A (Very) Honest Discussion About Botox and Fillers
In my (many) years as a beauty editor, I've watched discussions on Botox and fillers move from the kind conducted in hushed tones to the kind proudly broadcast over social media. Somehow, in a relatively short space of time, injecting stuff into your face in the interest of looking younger, has become pretty commonplace. Another thing—the age of women who partake also seems to be getting younger and younger. Whether you've previously dabbled in injectables yourself, are keen to (but a bit scared), or fall firmly in the "no" category, it's clear conversations about Botox and fillers are happening more and more. Eager to check the temperature of my peers (because living inside the beauty industry bubble is a real thing), I asked them to sit down with me for a chat. From the way in which social media affects perceptions of what is "normal", to why they choose to inject or abstain, we covered it all.
Keep scrolling to meet the panel.
How old were you when you first tried Botox and/or fillers? 24.
Do you have plans to go back? In a word, yes.
How old were you when you first tried Botox and/or fillers? I haven't, yet...
Do you have plans to go? I'm curious but something still holds me back. Maybe it's all those duck lips on TV.
How old were you when you first tried Botox and/or fillers? 28.
Do you have plans to go back? To be honest, I'll probably get a top up on lip filler before my wedding later this year.
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How old were you when you first tried Botox and/or fillers? I haven't dabbled with either yet and I'm not totally sure I will.
Do you have plans to go? Maybe if I win the lotto?
How old were you when you first tried Botox and/or fillers? I was 26 when I first got Botox (the teeniest amount), and last year I tried lip filler for the first time.
Do you have plans to go? I get Botox here and there in my face, but every six months like clockwork in my jaw. (To treat grinding.) Not sure I'd do lip filler again, but I didn't need it in the first place.
Q: Do you consider Botox and fillers the same, or does one seem less of a big deal than the other?
Amanda: I’d say they’re equivalent.
Carina: I haven’t had either and I think fillers sound more intense, but only because I watch a lot of reality TV and everyone has these massive lips. They look like they’ve had surgery to get them that big.
Lisa: So your reference for fillers is Real Housewives?
Carina: Yes. [laughs]
Anna: My reference is Kris Jenner in that episode of KUWTK when she had a reaction to fillers and her lips swelled out to here—Google it if you haven’t seen it. That is why I don’t think I could ever get lip fillers.
Kate: I feel like they’re the same. Now that I’ve had lip fillers I would probably go and have Botox. I feel like it’s all the same. I didn’t actually even know the difference—I thought I’d had Botox in my lips.
Anna: When you got your lips done did they swell up?
Kate: I actually went straight out afterwards. I should have gone home but I didn’t. I drank wine and kissed my boyfriend, both things they told me not to do, so the next morning I woke up to a big bruise. I had to wear the darkest lipstick of my life to cover it up. I definitely wouldn’t do that again.
Amanda: I iced mine and I didn’t really get swelling, just a tiny bruise under my top lip. I don’t know if anyone would have noticed.
Carina: Wait, you have lip fillers?
Amanda: I got them last October.
Lisa: I've felt fine about getting Botox for years, but I was always scared of fillers because I had heard so many scary stories about them. But then obviously I also had them.
Carina: Oh my god, you have them too?
Amanda: I feel like I knew you were going to do it so I was like, “If Lisa’s doing it, I’m doing it”. [laughs]
Kate: And then I did it because Mandy did it. [laughs]
Lisa: After having done both, I now feel like they’re the same. They’re pretty equivalent, to me.
Amanda: Either way you’re putting something in your face…
Lisa: And neither of them are permanent, although fillers last longer…
Carina: So what happens to the fillers though as your lips get smaller, does it just dissolve into your body?
Lisa: Fillers made with hyaluronic acid are metabolised by your body, as far as I know. The nurse told me before she injected my lips that the filler could be dissolved afterwards if I hated it.
Carina: So, now this sounds like fillers are maybe better than Botox if they’re based on a substance your body already makes not a toxin? Confusing.
I don’t want to go over the top, but I look it almost the same way I do getting my eyebrows waxed or my eyelashes tinted—it’s upkeep.
Q: How would you say perception of Botox and fillers has changed over the past few years?
Lisa: I'll start and say, I think it was around the time Kylie Jenner did her lips that suddenly it became totally normal for other teenagers to do it too. Even five years ago, I would say most people in their 20s and 30s didn’t consider fillers like they maybe would have Botox. We forget that fillers weren’t really designed for that age group.
Kate: Even up until two years ago, I was never going to touch any kind of Botox, filler, anything. Now I feel like I’ve become very desensitised to it because everyone’s doing it.
Amanda: Everyone is vocal about it.
Kate: I guess getting lip fillers for the first time was a big thing in my head but now that I’ve done it I’d definitely go again, and I’d go and get Botox without really thinking about it. I don’t want to go over the top, but I look it almost the same thing way I do getting my eyebrows waxed or my eyelashes tinted—it’s upkeep.
Carina: I feel like in this industry everyone gets it done so it feels normal, but if I were to ask friends outside of work, people who don’t work in media or advertising or PR, they would be shocked to know women our age get it.
Amanda: I have friends outside the industry who talk about it a lot, they’re always like, “Would you, would you?”, but they won’t do it because they’re scared they could be sitting in a serious meeting afterwards, having had an obvious reaction. Whereas no one would really say much to one of us if that happened.
Kate: I’m a bit of an oversharer, and I found that once I got lip injections, people I never expected, even close friends of mine, came out and were like, “Actually I’ve had my lips done,” or, “Yes I get Botox,” or whatever. They had kind of kept it secret until then. In my social circle, a lot of women either want to try it or have had it done. It’s definitely more acceptable now.
Anna: I think it will become way more apparent when we’re in our mid- to late-thirties, and have aged, who has had Botox and who hasn’t. Whereas right now I haven’t had Botox but I would hope somebody wouldn’t be like, “She needs it,” you know? It won’t be until we actually have gotten to that stage that you’ll see who doesn’t have fine lines from their “maintenance” work.
Kate: Yes, preventative Botox, is it a thing? Treating your muscle before it wrinkles so it never actually creases?
Anna: Can it sort of permanently paralyse the muscle over time, so you need less?
Lisa: Not really, it wears off in around 4 months. I have been told that having too much injected in short succession, over a long a period of time, can cause muscles to atrophy though, which is something to think about. Nobody wants a droopy face.
Kate: This is probably an uneducated guess but I think preventative Botox is a thing—I believe it.
Anna: I would say somebody who has a little bit of Botox over the years versus somebody who hasn't would end up looking better in the long run. In combination with a really good skincare routine.
I think social media has an impact in that it makes it more obvious who is altering themselves because we’re constantly fed the imagery.
Q: Are there any celebrities you feel have made it more mainstream?
Amanda: Uh, Kylie Jenner.
Anna: Yes, the Kardashians.
Kate: I think it all started with them.
Lisa: And do you think social media filters and stuff like FaceTune have a part to play?
Amanda: I think social media has an impact in that it makes it more obvious who is altering themselves because we’re constantly fed the imagery.
Kate: I guess editing apps can make someone’s “work” look more realistic when it’s really not.
Carina: It makes looking like that feel unachievable without those procedures. You may want to look like that person you follow on IG and think, “If I just got that done, I could look like that”.
Lisa: If I was 16 on social media and seeing people with those lips, I’d probably want to do it too.
Anna: It is actually really concerning what kids now are possibly going to do. It is really sad to watch. They’re going to have the worst self-esteem.
Lisa: I feel it does magnify insecurities—like if you think you’ve got small lips and you see what seems to be everyone else on IG with big lips you’d maybe consider it very early.
Kate: It is something I never really thought about at that age. I wouldn’t have looked at another girl and thought, “Oh her lips are amazing!” It wasn’t even something I knew you could change. My biggest problem in high school was thinking, “I wish I had her skin”, but I imagine now young girls will be all about the lips as well.
I still want to look normal and age gracefully, because ageing is normal.
Q: How would you sum up your personal feelings on Botox and fillers?
Amanda: I’m fine with it. I think it's personal choice. If it makes you feel good, then why not? And if science says it’s safe, based on what we know so far, I’m in.
Carina: I am not opposed. For me personally, I’m nervous I’d get it once then become addicted and turn into that person who loses touch with what their face really looks like.
Kate: I like the idea of being able to enhance my features. I’m okay with it, within reason. I plan to be very cautious that I never take it too far. I still want to look normal and age gracefully, because ageing is normal. I’m okay with little bits here and there as a confidence-boost.
Anna: I’m not joining the party just now, but I’m fine with it.
Carina: I often have people ask me if I’ve had it, which I haven’t, so that makes me worry that if I did I’d look “done”.
Q: For those who have work, are you open about it or would you prefer other people not know?
Kate: I think millennial women are much more accepting of it, but there is still a bit of a stigma attached. When I talked to my mum about it, I realise there’s still a bit of a taboo.
Amanda: Do you have to be a certain age to get Botox?
Lisa: I assume you’d have to be 18.
Carina: Surely a doctor, if they’re legit, would not give it to a child.
Lisa: I would guess that 99% of the time, there would be no real reason for someone under 18 to have Botox unless for medical purposes. The guy I go to made me wait until I was 26.
Anna: I was going to bring this up too—is it irresponsible for a doctor to be administering injectables to someone who is young?
Lisa: The thing is, you don’t even have to be a doctor to administer it. That is why those crazy Botox parties exist.
Lisa: For the people who have had it, what convinced you to go ahead and what did you think of the initial experience? Did you know what to expect?
Amanda: For me, it was curiosity that got the better of me. I was just so curious to see what I’d look like afterwards and to see what it feels like. I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t Google it or anything. When I walked in, I got a little bit nervous thinking, “What are they actually going to do to my face?” But it was fine. They numbed the area for 5 minutes, did the jabs, and that was it. It was so simple—they even gave me happy gas.
Kate: It was a shock of a lifetime. I thought they’d put one needle in the top and push the filler along but she jabbed me like 18 times.
Lisa: The worst part is that the needle starts to get blunt after about the third or fourth puncture...
Kate: I feels like bee stings. I found it quite uncomfortable but the numbing helped.
Q: For those who haven’t, but have thought about it, what has prevented you from going?
Anna: The cash! How do you save up for a house and a mortgage and simultaneously start off a Botox addiction?
Lisa: Well, if someone was to offer you free Botox, would you go for it?
Anna: Yeah, probably. Why not? Maybe when I turn 29.
Carina: For me, it’s not money. It’s, if I start, I might not stop. It’s like, am I ready for that?
Lisa: Do you think there is an ideal age to get Botox?
Anna: Yeah, there is, but I’m starting to think it’s a lot younger than I previously considered.
Amanda: I think once you’re an adult—over 18— you can make that decision for yourself.
Lisa: Do you think there is a line of too much for both Botox and fillers, and where does that line sit for you?
Anna: Not that this is helpful to the person per se, but that line is when people start taking screenshots of you on Instagram to send around because it’s all become a bit shocking.
Carina: I think it’s when people can really, really notice you’ve had something done.
Amanda: Maybe it’s if it went beyond and you started looking like a really different person. I’d consider saying something to a friend, if they went too far.
Carina: I’d maybe wait until they were planning to go back and have a chat about it then.