Why I Got Botox At 26
This story originally appeared on Allure.
I've always considered myself middle-of-the-road when it comes to vanity. Sure, I've always been interested in makeup, but more as an outlet for self-expression. I was one of the last girls in my high-school class to start wearing it. I've fussed over my fair share of zits, but I didn't go to a dermatologist until I was in college. And I want killer abs as much as the next person, but I've never been dedicated enough to actually do a killer workout. In other words, I'm neither apathetic about my looks nor obsessed with them. So I was more than a little bit surprised the morning I woke up at age 20, saw a fine line on my forehead, and... Lost. My. Shit.
Running to the drugstore in my pajamas for emergency retinol wasn't my proudest moment, but I can't pretend it was the most extreme measure I've taken against the march of time. No, that would have to be something I did six years later, when I sat down in a dermatologist's office and had some neurotoxic protein injected into my face.
That's right: Botox at 26.
Now, before you judge (too late, I know), I want to be clear that I didn't spend those intervening years in some sort of The Shining–esque spiral into madness. Sure, I developed an anti-aging regimen, got the occasional microdermabrasion, and landed a job at Allure, where I became obsessed with all sorts of other exciting beauty products (DermaDoctor Kakadu C 20% Vitamin C Serum, you are my forever love). But still, The Line was there, not getting worse, but not magically disappearing, either. It sat there at the top of my forehead like the telltale heart (the horror analogies just keep on coming), reminding me that it was just the first. Like a cockroach, if you can find one, there are dozens more lurking just out of sight.
There was a part of me that was ashamed of that reaction, of the fact that I cared at all. I was a reasonably successful, well-educated young woman with lots to offer the world beyond the youthful smoothness of my forehead. I wasn't afraid of getting older, so why was I afraid of looking like I'd aged? Shouldn't I be above that? Didn't I have more important things to dedicate my time and energy to?
Finally I realized that if I really couldn't make like Elsa and let it go, the only logical thing to do was to take action. After a fair bit of research, I decided that Botox was my best option. The principal is pretty simple: Wrinkles form when your skin and muscles move in the same way repeatedly over time—stop the movement, and you stop the wrinkles from forming. The most compelling argument I heard was that Botox is a way to get out ahead of a problem before it becomes a bigger one.
Still, I was nervous. Less about the procedure (though I beg of you, never Google "Botox gone wrong") and more about what people would think. It was one thing to be privately fixated on The Line and quite another to tell people that I'd essentially opted for the nuclear option. Even with the blunt, brow-sweeping bangs I was sporting at the time, I was worried that someone was bound to notice that, you know, part of my face had stopped moving. And what was I going to do when that happened? I could deny it: "My forehead's always been completely immobilized. I can't believe you never noticed before!" Shrug it off? "Oh, yeah, everybody's doing it now. It's the new washing your face!" Or I could refuse to justify or explain it at all. After all, it was my face. Why should I care what people think of my choices? Which of course led to feeling bad about feeling bad and a general dramatic swan dive into the Venn diagram overlap of Caring About What Other People Think and Not Wanting to Care What Other People Think. #anxietylife
As with any good Gilmore Girls episode, it was ultimately my mother who stepped in with the solution. "Try it once," she said. "If you don't like it, it will wear off and you'll never have to do it again." This was undeniably sound logic, so I made my appointment and tried very hard not to think about the fact that I was paying to have what is essentially a third cousin to the black plague injected into my face.
Considering the amount of freaking out I'd done over this decision, the procedure itself was anticlimactically simple. The only interesting part of the process was the faint crackling noise the fluid made as it was injected along my forehead (the doctor assured me this was perfectly normal, so I internalized all of my panicked squealing). Likewise, the effects were pleasingly subtle, and after the first couple of days, even the novelty of trying to scrunch my forehead and not being able to wore off, leaving me feeling and looking perfectly normal. Goals accomplished!
Now this is the point in the story where I'm supposed to tell you all about how getting Botox made my life as flawless as my baby-smooth skin and that you should all run out and join me in my ageless life of bliss. Or it's the part where I should tell you how I didn't really love my Botox experience but it taught me a valuable lesson about accepting myself for who I am and embracing my so-called flaws. I'm not going to do that. Because the reality is that getting Botox at 26 was fine for me. It's neither a victory nor a regret.
After all the time I spent thinking about it, once I took the plunge, I didn't pay all that much attention to my frozen forehead. I can't even say precisely how long it took to wear off. Nobody ever called me out on getting it, and now (obviously) it's something I'm perfectly comfortable talking about. I didn't keep up with the injections, simply because I was lazy and couldn't be bothered to make another appointment. But it's certainly something I would (and probably will) do again.
Would I recommend getting Botox at 26? Sure. If you want to do it, as a preventative measure! Twenty-six, 56, 86, you do you. But I will say, as someone who spent way too much time thinking about it, it may save you a little face, but it's probably not going to change your life.