Facing 40

Friday, 20 March 2009 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I'm turning 40 this year. Not for several months yet, but it will come before the year is out indeed. I feel pretty good about 40: I can run faster than I could ten years ago, I'm a better skier, and I dare say I love the dash of wisdom that comes with experience.

And it’s a relief to no longer need to please everyone. I don’t like camping. My half hour every morning with tea and the newspaper is sacred so don’t bug me while I’m reading. I like cheesy chick-flicks. I eat red meat. I drink wine. I know what to do if I get lost in a foreign city. And if I had a boyfriend, I would no longer need to win his mother’s approval. Who cares about my dwindling portfolio – that’s what I call freedom.

But with age also comes a few wrinkles. Those I don’t like as much as the freedom of knowing who I am. I know it’s not cool to admit that it bothers me – a little – that my crow’s feet are creeping closer and closer to the brackets around my mouth, but it does (a little).

And despite religiously slathering on the sunscreen, even in the dreary doldrums of winter, I have the odd sunspot, which looks nothing like the cute little freckles I had as a kid. And if you’re my age or older, you may notice a few little red veins around your nose or cheek. Mother Nature, have you no mercy???

And then there’s my neck. I used to like my neck. It’s long. But now there is this funny loosening happening all the way down its front and it’s all starting to sag. It’s worse the morning after I’ve had more than two glasses of wine.

Am I obsessing? If I am, I’m not alone. My dermatologist says the neck is now one of the top areas of concern for his patients. And his practice is growing exponentially.

The good news, of course, is there’s a lot to be done about some of the above “concerns”. From lasers to injections, the field of non-invasive cosmetic procedures is vast. And what’s really exciting is that many of the treatments actually work, which is a lot more than I can say for the multitude of lies and rip-offs for sale at the drugstore.

The area of products and procedures that sits between the beauty counter and a visit to a plastic surgeon is still new, and perhaps that’s why some treat it as hush-hush – like going off to get a face lift. But the whole point is that they’re non-invasive treatments. Is it really any different than having your hair coloured?

Here are a few treatments I’ve tried:

Intense Pulse Light
Treats brown sun spots and veins. It takes about 20 minutes while they run a laser wand a few times over your face (or wherever you’re having it done) and around four sessions to see optimal results, but after two treatments I can see some improvement. You need to wear protective eye shields as a bright light flashes with each pulse and it feels like rubber bands snapping against your skin, so be prepared for a bit of discomfort. Personally, I find it extremely uncomfortable.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I rate this one a 6 for effectiveness, but I’m going back for two more treatments so I’m hopeful that rating will improve.

Its goal is to improve facial and body tightening by using radio-frequency technology to stimulate new collagen growth, which reduces the signs of aging. It is said to be useful for patients who have mild to moderate sagging and the claim is that it’s a proactive treatment to help prevent further sagging. The session lasts about 2 hours and it takes 4 to 6 months to see results, which are moderate at best.

I also rate this treatment a 6 out of 10 as I’m not sure I can see any change, but I like the idea that it’s a preventative procedure. And there have been several studies showing this technology does provide modest improvement.

Injectables (Or in other words, Botox.)
Yes, I know it’s poison, but I fail to understand why Botox is routinely frowned upon. Botox is also used to treat excessively sweaty hands and armpits and no one bats an eye at that.

Peroxide-based hair colour? No problem! Toxic fumes wafting from the salon where you’re having your fake nails adhered and your toes covered with toxic paint? Bring it on.

Botox has an excellent track record and it works like nothing else I have ever seen, yet this is the one cosmetic treatment people just plain lie about. We all talk about the others, the nails, the hair, the lasers. Why not Botox? Just because you get the odd shot of Vitamin B (as it’s lovingly known), does not a Nicole Kidman you make!

For some reason, mention the word Botox and people go to extremes to deny it. I was at a dinner party recently and the woman in her 40s next to me said that she’d recently been asked for ID when buying cigarettes. The boy behind the counter reportedly asked her if she’d had “any work done, like Botox”. Definitely not, she cooed to me, taking a deep drag of her Marlborough Lite. Now, I know some people are just plain lucky when it comes to aging, but nothing will give you old wrinkled skin faster than smoking. I was sitting very close, and her forehead was suspiciously smooth.

It’s a fact: Botox is one of the most popular aesthetic procedures done in the world today. So even though we all deny it, SOMEONE’S getting it done.

The first time I tried Botox I was floored. I just wanted those deepening railroads between my eyes addressed. It took five minutes and I barely felt a thing. Two days later, the lines had vanished. Poof. Six months later they came back, but much less so. Yes it’s vain, but what’s the difference between this and the more socially acceptable fancy face cream that promises the same result but doesn’t deliver? I no longer spend money on those expensive face creams. SPF everyday and a little Botox once a year and I come out ahead looking a teensy bit younger doing it.

I rate Botox a solid 9 out of 10. It’s like magic.

If you decide to try Botox (or other injectables like Juvaderm or Restylane), be absolutely sure you go to a professional who comes recommended because it’s something of an art. I recently saw a poster on a bus shelter for a dentist offering Botox injections. Do not go to the dentist for Botox!

I’m still waiting for the geniuses who invented Botox to come up with a solution for my neck. I’ve heard Fraxel might help, but based on the pictures I’ve seen, I’m not convinced. Plus it involves several days of down time. My collection of turtlenecks is growing.

And in closing, please note that the photos on this page have been touched up.

Have you got non-invasive treatment recommendations? I’d love to hear them. Post your comments below.


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  • Charlotte Baynham

    What a great post Anna! I am not afraid to turn to Botox when the time comes! Have you ever done any work to your lips? My lower lip is okay, but my upper lip is quite thin and almost disappears when I smile. Any suggestions?

    • Anna Wallner

      Hi Charlotte,
      I find keeping lips well hydrated helps a lot, no matter what their size or shape. There are some brown sugar scrubs which really make a difference (try “the lip scrub” by sara happ).

      Also, subtly applied lip liner makes a difference too. Choose a colour that’s close to your own lip colour and use the side (not the tip) of the pencil to very gently make your lip line a bit more defined, then fill in the lip itself. It’s great for the “natural” look.

      If you do decide to go the route of filler, be sure to go to someone who specializes in lips and really understands what you’re looking for. This is a part of the face where it can be most obvious filler has been injected.

  • kirsty

    I am wondering about the price of botox and fillers..I tend to spend a ton on every cream out there but worry I can’t afford it..How much would it really cost to maintain this…(would love to) in Ontario…
    I also wonder if the clinic would think I’m crazy to go in at 35? Many people guess me as much older than my age so maybe that is a non issue 🙂
    *Love your shows, a huge fan!

    • Anna Wallner

      Hi Kristy,
      You’ll need to do a little research – first, find a reputable doctor that administers botox, and then find out the costs. There are a few different options you could go with – botox, juvederm, fillers. Once you find a clinic, they should be able to make recommendations based on your needs and budget. I don’t think a clinic will think you’re crazy for going in at 35. If you’re not happy with your lips and are able to do something about it, then why not?

  • disqus_CptrDZSjbF

    HI Anna,

    Great ariticle!
    I’m turning 30 in March and am having quite a hard time with it. I still get ID’d all the time but personally I notice the changes. Although I really agree with what you wrote. I am not a people pleaser anymore and I have grown so much since I was 20. I would never dream about leaving my house at 20 with no makeup but now I could care less. I’m at a good place on the inside, lol but am having a crisis with the outside. I work out everyday, take good care of myself, and have been religious about my skin but the signs of age are still starting to show. I’m noticing a few fine lines here and there. My mom has that horrible cranky line between her eyebrows and I try desperately not to frown but I’m still getting a slight hint of cranky line. An esthetician told me this year I should tape it (with scotch tape) every night and the tape would help the line from getting deeper. Have you ever tried that? Also, I would definitely consider botox in the next few years. Just a bit to help the lines from becoming deep furrows. I don’t want the frozen faced look but rather would like to keep a fresh faced glow. You achieve that fresh faced glow and it’s great to hear you own up to botox instead of saying it’s all natural! I hate when people say it’s all natural when their face doesn’t move at all. I’m also from Ontario and am wondering what the cost is for botox.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jodie.dyrgas Jodie Dyrgas

    Anna, you are to be agreed with 100%, I also turn the big 40 this year and double check the math often because I don’t feel it or hope look it. Do you know of a Celebrity blog called Lainey Gossip? Well, you two girls are from the same area and to keep on the subject Lainey swears…(I mean worse than you when you cook) lol, she swears by microderm + cold gel laser double shot by this lady in Van called Lorinda Zimmerman. Lorinda’s clientele fly in from LA and that this lasts for months and is cheaper then anything at the dermatology office. As I don’t have access to this lady I’m looking in my area. You should read “On Great Skin” and “Getting Jennifer Lawrence’s Skin” on her blog. Would love for you to check it out and then let us know!!

    • Anna Wallner

      Thanks Jodie! Actually, this article is a couple years old now. (I’m 43 now!) Yes we’re definitely familiar with Lainey Gossip. We do try a different things from time to time. There are so many new procedures coming out these days. When we find something we like, we’ll post about it!