Following the sharp spike in popularity of cosmetic surgery over the past two decades, the beauty tide finally seems to be turning. The days of the ‘frozen face’ are giving way to a desire for a more natural look through gentler treatments, as the increasing interest in wellness, from mental health to food, encourages people to embrace all things holistic.
Millennials in particular seem to be reacting to the ‘lazy, entitled’ criticisms from older generations by taking lifestyle and ‘wellness’ to the next level. From clean eating to going vegan, au naturel is the trend du jour. It might not seem cool or current in 2017 to Instagram yourself having Botox, but that detox charcoal facial? You bet.
Data from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons showed the number of cosmetic procedures conducted last year fell 40%. That’s a near-decade low, from a record-breaking high in 2015. The biggest fall was in the number of brow lifts, down 71%.
In the last decade, Botox has been the popular go-to for anti-ageing. It’s readily available, even at your local dentist. An injectable substance, Botox (botulinum toxin) works by paralysing the facial muscles at the injection site, eliminating the look of fine lines and wrinkles. But as the name suggests it is just that – a toxin. It originally received FDA approval to treat medical ailments such as muscle spasms, excessive underarm sweating and eyelid tics, before its ability to ‘freeze’ facial muscles was discovered.
Like any medication, Botox can have side-effects including pain, swelling or bruising at the injection site. More serious side-effects – uncommon but still possible – include muscle weakness, problems with vision, trouble breathing, and loss of bladder control. There has also been worrying research that indicates it could affect the brain. Last year, a study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison raised fresh doubts about how Botox works in the body. Contrary to notions that the drug stays put at the injection site, tests carried out in the lab found that it was in fact able to move between nerve cells, raising the possibility that the same kind of migration could be occurring in humans.
In light of this research and following a warning from the FDA, the last five years have seen growing demand for a more natural alternative. Step forward cosmetic acupuncture. Celebrities and health-conscious consumers have already turned to more holistic anti-ageing methods: Millie Mackintosh posted selfies to Instagram during a cosmetic acupuncture treatment, as did Kim Kardashian and model Bar Refaeli, raising the profile of the treatment considerably. Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Madonna and Angelina Jolie are also said to be fans.
The ancient Chinese technique’s benefits are long established and widely recognised. In 2003, after a review of controlled clinical trials, the World Health Organisation officially backed acupuncture as a medical treatment, listing a range of conditions for which it has proven effective – from depression to rheumatoid arthritis.