In late July, the royal family was in the spotlight once again for some *scandalous* behaviour. No, it wasn’t another “Turnip Toffs” scandal. It was Kate Middleton’s face. Specifically, allegations that the future Queen of England has had a little work done. On July 24, Munir Somji, the chief medical officer of the British Dr. Medi Spa clinic, posted before-and-after photos of the royal on Instagram with the caption “Our Kate loves a bit of baby Botox.” In the now removed post, Somji pointed out what he says was evidence of the procedure. Kensington Palace was quick to shut down the rumours, giving a statement to The New York Post that said the claims were “categorically not true.”
But regardless of whether or not HRH actually has had the cosmetic treatment, the claims brought up a lot of questions: Does the palace have its own cosmetic treatment centre a là Sin Rostro’s lair in Jane the Virgin? Can Middleton’s skin actually look *that* good sans treatment? Does Lizzie herself subscribe to the practice? Will the royal family be releasing a line of Botox products? And what does Prince Philip think of all this? But mainly: What is baby Botox? And also, should I be getting it? Here, we break down everything you need to know about this cosmetic-treatment trend.
So, WTF is it?
For those of you in a panic, don’t worry: Baby Botox has nothing to do with actual babies. (Phew!) “‘Baby Botox’ just refers to doing smaller-dose treatments [of Botox],” Dr. Ashlin Alexander, a Toronto-based facial cosmetic surgeon, tells FLARE.
Not to be mistaken with fillers—which increase volume in areas like the lips—Botox (a.k.a. botulinum toxin) is an injection that weakens the muscles, reducing and smoothing wrinkles and enhancing a patient’s overall facial appearance.
Short version: Smaller doses of Botox help patients achieve a more “natural” look, smoothing fine lines and wrinkles and ensuring that you avoid an experience like this:
“It used to be that the classic filler-and-Botox look was one that looked fake and way overdone,” says Dr. Alexander. “Not anymore. Now the focus is on using safe products, which are reversible, to provide a natural result that looks refreshed but not ‘plastic.’”
There’s a reason you’re hearing about it everywhere
If it seems like a lot of people you know are talking about cosmetic treatments, it’s probably because they are. The fact of the matter is that these treatments are less taboo now. And there’s a reason for this. “Products are better, injectors are better [and] there’s an ever-increasing focus on youthfulness, health and beauty in mainstream media and social media,” says Dr. Alexander. Need we remind you of The Hills’ Heidi Montag’s 10 surgeries in one day (!!)?
And with the prevalence of selfie culture (and horror-inducing aging apps like FaceApp), our current climate kind of dictates that we need to look our best, he continues.
It’s not just aging women who are having the treatment, either. A 2017 report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that the number of men having Botox is steadily increasing, and there’s a similar trend in Canada, according to a June 2018 article by Global News. The number of millennials choosing to get Botox is also rising, with injections among 22- to 37-year-olds increasing by 22% in the past five years, according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
“I would say there’s been a trend towards younger patients coming in for ‘preventative Botox’ treatments,” says Dr. Alexander.
Dr. Lisa Kellett, a dermatologist who does filler treatments at her Toronto clinic, DLK on Avenue, agrees that the conversation around procedures like Botox and fillers has changed, with people being more accepting now—due in part, perhaps, to the realization that they just make some people feel good. “It’s something that you can improve, much like when you get your hair done or have your makeup done,” says Dr. Kellett. “Those are ways for people to feel better about themselves, and it’s much the same thing [with Botox and fillers].”
It can be pretty pricy
While rates for Botox injections vary depending on the clinic and location, Dr. Alexander estimates that the cost is between $10 to $20 per unit across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). But, before we get too excited over what seem like liquidation prices, how many units are needed is *super* individual and dependant on the location of the injections (and muscle). According to Dr. Alexander, the three most common areas people seek out Botox for are: the forehead, between the eyebrows and the outer corners of the eyes (crow’s feet). “I would say, for all newcomers, an average treatment in between the glabella—in between the eyebrows—would be 20 to 25 units,” he says. That’s for women; for men, he’d gauge 25 to 30 units.
There are reasons young women (and men) are choosing it
There are many reasons people choose to get Botox. For millennials and younger clients, preventative Botox is used as a means to stop the development of deep-set wrinkles—which are present even when your face is at rest and are developed as a result of repetitive facial expressions, like furrowing your brow and wrinkling your nose.
Baby Botox is a great way to start, says Dr. Alexander. “Insofar as the first time you’re getting it, you should start with low dosing and increase it if you need to after you’ve seen the effect. Start low, go slow.”
Outside of the cosmetics realm, Botox can also be used for medical purposes, like helping patients who grind their teeth or for calming muscle spasms in the body.
And reasons you may choose not to
Like any cosmetic procedure, no matter how non-invasive, there are potential side effects with Botox, including blurred vision, slurred speech and progressive muscle weakness. In addition to these risks, you can also *totally* overdo it and end up having “a frozen facial expression or heaviness of the brows or eyelids,” says Dr. Alexander. So, conservativeness is key.
Another risk? Your wallet could get very light. While $15 here or there *sounds* inexpensive, those dollars add up if you start getting injections early on, before you really “need” them.
But there are also other options
For those of us who aren’t quite ready or who are plain horrified by the prospect of needles in our face, there are other options to keep our skin healthy. “The bottom line is we talk to [all of our patients] about skincare,” says Dr. Kellett. “The most important tenet of skincare is sun protection. Stay out of the sun, wear sunscreen daily [and] wear sun-protective clothing.” For those looking to hit “pause” on the aging process, Dr. Kellett recommends using topical vitamin A at night (to prevent acne and boost collagen) and vitamin C in the morning (as an antioxidant and to help with brown spots).
So do you need it?
TBH, that is up to you and your informed medical professional. But whatever you choose, it’s important to be as informed as possible and open to suggestions (and, sometimes, refusals) from your doctor.
“The most important thing is the actual consultation,” says Dr. Alexander. “Because you have to go to somebody who you feel confident and comfortable that they know what they’re doing and that they’re not going to talk you into things that you don’t need.” And, most importantly, he says, you need to know that if there’s a problem, your doctor is going to be there.
“While I think it’s important to have self-confidence and have your outer self be able to project the strength and vitality you feel on the inside, I do worry that younger generations are becoming too focused on outward appearance in this social-media driven age,” Dr. Alexander says.
His advice? “Generally speaking, my advice is to wait until you can see some early fine lines developing at rest: That’s the trigger point for when you should consider preventative Botox.” Meaning, if you’re blessed with a Selena Gomez-style baby face, you’re probably good…at least for now.