Fashion The pressure to have Botox in my 40s is...

The pressure to have Botox in my 40s is overwhelming – I'm trying these alternatives instead

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A little about me; I suffered terrible skin until about 24. In desperation I spent a lot of time and money on products. I have had a monthly Eve Lom facial, from the same beautician, for the last 16 years. I’m on social media to market my work. I’m also right here, in the national press. My mother has great skin – genes are important to this topic. I like the odd Diet Coke, I drink wine, I eat dairy, I cleanse religiously (Votary, de Mamiel or CeraVe). I use La Roche-Posay SPF daily, I love the sun, I hate wearing too much make-up (for fear of bad skin returning), I use hyaluronic acid serum, I started using a retinoid last year (Medik8), I exercise a lot for my mental health, I have upped my fermented foods intake to encourage a “happy gut”. (I’m not alone. Kimchi and Super-Beet beetroot kimchi products were up 44 per cent and 114 per cent respectively in Waitrose’s most recent Food and Drink Report).

I don’t take any supplements at present, nor (controversially) collagen, after one very well known facialist stated: “But how does the collagen supplement know to go to your face? Once it’s in your system the collagen could go to your bum, your feet, your thighs!” Am I vain? No more than anyone else. Am I confused? Yes. Would I consider injectables? Never say never. Would I lie to my husband about injecting my face? After this article, he’s going to study it daily, so there’s no hiding!

The female imagery we see – in catalogues, fashion shows, airbrushed magazine shoots – has, for decades, added an element of pressure but now it’s the vast social media mountain we (admittedly choose to) scale daily that means we are inundated with filtered imagery and a bounty of unnatural complexions of “real life people”. It’s no longer reserved for Hollywood. Naturally, we compare ourselves, and so that feeling, or pressure, to conform creeps in – and it’s starting younger and younger which, as a mother myself, is alarming. What is healthy and real anymore? And what do I teach my children that is healthy and real? I’m not convinced it’s simply a case of “avoid social media”.

In my pursuit of a youthful complexion without resorting to Botox, I recently visited London facialist Vaishaly Patel. She performed her Mesotox treatment, which starts at a punchy £345; Patel uses a tapping action (with her hand) over the whole face and neck, holding a vial which has tiny (0.5mm) needles at one end. This contained a cocktail of hyaluronic acid, vitamins, amino acids and minerals, and a minimal amount of… Botox. 

Well, you should have heard me: “I’ve failed Vaishaly! Am I cheating?” I yelped. “No you haven’t ‘had’ Botox, Ginnie! Where is the syringe? Where are the strict no gym, massage or saunas after treatment rules?” (The treatment is applied superficially to the surface of the skin and not into the muscle, as standard Botox is.) Patel herself was refreshingly honest about her own negative experiences of fillers and Botox. I looked in the mirror. It was instantly good. Oh golly, it was good. I looked like me, but perky.

Can I afford to repeat Mesotox regularly? No. But I’m confident great skincare will carry me until I can save up and see Patel’s team again – or until the price drops as it becomes more mainstream.

The UK aesthetics market is valued at an estimated £3.6 billion, making it very much mainstream. And whilst I vaguely understand why people inject long-term, I think we need to talk more about those who don’tdo anything. Former Love Island contestant Olivia Attwood, 32, recently hosted ITV’s The Price of Perfection. Having watched two episodes I admit I gave up. In my opinion, it was condoning what can be a very shady business, with a very glowy, glossy (unapologetically tweaked) Attwood fronting it. It normalised the whole notion of filtering real life. As a viewer, I was learning a lot about pricing, practitioners’ names and seeing the before and after – it was like watching a directory. But shouldn’t we be doing more to normalise and admire not injecting. Where is the television series on that?

No cream can do what Botox (or other injectables) do. Fact. Do not believe any product that claims otherwise. You do have to spend on serums and active ingredients, like retinoids, at a certain age. You do have to “work” your skin more than just a morning wash, pat and go. I highly recommend Caroline Hirons’s book, Skincare: The Ultimate No-Nonsense Guide. Hirons is clear: “Don’t credit card your beauty routine” – a warning to all of us, whichever path we take. 

The best response from my social media followers when I asked if they felt the pressure to do more was: “Have we all forgotten that it’s a privilege to grow old?” And when we look around us, at the world we live in, where war is cutting so many lives so very short, it’s a stark reminder of how precious reallife is. Do what makes you feel good, whatever that is. Stay in your lane. Let others drive in theirs. But I maintain we must remain aware of the perils of what we are normalising. Me? I’m off to make more sauerkraut.

Tried and tested suggestions…

For those of us who are still on the fence, I’ve listed some effective additions to your beauty routine.

a

Perfectly Imperfect jade stone

£20,Hayo’u Method

Gua Sha is a traditional Chinese healing method. A kidney shaped jade or rose quartz stone provides an even pressure to the skin (use it with a serum or face oil). It promotes blood flow, lymphatic drainage and improves appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. You will see your face wake up instantly. 

Renewal Eyes masks

£32,Voya

I drove for 25 minutes in these and got some odd looks but arrived perky-eyed to see my friend. Seaweed has been proven to have a profound effect on antioxidant protection, collagen production and overall skin barrier quality. Eat it, apply it, embrace it.

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Night Soufflé cream

£85,Made of More

This UK brand only launched last year, with a specific focus on hormonal skin. I’ve tested this cream for three months (when my skin really needed more nourishment due to the cold) and have loved its strengthening effects which rely on (UK grown) hemp seed oil and clinically proven actives, such as lactic acid, to work their magic on fine lines and cell renewal. It makes that first look in the mirror just a bit better.

Multi-Peptide Collagen Gel and Kanyen RF Facial Device

£59 and£399, both Ante Beauty

I used this gel with Ante Beauty’s Facial Device (it uses radio frequency waves to penetrate the dermis) and definitely saw results after just two weeks. If I had to choose one, I would start with the Multi-Peptide Collagen Gel, use it with a Gua Sha stone, and save up for the device. You’ve got to be committed to it – five minutes per day.

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Mini Bamboo Face Tapper,

£25,Hayo’u Method

Tapping has been proven to ease anxiety, but in this case the tapping relieves jaw and forehead tension and bolsters circulation, improving mood and reducing puffiness. Afterwards, I might put my face in a bowl of ice – really!

Complexion Enhancer,

£48,Cosmetics à la Carte

Lynn Sanders, founder and chief executive of Cosmetics à la Carte, rates this as one of her top selling products: “It has hyaluronic hydration infused with micro-pearls to create a flattering, youthful radiance,” she says. I first used this in 2019 and absolutely love it. I use it on days when, quite frankly, I want people to say: “Gosh you look well.’ (Every day.)

a

DoSe by VH Ergothioneine Serum,

£26,Victoria Health

This is the newest product I’ve tried for six weeks. Ergothioneine is being touted as the next “longevity active” – it’s a powerful natural antioxidant derived from mushrooms. It protects the skin from sun damage and “oxidative stress from free radicals” (pollution) and improves the appearance of ageing skin. Co-founder of Victoria Health (and my newfound heroine), Gill Sinclair, says: “I have been testing ergothioneine for over a year in various iterations and put it to the test, it really does live up to promise, which is crucially important to me.” The serum has a beautiful texture, the price is too good to be true – get it before it goes.

Fermented foods such as Vadasz Pineapple and Turmeric Sauerkraut,

 £4.75,Waitrose (or make it yourself)

Happy gut, happy life theories are everywhere. Why? Registered nutritionist Katy Gordon-Smith is clear: “The so-called ‘gut-skin axis’ is essentially a two-way cross talk between your gastrointestinal (GI) tract and your skin, meaning the health of one can influence the other. This helps explain why skin complaints (psoriasis, eczema and rosacea) commonly coexist with gut conditions like coeliac disease and inflammatory bowel conditions.

“Essentially, a thriving gut microbiome helps support skin health.” And since our skin is our biggest organ, sipping kefir or munching on kimchi seems an easy way to support it.

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The Cream,

£74,Augustinus Bader

Was it worth the hype? I’m afraid it was. Expensive, but why not consider it as an area-specific cream? Buy the smallest bottle and only use it on one area – your forehead, crows feet or neck. The place that really needs a bit of Bader love. A little goes a long way.

Rose Geranium and Apricot Cleanser,

£55,Votary

A treat for the skin time and time again, and a great way to get that all-important massage in.

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Ultra Light Invisible Fluid SPF 30,

 £20,La Roche-Posay

The last thing to apply. Every. Single. Day.

At-Home Brow Tint Kit,

£40,Blink Brow Bar

Do try this at home. It’s fool-proof and very reliable. I cannot leave the house without my eyebrows looking done. They frame the face and sharpen the features.

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