The first time I got Botox in my forehead, I was 25 years old. I went to LaserAway, a medispa in Santa Monica, where a pal of mine worked, and I paid $80 for 18 units thanks to a holiday promotion and a substantial friends-and-family discount. Because of my job as a beauty editor, I'd been offered free Botox probably a dozen times before but had always felt squirmy about it and turned it down. I finally decided to cave in for a few reasons: 1) My frown lines were finally becoming noticeable to me, especially in photos, and I wanted to nip them in the bud, 2) a dermatologist I once worked with for a story had recommended I start preventative Botox now, and 3) because I work in the beauty industry, I knew I could always count on getting a little forehead Botox either heavily discounted or for free.
Before my first Botox experience, I had never talked to any of my co-workers about wanting to get the procedure, I suppose, simply because I still harbored some shame about it. I'd never had any kind of cosmetic work done before (not counting highlights and lash extensions), and the optics of having your face pumped full of injectibles at only 25 didn't look good to me. I didn't want to be perceived as one of those corrupted, image-obsessed L.A. people. But as soon as I had it done, I felt instantly more relaxed and started babbling about my Botox-loaded forehead to everyone. Soon, I discovered that the majority of my co-workers in the beauty industry had also had this done. We'd just never explicitly discussed it before. All those Instagram photos in which their skin looked perfect and wrinkle-free suddenly made sense: Almost every beauty editor, no matter how "au naturel" their routine, is eventually convinced to go under the syringe, at least for a touch of Botox in the forehead, which is often the first place people treat (the gateway to other areas) due to all the frowning and eyebrow-raising we do over the years.
Byrdie's senior editor Hallie Gould first got Botox in her forehead late last year. Her reservations were similar to mine. "I had been going back and forth on it for a while, ruminating about how scary the actual treatment would be (I'm a wimp when it comes to needles), if I really 'needed' it, or even if I was the 'type' of person who got injections," she says. But a meeting with the founders of GoodSkin Los Angeles, a "European-style anti-aging clinic," was enough to persuade her. "They just got me. My fears, what I wanted to look like, my general vibe. I've always been bothered by the expression lines on my forehead and, more recently, around my eyes. So I did it. After that first time, I was hooked." As Gould says, Botox makes her face looks like her, "but in consistently good light (haha)," and that thanks to this connection with the trusted specialists at Good Skin Los Angeles (read: a high-quality service for zero dollars), she plans to continue getting Botox every few months.
Byrdie Editorial Director Faith Xue waited until just three months ago to get her first dose of forehead Botox—another gratis opportunity from a dermatologist named Elizabeth A. Liotta. "I had been noticing the muscle above my brow becoming more and more prominent, which the doctor told me was because I'm constantly furrowing (probably while answering emails). I wanted something that would smooth it out," she says, adding that she was also happy with the results and plans to keep going.
But even with access to the most experienced and best-known cosmetic specialists, beauty editors' Botox experiences don't always go well. After all, because these free treatments are in exchange for potential publicity, it's possible (though uncommon) for a specialist to be a little trigger-happy—quick to administer a service that might not be best for the client or that they wouldn't necessarily suggest to a regular paying customer. Consider what happened to Kirbie Johnson, an on-camera host, producer, and senior reporter at PopSugar Beauty. Johnson was interested in Botox to remedy her frown lines ("angry 11s," as they're called in the industry), but she was also born with congenital ptosis, a rare cosmetic condition that causes the upper eyelid to droop. She'd heard that Botox could help with lifting her brows but was concerned how it might mix with her particular condition, as she'd also read that relaxing the forehead muscles might make her condition look droopier, not more lifted.
The eager nurse who she met with, a popular Instagram figure no doubt hungry for press, coaxed Johnson to do it anyway. "She was convinced that a little Bobo in my high forehead would give me the effect I desired without the droop, regardless of all aforementioned information," Johnson recalls. "Unfortunately for everyone, she was very wrong, and my brows fell." Johnson says she regrets listening to the nurse and not her gut. "She ended up trying to remedy the situation by injecting another area in my forehead (shame on me for allowing her to), but it only made matters worse. In the end, it's Botox, and it went away after three months, but it was still an annoying situation to be in—especially since my job is primarily working on camera."
The last time I personally got Botox, it was at the Beverly Hills clinic of Paul Nassif, a famous facial plastic surgeon and co-host of Botched on E! I was thrilled with both the elegant in-office experience and the results. My forehead has never looked smoother. But if I weren't a beauty editor, I wouldn't have been able to afford that, and I often wonder if I'd continue with Botox if I no longer worked in the industry, had to foot the bill on my own, and weren't spending my days carefully scrutinizing my image or staring at so many other Botox-filled faces.
"I do think working in this industry makes you more aware of the way you look and all the advanced ways to change, enhance, and soften. I don't think I would have gotten Botox if it weren't for my job," Gould comments. Xue agrees: "I do think that by working in the beauty industry, I'm exposed to a world of treatments and procedures that I probably wouldn't have been aware of as a normal consumer. It's easy to get sucked into it, especially when many of the treatments that normally cost thousands of dollars are offered for free in exchange for a review."
But when asked if they feel pressure from the beauty industry to get Botox, most of the editors I spoke with denied that. "In general, I think the beauty industry is a warm, accepting place, and I've never felt that I had to look a certain way or do certain things in order to succeed or be accepted," says Xue. HelloGiggles senior beauty editor Marie Lodi, who has not gotten Botox (at least not yet), concurs that she's never felt obligated to alter her appearance for the job. "I wouldn't necessarily say I've felt real pressure to get work done. But because we have access to beauty treatments (usually for free) and there's a curiosity as a journalist to try everything that we research and write about, there's a little bit of that kind of pressure," she explains. "While I do think people shouldn't give a fuck about wrinkles/signs of aging, I also feel like anyone should be able to do whatever they want that makes them feel good. … I've definitely thought about [Botox] here and there. … I have more access to it. As of right now, I'm still undecided. Maybe I'll want to just let my body do what it wants to do. Ask me again in two years, haha."
In the end, we all consented that as long as beauty editors are open about their Botox experiences, then both those inside the industry and our readers are able to make better-informed decisions about the products and procedures they choose to get. "It is fascinating to realize that the majority of the faces you lust after—whether that's on the street, in the office, or on the internet—have done a little something. It's so prevalent," says Gould. "It's kind of helpful to know that, to be honest. It allows feelings of jealousy to wash away, knowing they weren't born with some of those sculpted features. And it's also empowering. You can do something about the tiny thing that pisses you off on a daily basis. For me, Botox did that. And I'm thrilled."
Have you considered forehead Botox? DM me your opinions @amanda_montell.