It seems that a year and a bit of staring at ourselves during Zoom calls has had an impact on our self-esteem, because the appetite for injectables has never been stronger. Everyone I meet seems to be talking about what “tweakments” they’re going for, and even the somewhat jarring appearance of the men from Friends in the imagery for their reunion hasn’t put people off. Whether it’s anti-wrinkle injections or a bit of filler, what was once taboo seems to be widely accepted now.
I myself got my first bit of Botox last summer. I’d been thinking about it for a while. Largely, I’m not bothered about ageing. I’m happy to be alive and to have made it this far. Part of me is living for the day when I reach an age where I reject the idea of traditional beauty entirely (I can feel it edging closer, to be honest). However, there were some deep lines across my forehead that had begun to haunt me in every photo, and the knowledge that I could easily get rid of them was hard to ignore.
Of course, as a feminist, I debated it. Why are we so upset by ageing? Why is a well-earned crevice across the face unattractive? The answer is simple. It’s the patriarchy, obv. The capitalist patriarchy is responsible for all of our beauty standards. If women feel like they’re not enough as they are, they’ll stay in their place, and while they’re at it, they’ll spend loads of money trying to make themselves feel better. As Glennon Doyle writes, “A very effective way to control women is to convince women to control themselves”.
I would argue that most of my engagement with “beauty” is about creativity and fun, but I can’t pretend that Glennon doesn’t have a point. However, it’s interesting that this internal debate was only really triggered by Botox, when covering your greys or applying anti-ageing skincare has the same thing at its root. As my friend Jen pointed out, it’s only when you introduce needles that people start questioning your motives. Does our desire to look fresh and beautiful stem from problematic ideals about a woman’s place in the world? Yes. Did I get the Botox anyway? Also yes.
It was done in minutes. The pain was barely worth mentioning. A few weeks later, the crevices I disliked had softened and I got on with my life. No big deal. Ten months later, my face is au naturel, but soon I’ll pop back in to the lovely doctor in Ranelagh and once again a bit of my face will stop moving. I’m looking forward to it.
If you’re going to take the plunge for the first time, be sure to do your research. Go to a doctor who has the required anatomical understanding of the functions of the face. You’re getting something injected into your face — it’s worth the extra few quid to pay an expert. Keep in mind that the results won’t show for a couple of weeks, so time it appropriately. If you can bring yourself to, be honest about it. It would be great if we could all tell the truth about what we’re doing to make ourselves look great so that we might have more realistic expectations of ourselves. I’m looking at you, Jennifer Aniston (apparently her youthful looks are down to drinking lots of water and getting enough sleep).
If you’re not into it, there is no cream that will have the same effect, but retinol is the closest you’ll get to diminishing wrinkles and fine lines via skincare. These topical vitamin A-based products amp up the production of collagen, which helps plump the skin.
It’s best to start with a low percentage and gradually introduce it into your routine, with something like The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane (€9.50, arnotts.ie). The squalane acts as a buffer, making the formula gentle.
Pestle & Mortar’s Superstar Retinol Night Oil (€76, pestleandmortar.com) is a gentle, luxurious product, to be applied last as part of your nightly skincare routine.
If you think you can take something stronger, try Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Treatment (€60, spacenk.com), one of the most powerful available without prescription.
It’s normal for skin to be a little irritated and flaky for a few weeks after introducing retinol. Make sure you’re moisturising well, and gradually ease into regular use.
Instagram phenomenon and makeup artist Keilidh Cashell has added cream products to her arsenal at Kash Beauty. Sculpt Sticks (€18.95, or €54.95 for three at kashbeauty.com) come in nine shades, three each of bronzer, blush and highlighter. They are incredibly creamy, blending easily into the skin with a finger, brush or sponge, and very handy for throwing into your handbag. (They’re a thing again, you know, handbags!)
Monart in Co Wexford is the spa I’ve been dreaming of during this year of no spas, and I’d say it’s been the spa of many other people’s dreams too. The hotel itself, which opened in 2005, is beautiful, spacious and relaxing. Guests are encouraged to wear robes everywhere except the restaurant. The spa is roomy and a fine space to float around for a few hours, with treatments available using Pevonia Botanica and Image Skincare, both ranges with an emphasis on botanicals.
Adare Manor isn’t exactly new, but the 111Spa/Clinic at Adare Manor is. The new spa brings skincare brand 111Skin to its clients, and I can’t wait to check it out. 111Skin was developed by husband-and-wife team Dr Yannis Alexandrides, a cosmetic surgeon, and Eva Alexandridis, the branding brain. Fans of the brand include Victoria Beckham, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and the aforementioned Jennifer Aniston. Their products are good, and this collaboration between Adare and 111 is bound to be super luxe.