The beauty industry is filled with women who know how to take care of themselves—from skincare and makeup to exercise and wellness. Call it an occupational hazard. Up until relatively recently, though, I assumed each editor's lineless face was a mix of active ingredients and light-as-a-feather foundation.
While it is a fact that this industry comprises women who are stunning, poreless, and brilliant on a deadline, more and more are taking advantage of injectables. And it's not just beauty editors. A recent report from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery states that Americans were injected 6.6 million times last year, which is almost 40% more than five years ago. It's so ubiquitous, in fact, that I was just invited to a female entrepreneurship panel in which fillers were offered with cocktails following the talk.
So why is there still judgment and taboo associated with these non-invasive procedures? Why do we, as smart, capable, consenting women, feel more comfortable talking about this topic in hushed tones? Answering those questions is, of course, a tall order. There's media pressure, ageism, misogyny—the works. There's also Facetune, Instagram, and that Golden Goddess Snapchat filter. But there's another question to contend with as well. If Botox and fillers are going to make you feel good, why not go for it? I say, do you.
While I haven't gotten anything done (yet), I'd be remiss to say I don't think about it. I've always had deep forehead lines, and lately new ones have cropped up around my eyes and mouth. I have an expressive face! Still, much of my apprehension (other than my deep-seated fear of needles) stems from judgment. I just never imagined I'd do anything to my face. I even went to a consultation with a plastic surgeon and posed my questions as research—you know, in the name of journalism. The truth? I wanted to know what, exactly, he would recommend. The more women I talk to about what they've had done, the more I can't help but think, Who cares? Again, do you.
I asked a few editors in the industry (some who have taken the plunge and others who haven't) to explain their thoughts about the whole thing. Their answers are long, thoughtful, and full of helpful advice. Keep reading for all their wisdom.
"I am 25 years old and I've had lip fillers three times and Botox once. Fillers are one of the best things I ever did, and I'm so happy I finally took the plunge. I was beyond terrified the first time I went to get my lips done because there are so many misconceptions out there, but the end result made me a believer. They're totally safe in the right hands, 100% temporary, and only last for a few months. If you hate how they look, they can be deflated by the doctor instantly. I've never had any tattoos, I only have my ears pierced, and I am generally a chicken about anything and everything. But when it comes to fillers, I am a champion. No pain, no gain—right?
"I had Restylane-L twice, and I just recently gave Juvéderm Volbella a try. I have to say I like Juvéderm best—my swelling is far less severe, and it was basically painless, both during the procedure and in the days that followed. My lips look plumper but not noticeably so; most people can't even tell I had something done. You would really need a ton of filler, I'm talking like three or four syringes, to get to a Kylie [Jenner]–level lip. One syringe won't be noticed by anyone but you.
"I was iffy about trying Botox, even though I know it's one of the safest and most widely used injectables on the market. I just didn't want to look frozen, and I don't have any discernible lines at this point. But when the chance came to try it, I did. I had six or so shots across my forehead to lift my brows. The procedure was painless, but I was a little swollen for a few days. I really just wanted to try it to say I've tried it, but I don't think I'll be going back until I really notice the formation of lines. It made my skin abnormally shiny, and the results weren't dramatic enough to warrant getting it done again. But that's not to say I won't be totally 'toxed up by the time I'm 40. I fully plan on it.
"I think the funniest part of getting fillers is telling people you're getting them. My mom was my biggest cheerleader, but my father and fiancé both stomped their feet about it. They claimed I was going to ruin my face. They made such a fuss, in fact, that I didn't even tell my fiancé about getting my lips done the third time. He barely even noticed when I came home from the appointment.
"I absolutely do not feel the need to hide about my lip injections. In fact, I had a colleague Facebook Live my most recent appointment. I tell anyone who will listen because I find it immensely empowering. If I'm not open and honest about it, then who will be? Someone has to be the one to peel back the curtain and make others feel like they can share their story. We all want to look fresher, younger, plumper—to be the version of ourselves we see in our head. The mirror doesn't always reflect that. So if you have the means to change something about yourself, do it. And I have the platform to speak about it, so I will. And I've found that dozens of women have come forward to me, both privately and publicly, to ask me about my filler experience. There's absolutely no shame in any cosmetic body modification, as long as you're getting it done for you and no one else. And injections? They're just about the safest form of body modification out there. (Have you seen some tattoo parlors?)
"I have thought long and hard about this subject for years. Growing up, I never thought I would ever consider doing anything to my face—plastic surgery and even Botox were always kind of taboo in my family, as my mom was always a big advocate for aging naturally. As I transitioned into adulthood, I began to realize that I was way too judgmental of those people who did opt for injections and procedures. This shift in POV hit its 180 mark when one of my closest friends got a nose job, something she had wanted for virtually her entire life. The result was so subtle and made her so happy that it really was a eureka moment: If something has a huge impact on your confidence and you have the self-awareness to know that changing it would genuinely make you happier, then why should you have to live with it? And what gives anyone else the right to judge that? If you don't want to touch your own face, then don't touch your own face.
"For me, it's my mouth—I've always been insecure about my small lips and have started to seriously contemplate doing something about it. And that's the beauty of injections, especially in 2017: You don't have to really search hard to find a doctor or dermatologist who can give you really subtle, natural-looking results. Most people I know who've gotten work done simply look less tired and more refreshed.
"I will say that one of my biggest personal struggles is that keeping a natural, plant-based beauty and health routine has always been a priority. Does considering injections make me a hypocrite? Maybe, but that's why I'd probably opt for a hyaluronic acid filler. Still, I would probably keep it on the DL if I ended up going for it, even though it's completely temporary—there's still enough of a stigma around it, though I predict that changing a lot over the next few years, once people start to realize that SO MANY PEOPLE GET THEM. (Seriously, virtually every actress, singer, and celebrity you see on TV has gotten fillers or injectables of some kind. I promise.) But mostly, I'd feel weird copping to it with my family, especially my mom."
"So I got Botox about six months ago—I'd been thinking about it, but I hadn't put any serious thought into it when Dr. Graf's office emailed me. I've been offered Botox a million times, and it just seemed so casual, so I figured I might as well try it. I knew my boyfriend wouldn't be into it, but I was super shocked at how my peers reacted: My co-workers asked me about it in a whisper (or on Slack), my friends who don't work in the industry looked at me with some mix of confusion and anger, and my mom—forget it.
"I thought it was weird in that you can hear the actual injection going into your head (I'm not sure what I expected, really), and I didn't think I'd want to do it again, but now that it's wearing off, I'm jonesing. I like how I look when my brow doesn't furrow into a wrinkle, and I like how a touch of Botox near my eyes made me wake up looking refreshed. I basically felt like me on my best day, sans Facetune. I didn't tell my boyfriend or my friends that I've made another appointment (most of them would try to talk me out of it with bogus reasoning), but if anyone were to ask me about it, I'm totally fine copping to it.
"I wrote about it for StyleCaster (the homepage title was literally, 'Should I Be Embarrassed That I Got Botox?'), and here's a little excerpt that probably explains it best:
"'When I casually mentioned it to my friends—many of whom have no problem lying in a tanning bed a few times a month and Instagramming about it—they shrieked in disdain. I heat-froze my fat once a week for a month and got a pimple injected with cortisone without so much as an eyebrow raise, but apparently, they draw the line at Botox: Complaints ranged from "You're not even 30! You don't even need it!" to "IT'S SO BAD FOR YOU!"—and, my favorite, "Now you have to get it all the time!"
"But here's the final straw: When I got to work, a co-worker Slacked me (which, for the uninitiated, is the office-equivalent of G-chat), asking me how the Botox went. We have a pretty modern and non-traditional setup, so I just turned around and basically yelled across the office about my injections, somehow prompting her to apologize because she wasn’t sure if I "wanted everyone to know." We openly discuss sex positions, orgasm shots, and chemical peels—so why would Botox be secret territory?'"
"Growing up with an aesthetician as a mother, I was always focused on my skin. When I was a teen, she gave me routine facials and tried as hard as she could to keep me out of tanning beds. So when I began obsessing over the two lines on my forehead during college, she prescribed a regimen of chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and HydraFacials. But every time I'd style my hair (which takes about an hour) or apply makeup, I noticed that I was raising my eyebrows—to the point where I'd put Scotch tape on my forehead to prevent myself from making the motion. Over the years, the lines continued to deepen, and I became more and more fixated on the idea of smoothing them.
"Because I grew up in a decently vain household, Botox was never taboo. My mom is in her 60s and could easily pass as 40, thanks to a few needles here and there. Which is why when I told her I wanted to start preventative injections at 24 years old, she was only slightly hesitant to give me the okay.
"My dermatologist, on the other hand, was all for it. The first time I brought it up, she asked me to raise my eyebrows, only to smile and agree that yes, I was a perfect candidate. She numbed my forehead, put a pillow behind my head, and had a nurse hold my hand as she gave me what felt like slight pin pricks all over my forehead. Aside from a tiny bruise (I was able to cover it with a dab of concealer), the process was easy, and after a week, I was marveling over my smooth forehead and arched eyebrows (mine are naturally very straight, so she used the Botox to give me a stronger arch). I've now had it done every six-ish months since, and I've even graduated from numbing cream and a hand to hold. But most importantly, I love my skin more and more after each appointment.
"Of course, people are shocked (and often appalled/confused/judgmental) when I admit that I get at such a young age. But the thing is, if I don't mention it in the first place, they'd never know. I don't get Botox to look younger, prettier, or better overall in the eyes of anyone else—my boyfriend can't even tell the difference—I simply get it because I want to hang on to my youthful-looking skin for as long as possible and love how I look when I look in the mirror, whether it's today or 30 years from now."