I’ve been beauty blogging for six years now, and I’ve been incredibly lucky to have been asked to review all the treatments in this very blog section, along with many that I’ve politely declined through total scaredy-catness. Botox has been one of them. It’s a treatment that has become very mainstream, but stiff-faced celebrities have also increased, and when I think botox I think Kylie Jenner, Geordie Shore girls (and guys), and TOWIE horrors – young people suddenly appearing much older than their years. Curiosity finally got the better of me, along with two increasingly deepening frown lines on my forehead that are insane. They are diagonal and appear above my eyebrows, making me look like an angry ant, especially in the mornings when they’re at their most prominent. When an email arrived from White Swan Aesthetics kindly offering me botox, I decided to try one of the nation’s favourite beauty treatments, though not without some first-timer concerns.
At first I’m not sure I have the right building, there’s no signs on the door of a very smart Harley Street townhouse. The friendly receptionist tells me I am indeed in the correct place, and points me in the direction of two vast waiting rooms inhabited by numerous people. Turns out White Swan is one of several clinics within the building, and it makes me wonder what everyone is getting. Dr Imogen Bexfield comes out to greet me, and takes me in to her room. Not only is she the loveliest person, but also the perfect walking advert for the power of botox – for the first ten minutes of our meeting I am trying not to study her face too hard, and I’m also wondering how someone who looks 20 can be a doctor. Dr Imogen laughs (kindly) at my angry ant analogy, and asks me to frown several times so she can work out which muscles are causing these cartoon angry brows. She also lets me voice all my concerns about botox (“what about the Geordie Shore people?!”) and no question is too stupid for her, including – do other facial muscles work harder if only some are frozen? (no, is the answer).
Botox is an injectable toxin that blocks chemical signals from nerves that cause muscles to contract. When your muscles are paralysed that can’t form any wrinkles on your skin, and Dr Imogen enticingly tells me that the day you start botox your face will stop forming lines. It’s like drinking from the fountain of youth, you get to stay that age forever. We do talk age, and Dr Imogen tells me she’s 30 and has been having botox every six months since she was 23. Her face is truly 23, it’s amazing. She tells me that age is not a factor with face ageing; some people just genetically have more lines, or they might have smoked or used sun beds, both of which advance ageing. So, someone in their forties can start botox and still have good results, it’s all about freezing time wherever you’re at. That’s the key thing: it can’t un-do wrinkles, just relax them and prevent you getting more. Dr Imogen makes the dangers of botox clear, and I’m asked to sign a waiver. It’s true that there are risks with injecting a toxin, but she reassures me by saying the clinics in this building alone administer over a thousand botox injections each week, and there are many clinics UK-wide. She tells me I look scared, and won’t start the treatment until I’m assured – I didn’t even realise my face was giving away so much. Maybe I need botox all over to give me a poker face, do professional poker players get botox?…
We agree to do one area – a V-shape of the forehead frown lines. The actual injections hardly register, the needle is so fine, and Dr Imogen is quick and skilled. My skin feels a little sore and is slightly red for a few hours, and I’m given some do’s and don’ts, which include no alcohol or exercise for 48 hours, and also no saunas, sun beds, facials or massaging the area for the next two weeks. I’m told to lightly apply my face products and makeup on my forehead, and to try not to sleep on my side or front that night. The key thing is to let the botox settle and not go on the move. The night of my treatment I felt like a heavy cold was coming on and felt weak and shivery, I was in bed by 8pm. The next day I felt absolutely fine, but my forehead felt tight and compressed for the next few days, like a tension headache, it wasn’t a pleasant feeling. By day four it was all fine, everything felt normal again. The only way I remember I have botox is when I try to raise my eyebrows, I can’t. Dr Imogen told me I would start to see results within a week, and I’m very pleased with the angry ant lines, they’re still there of course (botox can’t erase), but they’re so faint now, as are the ‘eleven lines’ the vertical ones that form in between your eyebrows. Mine are far less prominent. The biggest change has been the eyebrow lift the injections have caused. Before my treatment Dr Imogen had told me the brows are likely to lift, and if I didn’t want that she could do the injections in a way to counteract it. I said no to a brow lift, just because all I could picture were my brows pointing up like triangles and giving me a fake surprised look. They have lifted anyway, so I am wondering how much higher they would have lifted if I hadn’t gone for this. It was my sister who noticed it when I was facetiming her – I hadn’t told her about the botox and she asked me if my ponytail was really tight because my eyebrows looked high, ha! It’s created more space between my brow and eyelid, especially round the inner eye corner, I quite like it as it’s much more natural then I’d imagined in my head, though it makes me want to have my upper eye bags removed. Ah, what a tangled web we weave when we start cosmetic treatments, this is how the Geordie Shore people get carried away.
I really recommend White Swan Aesthetics, the whole process was so reassuring and focused on my expectations. Dr Imogen was happy to spend as much time as I wanted asking questions, and there was absolutely no pressure, she even asked if I wanted to come back another day if I wasn’t entirely sure. They love to spend time with new clients so they can fully understand what they would like to work on and improve. They are happy to do treatments in isolation (Dr Imogen tells me some people know exactly what they want, and get botox on their lunch break), but some people are not sure, and the consultation process is about talking through this, guiding the client, and working on a programme that involves checking in with clients and making sure they’re happy with results. As well as botox for skin ageing they also offer a range of treatments to tackle scarring, skin texture, fillers to reshape lips and other parts of the face, teeth whitening, and ultrasound skin tightening and lifting. Botox starts at £200 for one area of the face, then £60 for each additional area. You’ll need to have further injections every 3-6 months if you want the results to remain.
White Swan Aesthetics gifted me this treatment.