Resistance to Botox: What It Is and How to Avoid It

Botulinum toxin (commonly called Botox, although that’s actually a specific brand) injections have been rising as a minimally invasive treatment for wrinkles. They’re quick, relatively painless and have almost no recovery time, and if you have an experienced injector the results look very natural. Since they stop muscle movement, botox injections can also be used to prevent future wrinkles. I’ve …

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Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing: My Experience and Review

Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing: My Experience and Review

I recently had semi-permanent eyeliner tattooed onto my eyes. I’d already done botox in my masseters, IPL on my broken capillaries and microblading my brows, so this just seemed like the next step in my painful human guinea pig adventures!

I was a little nervous for a couple of reasons:

  • Tattooing your eyelids is REALLY FREAKING CLOSE to your eyeballs, and would be much harder to ignore than for microblading my brows, where I just lay back and tried to zen out.
  • Doing my brows from scratch takes me a good 15 minutes, and I could never get them as good as Leona’s microbladed brows (which I am still loving). But eyeliner only takes me 20 seconds and I’m quite particular about how it’s done, so the payoff wouldn’t be that great.
  • I’ve seen permanent eyeliner tattoos fade into blue-green tones which look really unflattering. Semi-permanent eyeliner is implanted more shallowly, so this shouldn’t be a problem… but still.

But curiosity got the better of me, so I volunteered for it anyway. What’s the worst that could happen? I could surely hide it with more eyeliner for the next 2-4 years until it faded!

The Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing Process

Rita Porreca, the director of Sydney Permanent Make-Up Centre in Five Dock, was my semi-permanent make-up artist. She’s been doing permanent make-up since the 1980s, so I knew I was in experienced hands.

Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing: My Experience and Review

After filling in the release and medical history forms, she took some “before” photos of my eyes, then applied some gel eyeliner on me so we could work out what I wanted.

Semi-permanent eyeliner is quite sharply defined while I usually go for a smudged pencil line, but we came up with a thicker line than most people opt for, which I was quite happy with. Since I like my eyes to look bigger, I opted for just the upper lid line, though many people like to tightline their bottom lid as well.

Next, Rita told me about the two instruments that she uses for permanent eyeliner: a cosmetic pen which was a bit slower but also a bit quieter, and a tattoo gun that was about twice as fast but louder and shakier. We opted for the quick option.

She then applied the numbing cream on my eyes and left me to lie back and contemplate my poor life choices while it sank in.

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Eyebrow Microblading (Embroidery) Review + Before & After

Eyebrow Microblading Review + Before & After

I recently got my eyebrows microbladed, after years of trying to draw them on consistently. You might have noticed them in my YouTube videos and selfies – I’ve gotten so many unsolicited compliments on them! Brows are probably the thing I find the most annoying in my make-up routine, and I’m not alone. Even drag queens who do their own …

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IPL Treatment for Broken Capillaries (Cynosure Icon)

IPL Treatment for Broken Capillaries

I’ve had little broken capillaries around my nose for a long time, so when I was offered the chance to try out a treatment with Cynosure, one of the leading aesthetic equipment manufacturers in Australia, I jumped at the chance to be a human guinea pig.

IPL Treatment for Broken Capillaries (Cynosure Icon)

If you’re not familiar with them, broken capillaries (also known as spider veins, or facial telangiectasia if you want to get really nerdy) are little red thread-like blood vessels that are visible on your skin. They aren’t really broken per se – they develop when the walls of blood vessels that lie very close to the surface of your skin weaken and expand, so they become more visible. They’re generally caused by environmental trauma (sun damage, rubbing, extreme temperatures, harsh skincare treatments, irritation) combined with a predisposition towards them forming, which might come from genetics, pregnancy, rosacea or any other number of conditions. I had seasonal allergies at the same time as I was testing out some hardcore irritating retinol products, which led to some broken capillaries around my nose. They’re not super severe, but I do end up needing concealer around my nose to stop it from looking like I’ve just finished blowing my nose violently. (I think part of it is also my skin improving to the point where I’m focusing more on smaller blemishes…)

Unfortunately there aren’t any effective over-the-counter treatments for broken capillaries. Light treatments (laser and IPL) are the safest and most effective way to treat them. The other main options for treating broken capillaries are surgery and sclerotherapy, where a chemical is injected into the vessel to kill it, but these are a bit riskier especially for the face.

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How Can You Plump Up Your Lips?

How can you plump up your lips?

Fat, bee-stung lips are more popular than ever. How do you get there if you weren’t born with them? Here are your options, from least to most drastic…

Hydrating Lip Care

Your lips dry out faster than the rest of your face because the skin there is very thin, and there aren’t any oil glands to produce natural sebum to moisturise them. Just like skin, lips are less wrinkly when they’re well-hydrated and moisturised!

Use lip balm (with SPF during the day)

One dermatologist (Joshua Zeichner) made the media rounds for saying that occlusive lip balms makes your lips lazy, but this seems to be just his opinion rather than a widespread one in dermatology, and isn’t supported by the current evidence as far as I can tell. The only reliable way for your lips to get oils on them is by using lip balm.

It’s also important to protect your lips from the sun – in the short term sun exposure can lead to dehydration, but long term it can reduce collagen, which is the protein that keeps your skin and lips plump. Collagen goes down with age, but it goes down a lot more with sun exposure!

My favourite lip balm brand is Hurraw which have balms based on plant oils, but I’m also quite partial to Chapstick limited edition Cake Batter balm and their Dual Action Hydration LockRevo has some cute round balms that I found much more effective than eos. Nivea has some great lip products too, especially the Repair and Protect balm which I think has been reformulated recently. Chapstick, Nivea and Hurraw all have SPF versions. Sun Bum has some nice SPF lip balms, but no plain ones.

How can you plump up your lips?

Other balms I’ve heard a lot about but haven’t tried personally: Nuxe Reve De Miel lip balm (though I can’t seem to find it stocked in many places anymore), Dr Bronner, Paula’s Choice.

Be conscious of your water-drinking habits

There’s a tiny bit of evidence that drinking water can affect your skin hydration if you don’t drink enough, but did you know that drinking water can actually dry out your lips? Wet skin loses water faster than dry skin, so flooding your lips with water too often can make them dry out faster. It can also wash away the oils, so make sure you reapply lip balm afterwards.

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My Masseter Reduction Experience: 3.5 Week Review

My Masseter Reduction Experience

I recently had some “anti-wrinkle injections” done in my masseter muscles at Sydney Cosmetic Clinic in order to reduce their size. This is a really popular procedure in Korea where they’re obsessed with creating a “V-line” face with a soft jaw and a pointy chin. It’s becoming more popular in Western countries too.

Now I don’t have wrinkles in my jaw muscles, and I think you can easily guess what I got injected into my jaw, but since I was invited to get the procedure done, I’m covered by the TGA guidelines which forbid me from mentioning “active ingredients in such products and abbreviations of either the trade or ingredient names”. I’ve discussed how these procedures work in the past, but I thought I’d better explain why I’m not using the word in this particular post because it certainly seems weird.

With that out of the way, here’s my experience!

Why did I get this done?

Mostly curiosity, with a bit of vanity.

I’m a fan of “beauty at any age” and I don’t want the overly fake plastic surgery Barbie look. But I’m self-aware enough to realise that I’m genetically blessed to have reasonably attractive features and am lucky enough to be in a situation where my self-esteem is decent. Because of that, I don’t judge people who get cosmetic procedures, and I can imagine that my feelings towards getting them might change in the future.

(I guess the reason I’m putting all these metacognitive ramblings here is because I find it very weird that lots of beauty bloggers and vloggers get cosmetic procedures done and but few mention them – for fear of judgement, I assume. It’s especially weird when they put their face out there and expect people not to notice…)

I’ve inherited a rather square jaw shape from my mum. Additionally, my body likes to put on muscle (thanks dad!) and I like to eat, plus I grind my teeth a little in my sleep which has caused my masseter muscles to get a bit…swole. My mouth is also on the narrow side. This means that overall my jaw looks more square than average. While I’ve grown to accept this, it’s still one of the first places I contour, and I wouldn’t mind slimming it down a bit.

These injections paralyse muscles, which is why they’re used to freeze “wrinkles in motion”. They can also be used to stop the masseter muscles from activating as much, so they wither down over time. The effects aren’t as radical as for V-line surgery where they shave down and move around bits of your jawbone, but it’s a lot less painful, less expensive and far far safer – and for some people, these injections can make a huge difference, depending on your anatomy.

The nighttime jaw clenching has also meant that I often wake up with a sore jaw. These injections are also sometimes used to treat this, so I figured this treatment could conveniently help on that front too!

The Injections

My masseter reduction injections were performed by Dr George Mayson at the Sydney Cosmetic Clinic, situated in the CBD about 5 minutes from Town Hall station, opposite Hyde Park. Dr Mayson was the first person to start performing these cosmetic injections in Australia back in 1994, and was trained first-hand by Dr Jean Carruthers who pioneered the treatment, so I knew I was in good hands.

I get nervous about needles and injections, so I was feeling pretty jittery in the waiting room. But the receptionist made sure I felt comfortable and answered all my panicky questions cheerfully (“Does it hurt? No really, does it hurt? Are you sure?”). She reassured me that it would be less painful than a vaccine, which I really doubted at the time. I filled in some forms and read a very detailed information booklet on the active ingredients while I waited.

I was led into one of the rooms, where Dr Mayson examined me and marked out my masseter muscles with a pencil. He described what the expected results would be based on my face shape, and talked me through the details of the process.

I received 25 units in each side – the exact amount you get varies depending on what your anatomy is like, and on which brand is used. There were about 16 injections in total, which sounds like a lot but it was over very quickly thanks to the tiny volume of each injection! Each side took around 10 seconds.

My Masseter Reduction Experience

And the receptionist was right – it did hurt less than a vaccine! All I felt was a mild stinging which went away after a few minutes, with none of the tender feeling I usually get after a vaccine. Vaccines use thicker needles (23-25 gauge for vaccines vs the 32 gauge insulin needles commonly used for these cosmetic injections), and a lot more liquid is injected into one spot very slowly (I swear I end up telling the injector my entire life story while the vaccine needle’s in my arm). Since the masseter is a pretty big muscle as well, it’s meant to hurt less than the forehead where the injector can accidentally hit the bone, although this happens very rarely, especially with an experienced injector. The anticipation was way worse than actual procedure!

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How Does Botox Work?

How Does Botox Work?

I talk a lot about topical products, but hardly ever about treatments! Today I’m diving into THE most popular cosmetic treatment: Botox.

What Is Botox?

I’m sure you’ve all heard of Botox – the (sometimes accurate) stereotype of how Botox stops your face from moving and you become an expressionless human mannequin with perfectly smooth skin.

Botox is actually not the name of the chemical that gets injected. It was the first brand of botulinum toxin that was used for these anti-wrinkle injections back in the 90s. But much like Kleenex and hula hoop and jacuzzi and trampoline, people use “Botox” as the generic name for Botulinum toxin (I’ll be using the two terms interchangeably).

Botox is the most toxic poison known to science – just 100 nanograms will kill you if injected. That’s about 1/6 of the weight of a grain of sand! It’s a mixture of proteins produced by several types of bacteria, most notably Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that causes deadly botulism when you eat poorly preserved canned food. Botox paralyses the muscles it comes into contact with.

What Can You Use Botox For?

While botulinum toxin is very deadly when accidentally taken, it was discovered that tiny tiny amount were actually very safe when injected into a specific muscle.

Botox was originally used to treat overactive eye muscles in the late 1970s, and since then has been used to treat all sorts of disorders related to dysfunctional muscles, including spasms, cerebral palsy, chronic migraines and jaw grinding. In the early 90s, a couple of ophthalmologists noticed that patients who got Botox for eyelid spasms also had less frown lines (glabellar wrinkles) as a side effect. This sparked the popularity of Botox as a cosmetic treatment.

In cosmetic treatments, Botox is particularly good for softening the look of dynamic wrinkles, or wrinkles in motion – folds that appear or get more prominent when muscles contract. In some cases, they can disappear entirely! Commonly treated wrinkles include:

  • frown lines (glabellar wrinkles – vertical lines between the eyebrows)
  • forehead wrinkles
  • crows’ feet (at the edge of the eyes)
  • bunny lines

Botox won’t work on static wrinkles that are visible even when your face is relaxed, since it works by acting on muscles, but it can slow down how quickly wrinkles in motion turn into static wrinkles.

Apart from wrinkles, Botox can also be used for:

  • excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)
  • turkey neck (platysmal banding)
  • eyebrow shaping
  • lifting the nose tip
  • gummy smiles
  • jawline contouring (masseter muscle injections)

How Does Botox Work?

There are 7 types of botulinum toxin in total, of which two used in cosmetic treatments: type A and type B. They paralyse muscles in pretty much the same way.

Muscles are triggered to clench up or contract by nerve signals. The nerve and the muscle are separated by a small gap (neuromuscular junction or NMJ). The nerve releases a chemical messenger called acetylcholine into the gap, the acetylcholine sticks to the muscle, then the muscle contracts.

Botox stops the nerve from being able to release acetylcholine. Without acetylcholine, there’s no way for the nerve to communicate with the muscle, so the muscle is paralysed.

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Fact-check Friday: What is a chemical peel?

Sorry for the delayed Fact-check Friday this week! We’re looking at something more hardcore today – not quite surgery, but not something you want to attempt blindly either: chemical peels. What is a chemical peel? Photo credit A chemical peel is a procedure for treating certain skin disorders, or simply improving the texture and appearance of the skin. It involves …

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