggerated faces to accompany my yarns, who even am I? Deadpan, I guess.
Header image via Instagram