If perfect symmetry isn’t the goal of facial aesthetics...What is?
Like I say almost every day either in my clinic; on my social feed or in my blog - the skincare industry is FULL of misinformation backed by psuedo science.
As a specialist dermatologist, I’m on the frontline of dermatologic and aesthetic developments. It drives me crazy when I hear my patients and clients feeling pressured by unfair and untrue beauty standards, and sold treatments or products that proclaim to help them attain it. The result (as you can imagine, or have experienced) is often not what was expected, with a hit to your confidence to boot (Not to mention your wallet).
One myth that I encounter on a daily basis is the facial symmetry myth. Hold on tight, because despite popular belief, attractiveness or beauty doesn’t have anything to do with having a perfectly symmetrical face!
After years of treating faces it has became apparent that when it comes to symmetry NO ONE is perfect - from that perspective we are all the same, It’s universal.
So, below I’ve put together a quick summary of tips and tricks that anyone considering cosmetic injectables can follow to achieve the results they want.
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The two sides of your face should be like sisters (or brothers) NOT identical twins.
A fantastic way to illustrate this is when you take a photo of yourself (or even a celebrity) and cut it in half. Using the two halves you mirror the image to create a left hand side version and a right hand side version. The result is 3 very different looking people. The reason behind this is that we all have a high and a low side to our face. Your high side (i.e. the side where your bone structure may be more developed) is often the one we favour in photographs.
To show you exactly what I mean below is an image of Angelina Jolie - widely considered one of the most beautiful women of our time. What can you see when her face is transformed to be perfectly symmetrical? (Ding ding ding!) It doesn’t enhance her beauty - it actually detracts.
Obviously there is subjectivity involved here, but coming from someone with over 20 years experience studying, practicing as a dermatologist and serving on international boards in the industry - the goal of symmetry is unachievable, unnatural and confidence zapping.
Proportions are actually far more important when it comes to perceived attractiveness (google Leonardo Davinci’s golden ratio) and even then, there are many people who have a striking beauty that don’t conform to this rule either.
My recommendation - understand your own face and features before you sit down for a consult. Don’t aim to look like someone else, but rather the best version of yourself.
Identify the features you love about your face and build from that.
Contrary to popular belief, for the vast majority of clients, injectables are not about entirely re-inventing your face. When used in excess or in the wrong area they can actually have an opposite to desired effect.
It is as important to know the feature you love about your face, as much as the ones you feel need to change. This sets the basis for your expectations and also opens you up to the idea that by working with existing facial elements you can achieve a more natural, understated and refreshed look.
Knowing how different products work also helps you describe or even guide your injector so they can formulate the best treatment plan for you. If you find it confusing don’t stress - you aren’t alone. When you simplify it, cosmetic injectables can be broken in two categories with two overall goals:
- Anti-wrinkles injections: used to prevent facial movements and slow the visible signs of ageing by relaxing muscles and preventing the formation of dynamic wrinkles. (Think smooth forehead, crows feet and frown lines).
- Dermal Fillers: Designed to enhance features such as your lips or cheeks and add structure to areas of the face to compensate for the loss of collagen, fat and bone as we age. (Think lips, cheeks and jaw).
Again, there are other, more medical applications for the above products such as facial sculpting, treating chronic teeth grinding and hyperhydrossis which your specialist doctor can prescribe.
So, when it comes to choosing a cosmetic injector - what do I do?
The first and most important step is finding the right injector. even though cosmetic injectables are a non-invasive procedure, they still require extensive medical and specialist training as well as an in-depth understanding of facial anatomy. Do NOT assume that because someone can inject they should inject. Even I have to refresh my knowledge and continually learn in this field - I learn something new every time.
Injectables fall into a regulatory grey area in Australia meaning that anyone from a registered nurse, to a dentist to a plastic surgeon can technically inject. At the very least ask the question - is you provider a doctor, if not, will one be supervising or at least be onsite for your procedure. Complications need someone with a medical degree to manage.
Similar to more invasive treatments such as plastic surgery, it is vital to look around and have consultations with multiple providers. Every practician will have a distinct aesthetic style - and seeing examples of their work and understanding how they would approach your concerns is the first step in achieving the results you want. The best example is if you know someone who has been there.
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Be reasonable with your expectations.
injectables are not a magic wand - they will not transform you into your younger self. They can however leave you looking refreshed, and youthful for your age. Think of it from the perspective of reducing and preventing the visible signs of ageing rather than turning back the clock 20 years.
Always keep a photo of your ‘baseline’ (how you looked without any treatment) to refer back to once you’ve had a treatment. We can sometimes forget the progress we’ve already made and think more, more, more. More doesn’t always mean a better result, and be aware of how your injector approaches the topic. If it feels like they are selling it, they are, and that is not the right perspective to have when it comes to these kinds of treatments.
I understand how injectables work, but what are the alternatives?
My motto is that prevention is the best form of treatment, and this can start with taking care of your skin, with the right skincare on a daily basis.
A little known fact is that our skin cell renewal and production decreases from every 30 days in our 20s to every 60 in our 30s. Our collagen stops production at 25 and slowly declines. My range of Concentrated Clinical Strength Skincare has taken this into account and incorporates a range of skin cell and collagen promoting ingredients to assist not only with ageing but all six key skin concerns (including acne, rosacea/sensitivity, dehydration, pigmentation, sun damage). To get started get your hands on my Concentrated Clarifier and Illuminator.
Don’t underestimate the impact of even skin tone and having healthy luminous skin. Perception of facial ageing and health studies based on looking at even skin tone and skin health versus wrinkles have shown that even skin tone wins. Healthy even skin has a much greater impact on the perception of youth and vitality, than wrinkles. So what does this mean… Fix the canvas first!
Hold off on injectable and get the skin looking its best. This will also mean you are less likely to end up over filled or with work that looks artificial let alone distorting.
Best ways to get the skin its best:?
- Prevention: did you protect your skin form the sun in your first 15 years of life? If not its not too late. And if damaged then thank goodness we have laser.
- Repair: Laser removes and corrects skin damage. Just do what it takes to get it even.
- Routine: What you do at home is equally as important as treatments. Maintenance with daily skin care that works is paramount.