ISABELLE TEARE, HOST: Older people can get Botox to smooth out their wrinkles. But there’s a new wave of wrinkle warriors. Younger people are taking preventative measures to make sure wrinkles never form in the first place. In fact, the stats are in, and botox injections for under 30s are at an all time high. As Henrietta McFarlane reports from New York City, getting botox isn’t usually a one off - once you start young, you’re unlikely to stop.
HENRIETTA MCFARLANE, BYLINE: 29 year old Andrea Cara works as a marketing manager for a fertility clinic. She’s been getting botox for a few years now. She pays 300 dollars per session. For her the price is worth it - she’s never felt better about her looks. I head over to her studio apartment in Brooklyn.
DOOR KNOCK AMBI: "Hi, Andrea"
In Cara’s living room photos of her friends and family line the walls. She tells me she thinks her mom has aged really well but that botox wasn’t readily available for her generation. It is now and she’s already using to enhance her looks.
MCFARLANE: Can you show me in the mirror?
ANDREA CARA: I choose to go in the v shape. And it's a few very, very small injections, sort of going in a diagonal from the bridge of my nose, up towards my hairline. And what it does is it just freezes those muscles so that I'm not able to raise my eyebrows and create those creases. An added benefit that I didn't know about it, that also gives my brow a little bit of an arch that it would not be able to achieve naturally.
MCFARLANE: Like so many others under 30, Cara gets botox to prevent future wrinkles.
CARA: I was 27 I had had a wrinkle in my forehead that drove me a little crazy. But I used to be able to kind of smooth out or moisturize away. I don't necessarily think I look old, I don't think I am aging.
MCFARLANE: Cara said she’s not afraid to age. She just doesn’t like the way wrinkles look on her face.
CARA: I just think it's something that I do that makes me feel good makes me feel look nice. I mean, I don't think anyone needs to get their hair highlighted or needs to get their eyebrows done. But for me, Botox has just become one of those things to help me put my best self forward.
MCFARLANE: Thanks to her botox injections. They block chemical signals that cause your muscles to contract. The toxin also causes life-threatening food poisoning. But don't worry, there aren’t too many widely cited physical risks of botox, especially when compared to surgical procedures. It paralyzes the muscles in your face, stopping wrinkles from forming. And if you’re young and as long as you keep up with appointments every three - six months, the idea is that over time you’d need fewer injections.
The number of people under 30 getting botox has tripled since last year. Aesthetic nurse Kari Lowe has seen this first hand. She’s been getting botox since she was 23. She now works at a dermatology clinic on the Upper East Side. At the end of a busy thursday, she’s run off her feet helping other people get their injections.
By the end of the day, she was slumped on the couch in her apartment and spoke to me via zoom. Lowe says people might start with just an injection in the cheekbone and then spiral towards more.
KARI LOWE: then they're like, Oh, well I'm already doing it here. You know, it's not creating anything, any issues there. Let me try and go for the forehead and between the brows.
MCFARLANE: A study was released this year by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Nearly 80% of clinicians say earlier age prevention and maintenance measures could lead to more botox and addiction down the line.
Dana Berkowitz, a professor of sociology and women’s studies, writes about this in her book ‘Botox Nation: Changing the face of America.” She calls it a gateway drug into other procedures, creating a psychological addiction.
DANA BERKOWITZ: when you start using Botox, for the most part, you don't stop, okay.
MCFARLANE: Berkowitz is worried that ageless faces create impossible beauty standards of no wrinkles.
BERKOWITZ: You become very much accustomed to seeing your face look a certain way. And so basically, what that means is that if you are starting early like in your early 20s, you are signing up to be a lifetime consumer and oftentimes used you may start with neurotoxin and then you may graduate to dermal filler and to other cosmetic procedures.
MCFARLANE: And some people say they go too far and stop looking like themselves. Love Island’s Faye Winter spoke out about her Botox regrets and obsession earlier this year.
LOVE ISLAND AMBI: "Stress gives me wrinkles, wrinkles means I have to get more botox, and botox potentially means that my face will drop."
MCFARLANE: Back at Cara’s apartment, she tells me she doesn’t think too much about the future.
CARA: Who knows for now it's something that is just sort of a part of my routine twice a year again, like getting a haircut or a hair highlight or anything like that. But that's a judgment call. I think I'll make later on.
MCFARLANE: Cara had her last appointment on Tuesday and says she’ll schedule in for another in September or October. Henrietta McFarlane, Columbia Radio News.