Catherine Zeta-Jones did a Mumsnet webchat recently. ‘What’s the secret to your very youthful look?’ asked one grovelly questioner. You probably saw the reply because it was all over every paper. ‘I’ve been using some Argan oil just to saturate my skin at night,’ she said. ‘But the real hydration comes from within – you can never drink too much water.’
At least she didn’t say sleep – that’s the usual line they trot out. Why do you look so amazing, *insert name of model/actress here*? Why, because I have sleep and water. No one ever says it’s because they’ve got a face full of filler. The most they’ll admit to is, ‘I used to do it but I stopped.’
Well, call me late to the party but I just started. I had Botox for the first time in October. Don’t judge, I’d had a stressful year and had just turned 40 and – oh, go on, judge all you like, I don’t care. It was great and I’d have it again tomorrow in a heartbeat, were it not for the fact that it’s £300 a go and doesn’t last very long.
But one thing you realise the second you have Botox is that everyone else is having it too. Not everyone, obviously. But all those people you’ve ever thought, ‘He doesn’t look too wrinkly for 105,’ or ‘It’s not fair, why isn’t she ageing as quickly as me?’ That’s the Botox.
Yes, those women in Chelsea who look bat-shit crazy, they’re at it. But your friend who you’ve always thought was just blessed with great skin? She’s totally doing it. The mum friend who doesn’t look quite as done in as she did last month? Same. How do I know? OK, this isn’t an exact science – we’re not talking randomised control trials here – but if you ask them right out they’ll generally ‘fess up. And if they don’t, they’re totally lying. But there’s something about having it yourself that makes it much easier to tell.
You’ve got to be careful, granted. My theory is that you can have it 30 times and look great, but on the 31st you’re going to look like Michael Jackson in the Bad years. It’s like any addiction – you’ve got to keep upping the dose to get the same effect. But the woman who did mine (Dr Vicky Dondos – would totally recommend) reckons that those women who look, as Caitlin Moran so aptly put it, ‘like a ham tambourine’, actually want to look like that. The shiny-forehead/evil-eyebrow thing is, by all accounts, optional.
It’s not the effect I was going for, I must say. I don’t kid myself that it makes me look younger – it doesn’t. The 25-year-old hipsters outside my local pub don’t for a second think I’m one of them. But it does take away the haggardness that comes of six years without a full night’s sleep. Is that worth injecting your face with a substance that manages to combine the words botulism and toxin in its name? (You’ve got to admire the marketeers who overcame that little hurdle.) And is it worth £300 a pop?
Well, that depends how vain you are.
Personally, I think a little vanity at this stage of the game is a good thing – a public service, even. But if you’re doing everything – the hair, the nails, the face, the whole shebang – well, that takes time and you’re going to be no fun at all. So I’ve offset the Botox by not doing very much else – my hands and feet are a total shitshow.
And it’s my theory that it makes me easier to be around. For a start, it’s quite hard to do angry face, so everyone around you thinks you’ve really mellowed out. I no longer catch my reflection in the Tube window and need a drink. But sadly the effects wear off and before long you’re feeling like Cinderella at five to midnight. At which point it’s back to being a sour-faced old cow again.
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