This article originally appears in our May 2016 issue.
WHAT IT IS:
Botulinum toxin type A, the popular neurotoxin that, when injected in the face, will reduce muscle movement and improve the appearance of wrinkles.
$500 to $2,500, depending on how many areas are treated.
WHAT I EXPECTED:
My face and I are expressive. Like, borderline Ace Ventura. Emoting is kind of our thing. Whether or not I’m in an actual gym-going phase, my eyebrows are always getting a workout, with my signature move being a dramatic left brow raise. But wearing my feelings on my face for 31 years has earned me nearly a dozen horizontal lines on my forehead, which makes me look several years older than I actually am. A few shots of botulinum toxin will chill out the muscles underneath those rows and make me look my age again, I hope…or possibly like a frozen-faced middle-aged circus act. No matter the result, I vow to try it just this once.
WHAT IT’S ACTUALLY LIKE:
Dermatologist Robert Anolik, MD, agrees with my assessment that I am indeed extremely expressive and that Botox could refresh my look. The forehead lines, however, are not his main concern. "You’re definitely developing some creases at the corners of your eyes, and you’re definitely getting some creases right between the eyebrows," he says. "The deep lines in those areas will make you look older or more tired or stressed. It’s nice to soften the forehead lines if we can effectively, and we often can. But you just don’t want to freeze those entirely, because then you’ll look completely artificial. I want you to be able to look in the mirror and still be able to raise your eyebrows." I hadn’t realized that I was in the early stages of carving out a coin slot between my eyebrows, but I suppose this is the time to go the preventive route. Give me the whole enchilada, please, I tell him.
I decline the numbing agent, both in the interest of time and because I want to know what it feels like to have toxins funneled into your face via a tiny needle. But the actual injections, of which there seem to be about two dozen across my various target zones, are-gloriously-underwhelming. Each prick feels about as painful as an eyebrow tweeze. As Anolik shoots up my problem areas, he explains the mechanics of Botox: that I could have some minor bruising; that I shouldn’t exercise, bend over, or lie down for the next four hours; that it will kick in in about a week; and that it will last three to four months.
Five days later, I can hardly frown, and I love it. As Anolik promised, I can move my brows up and down, but bringing them together in a frown is all but impossible-when I try, I kind of rear back, mustering all the forehead power I can, only to show a few minor bumps. My forehead is now the land of the smooth. And because I look well-rested, I look younger and generally serene. Though I am sure the outcome appears as natural as it is gorgeous, I’m so amazed and excited by it all that I don’t let anyone I know come to this conclusion themselves: To everyone who will listen, I am compelled to reveal my not-so-secret secret key to the fountain of youth. "Have I told you? I got Botox! I love it!" These people all nicely tell me that I look great but not so different. Some, likely out of misplaced politeness, tell me I look exactly the same-though I know they are lying and/or just not very observant. About a month into Project Botox, I plop into the chair of my hair colorist, Greg, on a Friday evening. "Well, I see we’ve gotten Botox, haven’t we," he declares matter-of-factly. How can he tell?! He looks at faces all day, he explains. "Well, it’s really good Botox, don’t you think?" I say, feeling defensive. Sure, he agrees, but to his highly trained eye it still looks like Botox. For about 12 hours after the appointment, I vow to stick to my pledge of only trying Botox once, at least until I’m older. Then, the next morning, my boyfriend proposes and I say yes-we’re engaged! By Sunday, I am planning a wedding. And on Monday, I’m dialing up Dr. Anolik.