I Got Baby Botox & I’ll Never Look Back

There was a time when aesthetic treatments were the stuff of A-listers and A-listers only. Whether filler or a face lift, procedures like these were almost always spoken about in hushed tones. Fast-forward to 2022 and celebrities have come a long way in owning whatever work they've had done. And their frankness has created a trickle-down effect.
'Tweakments' are more popular now than ever and while the likes of lip plumper and thread lifts reign supreme on social media, Botox is setting tongues wagging once again. This time around, it's less about freezing your facial features with hefty doses of the stuff and more about giving your skin a subtle refresh with little amounts. Experts are calling it 'baby Botox'.
On TikTok alone, baby Botox has 4.3 billion views so I was intrigued. I have a natural frown and in the past people have told me that I look moody and unapproachable. (Charming, I know.) I also moved into a new place last month and the bathroom light is intense. When applying makeup, I noticed that my foundation would settle into the lines in my forehead and no amount of blending would smooth them away. Perhaps they were always there and I'd just been getting ready in the dark this whole time. Then again, I'm 30 at the end of the year and have noticed my skin changing.
Of course, I know there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. It's entirely normal and, actually, a privilege to see it happening. So before I go any further, I want to state the obvious: getting any sort of aesthetic treatment — for whatever reason — is a personal choice. Refinery29 is a judgement-free zone and we respect your decision, whether you go for it or come to the conclusion that it's not for you. My skin gripes might be indiscernible to others but they caught my attention. Plus, it's literally my job to review trending beauty movements and to give you an honest opinion.
With that in mind, I booked in to Karidis Clinic at St John and St Elizabeth Hospital in London's St John's Wood to meet with aesthetic practitioner Dr Emily Strong, to see if baby Botox would be right for me.

What is baby Botox?

"Botox [also known as botulinum toxin] is a product that we inject at the layer of the muscle," explained Dr Strong. Where you normally have a frown or an expression, there is a nerve impulse which goes from your brain to the muscle. Botox blocks that impulse so when you frown or pull an expression, the muscle doesn't move.
"In terms of baby Botox, there is a degree in which we can administer the product depending on how much of a reduction of movement you want," said Dr Strong. As my lines are there but not very etched in, Dr Strong told me that baby Botox would most probably lend more of a refreshed, relaxed look. "We can use very low doses to get you that effect, just to reduce the movement and to give you a very natural look," said Dr Strong.
So how does it affect fine lines and wrinkles? Dr Strong explained that while baby Botox relaxes the muscle, it also relaxes the skin overlying it. "You might tend to find that your makeup goes on nicely and stays put," she said. "Generally, it gives you an all-over fresher appearance, and it's also very good for a brow lift." The second part intrigued me, especially as I use brow pencil to draw in more of an arch on my very thick, straight brows every day.
Dr Strong said that it's customary to start with one treatment of a fairly low dose. "Everybody has very different muscle strengths," she told me. "Some people have strong muscles compared to others so we like to see you two weeks later for a review appointment to assess everything." For someone like me who has never had an injectable treatment, Dr Strong said it's always better to start with a little bit less. "We appreciate that you might want to have a bit of movement and sometimes it's a fine balance to achieve." It's better to inject less so that you can add more at the next appointment if you wish, rather than doing too much to begin with.
@jacquelinekilikita My ‘baby Botox’ experience! @KaridisClinic #babybotox #botox #botoxinjection ♬ Aesthetic - Tollan Kim

What does baby Botox feel like?

Of course, baby Botox involves needles. Dr Strong used a white pencil to mark up where I would be injected, including the space between my brows, underneath the arch of each brow and in the muscles in my forehead. She asked me to raise my eyebrows, frown and then relax to determine the best possible areas to inject.
I barely felt a thing and the whole process was over in a few minutes. I went in to have my forehead treated but ended up going for my frown lines and brows, too. There's a reason for this. "We think of Botox as a tug of war, specifically in the upper face," said Dr Strong. "When you frown, everything gets pulled down. When you think about raising your eyebrows, everything is lifted up. Most people are concerned about their forehead lines where the muscle is lifting everything up but if you iron that out on its own, everything will drop because you've got rid of the lift." Because of this, said Dr Strong, it's important to think about which muscles have a compensatory movement and affect how the facial expressions and the resting tone of the muscle work.
The good thing about baby Botox is that the amount administered can be tailored to you. "It would be a massive oversight to go for a standard dose for everybody," said Dr Strong. "Baby Botox is a light dose anyway so it's about a little sprinkling of product. Think smaller microdoses over a large number of injection sites," rather than lots of doses over a few areas.
When I got up from the chair and I peered in the mirror, it looked like I had horns, but the swelling went down after a few minutes. "You can sometimes see some bumps underneath the skin," said Dr Strong, "and that's just the product sitting there." She told me that it's super important not to manipulate those bumps or push them down. "What we're trying to do is deliver the product at a very specific area, so we don't want it to move at all."
For that reason, Dr Strong told me not to rub or massage my face when washing it that very evening or the day after, nor was I to lie down for four hours, take a hot shower or head into a sauna or a steam room as the product could migrate. "Some people say the bumps might sting," she added, "but they go down very quickly and will probably be gone by the time you get home."

What are the benefits of baby Botox?

I went into Karidis Clinic thinking the effects of Botox would be instant. Little did I know it actually takes some time to see any difference. "This is something we have to make very clear," said Dr Strong. "You'll see the product starting to work on about day four or day five. We like to see you for a full review after two weeks but, really, the full effects are seen after about 30 days."
So how long does baby Botox last? "Usually, about two to three months is the average," said Dr Strong, although everyone's different. "Some people might get a little more out of it and some people a bit less. With time, though, muscles get a bit weaker so you'll find that you're able to spread out the time in between treatments as the muscles are a bit more relaxed."
I began to notice results on day three, mainly in between my eyebrows, and on day five I couldn't frown at all. It didn't feel weird or unnatural. In my head, I was scowling and my brain was signalling to my muscles to show it — but it just wasn't happening on my face. On days six and seven, the largest line at the top of my forehead was nowhere to be seen when I raised my eyebrows. After 10 days, the lines in the middle started to iron out.
I'm very expressive and my face tells a thousand words. If I don't like something, you'll see it before you hear about it. That's why it was important to retain some sort of movement. I can raise my eyebrows perfectly fine, for example (which is important to show that I disapprove of the laundry piling up).
Every day since, my face has appeared fresher. The skin around my forehead and brows looks plump and hydrated and my eyebrows themselves look 10 times better. They're lifted in all the right places, so much so that I don't need to sketch in an arch. My foundation sits so smoothly now, too, and I feel I need much less of it. But the best thing about baby Botox is that the change has made a great deal of difference to me but is subtle enough not to warrant strange looks or comments from friends and family.

Are there any downsides to baby Botox?

None that I can see. But Dr Strong says that whenever product is administered with a needle, you're breaking the skin, so there is a risk of bruising, specifically tiny pinpoint bruises around the area. "The rest of the day, keep your face nice and clean, so no products on the area," Dr Strong advised. After a day, the skin is fully healed over so you can apply makeup to the area.
Dr Strong said that certain things can increase your risk of bruising as well as bleeding. They include: drinking alcohol (so it is best to avoid it completely the day before), lots of caffeine, certain medications (for example blood thinners), some herbal supplements like St John's wort and omega 3 fish oils. "If you can avoid those things [aside from medication if you have been advised to by a GP], this will reduce the risk of side effects," said Dr Strong.
Dr Strong also encourages her patients to really think about when they're having their treatment done. "You probably don't want to have it before a big event that evening," for obvious reasons.

How much does baby Botox cost?

The cost of baby Botox depends on the areas treated. "Botox can be placed around the face including the upper and even the lower face," explained Dr Strong. "We charge in terms of the number of areas. For example, a frown (the area between the eyebrows) is seen as one area. The forehead is another area." At Karidis Clinic, one area of facial injection will cost from £300. It's certainly an expense so it's imperative to think it through.
Though it's dear, I can see why some people swear by quarterly Botox injections. It's fascinating how a tweak as inconspicuous as this can elevate self-confidence. Of course it pays to be meticulous in your research. A consultation with a qualified aesthetic professional is always recommended before any treatment to determine whether the procedure is right for you. Sometimes, as Refinery29 contributor Vicky Spratt discovered, it isn't.
Would I consider going back for more baby Botox when this wears off? Absolutely. I'm a convert. In fact, I'd be intrigued to see how the procedure works on the lower areas of the face, such as smile lines or even crow's feet.
That said, you don't need me to tell you that your skin is great as it is. Having reported on the concept of anti-ageing plenty of times before, I know that getting older and the skin changes that come with it are not awful things. But whether you dabble in injectables for any reason is entirely your own prerogative — and it pays to be in the know, rather than to dive in headfirst without a clue.

More from Skin Care

R29 Original Series