Since we first went into lockdown, almost a year ago, our beauty regimes have taken a battering. Any treatments we would normally outsource to a professional have been largely abandoned or postponed. And the enforced time at home has exposed our insatiable appetite for on-demand everything, with a rise in women resorting to illicit injectable treatments.
It’s taken us different times to get to our personal ‘arrrgh!’ points. For me, it came when I looked in the mirror and was shocked to see how dominant my frown lines had become. I knew what I needed: an appointment with Dr Michael Prager, the cosmetic doctor with a glossy, state-of- the-art clinic in Beauchamp Place, who has sprinkled my furrowed brow with a touch of Botox for four years. But he wasn’t taking appointments, nobody was; at that point in lockdown 1.0, all ‘non-essential’ aesthetic treatments were off the cards. For the interim I had to put up with it. Admittedly, this wasn’t a bad idea; worrying about my lines was far more palatable than worrying about the end of the world. But, it turns out, others were not so willing to delay.
The Demand For Injectables In Lockdown
Over the past year, some have chosen to ignore the lockdown rules and opt in for backdoor injectables. ‘Every day I get around a dozen people messaging or emailing me to get treatments done,’ says Dr Ahmed El Muntasar, an aesthetic practitioner who also works on the NHS frontline. ‘Some people have even offered to pay me double the usual rate. Any reputable provider will not accept clients during lockdown, which of course then opens up the doors for the rogue back-alley practitioners to scoop up these people.’
Even more worryingly (and incredibly dangerous), is the increase in demand for DIY versions of these treatments. Given my experiments with at-home pedicures and bikini waxes (both disastrous), this was an absolute no-go for someone as heavy-handed as me. The idea that I could recreate DrPrager’s lightly transformative touch at home is as ridiculous as thinking my amateur lockdown baking attempts will earn me a Michelin star.
The Risk With Backdoor Injectables
In the last lockdown I had a patient who bought hyaluronic acid fillers online and self-administered them”
The potential problems with taking the backdoor route are more than aesthetic, however. For starters, there’s a health and safety risk – not just personally (if someone is willing to ignore the rules, what other risks are they going to be taking?) but publicly. There’s a lockdown for a reason.
25% of my bookings were to correct botched injectable jobs”
Unsurprisingly, many of these jobs have gone wrong. ‘In the last lockdown I had a patient who bought hyaluronic acid fillers online and self-administered them,’ says Dr Maryam Zamani, oculoplastic surgeon and founder of MZ Skin. ‘Unfortunately, she injected into or compressed the vascular supply to her lip, causing tissue necrosis. I had to dissolve the filler as a matter of urgency.’ Dr Prager reports having to fix wonky brows and uneven foreheads. ‘After the first lockdown, around 25% of my bookings were to correct botched injectable jobs,’ says Dr El Muntasar. ‘The risks aren’t just unsightly lumps and bumps appearing – it can be so much more dangerous and, in extreme cases, life threatening.’
Best Skincare Products To Boost Skin Health During Lockdown
For those desperate to get tweakments, skincare can help; Dr Zamani’s MZ Skin line includes Brightening & Hydrating Eye Ampoules, £155, while Dr Prager’s Urban Protect Antioxidant Serum, £90, is collagen-boosting for smoother skin. Dr Tracy Mountford, of the Cosmetic Skin Clinic, suggests investing in high-grade skincare, including retinol products (try No7 Advanced Retinol 1.5% Complex Night Concentrate, £20) and antioxidants like a vitamin C serum (La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C 10 Serum, £38, works wonders), alongside something far simpler: ‘Self-care, what we know is generally good for us, is vitally important; trying to achieve eight hours sleep a night, minimising alcohol, drinking water with a good diet and regular exercise – all these play their part in skin health.’
Of course, none of these is a quick fix. Perhaps it’s unreasonable to think the last year’s enforced moments of pause are going to result in grand prophecies. But what it can do is make us slow down and, if not ‘find ourselves’, then at least get a little bit better acquainted. (And for the record, I did make an appointment with Dr Prager as soon as I could again.) Waiting a little bit longer for something you want can be more transformative than any injection.