Hip Mom Tries Botox

With so many options, it’s good to know where to invest my skincare dollars.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t walk more than a yard beyond my front door these days without one of my dear friends offering to sell me the latest greatest skincare line. I’ve got several friends who sell the superior-but-pricey Rodan and Fields line (I can vouch for the Acute Care regime for wrinkles – really magical! – and their miraculous eyelash serum. For the first time in my life I have lashes! But don’t you agree – some of these women go a little crazy with the lash growth to the point they’re wielding weapons – I’m afraid to get too close lest they scratch me, a la Edward Scissorlashes). I’ve got another friend selling L’Bri, an all-natural line that uses a lot of real aloe vera (it feels lovely). Yet another friend sells Younique (which has these great temporary false lashes!). Another friend sells BeautyCounter, which is like Gwyneth’s new all-organic skincare line. Even my kids’ piano teacher is selling skincare: a Korean line called Atomy that’s reasonably priced and seems highly effective. My problem, though, is I can’t afford all my friends — how many skincare lines can I use? And which one, in the end, should I pick?

So I talk to my friend Jennifer, a dermatologist — the actual doctor kind! I ask her what ultimately works to prevent (or slow) aging skin. She says, “Sunscreen. Products with retinol really do help with wrinkles. And Botox!” Aw, man! Botox! I’ve always been hesitant to try it because, well, it’s a toxin. And it’s not super cheap. But Jennifer reassures me the doses are so small that it’s safe. And she tells me that the younger you are when you first use it, the slower your skin will age. Well, I guess I finally need to take the plunge.

Luckily, right down the street from my house is Face Body Medical Aesthetics, a medical spa run by Dr. Ladd Atkins. They offer cosmetic surgery and serious skincare. Their “Year of Beauty” is a great deal: you can choose from several medical spa facials – chemical peel, laser peel, photo facial, dermaplaning (that’s exfoliation with a scalpel!) – for $100 per month; plus, you can get Botox for $8 per unit, which appears to be a good price.

Hip Mom before Botox

So, I drag my chicken self to see Dr. Atkins and tell him my fears. I do not want to look like one of those scary pictures of celebrities of a certain age who have had so much work done they look like cartoonish caricatures of themselves. They don’t look younger — they just look like E.T.!  Dr. Atkins reassures me that most of these women have actually had an excess of fillers, not Botox. He explains that just a few little pricks to my frowny lines above my forehead will make a nice difference, but I’ll still look like myself. And, as for my concern about toxins? It’s such a small amount it’s not a big deal. Even if I were pregnant – and I’m not! – it would not be enough to harm a baby. So I brace myself, and I hardly feel a thing — just a couple of teeny-tiny pricks.

Dr. Atkins tells me it will be a few days before I notice my results, so I wait. I don’t really notice anything for a few days, and then boom! About five days later I look in the mirror and I’m stunned — those little lines from years of nagging, blow-outs and sleepless nights have totally disappeared! Wow! But, yes, it’s definitely still me, and I still look 40-ish, but much better rested and less bitc…grumpy. Yay! A win-win!

Hip Mom after Botox

The next month, I try a chemical peel. I’ve heard these are great for really sloughing off old skin and regenerating new skin growth. Michelle Pfeiffer is apparently a big fan. Well, OK! Now, for those of you who go to the spa thinking it’s going to be a relaxing experience – ha! These results-driven facials are less than fun. For the chemical peel, the esthetician puts a cooling/numbing gel on my face, and then administers the peel – it takes maybe a total of 15 minutes. My face burns and tingles just a bit, but it’s not really painful. I get the peel on a Wednesday, and she warns me that I might peel for a few days. I have a fancy “Trivia Night” fundraiser for my kids’ school on Saturday, so I’m sure by then I will be just fine.

Still peeling…

Except I’m not! My face starts melting off. Quite literally! The skin is sloughing off like a snake shedding. It is seriously gross. And of course my melting face is quite evident to all at our big fundraiser event. So I don my gorgeous new Ted Baker dress, put on my very ineffective makeup, and sport my peeling face at the event. Luckily, I don’t take myself too seriously and tell everyone I see – much hilarity ensues. But if you are going to some fancy shindig – and you don’t want everyone to laugh at you – I would allow at least two weeks after a chemical peel.  Once my skin finally stops falling off, the peel is worth it. My skin looks buttery and dewy – significantly more youthful. But what a process!

For my next experiment, I try a Photo Facial, which helps to minimize pigmentation or brown spots on your face. Once again: not relaxing. This is one of the more unpleasant experiences I’ve ever had – and that’s coming from someone who’s had six C-sections. First, the esthetician numbs my face with some kind numbing gel. I wait for a bit in the lobby, and then return to the room with my 1-year-old daughter, who refuses to stay with her big sister. Alas, this is where things go awry. I have to wear these funny little bug-like shades because the light from the laser is so bright it will hurt my eyes. The problem is, I have the baby with me, so I have to shield her eyes from the light, all the while getting my face rather painfully zapped (I can feel little burning pulses being zapped into my skin). The baby is writhing and screaming — she doesn’t know her mother is getting a voluntary torture session —  and I keep getting zapped while trying to cover her eyes! It is a very stressful six minutes. My face feels a little funny for the rest of the day, but I’m fine. And, I do notice some of my old freckles have faded a bit. But, wow, unless you have brown spots that really bother you, I’d spare yourself.

So, bottom line for me: Botox, yes. Chemical peel, yes —  with some waiting time. As for all the great skincare lines, Dr. Atkins agrees with my dermatologist friend Jennifer: “Find a line you like, but don’t spend a ton of money on it. You won’t get the results you can get by having these clinical procedures done occasionally at a medical spa.”

With so many options, it’s good to know where to invest my skincare dollars – and still keep my friends with the occasional savvy purchase.

Categories: Hip Mom