It's part of my life budget at this point.
I've been getting Botox injections in my forehead for four years now. I started when I was 44 and get Botoxed three to four times a year. It would take a serious downshift in my finances to get me to give them up.
I'd always thought I had pretty good skin. I used sunscreen, tried not to fall asleep with my makeup on, drank lots of water. Blah blah blah. I certainly knew what Botox was and I've always been a "to each their own" kind of girl when it comes to stuff like that, although paying someone to shoot botulism toxins into my face to make me look younger didn't sound like a good time at all.
Until the day I accidentally took a close-up of my face in selfie mode. First thing in the morning. With no makeup. No smile. Looking down at the camera, which I don't recommend if you want to remain in denial about the fact that your skin is sagging.
It's happened to you: You open the camera app on your phone and peer down at it as you focus in on whatever it is you're taking a picture of. And then, there's you. There you are. It's never cute, but this picture stopped me in my tracks.
I studied the most unflattering image of me that ever was (believe me, there are lots of unflattering pictures of me floating around out there). I saw two prominent vertical lines between my eyes, which I've since nicknamed my "elevens."
When my elevens show up to the party I know it's time to invite the dermatologist. My first gander at my elevens had me Googling Botox and cosmetic surgery and fillers pretty quickly, and although I don't remember the exact timeline, I had my first consult with my dermatologist within two weeks of that awful selfie. I've never looked back.
(This is me about a month before my last injection.)
I like looking younger much better. Botox softens the lines in my forehead and makes them look less pronounced — as in, you can't see them from across the street. I'm not wrinkle-free, and for me that's not a realistic goal. My face doesn't look like it's stretched tight or full of plastic, and while I never say never, I don't see an eye lift or anything involving a scalpel in my future.
The appearance of my "angry elevens" is much less evident and I don't feel rotten about my appearance every time I look in the mirror. I'm chasing 50 (or maybe 50 is chasing me!) and I'm relatively happy with how my face looks.
The cost, time and pain are manageable, and yes, I know I'm fortunate to be able to afford the injections performed by a dermatologist that my insurance doesn't cover. My family is solid middle class and I have to budget for my Botox. It's not like my kids don't get shoes so I can look good, but I'll definitely clip coupons and brown bag lunches so my facial injections don't pinch my pocketbook.
While no one likes having a needle poked in their face, the pain of Botox is relatively short-lived. I experience a little bit of bleeding and redness immediately afterward, but I can usually go about my day inconspicuously.
There are a few restrictions I have to follow for a few days after Botoxing, mainly limiting strenuous exercise and alcohol. No biggie! I've learned not to schedule my injections on Friday night, because wine.
I've also gotten fillers in the lines between my nose and mouth. Those are more expensive and more painful, but they're also longer-lasting and I like the result when I can swing it financially, which is about once a year.
I'm unapologetic about my Botox habit. It's not part of my "elevator speech" but it's not something I work to keep hush-hush. Investing a few dollars to get results that help me look my best is something I'm absolutely unashamed of.
I heard one of my friends complain the other day about her $80 anti-aging cream that did nothing for her and I must admit, I smiled smugly and said a little mental thank you to Botox.
Every so often someone mentions "being your natural self" or "aging gracefully." Getting Botox doesn't make me less me — it makes me the me I want to be. And there are plenty of people out there who disagree with me, but I say there's nothing graceful about aging.
I still take care of myself. I stay out of the sun and drink my water. I try not to fall asleep with makeup on and use a good moisturizer (not an $80 one, though). I do all the things that are commonly accepted as good skincare. And Botox. I never want to do without it and I hope I never have to.