The Risks Of Starting Botox Too Early In Your 20s & How To Find The Sweet Spot For You

Body positivity is made to look like it has long wavelengths, but there's only so far it can go. When it comes to aging, you'll find slim pickings on books that challenge age-defying obsession and make you feel good about having fine lines and saggy skin. That's why Botox (botulinum toxin), the fountain of youth for untold modern-day Ponce de Leóns, has never stopped being popular. 

In the popular imagination, people only seek the help of Botox when they have entered their late 30s or early 40s when their wrinkles and fine lines become more pronounced along with the loss of skin volume. The reason for this is that Botox is clinically proven to diminish moderate signs of aging to a significant extent. But in reality, many people who are as young as 20-something are getting Botox injections in an effort to outrun their natural aging clocks. 

According to annual figures from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Botox procedures have increased by 28% since 2010 among people aged 20 to 29. Evidently, a growing number of young adults believe that they should treat Botox like skincare — the sooner they embrace preventative treatment, the longer they can delay the effects of aging on the face. However, toxin injectables are nothing like topical skincare. Many experts would tell you that it's never a good idea to start getting Botox way before your skin really needs it. Here's why. 

Why you don't need Botox in your 20s

Getting Botox in your early 20s is like putting the cart before the horse. Dismissing preventative toxin treatments in one's 20s as a waste of money, Dr. Maryam Zamani of London's The Clinic by Dr. Maryam Zamani tells Refinery29, "A lot of people start in their 20s as a mechanism to ward off getting lines and wrinkles caused by movement. But in reality, a lot of people in their 20s don't have any of those lines yet. It usually starts in your 30s." Not to mention, getting Botox early can make you look older, adds Dr. Zamani. 

When you get a cosmetic treatment, the ultimate driving force should be based on the condition of your skin, not your natural age. There are people in their 50s who look like they're in their 30s, but there are people who're in their 20s who have problems with premature aging. According to Dr. Sarah Tonks from Omniya Clinic, she would consider taking in 20-something patients with facial hypermobility. People with a hypermobile face habitually make a lot of facial expressions, so treating them with Botox early is helpful in preventing the formation of dynamic lines and wrinkles. "But, if they don't have anything, and they don't have hypermobile muscles, then there's no point in doing it," Dr. Tonks tells Refinery29. 

In other words, Botox treatments should be tailored to individual needs. You shouldn't go get Botox just because your peers are doing so. 

Risks of getting Botox too early

Getting Botox too early carries numerous risks. Botox injections work by temporarily paralyzing muscles to relax wrinkles and tighten facial skin. But in so doing, the regularly paralyzed muscles in your brows and your eyebrows will atrophy over time, according to Dr. Zamany. Think about it this way: if you didn't use your limbs for a long period of time, their muscles would eventually wither and weaken due to underuse. 

Expert Aesthetics's founder Dr. Jonquille Chantrey says some younger patients who've had their foreheads over-injected with Botox exhibit side effects at the injection sites. "What I'm seeing is their brows are starting to drop earlier than would be normal for them. If you're overly injecting [the horizontal forehead lines], it compromises the brow position, so it does give you a slight brow heaviness, potentially," explains Dr. Chantrey.  

Pointing out that getting Botox at a young age can make your skin look noticeably thinner and saggier, dermatological surgeon Patricia Wexler tells Vogue: "If you do too much Botox on your forehead for many, many years, the muscles will get weaker and flatter." And when you cease flexing the muscles in your forehead, you'll start squinting with your nose more and develop wrinkles along that area as a result, says Wexler. So, in a sense, getting Botox early may even hasten the aging process.

What is the right age to get Botox?

According to Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, a dermatologist and the founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care (via Allure), the golden time to start using Botox depends largely on the person's lifestyle and skin tone. For instance, daily smoking and prolonged sun exposure can predispose you to premature aging. Generally speaking, the ideal age range for Caucasian women who don't work in jobs that involve prolonged sun exposure is between ages 35 and 40. If you work in a job that requires you to spend long hours outdoors under direct sunlight, consider getting Botox at 30, advises Dr. Tanzi. The best time to start Botox treatment is usually a bit later, closer to 40 to 45, for those with darker skin tones.

As mentioned above, there's no hard and fast rule for the appropriate age to receive cosmetic enhancements. If you're in your 20s and you have hypermobility issues that cause your face to develop fine lines and wrinkles, Botox might be a game-changer for you. Yet, it's important to speak to a dermatologist to get your wrinkles checked out instead of insisting on getting toxin injectables right from the get-go. Maybe your skin issues can be resolved by topical treatments or dietary changes.