Tweakments are big business. By definition, they're smaller tweaks you can do earlier that prevent you from taking a detour down the full facelift route later in life. British journalist Alice Hart-Davis wrote a book on the subject of tweakments, aptly titled The Tweakments Guide: Fresher Face ($20). The thing is, administered at the right time, tweakments such as injectables, microneedling and lasers can be a seriously effective way to stave off the aging process if you want an added assist beyond skincare alone.
We fully believe that what you choose (or choose not) to do to your face is up to you and you alone, but if you're curious about said tweakments, Hart-Davis is a wealth of knowledge. Below, she talks us through when to start, what to book in for and how to find a practitioner you can trust.
Tweakments: When to Start
I think the mid-20s is too young to start. At that age, your skin is making plenty of collagen, so you simply don’t need the sort of aggressive procedures designed to stimulate collagen production in older skin, such as in-clinic microneedling or laser resurfacing. Nor do you need high-intensity skin tightening treatments done with focused ultrasound or radiofrequency.
Many practitioners favor treating younger patients in the 25 to 35 age group with ‘preventative’ Botox. It’s a persuasive argument, that if you treat the expression lines before they get a chance to settle into the face, they won’t become permanent. This is true. However, it contributes to a fear of perfectly normal expression lines. Our faces are expressive in order to help us communicate with each other and yet ordinary facial movement has become demonized. Ideally, you should wait until you see lines etched on your face when it is at rest before starting Botox treatment.
Botox and Fillers: Think Twice
There are a few instances where Botox can be considered in your twenties:
- If you have very deep ‘11’ lines between the eyebrows, then you could consider Botox. Softening these, whatever your age, will be life-changing.
- Botox is also great for a ‘gummy’ smile, where the muscle above the upper lip works overtime, pulling that lip upwards and exposing lots of the gum. Reduce the action of that muscle with a spot of Botox, and your upper lip will sit closer to your teeth
- If you habitually grind or clench your teeth. It is almost impossible to train yourself to stop doing this, but a shot of toxin in the masseter muscle on the jaw will reduce its ability to grind or clench, and it will also reduce wear and tear on your teeth.
Fillers are being taken up with enthusiasm by younger patients. After all, Kylie Jenner has built a whole career and a billion-dollar business on her enhanced lips, but that doesn’t mean you need bigger lips, too. It seems an easy fix, to have filler injected into the lips, but it needs to be done thoughtfully by an experienced practitioner who will keep the lips in proportion with the rest of the face. The best-accredited fillers don’t come cheap, nor does the skilled needle-work of experienced practitioners. You really don’t want to end up looking like a budget version of your best self or, worse, end up with lip filler that turns lumpy or blocks a blood vessel which can kill the surrounding skin tissue.
Tweakments Are an Investment
If you start injecting your lips in your twenties, are you going to go on having this done twice a year for the next, what, 50 years?
And any older woman will tell you: you have no idea of quite how lovely you are right now in your twenties and thirties. Seriously.
Don't Do Tweakments If You Don't Do This
Before thinking about tweakments, you should take a look at your skincare routine and start using the following:
What you really need to do is wear sunscreen every single day, religiously. That will prevent or reduce a great many of the issues associated with aging, such as pigmented age spots, wrinkles, rough texture, collagen-breakdown that drive older women to tweakments. Wear sunscreen and you will stop UV light (present even on cloudy days) from wreaking havoc on your skin. It’s that simple. Wear it from your hairline to your breastbone and put some on the backs of your hands every day, too. You won’t see the point in your twenties, but boy, by your 40s, you will wish that you had.
Use a retinol-based product at night. This normalizes the skin-cell turnover, improves pigmentation and reduces skin oiliness, so it’s great if you have issues with breakouts. Retinol does make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, so sunscreen is doubly important.
These are the best over-the-counter retinols of 2021.
- Vitamin C
In the mornings, use a well-formulated vitamin c serum as an antioxidant to strengthen skin against environmental aggression like pollution and UV light. It also helps keep up collagen production and reduce pigmentation issues.
Tweakments to Try First
For a Fresher Complexion
Try the 30-minute Hydra Facial. This is a mechanized, deep-cleansing facial which manages to exfoliate the skin, delivers a light acid peel, extract blockages from the pores, douse the skin in hydrating serum and generally leave it looking cleaner, fresher and healthier than before. It's a great occasional treatment for any age.
For Plump Lips
Perk is the no-needle lip booster treatment that is an add-on to the Hydrafacial treatment. What is does is suction up your lips, a small chunk at a time, and soak them in a ‘plumping’ solution of wheat proteins. The suction plus the serum makes your lips swell a bit. They will look plumper for a few days, but it is not a lasting fix.
Rosacea can’t be "fixed"; it’s an ongoing condition, so it is something you need to learn to manage. Find your way to a dermatologist who can assess the problem and prescribe appropriate skincare.
It’s also vital to wear lots of sunscreen if you have rosacea; of all the things that trigger the redness (such as caffeine, alcohol, spicy food, or heat), UV light is the one that is guaranteed to make it kick-off.
For a Double Chin
CoolSculpting, the best-known brand of fat-freezing technology, has a treatment head that can be used under the chin to tackle jowls. According to the brand, a single treatment suctions up a portion of the fat, and by chilling it to 4 degrees celsius, induces cell death in around 27 percent of the treated fat cells. The dead cells are gradually excreted from the body over the following weeks.
One super-gentle treatment which can be very helpful for acne sufferers is Intraceuticals, where a fine jet of hyaluronic acid is sprayed at the skin using pressurized oxygen. The pressure gives the facial lymphatics a gentle workout, and the hyaluronic acid gives deep hydration, which soothes inflamed skin. It's expensive, but worth a try.
A more classic treatment for acne is blue light therapy done in a clinic, because the blue LED light denatures the acne bacteria on the face, reducing inflammation. This needs to be done as a course twice a week for two or three weeks.
Try blue light therapy at home with the Foreo Espada At-Home Blue Light Acne Treatment Device.
For Acne Scarring
Microneedling, which makes tiny puncture wounds in the skin, creates new collagen as the wounds heal and can help soften the look of acne scarring.
For Dark Circles
If you have congenital dark circles caused by hollow grooves below your eyes, then careful treatment with a soft, under-eye filler can work wonders. For this tweakment, you need to find an expert practitioner and discuss properly with them whether you are a suitable candidate for treatment. If you are, the filler will soften the hollows and make you look more awake than any amount of light-reflecting concealer.
Similarly, some advanced practitioners get great results by using PRP–platelet-rich plasma, extracted from a small sample of your own blood–and re-injecting it around the under-eye area.
For Crow’s Feet
The most effective tweakment is Botox in the muscles that cause the scrunching.
Also, always wear sunscreen, and large sunglasses whenever practical, to protect the area from those damaging UV rays.
How to Find a Trustworthy Practitioner
- Ideally, go to a practitioner who comes recommended by a friend.
- Your practitioner shouldn't just have medical qualifications, but specific training in the procedure you are interested in. Do your research, rather than just going to someone because they put great before and after pictures up on Instagram. Some practitioners favor a more full-on ‘done’ look, some prefer more subtle work. Choose one who chimes with your own personal preference.
- Procedures can and do go wrong – most often in inexperienced hands – and you don’t want to be the patient for whom that happens. Make sure the practitioner has plenty of experience in doing the procedure you are interested in and that they can handle any complications should they arise.
- The regulations on who can do what sort of procedure vary from country to country – in the UK, for example, the regulations around aesthetic procedures are so loose that anyone can legally inject anyone else with anything they fancy! Even in the US, if you have found a board-certified doctor or dermatologist you must do your own due diligence and research them. Realself.com is a good place to look for reviews or try, if you can, to speak to patients who have tried the procedure before.
- In the UK – my site thetweakmentsguide.com has a carefully curated practitioner list.
Don't Get Carried Away!
Be aware that starting on tweakments can be a slippery slope. Find someone who will give you a reality check every now and then, so that you don’t do too much and start looking weird.