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Why I’m a Beauty Editor Who Has Never Had a Single Aesthetic Treatment

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Main image – Kikearnaiz/Stocksy

I’ve always had a complicated relationship with ageing. As a petite woman, with youthful features I spent the majority of my twenties demanding to be taken seriously, wishing I looked older and often stating my age before anyone could question my position or authority.

However, as the years passed and the reflection in the mirror changed, I longed for the days when someone would ask me for ID or accuse me of lying about my age and wondered if the decision to avoid any tweakments until I was 40 was the right one. 

Here I look at whether I made the right decision, and the alternatives to going down the Botox route.

 


Is preventative Botox a myth?

When I was 25 there was a real buzz about the benefits of preventative Botox. I remember writing a feature for a Sunday Supplement, where they sent me to ten different aesthetic doctors, many in Harley Street, to see if they would give a fresh-face, line-free 20-something Botox.

Shockingly 9 out of 10 all agreed, with most of them also suggesting fillers to lift my slightly unsymmetrical face and fill out my cheeks.

 

Image – Lightfieldstudios/Adobe

 

I couldn’t wrap my head around the concept, why would I prevent myself from getting older? If the lines on our face tell our stories, then why would I want to hide them?

I decided it was a hard no, however, this didn’t stop me from constantly checking my face in the mirror for months afterwards, studying every faint line and wrinkle. 

Fast forward 15 years and preventative Botox is now disregarded by much of the cosmetic community, “It’s not so much that it doesn’t work,” says Dr Christine Hall from Taktouk Clinic. “It just isn’t necessary. There is no point in paying for Botox for 10 years when as soon as the lines appear you can treat them, and they almost completely disappear.” 

This is echoed by Advanced Facial Aesthetician, Dr Tara Francis, “Good skincare from a young age to include SPF as a non-negotiable can be more preventative than Botox in my opinion,” she explains.  

“With Botox, there is always a risk of unwanted effects, although less likely in experienced hands. Examples of these unwanted effects include droopy eyelid, heavy brows, and an uneventful smile.” 

 


The unspoken drawbacks

Although I am happy I didn’t go down this route,  it hasn’t stop the intrusive voices in my head telling me my decision would ultimately leave me looking old and haggard sooner. My skincare routine is quite regimented and I always feel a bit guilty if I miss a day, believing this could lead to the untimely collapse of my face.

It may sound extreme, but with the constant stream of perfectly smooth faces it can be easy to fall into the trap that looking older is a bad thing. 

As an advocate for pro-ageing, I believe growing older is a blessing we should embrace – much like our flaws – so try to squash these negative thoughts as much as I can. But in a society which focuses on instant gratification, it is not easy to always focus on what is best in the long term. Albeit for our bank balance and our mental health. 

 


Skincare for the win 

“At our clinic, we always start with the least expensive option, so skincare would be first, looking at including key ingredients such as vitamin C, retinol and SPF,” says Dr Hall.

The benefits of vitamin C, especially in your 20s and 30s are well documented, not only does it promote collagen product, which starts to diminish after 25, it can reduce pigmentation, prevent skin sagging and help protect against environmental damage like UVA and UVB.

There are many available on the high street, however, I tend to invest in a vitamin C product, as cheaper options will not be effective.

Dermatologists recommend between 10-20% if you want to see any results. Murad Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum (£88 from Cult Beauty UK /$88 from Murad US), contains a combination of vitamin C and glycolic acid which together diminish dark spots, balance tone and improve radiance.

Image – Cult Beauty

 

Retinol is often regarded as the gold standard when it comes to ageing, however, it can be too harsh for sensitive skin. If you haven’t introduced it before Paula’s Choice Resist Triple Active Total Repair, £43 from Cult Beauty UK /$48 from Paula’s Choice USA), is a great place to start.

It contains 0.3% retinol, 5% niacinamide (also proven to benefit mature skin) and 0.4% hexylresorcinol to target any dark spots and sun damage. Apply a twice a week and gradually build it up to ensure it doesn’t upset your skin barrier. 

 


Prevention better than cure 

In terms of SPF the benefits are well documented, “Ninety per cent of ageing is directly contributed to by the sun so prevention is better than cure,” says Dr Hall. “Using SPF properly, throughout the day and omitting sunbeds is essential.” 

There is also a shift of focus towards blue light and the effect it has on the skin explains Dr Hall, who believes it could be worth considering taking supplements to help build up the skin barrier from the inside out.

 


Looking at the alternatives

Although I could now technically break the pact, I’m still on the fence. Botox tends to last between three and six months, and with an average cost ranging from £99-£275 per area (and $200 to $500 in the US), this is not something I feel I will be able to upkeep.

I’m also terrified I will like it and therefore ageing will no longer be a blessing, but a curse. A concept I strongly disagree with.

However, I have started to research some of the different treatments and injectables which may help bring back the glow of days gone by, shift the sag, and soften the lines without going down this route. 

 

Image – Adobe

 

Skin boosters, such as Profhilo and Teoxane, may be an option to consider, packed full of hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid which is injected directly into the skin, both have been proven to be more effective than topical use.

According to Ashleigh Carey at Revive Aesthetics, these are ideal for adding a plump, dewy finish. “Skin boosters are popular with those of all ages, but especially the younger generation looking for that fresh-faced glow,” says Ashleigh. “They have the amazing ability to plump the skin, enhance radiance and dewiness.”

Dr Hall agrees, “I like Teoxane Redensity 1, a cocktail of Hyaluronic Acid which floods skin with moisture, antioxidants and glutathione to brighten the skin and act on a deeper level compared to topical skincare.”

 


The latest aesthetics buzzword

Another injectable having a moment is Polynucleotides. “These are classed as a regenerative injectable, a bio stimulator, usually derived from salmon DNA,” explains Dr Hall.

“It stimulates your own body to produce different cells to support cell turnover and elasticity. The injections can be targeted to specific areas of concern whereas profhilo, and other skin boosters, are designed to treat very specific areas with 5 designated points on the face.”

Carey suggests these may be better for mature skin, “They have been used in regenerative medicine for many years and are now crossing over into aesthetics. They regenerate sagging and dehydrated and sun-damaged skin while thickening the tissues, she explains. “Stimulating the production of collagen and elastin, which helps to improve skin elasticity and firmness.” 

Prices for this vary from clinic to clinic, starting from around £250 per treatment and it is recommended you will need a couple of treatments to see a real benefit. However, unlike Botox the best results are seen after 2-3 months, so it is more of a long-term strategy than the instant benefits of Botox or fillers. 

I’m also starting to consider the more intense medical facials, although I have had various peels and electronic device-led facials in the past, I have always felt these were more of a short-term fix, than a long-term solution.

However, just as injectables have evolved, so have facial treatments and devices.

Leading facialist Teresa Tarmey agrees “My absolute number one go-to treatment over any other I’ve ever worked with in 26 years is resurfacing,” says Teresa. “Fractional radio frequency, like Opus by Alma, is fantastic at working on fine lines and texture and is ideal for those who do not want to go down the injectable route.”

 


So, what now? 

I can’t lie, sometimes I look in the mirror and struggle with the reflection staring back at me. Overall, I can see the skincare regime has paid off, as well as cutting back on alcohol over the last ten years which I truly believe has made a massive difference to the quality and appearance of my skin, but I am human and I no longer look 25.

The eye bags show the eight years of parenthood and stresses of adult life, with the lines on my forehead increasingly prominent from the ever-increasing moments of ‘what the actual…’

Whether I continue to age au naturelle or decide to get a bit of help along the way, it is nice when you receive compliments and know it is all down to you (and the six-step skincare regime) rather than the help of some needlework. I also feel that as a mother, in this filter-obsessed world, it is may be more important to lead by example and practice what I preach.  

At 40 I have accepted my flaws and have no plans to tweak them to align with what may be regarded as perfect. Any treatment I have in the future will be about embracing and enhancing my skin rather than changing it to fit an ideal – which is something I can fully get on board with. 

 

Meet the experts

Dr Christine Hall is a fully qualified, GMC registered, General Practitioner in medical aesthetics and works at London’s Taktouk Clinic.

 

Dr Tara Francis is an Advanced Facial Aesthetician and the founder of aesthetics clinic Enhance by Tara.

 

Ashleigh Carey is a representative of Revive Aesthetics.

 

Teresa Tarmey is a facialist with over 26 years’ experience. Names Vogue’s “super-facialist”, Dior’s global skin expert from 2021 to 2023 and recently appointed British Beauty Council board member, Teresa Tarmey is widely known for her results-driven, clinically-backed treatments and less-is-more philosophy.

 

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Freelance Beauty Writer

Beauty editor Lauren’s understanding of the UK beauty market is second to none. With over 12 years’ experience at a leading Sunday supplement writing, styling and editing beauty content, she now freelances for some of the UK’s top magazines and websites including; Grazia, OK, Health and Beauty, The Sun, ASDA, Dare and Metro specialising in beauty, lifestyle, travel, well-being, first person and parenting.

Expertise: Skincare, makeup
Education: University of Arts London
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