In the words of the inimitable Britney Spears, I did it again: That is, I got Botox. For the second time, I marched into Dermatologist Jeannette Graf’s Chelsea office last week feeling a little smug—I’d spent the last six months “admitting” to friends and perfect strangers alike that I got injectables, and though I was pretty shameless about it at first—I literally told anyone that would ask, and some more that didn’t—I quickly got comfortable bringing it up unprompted. My confession became my version of a party trick: Want to make a group of twenty-somethings go silent within seconds? Admit you’ve had an in-office procedure in broad daylight. Even better: Do it when good-looking people are within an earshot. They’ll contort their face into their best “how daaaare she” look. (But then you’ll feel extra smug knowing that look only happens to someone whose considered Botox themselves. Win-win.)
Anyway. For a while, I was met with a mix of judgement and praise. “You’re so brave to admit it!” some would say, and fellow editors would talk about it as though the procedure were as commonplace as a manicure or a massage. While others—mainly my friends from New Jersey who still frequent tanning beds—would tell me how awful it probably was for it. “You don’t even need it,” they’d tell me, furrowing their own brows at me for “cheating.” Some life advice for you: Never take beauty advice from anyone who enjoys being the particular shade of orange only a tanning bed should lend.
But they were sort of right—I didn’t need it, but that was the point. I’d first gotten preventative Botox in September, and though it took a bit of convincing, I really enjoyed the experience: I didn’t have many fine lines or wrinkles to speak of, but I got used to how I looked without any sign of 11s forming between my brows, and my eyes didn’t look tired all the damn time—a tiny miracle! It was those small, almost imperceptible differences that made me Botox’s biggest cheerleader. Still, there was some part of me that kept telling myself that it was just for work—that I needed some first-hand research on a procedure I write about all the time—and that I probably wouldn’t do it again.
But when the Botox started to wear off earlier this year, I was first in line to go back, something Dr. Graf says is way more common than you’d think: “I’d say the vast majority, over 75 percent, come back for Botox once they’ve had it,” she said. “Most come regularly, or if they’re busy, once they notice they’re frowning again, back they come!”
One might say Dr. Graf gets too much pleasure from injecting her patients—you could see her beaming when I InstaStory’d the whole thing on @StyleCaster back in February—but you can tell she just truly believes it’s not a big deal. Rather than giving a 29-year-old (me) a frozen face, she’s giving me the opportunity to look like I’m fresh out of college for a few years. But it’s not without a serious skin-care routine: I slap on half a dozen serums, creams, and sunscreens in the morning, and that number nearly doubles at night. No amount of Botox will rid you of hyperpigmentation and other signs of sun damage.
When I told my boyfriend that I’d made an appointment to go back again, he scoffed, saying that something so invasive should last more than six months. But the truth is that it’s not so invasive: I returned to my office after I’d gotten seven injections at lunch: two between my brows, one at the tip of my cheekbones where they meet my under-eye, one on either side of my face into my masseter muscle, and one right in my chin to even it out a touch. I was swollen for a few hours, but by the time I got home from work, my boyfriend totally forgot to ask about it until he saw it on Instagram.
It turns out, most people get Botox closer to three times a year, says Dr. Graf—“even four times a year if they’re muscles are super strong and frowning comes easily. The good news is that with regular use over time, lines soften and the waiting time between appointments increases.” Because I started before I had many fine lines to speak of, I’d likely get away with two times a year.
And for those friends—and my mother—who think I’ve done some sort of irreparable damage to my face with Botox, or that I’m going to look freakishly young in 10 years, not to worry: Because Botox doesn’t actually halt the rate at which you age—rather, it only provides an armor of resistance against indentation—I’d only have about a year of non-refundable resistance on my side.
But if we’re being honest—and I think we are—I’ll probably go back again. I can admit it this time.