In between writing for book and my usual copy deadlines I have found myself of late watching old episodes of Sex and the City. The clothes, the city and the dating, ah what fun. The old obsession with SATC started with the new Girls series on HBO which I have liked but not loved. Not loved in the way I loved every minute of SATC. When I had the opportunity to undertake a private project it was on SATC and more specifically the character of Carrie Bradshaw and the performance of the character.
My primary research found that the majority of women wanted to be the character Carrie Bradshaw. For the clothes, the shoes and either Mr Big or Aiden. Her walk in wardrobe had to be top of the list as well as her apartment in New York. Whilst I was watching the re runs I began to examine Sarah Jessica Parker's face. Recently I had gone to a Nigella Lawson book signing and Mrs Fab of Style at Every Age had commented on how wrinkle free Nigella's face was. As I conversed with the 51 or was it 52 year old Nigella, she told me her age as we discussed her wonderful salmon fishcake recipe from a book published in 2001, I peered at her beautiful make up and skin. Nigella's eyebrows were perfection themselves alone! Back home I went through every cookbook of her I own, and bar one I have them all, and studied her face. Then I watch her on Nigellissima and concluded that Mrs FAb was right she MUST have had something done. The same is true of SJP, folks you do not get to be an American size 2 (UK 6) without it impacting on your face - we all know this.
Yet I can only speculate because I know nothing of the world of non surgical treatments and improvements. Folks I tell you I spent days pouring over my face, old photographs from 8 to 10 years ago and I needed to know - should I take the plunge? Could I get the natural look that SJP and Nigella have so obviously and effortless (apart from slashing the cash) achieved. Would it really be worth it and would it ruin my features. These questions came like a running tap you can't turn off.
The only place I knew where to start was the Cosmetic Skin Clinic in Stoke Pogis where I had recently had CoolSculpting treatment. The reason I choose to investigate the reality of anti ageing techniques at the Cosmetic Skin Clinic is because it just happens to be a female led medical practice. Dr Tracy Mountford is not only recognised as a leading expert in this field but her team is many decades worth of experience. It is also a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of Harley Street. I have met lots of cosmetic practitioners over the years as a stylist and have had lots of clients who have obviously had work done. Only a few practitioners really deliver natural results. Tweaks to the face that no one notices and has to guess about, this is their forte.
Luckily they were happy to indulge my investigation in to the reality of anti ageing. The first thing that struck me upon my return was the fact I was right about the clinic it is an oasis of calm and they have really nice coffee. There are even biscuits but I am so focused on my interrogation, I mean interview I merely glance at them. I am guided through a process that all who enter will enjoy. A mix of form filling, a cosy chat about what you don't like and photographs of your face. No smiling is allowed. When I see the non smiling me, it isn't horrific but I felt a sadness of passing youth. The stark reality is you do really see the ageing process unfold in your forties. Clothes wise we can keep on trend, be stylish and enjoy fashion but the face isn't so easy to dress up.
My assessment with the nurse practitioner Tara was incredible. The practice is very clear about their ethos of only replenishing the face, achieving a natural look which is often underwhelming. They would rather be 10% under optimisation than 10% over. Tara patiently explains to my barrage of questions that it is really in our 5th decade that the skin gets thinner and out natural youthful fat pockets fall southwards without the firmness of the skin to keep them in place. I have a small face and this means I will be more prone to the skin sagging as a wider, larger face will keep the skin structure for longer. This small fact was like a lightbulb moment. I had often admired larger faced ladies and now I knew why. It isn't the bone structure it is the skin remaining firmer for longer. Or rather as the skin thins it stays put for longer due to the width of the face. As Samantha would knowing say in SATC 'width is everything'. Damn, my small head smugness was well and truly tipped on its head.
The advice I am given is I need a few areas treated to lift my face to basically prevent me look like a bitter old lady! The treatment in question would be Emervel hyaluronic acid fillers. And if I really wanted the muscle relaxant Azzalure which is the purified protein derivative of the purified botulinum toxin. Don't say Botox which is a registered brand name do say botulinum toxin is what I have learnt.
Gosh this is the point where I almost feel physically sick. It is a mix of nerves and heady excitement. Apparently the majority of people at this juncture want the treatment straightaway. Having seen the before and after pictures of the many patients at the clinic I can see why. All that is staring back at me is fresh, natural looking faces. They just look good and normal. I actually bite my lip and say I will have the numbing cream applied because I want to know what it is like. But the next step...er.....shoulda, coulda, woulda? I really don't know......
What would you do?!!