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The surprising effect of my lockdown-imposed Botox detox


By Kellie Billings
28th Jan 2022
The surprising effect of my lockdown-imposed Botox detox

I'm eschewing my beloved Botox in favour of a new generation of eye creams so I can reclaim a full spectrum of motherly facial expressions, writes Kellie Billings.

I don’t iron, but have to admit to owning three of the damned things.

I think that’s the definition of ironing irony.

Actually, the three irons belong to my husband, henceforth lovingly referred to as Straight Guy with a Queer Eye. He has always been so particular about his clothing that he refuses to allow anyone else smoothen his precious shirts. Nobody does it better than he, apparently, a fallacy that this lazy wife is very willing to perpetuate. He has a normal one, a steam one and a hand-held one.

He is the only person I know that has ever used one of those hotel room trouser presses. I never even knew what they were until I met him.

I purposefully buy clothing for my three girls in fabrics that do not require any ironing. In our house Mother has once again lowered family standards by implementing a three-step laundry  system that works for all with the exception of Straight Guy: washing machine, dryer, wardrobe. Simple. Unfortunately for me, Number Two has recently become a little more fussy since becoming a tweenager with fashion influencer aspirations. Seems she takes after Straight Guy in being a little more particular about her accoutres. Sure she’d have to be to stand any chance of making it on Tiktok.

“Why are my clothes always so crinkly?,” she grumbled from the back seat of the car the other morning. “Hmmmmmm?”, I absent-mindedly responded hoping to placate the difficult middle one with a non-committal answer that would not end with me adding to my daily workload. Plus, my head was filled with thoughts of my looming 40th birthday. In an admittedly very first world problem, I was trying to decide whether this milestone is something to be celebrated or lamented when the big day actually arrives later this month.

“You know, crinkly like your face,” she snapped back.

Crinkly like my WHAT? The air was immediately sucked out of the car. It was a slap to the wrinkles. Number One stopped what she was doing in the passenger seat and looked at her crinkly old mom with her mouth agape to see how I would react. She was anticipating trouble. She never would have dared say something like that. Number Two had actually gone there.

I looked at her in the rear-view. She had a half smile, half grimace on her face, delighted with herself for pushing parental boundaries while simultaneously terrified of the pending consequences.

She had a point, albeit a sore one for her mother. Unfortunately for her, it had been so long since I had had Botox that she could actually see the anger on my recently knittable brow. I was angry and she knew it.

Fearing the very real prospect of losing her Fri-yay! sweet treat, Number Two began to furiously backpedal. “But I like all of your wrinkles. I especially love the way your eyes disappear when you laugh,” she said, digging an even bigger hole for herself. “It makes me happy to see you looking so happy.”

So Number Two loves my wrinkles and how they make me look happy. That makes me sad, but not for the reasons you might think.

I have been having Botox injections for most of her short life, for the past eight or nine years in fact. She must have barely seen on my face how happy she makes me….and she makes me SO happy that I can’t help but smile when I think of her.

I love her beautiful face, sky-blue eyes, full lips, cheeky smile and her ingenious ways of scheming sugar out of adults. When I say sugar, I don’t just mean sugary treats, I mean pure sugar. I can’t tell you the amount of times I have caught her with her little hand in the sugar bowl in the local café. The waitress now knows to take the bowl off the table when she sees us come in.

My dalliance with Botox began not long after I had quit breastfeeding my second daughter. I was run ragged with a small toddler and a baby. I looked every one of my 30-something years and felt 10 years older. Once I stopped feeding, I wanted to reclaim a little bit of my old self and thought that maybe I could go for a tweakment or two. My journey brought me to Dr Mukesh Lalloo’s office on the recommendation of my sisters-in-law. He suggested some Botox and a touch of filler.

The filler was not for me, but I loved how the Botox refreshed my face. From then on, I was hooked. I had regular injections in three places: between my brows, on my forehead and at the corners of my eyes. The Botox lifted and smoothed the entire area. Botox revolutionised the beauty industry when it was first introduced some 15 years ago. It was a revelation for me. Then came COVID.

I went on a bit of an detox during lockdown. No, I wasn’t sent to rehab, but rather had to endure an enforced detox from my Botox habit thanks to anti-ageing procedures being deemed a “luxury”. The wrinkle revealing process had me so devastated that I retoxed on rosé. That’s my excuse anyway. I had forgotten what it feels like to have a face to match my emotions, and let's face it, weren’t we all miserable in lockdown?

Forced to look for an alternative, I discovered a whole world of eye creams that have come a long way over the past decade or so. Indeed, serums are the new creams and they are so much better than the older, thicker formulations. The new ones sink into the skin rather than just sit on it. Many contain active ingredients, such as a retinoid, which are clinically proven to not just improve the “appearance” of a line or wrinkle, but also the structure.

They are no Botox, but are a pretty good alternative that allow the user to still express a full range of emotions, to include precious, elusive happiness while simultaneously softening the appearance and severity of the line or wrinkle.

Number Two must not know how incredibly, beyond happy she makes me if my face has
been frozen to smooth perfection for most of her short life.
Yes, I love Botox and hate wrinkles, but, for now at least, refuse to have my ‘crinkles’ ironed out with Botox.

Now, maybe that’s a better definition of ironing irony.

Take 5 …Retinol Eye Creams

Murad Retinol Youth Renewing Eye Serum, €82, SpaceNK
Infused with nutrient rich marine kelp the fast acting retinoid works to lift, firm and visibly
brighten dark circles

Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Line Erasing Eye Cream, €60, department stores
A multi-benefit cream using the undisputed power of retinol to resurface and help
erase fine lines whilst replenishing ceramides restore the skins barrier

Kiehl’s Youth Dose Eye Treatment, €41, Kiehl’s stores, department stores
Formulated with pro-retinol, grape seed extract and brightening Vitamin C this
lightweight cream is amazing at brightening and smoothing the under-eye area

No.7 Pure Retinol Eye Cream, €29.95, Boots
The addition of Shea butter means this lightweight cream soothes and hydrates as well as
effectively smoothing fine lines and reducing puffiness

La Roche Posay Redermic Retinol Eye Cream €30.95, pharmacies
Suitable for even the most sensitive skin the minimalist formula combats visible signs of
ageing and fatigue, whilst sculpting the eye area for a luminous refreshed look