Is there really such a thing as “aging gracefully?” Hopefully you know me well enough by now to know that I’m the biggest believer that beauty is 100% on the inside, and that I don’t need to spend a paragraph explaining this before launching into all things “superficial.” Okay, that being said, I’m about to turn 35 years old, and while I very much value myself NOT based on my looks, I also do care about maintaining my exterior youthfulness (or what’s left of it) for as long as possible. Thus, I decided to spend the last two months testing and trying some of the most common beauty trends to help fight the never ending battle against wrinkles and hair loss/thinning (from my head, lashes and brows). I focused specifically on my “head,” but I have an entire post dedicated to the “mommy makeover” for my body. I delegated weight loss and post-baby body changes to a plastic surgeon, and you can read all about that here.
All of these “beauty procedures” are delegating something to a professional to help make life a bit easier by removing DAILY maintenance, even though they do require some up-keep over time, which I address below. I also point out how much you might expect to pay for each procedure/item.
Dysport/Botox & Fillers
Let’s start with facial wrinkles shall we? I have a VERY expressive face, so naturally over time, the wrinkles in my forehead and around my eyes have deepened significantly. I started getting botox in my forehead in my late twenties when I first started noticing the lines in my forehand, and back then it was also preventative to help with further creasing (at least that’s what my dermatologist in Dallas said- ha!) Anyway, I’ve stuck with it over the years, getting a new round every 6 months, which was when I started to notice the lines returning. It makes a HUGE difference in my opinion, but over the past year, I realized that I was going back every 4 months rather than every 6 months for “touch-up’s” (the beauty of aging and your body getting acclimated). Thus, when I started seeing a nurse practitioner at Dr. Gilpin’s office in Nashville this year, I decided to try out Dysport, which is basically the same as Botox, but can be more effective in some people. The key to successful Botox or Dysport wherever you go is to be sure that whoever is injecting you is experienced and knows what they’re doing. If not, you might get stuck with a saggy eyebrow (or worse) ,which would be tragic. Thankfully the team at Dr. Gilpin’s office (he is a facial plastic surgeon by the way, which is one of the reasons I chose his office), is fantastic and knows all the in’s and out’s of injectables. As for the difference in Botox and Dysport- I’ve been told that you can try both at different times to see which one is more effective for you. I actually prefer Botox now having tried both, as it feels much lighter on my forehead than Dysport does/did. I will go back to Botox injections once this round of Dysport wears off, even if I have to go more often since I prefer how it feels. However, you can still take a look at my before/after pictures to see what a huge difference the Dysport made for me. Thank you again to the amazing team at Dr. Gilpin’s office for answering all my questions and making me feel super comfortable and well taken care of. Thank you also for the pictures, even though I look like a dear in headlights, you can indeed see great results- ha!
Cost: $350+ (is based on how many units you need, and this is true for Dysport and Botox most of the time) and I go 4-6 months for a touch-up.
Example A: Dysport injected into my forehead (I’m raising my brows in both, and also, something to note in the “Before” image- my last round of Botox had not completely worn off so the lines are not nearly as deep as they can be).
Example B: Dysport injected into my frown lines
Example C: Dysport injected into my crow’s feet (this is the FIRST time I tried it for my crow’s feet and now I’m hooked. It makes a huge difference when I smile)
Now time to chat briefly about fillers, which at my doctor’s office are the products Juvederm or Restylane that are injected into your face to help add back volume, reduce lines and add definition back to your (sagging) face. I’ve actually always been terrified of fillers, as I’ve heard so many horror stories about it hardening in someone’s face and turning them into a unicorn. And while I’m sure this is true, I finally asked my nurse practitioner about it at Dr. Gilpin’s office as I had a feeling these rumors were only true for hack-job injectors. She assured me I had nothing to worry about, and that it could help fill in the deep smile lines around my mouth as well as the thin and concave area under my eyes. These were the only areas I really wanted to address, and she didn’t go overboard so that we could see how it felt and what the results would be after a couple of weeks (you can always add more, but not take away). She used “Restylane Lyft” on me, which is the boujee upgrade to Restylane. I recommend speaking to a professional about what’s right for you and what will work best as far as what brand/type of injectable you receive. I initially was a bit freaked out as you CAN feel the filler in your face for the first day, but after 24 hours, my panic subsided, and I especially liked the results around my eyes. You can look at any of the pictures above to see a “before filler” but a picture of “after filler” is below (clearly this is without any makeup). Also note that it gave a bit more definition to my upper cheek bones, which is always a bonus.
Cost: $700+ (Lasts for a YEAR though)
Lash Extensions & Microblading
Now onto lashes and brows! I originally tried out lash extensions after John Albert was born and my lashes started breaking off and falling out. I had heard about lash extensions, not lash glue-ons, I’m talking about when you have them professional adhered to your individual lashes that last 3-4 weeks long, but it seemed like a lot of upkeep and just one more thing to do. However, I started feeling so self-conscious about my pathetic lashes (I used to have long, lush lashes, but apparently post-baby hormones can steal them away), that I decided to give them a try. At that time in Nashville, there was only one professional lash studio that people recommended, so I gave it a try, and that’s where I met Suzanne, lash-goddess extraordinaire. Apparently there are a million different types of lashes, glue and ways to apply faux lashes that all of course determine how long they last, how good they look and how much damage they do to your natural lashes. I quickly found out that Suzanne only uses the best of the best, and I’ve been going to her for lashes ever since. She opened her own lash studio about two years ago, City Lash & Beauty, and if you’re in Nashville, this is you’re go-to for great lash extensions. You can chat with your technician about how natural or glam you want them to look, and then depending on your natural lash cycle and how well you care for them (it’s not hard, but you can’t sleep on your face or rub hard on your eyes- duh), they can last 3-4 weeks (in my experience). I love that I don’t have to wear mascara with them on, and in the summers, all I do is wake up, apply some sunscreen to my face, and I’m out the door. However, beware: once you start, they are VERY hard to stop. And yes, if you do decided to have them removed or let them fall off and not replace them, then you will see shorter natural lashes that take time to grow back in. However, if you’re getting married or have a special occasion in life where you want just one set applied (meaning a one-time only application and then let them fall off as your natural lashes fall off), then there should be no damage and you will have amazing lashes at your event. You can see my before and after pictures below!
Cost: $350 for your first full set and $150+ for each fill after.
As for microblading, this is “delegating eyebrow fill-in” at its finest. Once you’ve had your first full eyebrow application, there is very little upkeep, as you simply go back once a year for a touch-up where the ink has faded. Again, you need to see someone who is VERY skilled/talented at this, as you’re basically tattooing eyebrows onto your face. It’s really amazing how natural the marks look and how much better my brows look with the additional definition. The only gal I’d use for the job is here in Nashville, and her name is Olivia with Live Skin Nashville. I don’t know how she does it, but I’ve yet to see a pair of brows “bladed” by Olivia that didn’t look fantastic. She matches the pigment used for your brows to your hair color and can do as much or little as you like, though I just let her decide what would look best for me, and I’ve loved my results. It does hurt when she’s doing it (at least it does for me), but it’s nothing severe, just feels like constant scratches on a sensitive part of your face. But it doesn’t last too long, and it’s totally worth the minor discomfort in my opinion. Olivia can add to brows of all shapes and sizes (she even makes brows for women who don’t have any brows to start out with), and you can check out her instagram page @oliviaweirsthings to see all the amazing before and after brow pictures. Here are my pictures, and remember, my “before” image still has some ink left from my initial set, so they are still in better shape than they were when I first saw Olivia over a year ago.
Cost: $500 for your first appointment and $200 for a 6 month – 1 year touch-up.
Halo Hair Extensions
If it’s not enough that my eyebrows are thinning and my lashes falling out (thank you post-baby hormones), I’ve noticed recently that the hair on my head just isn’t as think and illustrious as it used to be. And while I’m perfectly content with my hair as is, there are times where I’d like some added volume or length, especially for special occasions. However, given that I’ve got a few other things to keep up with now (lashes, Botox, etc.), I didn’t need to add real hair extensions to the list (the kind you have professionally put in with glue, string, etc.). Thus, I tried some clip-in extensions, which are fine, but they aren’t very comfortable and can be difficult to hide in your real hair. Enter, Halo Hair Extensions. I heard about these from a friend, and was told they look good and are super easy to put in once you’ve gotten the hang of it since it’s all on one piece (instead a million small clip-in pieces). Why not give it a try? So after doing a bit of research, I found that the best way to try them out before buying them, is to find a local salon that reps them. I learned that this was important since the salon rep for the extensions can also color match your hair and help you select the length to order. These aren’t cheap (ranging $250-$350), so it’s best to order right the first time. Again, all things I would have no clue about without a bit of guidance. The Blow Out Co. in Nashville helped me select the color and length I wanted, and since you can cut and style them too to blend even better with your own hair, there is some flexibility with the length. Since mine arrived, I’ve been practicing putting it in, and it’s actually easier than I thought and fairly comfortable/unnoticeable. I could walk you through the steps, but instead, I will tell you what worked for me, which was watching several YouTube videos on how to best put it in. There are also video guides on The Halo website to help you out. And while I won’t be wearing mine everyday, it will be fun to wear every now and again when I want to re-live my glory days of long, luscious hair- ha!
Cost: $250-$350 (lasts years if kept and washed properly)
Alright friends, that’s all I’ve got for now, but I hope you’ve enjoyed my mini search for the fountain of youth for my face and hair. You do you of course, but I thought I would share some of the latest beauty hacks I found to help keep me feeling young… well, that’s a stretch… to keep me feeling young-ISH.