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prof-beauty-sm“Clients say they want a natural look – small injections to make the skin look fresher”

Dr Dan Dhunna

In August 2009, X Factor judge and former pop star Dannii Minogue revealed she would not be having Botox anymore, blaming lack of facial expression for this decision.

Geri Halliwell told the Daily Mail that procedure “gave her a sore head” in April, and Daily Mail beauty journalist Sally Brampton said it left her looking “like a Neanderthal” two months later.

Meanwhile, stateside supermodel Cindy Crawford told US Weekly she tried Botox but it “scared” her in July this year, and Martin Scorcese complained he couldn’t find an actress older than 35 who could “do anger”.

The media’s backlash against Botox has been going on for over a year now. In the early Noughties, the procedure was a clandestine activity for celebrities and civilians alike, performed under a cloak of secrecy. Then, as the decade continued it became more socially acceptable, as some of those in the limelight with suspiciously smooth faces admitted that Botox was literally their poison.

However, ongoing criticism made by commentators, columnists, bloggers and the general public sounded the death knell for honesty when it comes to Botox. As a result, celebrities are claiming to have abandoned the procedure, criticising its effects in the process.

In our star-obsessed society, damnation can have as much effect as endorsement. GP and aesthetic practitioner Dr Dan Dhunna says: “I can’t say my business has changed when it comes to figures, but people do read these magazines and they do have an effect. Negative coverage of Botox draws it to our attention and asks us to have an opinion?’

Like Dhunna, many practitioners have not reported a drop in profit as the so-called backlash continues. Harley Medical Group says the procedure is still its second most popular treatment, while Court House Clinics reported July was its best month yet.

Dr Danielle Meagher, clinical director of Court House’s London clinics, says Botox is “here to stay”. She adds: “When it comes to celebrities having an influence, it really depends who .your patients are. But our clientele are intelligent women in their 30s and 40s who are not going to be led by celebrity!’

Meanwhile, Jackie Glen, director of Dermal Clinic, which provides noninvasive aesthetic procedures in 53 salons, clinics and spas across Scotland, says demand is “through the roof”. “Botox is absolutely huge and that’s across the board in all of our locations;’ she says. “Clients come from all walks of life and it’s not a treatment that’s just for celebrities anymore.”

Reports that business is booming in the aesthetics sector is encouraging for the beauty industry as a whole. However, that is not to say Botox and how it is administered has not changed since the backlash began. Baby Botox or Botox Light is now the top choice for celebrities looking for a three-month wrinkle concealer, and this trend has filtered down to the masses. The natural look Glen says: “More people are having small amounts of the product injected to soften the face. Also, we have noticed people coming in at a younger age for the procedure to prevent lines from developing?’

Dhunna has also noticed a change. He says: “I still get clients who ask for the full freeze, but in general they say they want a natural look – small injections to make the skin look fresher, rejuvenated and dewy?’

Plastic surgeon Dr Vik Vijh thinks the natural look is the way the industry is going, but says the amount of Botox administered still depends on the client and their preferred aesthetic. “Different clients want different
things;’ he says. “I had a text from a client a couple of weeks ago thanking me for making her face look ‘as tight as a rabbit’s arse’.

“The WAGs always want that type of look. They want their face to be completely tight and wrinkle-free. “But lots of celebrities want a natural look. I had one guy who works in TV who came in and told me he had done a photo shoot and couldn’t use any of the pictures because his face looked completely frozen and expressionless?’ Vijh, who has several celebrity clients, was recently filmed injecting Botox into Pineapple Dance Studios star choreographer and dancer Louie Spence. He recalls: “One thing he kept saying to me on can1era was, ‘Don’t make me look frozen’. I do a few guys
from TV and they all say they don’t want me to freeze their face. They are very specific about what they want.

“The secret to good results with Botox is lots of little injections?’

With celebrities under 24-hour paparazzi surveillance and most filming for TV and cinema done in high definition, botched Botox jobs are constantly in the public eye. And the industry blames lack of regulation for
these procedures going wrong. Vijh says: “Every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks he can administer it. People need to go to plastic surgeons because we know where every muscle is and we know where to inject the client. You can’t just blanket-bomb the forehead.”

Reputable businesses

Flipside PR director Lynne Thomas has been working with clients in the aesthetics industry for 10 years and says reminding the public that there are conscientious businesses in this area is the best way to counter Botox’s bad image. “In our industry we go with the flow when there is negative reportage on Botox, and just emphasise the importance of attending a qualified practitioner who works in a clinical environment,” she says. “Highlighting the good clinics with high standards is one of the best ithings we can do.” Thomas adds that part of the reason for Botox’s bad reputation is that it is often blamed for an aesthetic it did not produce. “Celebrities don’t just have Botox. They have fillers and in some cases surgery. To blame the way they look all on Botox is ludricrous;’ she says.

With many experts pronouncing that consumers’ desire to grow old gracefully is a myth, it seems Botox will continue to be a best-seller on the treatment menu, whether the client wants a natural aesthetic or a WAG tight forehead. However, for new clients who want the procedure but fear for the worst, communication is key to getting the best results.

As Vijh says: “The main thing is to talk to clients and ask what they want. Each time a client comes to me I ask them this, if they were happy with the results before and if they would prefer more or less this time?’

So while your clients won’t be putting Botox providers out of business just yet, it seems you really do need to know their poison.