At 29, I’m a little on the young side to be having a dose of botulinum toxin – often known by the famous brand name, Botox.
However, anti-wrinkle injections are becoming ever-popular among the younger generations, from the likes of 22-year-old Love Island alums to Ariana Grande, 30, who shared recently that she’d had Botox and fillers in the past. For a while now, I too have been eyeing up the needle.
In 2021, Botox-style injections were banned for under-18s, after government findings estimated that 41,000 treatments had been given to those below that age in 2020.
But that hasn’t dulled its popularity. In 2022, members of the British College of Aesthetic Medicine carried out 315,000 individual procedures of botulinum toxin injections. With around 8% of patients aged 18 to 24, that still equals over 25,000 procedures for that age bracket.
At London aesthetic clinic, Tweak East, I’m told by co-founder Anika Soczywko, that while most of their clients are over 30, the youngest person they’ve ever injected was just 24 – a special case, she says, as the woman in question had lived a ‘hard, fun life.’
‘We usually turn people away if they are under 25, they have no evidence of static lines or their skin is still plump,’ Anika tells me.
‘This plumpness is proof of collagen cells still being active, which tend to go dormant later in the 20s.’
That being said, she adds that it’s ‘quite rare’ for them to have to turn anyone away, with most of their clients being at least 27.
‘On the exceptional occasion where we would treat someone younger than this, we would take into account how much their static lines are affecting them,’ she explains.
‘Every client has a different story, with different reasons, which could lead to the early onset of fine lines. It’s the responsibility of the injector to talk this through thoroughly with them.’
While some of their twentysomething clients seek out fillers to get rid of the early signs of fine lines, others say it’s a preventative measure – although there’s debate as to whether Botox can indeed prevent wrinkles further down the line.
Emily Ruse first got anti-wrinkle injections at the tender age of just 20.
At the time she worked at Illuminate Skin Clinic, which proved an incentive as she got her treatments at a lower cost.
‘I loved the effects of Botox,’ she admits. ‘It has that instant gratification as you only need one treatment to see that it’s having an effect, whereas skin treatments require more time and commitment.’
Emily continued having the injections until she was 23, but eventually gave them up to focus on other long-term anti-ageing products, such as microneedling, HydraFacials, and SPF.
Now 25, she aims to do this for the next five years, then says she will evaluate other options once she hits 30.
‘I believe that working on my overall skin quality and boosting my collagen levels is more proactive at this age, and will prevent the amount of corrective work that I need to do in the future,’ explains Emily, a Kent-based director of Bloom & Beyond Studio.
29-year-old Georgia Eather tells me that she first started getting injections in her forehead two years ago, in a bid to treat lines that had already appeared.
She spends £195 a session once or twice a year at The Aesthetics Club in Notting Hill, adding that she’s ‘really happy with the results’.
‘I started noticing some deep lines in between my brows about two years ago and thought about getting Botox to treat these,’ recalls Georgia, a PR manager.
‘I’m conscious that I’m young, so I get minimal amounts of products across spaced-out sessions, but I do love the confidence that it gives me. I’ll definitely keep getting it.’
Now, I’m staring down the barrel of 30.
Caught between the unrealistic pressures of social media and the desire to simply look my best, I thought it was a good time to ask the professionals some questions.
The first? Whether or not it was too soon for me to start getting serious with anti-wrinkle injections.
’30 tends to be a milestone for people wanting to take more action surrounding their self-image,’ Anika explains to me. ‘Many are starting to develop fine lines which can be seen at rest. It’s a great time to start anti-wrinkle treatments, as this category of clients tends to see a much better result versus those who have much deeper-set wrinkles.’
It’s nice to know that I’m not alone – or totally off-base – in being curious about Botox at this age.
‘For the younger individuals,’ Anika adds, ‘we are aiming for a lighter preventative treatment and clients will return for further treatments often between the six and 12-month mark.’
In comparison, people in their 40s and 50s tend to get it every three to four months.
I’m informed at aesthetics clinic Tweak East that one concern with starting anti-wrinkle treatments young is that people can build up a resistance if their practitioners are not careful. There are also dangers of the muscles in the face beginning to waste away.
‘Botulinum toxin works by relaxing the muscles, in this case the muscles of facial expression,’ adds Anika. ‘If we over-treat and the muscles are never used or exercised, then they will atrophy.
‘In severe cases, this can result in skin laxity [aka loss of firmness and sagging] around the affected muscles.’
When asked her thoughts on wrinkle prevention, Anika tells me: ‘It’s a fine balance between starting [anti-wrinkle treatments] unnecessarily early and potentially leaving it until lines are deep.
‘Remember prevention should also be underpinned by other factors including diet, hydration, avoidance of smoking and direct sunlight, and crucially an excellent skincare routine – SPF is compulsory every day of the year.
‘It is also of utmost importance that a thorough consultation is incorporated to ensure a tailored treatment plan for each individual. One size doesn’t fit all.’
Speaking of her own Botox experience, Georgia says: ‘I had a full consultation before any work was done to make sure my reasons for getting it were clear, and I wasn’t being unduly influenced or had body dysmorphia.
‘I get Botox for me and for no one else – and I think that’s an important distinction.’
It’s still hard not to feel a little bit worried about such undue influence when people who’ve only just entered their 20s are worried about wrinkles. I made it clear at Tweak East that I would be very receptive to being told that actually, I need no improvement and that my skin was perfect just the way it is.
This turned out to not quite be the case.
They took a good look at me and said that, while a lot of my fine lines are dynamic (meaning they only show up when my face moves in a certain way) there was a little static (meaning it sticks around when my face isn’t moving) line or two on my forehead.
They explained that anti-wrinkle injections don’t turn back time at the jab sites so much as stop it, thus masking dynamic lines and keeping existing static lines from getting worse.
So, with that in mind, they suggested putting a small amount of botulinum toxin there as well as in my strong frown.
When the injecting started, I was a bit nervous about the needle, but I needn’t have been – it’s no exaggeration to say you can barely feel it, and it’s all over before you know it.
Watching it kick in over the next few weeks was interesting – at one point I could barely frown, and only the outer parts of my brows would raise. It took some getting used to, but I’ll admit I didn’t miss my old frown or forehead very much.
The date of my appointment was 14 May, and by 5 July, I could see it wearing off big time. Thankfully I’ve got a fringe, so I’m more than happy to wait the recommended six months to a year before going back for more.
My overall experience at the clinic was so nice (almost too easy – I can see why these anti-wrinkle treatments are so popular) and I won’t be shy about going back for other procedures in the future.
However, one word of advice Emily has for people who might be interested in trying anti-wrinkle treatments like she did, is to not cut corners with the cost – if you can’t afford it, not doing it at all is far better than going to a shoddy clinic.
‘Don’t put a price tag on your face,’ she stresses. ‘You’ve just got the one!’
What to think about before having botulinum toxin injections
The NHS offers this advice for anyone considering treatment:
Be clear about why you want them.
Read more about whether a cosmetic procedure is right for you.
Make sure the person doing your injections is suitably qualified and experienced.
They should be a medical practitioner and on a register to show they meet set standards in training, skill and insurance.
Avoid practitioners who have no training or have only completed a short training course.
When you meet the practitioner, ask about:
- their training, qualifications and experience
- the name of the product, if it’s licensed, and how and where it’s made
- any risks or possible side effects
- what will happen if things go wrong
- what insurance cover they have
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