How much would you pay a syringe-wielding stranger to poke you right between the eyes? About $900 to $3,600 a year, say those who swear by injectable treatments like Botox. Once accessible only to celebrities and those pulling in six-figure salaries, fillers and neuromodulators have been democratized (they’re on Groupon, people), and it seems like everyone is going under the needle now — from twenty-something assistants to stay-at-home parents. Still, the expense of injectables is not insignificant, and affording them often requires some creative strategizing. As it turns out, how women budget for injectables — whether that’s through getting the cheapest Botox units in bulk or deleting Postmates to avoid the tempation to order in — is both varied and fascinating.
Read more: Here’s How To Help Your Injectable Filler Last Longer
There are two main categories of injectables with different price points: fillers and neuromodulators. “Fillers are used to address ‘static’ facial lines, or lines present when the face is at rest, and to volumize the face,” Dr. Darren Smith, a board-certified plastic surgeon based in New York, tells TZR. These include plumping treatments for the lips and cheeks, such as Juvéderm, and typically run between $600 and $1,200 per session.
“Neuromodulators are used to address ‘dynamic’ facial lines, or lines present when the face is in motion, by relaxing the muscles that pull on skin and cause lines and wrinkle to form,” he adds, noting that Botox can range from $10 to $25 per unit (anticipate the $19+ range in major cities), and it usually takes 20 units to cover a specific area of the face (such as the under-eye area) — so expect to pay a baseline fee of $200 to $500 per appointment if you’re going for just one thing.
Considering the fact that fillers and neuromodulators require upkeep every three to six months, it definitely adds up (though there are ways to help your injectables last longer). Still, women of all ages and backgrounds are more than happy to rebalance their budgets to incorporate injectables, because they work (and work almost immediately, at that). “Anti-aging beauty treatments make women feel beautiful and empowered, and that’s priceless — to me, at least,” Courtney Casgraux, the founder of GBY Beauty in Los Angeles, tells TZR.
Ahead, nine real women reveal tips on how to get the cheapest Botox and what exactly they spend on injectable beauty.
1. Book Botox Appointments Mid-Month
“Because I work in the beauty industry, I prioritize these types of services,” Marisa, 28, tells TZR of her regular Botox treatments. “I know my clients want to know about the latest and greatest methods and services to keep them looking their best, and I want to share these tips and tricks as well. Typically, I book these services in the middle of the month, to ensure I’m not getting too close to rent, just in case.”
2. Put Your Injectable Treatment On A Credit Card (& Get Those Points)
“I normally put the Botox sessions on my American Express card versus charging against a checking account with disposable income in it,” Catina, 35, tells TZR. “A charge like that will blow my bi-weekly budget, and the bi-weekly budget is for groceries, eating out, maybe a shirt or shoes here and there, and things like dog toys. So I do the AMEX for rewards, points, and a chance to delay the payment until payday. Plus, it’s not a super frequent occurrence. When the credit card bill is due, however, I do take it easy on shopping or eating out for that bi-weekly pay cycle.”
3. Delete Your Postmates App
“I definitely am more cognizant of spending leading up to a treatment — in my mind, getting Botox or getting lip injections is akin to an expensive haircut or facial here in LA, but with longer-lasting effects,” Taylor Osumi, a 28-year-old account manager in public relations, tells TZR. “I’ll be hyper-aware of these week-to-week transactions leading up to a treatment to minimize unnecessary purchases, like extra Lyft rides or too many Postmates deliveries.”
4. Opt For Fewer Botox Units
“Before I booked my first appointment, I assumed Botox was too expensive for me to afford — hello, student loan debt and crazy rent prices,” Sara Sharp, 30, of @offdutydiary, tells TZR. “I was really surprised to learn that the average cost ranges from about $9 to $16 per unit, at least where I’ve lived on the East Coast. The general rule is that each ‘area’ — forehead, glabella, crow’s feet — requires about 20 units if you want everything pretty well frozen or immobilized. But… you don’t have to do all areas, and you don’t have to do the full 20 units. I got eight units at $11 per unit. I remember being shocked, because $88 was less money than I might spend on some skin care and makeup products or a nice date.”
5. …Or Opt For More Botox Units To Get Discounts
“I only started getting Botox last year between my eyebrows and on my forehead,” Michelle, 25, tells TZR. “It is about $10 a unit, so I usually walk out paying $100 to $150 for the brows and forehead. The place I go to gives you a discount if you buy over a certain amount! I am definitely conscious of [the cost], but I’m pretty low-maintenance in general. I get keratin hair treatments two or three times a year using a Groupon, and I don’t really spend money on makeup, haircuts, or mani-pedis. I honestly feel like it is so worth the money for fewer headaches, too.”
6. Put A Little Money Away For Injectables Each Month
“I have gotten Botox and under-eye dermal fillers, like Restylane,” Casgraux says. “I spend about $800 quarterly. I try and save at least $100 dollars a month for beauty treatments — it’s something that I’m not ashamed of and stand by.”
7. Look For Brand Specials On Botox & Other Treatments
“For me, it’s less about budgeting and more about how I justify it — like telling myself I didn’t do a lot of shopping recently, and I also don’t usually get mani-pedis or fake lashes, which can all be pricey,” Mollie Meyer, 29, tells TZR. “Once I’m there, I usually get less units than they recommend because it’s cheaper and I like to have some movement in my face. There’s also usually a small price difference [between brands], or one of them is having a special, so that’s another way to save money with it.”
8. Skip The Facial That Month
“My Botox costs me approximately $350 every four or five months — I have it in my forehead and around my eyes,” Michaela, 44, tells TZR. “Lip injections I do every six to eight months, which costs $300. I held off last time because of budget and because it really hurts. When I get these treatments, I might have coffee at home instead of takeaway coffee, and I’ll skip my facial that month (which normally costs $150). I also use drugstore skin care products instead of high-end — I just can’t imagine not having my Botox and lips done.”
9. Buy Injectable Treatments In Bulk
“I’ve gotten Juvéderm Ultra in my lips, and I’ve been doing it about every six months for the last two years,” Abigail, 29, tells TZR. “Typically, I will buy a full syringe, which ranges from $400 to $600. I personally only use part of the syringe at a time, and I will have the office save the rest for future use. I’ll look at what I can cut back on to balance out that cost. For me, that’s typically another beauty treatment — like skipping a cut and color or gel manicures. Ultimately, I wouldn’t be getting a procedure I truly couldn’t afford, but balancing out other costs is definitely helpful.”
DON’T: Get The Cheapest Botox By Sacrificing Quality
As for how not to save? By compromising on reputable providers or blindly buying a discounted package. You may wonder why Botox is so expensive, but the truth is that the more experience someone has, the more they will charge for their services, and the more it will cost you (and be worth it). “I will only go to an actual plastic surgeon’s office, which is often a more expensive price point per unit, but I am a firm believer in ‘you get what you pay for,’” Catina says. “Literally if a wrong area is injected, the skin below could droop.”
“Don’t be fooled by highly discounted prices,” Elizabeth Bahar Houshmand, M.D., a double board-certified dermatologist based in Dallas, TX (and a provider and consumer of injectables herself), tells TZR — and always, always check for credentials. “The physician should be a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist or plastic surgeon using authentic products.”
This article was originally published on