Why, At 26, Can I Not Stop Thinking About Botox?


In June, during a tense holiday to Greece with someone who is now my ex, I turned 26. While it’s not a birthday that’s considered to be any sort of milestone, it was one I felt keenly all the same – perhaps because I ended up spending it alone in an Athens bar, sinking cheap beer after cheap beer.

As I left the first half of my twenties behind, and squeezed into the ever-tightening gap before I reach 30, I couldn’t stop myself from ruminating on the years I’ll never be refunded as I sat at that bar: from the dead-end, dramatic relationships I could never bring myself to leave, to the time I wasted worrying, instead of actually going out into the world and living. Then, I looked in the mirror. 

What can I tell you? I suppose tourist trap drinking holes are not known for their flattering lighting, but in the dim glare of a subterranean toilet cubicle, I had a rude awakening. While I felt I had little to show for my wasted years, here was proof the time had imprinted itself indelibly on my skin. From the creases on my forehead growing deeper by the day, to the smile lines snaking their way around my cheeks, I began to realise that I couldn’t take my semi-youthful appearance for granted anymore. Suddenly, I had a new thing to obsess over: Botox.

While I’ve never been one for needles (I am tattoo-free as a result), I found myself quickly scrolling through Google, doing the mental calculations to see if I could justify the cost of a trip to the aesthetician. I even contemplated sending a Cadogan Clinic link to my ex and asking them to foot the bill – after all, their mixed signals had definitely been the cause of a few of the more stubborn lines I was now struggling to ignore. But was I being too hasty? I’d always been under the impression that – at least outside of the worlds of fashion, celebrity or Love Island – getting Botox before the age of 40 would be seen as an extreme step, an unnecessary vanity. 

Apparently not. As Dr Sophie Shotter, founder of Illuminate Skin Clinic, explains, my age group is becoming more and more open to a touch of Botox. “We’ve had a big increase in patients in their mid-twenties onwards,” she explains. “We know that millennials and also Gen Z-ers are very aware of aesthetic treatments, and also very proactive about looking their best and prepared to invest in this.”

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