Secrets of the beauty gurus: The treatments you can really trust
Last updated at 08:48 19 March 2008
From injections that can boost your bra size by two cups to lasers that banish thunder thighs and peels promising brand-new skin, every day delivers a new high-tech anti-ageing promise.
At the frontline of these promises are magazine beauty editors who not only hear the hype about each “cutting edge treatment”, they also see the not-so-great results, the shoddy doctors and the disasters.
Is it any wonder they’re wary of what – and who – they allow near their own faces and bodies?
The quest for youth and beauty can be a minefield if you don’t know which treatments to trust
“From a fake tan to a facelift, any treatment is only as safe as the practitioner using it,” says Look Good Naked’s beauty guru Rebecca Howard.
“This is especially true of Botox, fillers and other anti-ageing treatments. Who you go to can mean the difference between a great result and irreversible skin damage.”
A respected, qualified practitioner will make sure your results are subtle, too, says award-winning beauty writer Jan Masters. “Having too many ‘procedures’ is becoming the female equivalent of combing hair over a bald head – it looks obvious and just a little ridiculous.
“Go to someone good and you’ll end up with a subtle result. Subtlety is key.”
Most importantly, anti-ageing procedures need to be proven safe, with medical trials and sound research, says Newby Hands, health and beauty director of Harper’s Bazaar.
From lipo to lasers: There are some treatments you will regret
Here, seven top beauty editors separate the facts from the fiction on the latest anti-ageing techniques, and spill the beans on the beauty treatments they would have themselves, and who with.
OLIVIA FALCON, health and beauty director of Tatler
Botox: It’s been used for years in the medical profession. But a bad job looks like you’ve been run over by an iron, and makes you look more stressed and a bit frightened.
A good job should make you look like you’ve just fallen in love. Recommended: Dr Marco Lens, 60 Harley Street, London; tel. 020 7631 3212.
Laser hair removal: I have the brilliant Alexandrite laser for the hair on my bikini line. Lasers are damaging in the wrong hands, though, and you need the right laser for your particular skin type and problem. Recommended: Skin Health Spa, 87 Wigmore Street, London W1H 9FA; tel. 020 7935 3366 (ask for Mellina).
Fillers: Of the many filler brands out there, Restylane has the most research and best safety record, so ask for it.
And go to a woman doctor – male doctors can be overzealous with fillers and you can end up looking lumpy and bumpy and really obvious.
Recommended: Dr Tracey Mountford, Cosmetic Skin Clinic, Stoke Poges and London; tel. 01753 665206.
SmartLipo: This is a laser that melts fat away. For big areas like bums and thighs, you don’t get a noticeable difference.
It can work to some degree on tightening smaller areas such as jowls on the face or saggy skin on the upper arms (bingo wings).
Peels: I’ve heard so many horror stories about skin peels burning people’s faces, especially if you have sensitive skin, and the damage can last for months.
Always go to someone whose work you have already seen. All these non-surgical anti-ageing procedures are still procedures, and in the wrong hands they can do serious damage.
Anti-ageing must-have: I’m a huge sunscreen girl. I use La Prairie Cellular Caviar SPF 30 365 days a year under my make-up.
BETHAN COLE, freelance, former beauty director of Sunday Times Style magazine
Boob jab: This is a new procedure where doctors inject hyaluronic acid into the breasts to make them bigger.
It takes about 15 minutes and lasts about a year. As a 36DD, I wouldn’t have it personally, but hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in the skin and has been proven safe, so I would advise someone, yes, have it done.
Recommended: Dr Yelena Watkins, The Mill, Radford Road, Alvechurch, near Birmingham, B48 7LD; tel. 0870 600 7077.
Intense Pulsed Light: I had this for a tiny red thread vein underneath my eye and it disappeared after just one treatment. It was brilliant.
Recommended: Dr Nicholas Lowe, Cranley Clinic, 19a Cavendish Square, London W1; tel. 020 7499 3223.
Light peels: If it’s something light with glycolic acid that just took off the superficial layers of skin, yes; but not in a high concentration.
Recommended: I would buy a home peeling kit. I like 20 per cent Glyco Peeling Pads, £30, from dclskincare.com or Natura Bisse Glyco Peeling 25 per cent, £95 from beautique.com.
Botox: There’s a disturbing trend of Botox doctors applying it on women under 30 – which is too early.
Plus, there is a current safety review going on after 16 fatalities from Botox in the U.S., and that scares me.
SmartLipo: Even though I’m overweight, I don’t like the idea of a laser breaking down the fat reserves under my skin. People also under-estimate how painful lasers can be.
Thermage: A hot probe is applied to the face and uses radio frequency technology supposedly to tighten skin sagging.
But there have been lawsuits in the U.S. from people who have had dents in their skin as a result of burning.
Don’t try anything that hasn’t been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In Europe, the anti-ageing industry is notoriously under-regulated, which means lots of new things can make it onto the High Street without being proven safe.
Anti-ageing must-have: A “good oil” supplement such as cod liver oil. I like Nude’s Hydrate supplements (£52, nudeskincare.com).
REBECCA HOWARD, beauty author and columnist, The Evening Standard
Botox: It’s been used for years for children with cerebral palsy. Once I hit 30, I’ll be having it – I’m convinced of its safety.
Recommended: Dr Rita Rakus, 34 Hans Road, Knightsbridge, London SW3 1RW; tel. 020 7460 7324.
Lasers: I have a port wine stain on my face and have just finished treatment with the Cynasure laser – and the colour has reduced by 70 per cent. You do get very red and blotchy for about five days, though.
Recommended: Dr Nicholas Lowe (as before).
Intense Pulsed Light: For age spots and skin discolouration, this works just as well as newer lasers like Fraxel, but is more realistically priced.
Recommended: Mulvena Fraser at Dr Rita Rakus (as before).
Fillers: If you have lighter wrinkles ask for “Restylane Vital”, which is great for early lines.
If they’re heavier, “Restylane Sub-Q” is good. If you over-fill around the mouth, you can end up with a “chimp” look.
Recommended: Dr Rajiv Grover, 144 Harley Street, London W1G 7LE; tel. 020 7486 4301; rajivgrover.co.uk.
Thermage: This just hasn’t been around long enough for us to know if it’s really safe and it’s incredibly expensive.
See a specialist. Don’t go to someone who is a dentist by trade and now branching out into Botox and fillers.
Anti-ageing must-have: Carol Maggio’s Facercise (facercise.com) from the U.S.; a series of anti-ageing exercises for the face.
JAN MASTERS, beauty contributor to Sunday Times Style, Stella and Red
Botox: I’ve had it a few times. It’s not just about freezing expression lines – the right practitioner can give you a brow-lifting effect.
It has to be done by someone who knows the fine nuances of facial muscles or you could get a drooping brow or a Dr Spock effect.
Recommended: Dr Nicholas Lowe (as before).
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL): I had this for red veins around my nose and it really works, though it needs to be topped up every few months.
It’s best on pale skin. Anything with light is a problem for slightly dark skin, because you could end up with hyper-pigmentation of dark skin blotches. IPL can really help with the redness from rosacea, too.
Recommended: Dr Mike Tee at Cap City Cosmetic, 123 Cannon Street, London EC4N 5AX and Daniel Galvin, George St, London.
Peels: If you have very sensitive skin, you could irritate the skin long-term and increase your sun sensitivity.
Fillers: I tried a filler once for work and wouldn’t have it again. It can change the dimensions of your face and make it look unnatural and lumpy, especially in the lips.
Pay attention to your skin tone. A study by Olay Definity found that skin tone impacted a women’s perceived age by many years, independent of wrinkles.
Evening up skin tone is the next big thing.
Anti-ageing must-have: A hat! It covers your forehead, which is really susceptible to sun damage – plus it stops you squinting, which gives you crow’s feet.
ALICE HART-DAVIS, beauty guru on Observer Woman and wonderstuff.co.uk
Boob jab: I’ve seen great results, and Macrolane, the formulation that is injected into the breasts, is a proven safe ingredient.
And it’s temporary, so if it doesn’t work out you’re not stuck with it. Recommended: Dr Chris Ingelfield, London Bridge Plastic Surgery, St Olaf House, 13 Tooley Street, London SE1 2PE; tel. 0845 009 2775, lbps.co.uk.
Fillers: Sub-Q (from Restylane) is brilliant for filling out cheeks and lost volume.
But be careful, there are close to 100 filler brands available in Europe, yet only half-a-dozen approved by the FDA.
Recommended: For lips and lines, Fiona & Marie Aesthetics, 121 Harley Street, London W1G 6AX; tel. 020 7487 3032, fionamarie.co.uk. For cheeks, Dr Rajiv Grover (as before).
Sculptra: It stimulates the body to grow new collagen in the areas in which it’s injected, but the effects are subtle.
It’s used to replace the lost muscle tone that HIV and muscular dystrophy patients get, and adds volume and softness to the cheeks. Results take six to 18 months.
Recommended: Sharron Brown at The Private Clinic; theprivateclinic.co.uk, tel. 0800 599 9910.
SmartLipo: Surgeons have shown me people who have had this done and I can’t help wondering: “Have they tried diet and exercise?”
I’m an old-fashioned body fascist and I think it’s a cop-out to expect it’s going to help you lose weight.
Silicon injections: I’m not convinced of their safety as it’s not established whether silicon can move in the face. Don’t go near them.
Always go to someone with the right accreditation. Check with the British Association of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS, baaps.org.uk), the British Association of Cosmetic Doctors (BACD, cosmeticdoctors.co.uk) or the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD, bad.org.uk).
If the doctor isn’t registered with any of these, don’t go to them.
Anti-ageing must-have: I’m hooked on Eye-Tech false eyelashes (eye-tec.co.uk). They last about three weeks and look incredibly subtle and pretty.
NEWBY HANDS, director of Health & Beauty, Harper’s Bazaar
Botox: I’ve been having this for about six years. I would go only to someone who does a lot of Botox and with an aesthetic eye.
You need to see it as a work in progress. If you look a bit frozen the first time, tell the doctor you want less next time.
Recommended: Dr Jean-Louis Sebagh, 25 Wimpole Street, London W1M 7AD; tel. 020 7637 0548.
Lasers: Go with someone who uses lots of different lasers so they can tailor the treatment to you. Some of the latest, such as Fraxel, are exciting as they can correct problems in the skin – lines, scarring, skin discolouration – with less downtime than other older school lasers.
Recommended: Dr Nicholas Lowe (as before) or Diana at Dr Sebagh (as before).
Fillers: Yes, only if they contain hyaluronic acid because it’s proven safe. Brand names to look for are Restylane, Restylane Vital, Perlane, Sub-Q and Juvederm. Steer clear of anything semi-permanent or permanent. Recommended: Dr Nicholas Lowe, Dr Sebagh (as before).
Threadlift: This is when doctors literally attach fish hooks to your forehead to latch the skin up. I speak to so many who have to undo threadlifts as they break and fall out.
SmartLipo: Hasn’t been around long enough to prove itself, and in many cases that I’ve seen, it simply doesn’t work.
Thermage: It kills off fat cells in the face supposedly to tighten skin, but some patients are ending up with dents.
Peels: The marketing appeal of removing the top layer of skin is tempting, but I think it removes a protective layer from the skin.
Don’t have anything that’s new. I’ve seen stuff come in as the next big thing – then go out because it either doesn’t work or is downright unsafe.
Go for things that have stood the test of time.
Anti-ageing must-have: Antioxidants applied topically. I love Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair, £34, as it doesn’t quick-fix the skin but repairs it over time.
ROSIE GREEN, beauty director, Red
Botox: This has been used since the 1970s and proven itself to be as safe. Go to someone good and don’t have it done at a party.
Recommended: Perona Jones at Harvey Nichols Beyond Spa, Knightsbridge, London; tel. 020 7201 8595.
Laser for scar removal and pigmentation: In the right hands, laser can help with smoothing out skin tone, but only at a dermatologist experienced in lasers (ask if you’re unsure).
Recommended: Dr Nicholas Lowe (as before).
Laser hair removal: Laser hair removal is not the miracle it purports to be.
I’ve interviewed a lot of people who have paid out £2,000-plus for a course – and most of them still have to shave or wax their legs.
Peels: Dermatologists are warning that too many peels can lead to long-term damage.
You can’t cheat age more than five years. If you try to cut too many years off, you end up looking not younger, but weirder.
Anti-ageing must-have: I’ve been on maternity leave and feeling ancient, so tried Colgate Weekly Clean toothpaste plus a bit of concealer on the redness around my nose. It’s simple, but it took years off.