There are no legal age restrictions in the UK on who can get Botox. That means vulnerable young women are being given doses of Botox for wrinkles that don’t exist. We sent Stylist’s Chloe Gray to investigate.
According to the Dove Global Girls Beauty and Confidence Report, 61% of 10 to 17-year-old girls in the UK have low self-esteem. Because of that 30% of young women would consider cosmetic procedures, with girls as young as 13 now seeking out Botox.
Of course, the idea that a woman of any age needs Botox is problematic. But beauty companies are capitalising off of teenage insecurities, offering them treatments that are both unnecessary and ethically wrong. surgeon Dr Dirk Kremer says he has seen a huge increase in teens and 20-somethings seeking help after using cheap fillers administered by often unqualified practitioners in a bid to look like their filtered photos. He’s now started a petition to make it illegal to give fillers to people under the age of 18.
I’m 23 but I always gets ID’d for looking under 18 and, as far as I can see, I don’t have any wrinkles. To dig deeper into the issue of teenage treatments, I hit the salons to see who questions my age or motives when it comes to asking for Botox.
All the salons said they’d give me the treatment. Some said I didn’t need to bring ID. Others told me, “if you get it in your eyebrows it will lift them”. One receptionist said I could do with “one or two areas” being lifted.
The main thing I noticed is that no one questioned why I wanted Botox. I can see why young girls are going in the salon and coming away feeling like it’s a really good idea, because no one is telling them they don’t need it.
So, we decided that I would pose as an 18-year-old to go for some consultations with the practitioners themselves to see if they would give me Botox treatment. I was nervous to go in, but interested to hear what they had to say, whether they ID me, whether they think I need it.
The good and the bad
The first appointment was with a nurse. She said that she didn’t think I needed the treatment, “You can have it done, you are able to have it done, but it’s not something I would suggest. I don’t think you should start messing around with your face at the moment” she said.
She seemed quite upset that I was even asking her to do that to my face. It seemed like she had an ethical boundry, and didn’t want to change the face of young people.
We couldn’t have had more of a polar opposite experience the second time round.
Firstly, because of my young face, he questioned whether I was over 16. When I told him I was 18 he said “she looks young, doesn’t she?”. Yet within seconds, he was offering my young face Botox.
He told me that some people prefer filler to raise the eyes. I asked him what was more popular with people my age. He replied: “Botox. I think you should have Botox.”
He gave me a break down of what to do that evening (no alcohol, no sun), as though I had agreed to the treatment already. “I think I need to think about it more, rather than get it done today” I replied.
He was very persuasive, he drew diagrams, kept telling me how good it would make me look, offered me loads of different options, and I don’t think I would have known how to say no if I was a vulnerable teenager.
Overall, the whole experience has left me very confused about the industry. On the one hand you’ve got people with a moral compass and that’s great. But on the other you’ve got people who are just in it for money. It shows why we need to regulate the market, to protect vulnerable young people.