It wasn't until I went under the needle that I realised how much of an effect my expression lines were having on my confidence, and how great I'd feel afterwards...
I've always had one of those faces that cannot possibly hide a single emotion that I feel. If you want to know if I like or don't like something, just look at me - it's right there, for the world to see.
As a result of expressing every waking feeling I have through my face, I had developed very defined and obvious expression lines on my forehead by the time I was about 21. Multiple lines, six or seven, that ran right the width of my forehead. Not subtle in any way, I was fairly embarrassed by them and absolutely hated having my picture taken as a result.
In my media career, pictures are unavoidable. Front-facing camera chats on Instastories are part and parcel. Make-up applications by way of review, the norm. TV and radio (the stream live inside those studios, you know) is a regular feature.
Something else that is conveniently part of my job is trialling the latest and greatest in skincare, which I did consistently. I tried every lotion and cream and gel and serum available, all to try to reduce the visibility of these expression lines. But they were deep and unrelenting, no matter what I tried. And reader, as an aside, I am nowhere near cool or bone-structured enough to pull off a fringe.
The decision to go for a Botox consultation came after months of agonising. Am I too young for Botox, at 28? Am I rushing into it? Am I going to end up with a frozen face, unable to make the expressions I so enjoy making? But the truth was, those lines were really getting me down. They were etching away at my confidence. They were holding me back in my work. My skin used to be one of the few physical aspects of myself I knew I could rely on to be decent - and now I didn't even have that.
The final push came when I was asked to do a TV appearance that would've been a massive career boost. I cried for an hour before turning it down because I was too self-conscious about my face. So with that, I did some research, asked around, and decided The Mulrooney Clinic in Dublin 4 was where I'd try first - I'd heard only good things, and when it comes to your face, you don't want to mess around.
Dr Katherine Mulrooney could not have been nicer and more understanding. She told me that from my eyebrows down, my skin was 20. I beamed with pride. But from my brows up? I knew myself, I looked three decades older than my age.
Two weeks later
In this side by side I have make-up on in both, and neither are filtered - just different levels of sunlight.
I remember telling my best friend that I'd gotten it done. Her first reaction? "You don't need Botox!" Then, I showed her the before and after picture. Her reaction said it all - she looked impressed and I could tell that she hadn't realised quite how advanced my lines had become. That's a nice thought, of course, that I noticed more than anyone else. But there's no one I spend more time with than myself, so I was still delighted I had gone through with it.
The procedure itself
For anyone worried, or who hasn't experienced Botox before, the procedure itself is totally fine, and there's lots of research you can do online before you decide to go for it. They numb your forehead and inject you quickly and efficiently, only in the areas you need it. It takes very little time and doesn't require downtime. About two weeks later, it'll have fully taken effect and you get a check up to make sure you're happy.
I was very specific that I wanted a very light touch, and that was adhered to completely. In fact, two weeks later after it settled in, no one actually knew I had gone through with getting it until I told them. Although I did get lots of "your skin looks amazing!" comments, which I was so relieved about. I finally had the confidence in my skin that I'd craved since those lines appeared, and now at 31, I get a little top-up every 9 months or so, just to keep the lines at bay. I know I'll age around my eyes and the rest of my face soon, and that's something I'm okay with.
A totally personal choice
If Botox is something you're considering, know that whatever your choice is, it's personal and yours to make. If it's something you love doing, if it makes you feel good, more power to you. Equally, if you'd rather embrace those expression lines and stick to serums, brilliant. Our faces and bodies are our own, and I know having Botox gave me the confidence I needed to lose my fear of cameras and move forward in my career.