Botox has been around for a long time -- long enough that it's regarded as a normal, not-so-crazy procedure. Once associated with Beverly Hills housewives, Botox is now a procedure that someone you know probably gets -- or maybe you've considered yourself.
While Botox (and other injectibles like Dysport and Xeomin) might not raise eyebrows, the practice of "preventative Botox" -- injecting Botox into areas before wrinkles form, rather than as an anti-aging measure -- still does.
But, according to New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe, MD, getting Botox in your 20s and 30s ultimately prevents you from requiring more invasive procedures later. Many women balk at getting Botox so early, instead resolving to get it "one day" -- meaning their 40th, 50th or 60th birthday. But Bowe says that only guarantees your wrinkles will require even more TLC (read: fillers, lasers and injections) down the road.
So how early is too early for Botox? We asked Bowe to assess the expression lines of our beauty editors, ages 22 to 41, to figure out the best age to get Botox.
In Your Early 20s
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, women in their 20s make up 30 percent of Botox users -- a statistic Bowe sees reflected in her patients.
For those in their early 20s, Bowe typically doesn't recommend injections for wrinkles, but she does use Botox to improve facial symmetry (a droopy brow, for instance). While no face is perfectly symmetrical, symmetry is one of the biggest factors in attractiveness.
Diagnosis: For our 22-year-old staffer Amanda (at right), the first and only thing Bowe zeroes in on are her "angry 11s" -- the lines between the eyebrows resulting from furrowing the brow. You can barely see them here (we sent Bowe painfully high-resolution images of our faces), but Bowe says they're an indicator of wrinkles to come.
Treatment: Because of her young age and because these aren't "etched-in" lines (deep wrinkles apparent when the face is expressionless), Bowe says she wouldn't recommend Botox -- yet.
In Your Mid-20s
While Bowe says most people in their early- and mid-20s don't need Botox, it can be a way to discourage the kind of dramatic expressions that lead to permanent wrinkles. She compares it to putting a cast on a broken arm or leg -- if you can't move it, your body has the chance to repair it. Plus, the patient learns to relax it more often.
Diagnosis: According to Bowe, 24-year-old Allie, shown here, doesn't yet need preventative Botox, but Bowe can point out areas where she may need it in the future.
"She has one vertical crease between her eyebrows. Most people have two, but her facial structure and expression habits have created just one. I can also tell she is someone who will struggle with under-eye issues." Her thin skin and fair complexion means sun damage (aka wrinkles) will show up right away.