One word with the power to send men and women around the world into a cold sweat.
(...and let's face it, a nickname you'd rather avoid.)
So, at what age are you not considered 'a bit paranoid' for adopting something of an anti-ageing regime?
30? 25? 18?
Whether or not your personal regime should consist of Botox at the ripe old age of twenty-something, though, is still up for debate….
We're definitely seeing a surge of younger patients flooding the clinic for injectables. And we're not the only ones; one UK clinic recording a 56% year-on-year increase in Botox enquiries from 18-25 year olds since 2012.
A recent Superdrug survey even revealed that, on average, women actively start worrying about wrinkles (particularly 'crow's feet') at the age of 29.
So why are so many young people so concerned about treating their yet-existent wrinkles? Should they be?
Firstly, let's get one thing straight: there is no definitive age that Botox 'should' begin.
We've all met someone who - in spite of their age - just happens to look incredible, and on the flip side, another that isn't holding their age quite as gracefully.
Inevitably, a 25 year old that has a love of sunbeds and 10 years of smoking under their belt is going to present a very different case to one who has diligently moisturised, eaten well and gotten ample exercise over the years.
Botox, unfortunately, isn't a magical concealer for an indulgent or unhealthy lifestyle.
It is designed to freeze the muscles and temporarily fill in fine lines, yes, but if you're hoping to wash away the sins with the syringe then you may end up looking smooth, but you certainly won't look young.
The fact remains that it is much easier to hit the 'Pause' button on youth than it is the 'Rewind', and from a biological perspective at least, the 'preventative botox' logic does check out.
Studies using identical twins have shown that small doses of Botox (known as 'Baby Botox, or 'Sprinkles') little and often, can do a great deal for delaying those wretched wrinkles, longer term.
Think of it this way…
If you took a sheet of paper. You scrunched it up into a ball really tight, and then tried to flatten it out again, you may get the paper to be relatively flat again, but it certainly doesn't look the same.
Unscrunching that paper might take the pressure off the creases that were formed, but are they still visible?
Would it not be more beneficial to put that sheet of paper into a protective, plastic wallet? One that, should you fold or twist the paper, springs back instinctively into position?
This - in effect - is 'Preventative Botox'.
Botox is a neuromodulator. (Which just means that it alters messages going to the brain.)
Neuromodulators are usually used to treat movement disorders like epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis.
Topical placement of a neuromodulator - like Botox - will help to block the transmitters responsible for muscle contraction and train the face to break the habits (or, movements) which are leading to lines forming.
This relieves the pressure from those particular areas and reduces the risk of fully fledged, permanent wrinkles forming there.
If used preemptively, as is the case with 'preventative botox', it will relax (and weaken) the muscles which are causing the skin to ruche in those areas and actually prevent any extreme skin movements full stop.
First things first: it's important to know what you're looking for.
Expression lines are normal.
Those laugh lines that crop up when you smile? Normal. Brow crinkles when you look surprised? Also normal.
The important distinction lies in how apparent those lines are when your face is relaxed.
Are there signs of lasting or repetitive indentation like foundation always wearing away in one particular area, or settling into small creases of the face?
If these slight lines are present on a resting, expressionless face then it could be time for a professional opinion.
But only then.
Instead of leaping for the syringe at the first sign of fine lines, though, what you should really be pursuing at this stage is a trusted practitioner who is willing to give you an honest evaluation.
Are those frown lines much more apparent to you than they are an onlooker?
Are your laugh lines actually quite endearing and make your face appear much warmer?
Short answer: yes.
There are certain less severe precautions you could be taking if you aren't quite ready to take 'the Botox-route'.
Here are 6 of our Harley Secrets for fending off the visible signs of ageing (and need for the needle) that little bit longer…
Certain cleansers and body washes contain sulphate.
This is often listed on the label as 'Sodium lauryl sulfate' or 'SLS', and can cause corrosion - particularly to skin prone to redness, sensitivity and flaking.
Sulphates are used for their ability to strip away excess oil, but extended use will also strip away natural protective barriers and valuable moisture. Hello, lines!
Operating in areas with high altitudes, high rates of air pollution, or lots of direct sun will accelerate oxidation damages to your body.
That means that if your skin isn't properly cared for, it's far more permeable to all sorts of irritants. Bad news for all you city slickers, gardeners and ski instructors.
Always keep a zinc-based sunscreen handy, and use it liberally to keep the skin protected.
Certain medications are known to dry out the skin. (Typically cholesterol or blood pressure medications because they affect the body's water levels - although not exclusively.)
As we age, the epidermis becomes thinner and can't retain as much water, so prolonged use of these kinds of medications can give the illusion of much older skin.
Of course, we're not advocating that you forego important meds for younger-looking skin - just that you note there is a chemical force at work, and adapt your skincare accordingly. Discuss medication side effects with your doctor so you know exactly what you're up against.
Certain medications are also linked to insomnia, which leads us to #4…
There's a reason it's called 'beauty sleep'.
Sleep is vital for looking youthful due to the fact that certain hormones are secreted during specific sleep stages, and only then.
If you're having broken or disrupted sleep - even just not enough of it in general - you may very well be foregoing certain hormones that target tissue renewal, regeneration and cell growth. Eeesh.
A massive 75% of HGH, for example, is secreted by the pituitary gland during deep sleep, so a continuous night sleep is actually one of the few times in the day in where adults can reap its benefits. Off to bed, you!
Prolonged emotional stress will take its toll on the body.
This is because it increases the secretion of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones are necessary in short supply, but when in overdrive will accelerate various aging processes.
This can suppress connective tissue synthesis, increase fat storage, lower growth hormones, even damage bone density and cause changes to your bone structure. Add that to all the repetitive frowning and we're really in trouble.
Everyone knows that smoking is bad for your skin, but they don't really know too much about why.
It's partly due to a reduction in vitamin C. 60% in fact. Vitamin C is a key component in the production of collagen fibers, which are responsible for the elasticity and appearance of youthful and healthy skin.
Nicotine also narrows your blood vessels meaning the skin gets much less oxygen, not to mention the repetitive pursing of the lips, so put that thing out!
In honesty, if anybody answers that question for you without seeing you first in person ...run. They do not have your best interests in mind.
Why? Because you cannot possibly know that from static information like age or environment.
If you are concerned about those first signs of fine lines, then what we would suggest, is not waiting around for your worries to be confirmed. Act.
That action may not be diving head first into Botox treatment itself, but instead putting yourself in front of someone who is ready and willing to evaluate your skin fairly, and honestly. You came here for an answer, so here it is. Is there something you should be doing? Yes.
Come and see us for a free consultation and get that ball a-rolling now.
Not today, wrinkles. Not today.