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I Tried Botox – Twice – And Hated it. Here’s Why


Vogue Arabia, September 2022. Photo: Mateusz Sitek

What is it about having lines on our faces that is so terrible? How did we get here? It’s a question I’ve been asking a lot lately, as a 31 (nearly 32) year-old woman, and someone who has begun to see the hallmarks of age sketched across her forehead. It’s at this point in the game that many head to a professional for Botox (or another brand of anti-wrinkle injection) to temporarily prevent their facial muscles from moving, and subsequently address the appearance of wrinkles.

In 2021, when injectable treatments weren’t nearly as commonplace as they are now, it was estimated that a huge 900,000 Botox injections were carried out each year in the UK. Our collective stance on it has changed drastically over the years, and it’s now thought of as a “preventative” treatment – something that will ward lines and wrinkles off, even if you don’t have them yet – and a staple in beauty routines the nation over. Anecdotally, those having it are also becoming younger and younger.

I tried it myself at age 30. As a seasoned beauty editor, it’s a treatment that I write and read about often, plus when administered well (by a reputable aesthetic doctor – a must in what is a worryingly unregulated industry) it is commonly regarded as the gold standard for helping the face look more youthful. But I have to say, having tried it on two occasions, I hated it.

You don’t hear that side of the story often. Most people who get Botox feel they’ve miraculously leveled up and look infinitely better sans lines. But when I had it – at a relatively young age, I’ll admit – I felt trapped in my own face, unable to fully express myself and, ironically, more self-conscious than I had ever felt before. On both occasions after I tried Botox, I mentally beat myself up and wondered what on earth I had done – I was so aware of my face and its inability to move, that it was weirdly debilitating. All I wanted to do was hide away.

My own fine lines have returned – welcome back, old friends! – and I now understand why Botox has become so prevalent in our everyday routines: it is addictive. While I initially hated the fact my face felt frozen, when the toxin began to wear off and my natural face began to emerge, I felt like I looked older than ever. It wasn’t really like I had actually aged ten years in six months like my brain seemed to assume, but more that my eyes were immediately drawn to the “imperfections” that had made themselves known on my skin. In contrast to the ultra smooth surface that Botox created, my skin’s natural texture looked alarming. Retrospectively, I know this was psychological rather than something that was noticeable to anyone else, but it helped me to understand why once you start with a treatment like this, it can be difficult to stop.

When my last and final Botox treatment wore off, I chose to sit with my face and embrace what was there, including the way my forehead creases up when I raise my eyebrows, and that angry furrowed brow that makes an appearance on stressful commutes. The way I like to think about it is that every mark that graces our faces is like paint on a canvas. Like a clean canvas, very young skin has undulations and texture, but the beauty of skin is that life paints itself on via lines, wrinkles, freckles and pigmentation, which makes the canvas more interesting. So why do we shy away from these natural marks of time passing by?

I’ve come to realize that looking good isn’t about the absence of lines on your face or appearing imperceptibly young. It’s about having fire in your eyes. A zest for life. And most of all, a good sense of humor. Take Dame Judi Dench and Helen Mirren as prime examples. At 88 and 77 respectively, they have both graced the cover of British Vogue in the last ten years and are the epitome of beauty because they’re playful, bold, vibrant, and full of fun.

Of course, it goes without saying that Botox is a godsend for some people – and I’m not here to judge. I have many friends that look (but most importantly feel) simply wonderful having had it. But what I do want to express is that good looking skin isn’t necessarily about eliminating the years we’ve accumulated on our faces – as I learned, it doesn’t always make you feel better. My advice? Harness the wonders of radio-frequency, see a talented facialist who uses different modalities, and seek to nurture your skin via a full, abundant and balanced lifestyle. Find things you love doing, work on the things that cause you emotional difficulty and go out and have some fun – then your skin will shine with happiness.

Originally Published in

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