I Tried ‘Boxed Botox’ & The Real Thing — Here’s My Honest Review (+ Before / After Pics!)
When my dermatologist suggested Botox for the first time, I was more than a little taken aback. I had gone to see her to get a few moles checked, and one thing led to another and we started chatting about cosmetic procedures. As an almost-30-year-old woman living in America, I’m no stranger to the idea of Botox, fillers, and plastic surgery. More than a handful of my friends head to the medspa every few months and walk out with fuller lips and smoother skin. As the most indecisive person in the world who has a hard time dropping $20 on a dress let alone $200 on what I feel is an unnecessary procedure, I never seriously considered getting anything extreme done to my face other than an eyebrow wax and tint.
But then my dermatologist’s office was running a special on Botox. And then she (maybe rudely?) pointed out the wrinkles that have already formed on my forehead. Next thing you know, I was leaving the office with a pamphlet about Botox and an appointment scheduled for two weeks later.
If you’re like me, you might not even know what Botox is, other than something that makes many celebrities look like wax statues. In a scientific short, it’s an injectable botulinum toxin that blocks the signals from nerves to muscles, making it so the injected musical can’t contract. In laymen’s term: it paralyzes the muscle so it can’t move around, which creates wrinkles over time. While Botox is now used as a treatment for a wide range of medical conditions (like migraines, osteoporosis, juvenile cerebral palsy, and overactive bladder – just to name a few), in the mainstream media it’s praised time and time again for freezing not only your facial muscles but for also reducing the appearance of wrinkles and minimizing the tell-tale signs of aging.
Since Botox was first used cosmetically in the 1980s, it’s been one of the world’s most common cosmetic intervention procedures. And at 29 years old, I fall into the “late twenties to early thirties” category of women who start preventative Botox to avoid future wrinkles as the weight of the world starts to pull at our skin.
“At 29 I fall into the “late twenties to early thirties” category of women who start preventative Botox to avoid future wrinkles as the weight of the world starts to pull at our skin.”
In case you couldn’t tell, I think all of this is a little bit bullshit. Even though I grew up assuming I’d have some sort of cosmetic procedures done in my life (my boobs were too small! My nose was too bumpy!), by the time I was at the age to actually get work done, I just didn’t feel like it was worth the money. I’m all for doing whatever you want with your body, and if a cosmetic procedure will give you the confidence you crave, then I’ll be the first to cheer you on. But the idea of dropping thousands of dollars to shave down some cartilage in my nose instead of using that money for a downpayment on a house felt irresponsible.
My Before Face:
But like I said, my dermatologist’s office was running a special and after over a year of zero pampering thanks to Covid, I decided to book an appointment and give Botox a try. As someone who is of the “don’t knock it until you try it” mindset, I figured the worst thing that would happen is I would hate the results and never do it again. Since Botox only lasts for about 3-to-6 months — and we were still in the midst of a pandemic — it seemed like a safe enough way to test out cosmetic procedures. If I ended up looking like a melted candle, at least only my husband would have to look at me.
Leading up to my procedure, I pored over information and Googled everything from “Can Botox kill you” (it can’t) to “Should I tell my husband I’m getting Botox” (you should). While digging through forums I came across Athena 7 Minute Lift, a product that claimed to give you Botox-like results without the needles.
“Since Botox only lasts for about 3-to-6 months — and we were still in the midst of a pandemic — it seemed like a safe enough way to test out cosmetic procedures. If I ended up looking like a melted candle, at least only my husband would have to look at me. “
According to the website, it “reduces the appearance of wrinkles, saggy skin, and puffy eyes” in just — you guessed it — seven minutes. Considering they offered a money-back guarantee and I was feeling especially anxious about getting poison injected into my face a few weeks later, I wondered if a cream could really give me the results my dermatologist raved about. At $80 for a .5 oz tub of product vs. about $200 for a round of Botox, I wanted to compare the two different techniques to see if one was better than the other. Here’s how the different age-defying options broke down:
Athena 7-Minute Lift
Prep: A clean face
Application Time: 5 minutes
Wait Time: 7 minutes
Results Last: 3-5 hours
Cost: $80 for 10+ uses
What was so alluring about the 7-Minute Lift cream was that in addition to it firming your skin without poking needles into your face, it’s made with organic ingredients. Still, when it arrived and I found that $80 got me the teeniest amount of product, I was concerned. I use more lotion in one sitting than this little tub had in it all together. After reading the small instruction booklet and watching the video on the website, however, I realized that a little bit of product goes a very, very long way.
After wetting the small brush included in the kit, I stroked the cream onto the areas where I noticed wrinkles, and set a timer for seven minutes. You have to stay expressionless while the product soaks into your skin, so I took the opportunity to lay in bed in the middle of the afternoon with my eyes closed, and found myself bummed when the alarm went off. While my skin felt a little tingly, I wasn’t expecting to see such a drastic difference in my face after just a few minutes.
Granted, I used way too much of the product (which is why there’s white residue all over my face), but the fact that some cream could make me look like I had a full night’s sleep for the first time maybe ever, is pretty incredible. I get why celebrities and makeup artists swear by the product: Once you get the hang of it, it actually works. My skin felt tighter, my eyes looked brighter, and the fine lines I developed thanks to years of squinting at my computer were less visible. The downside is that after a few hours I could feel the cream wear off, and by the time I washed my face that night, my wrinkles were looking back at me in the mirror.
According to the website, the more you use the product the more it firms your skin, so over time the results will last longer. Regardless, I was impressed, and if Botox could give me these results without having to reapply daily, then maybe I could handle a little bit of pain.
Prep: A clean face
Application Time: 10-15 minutes
Wait Time: 24 hours
Results Last: 3-6 months
Cost: Approximately $200 for 20 units
Despite being excited about the results from the 7-Minute Lift, by the time my Botox appointment actually came around, I was the definition of anxious. Considering I pass out at the mere mention of needles, I wasn’t excited for someone to jab my face multiple times. After a little bit of back and forth, the nurse assured me it wasn’t “too painful” and propped my feet up to keep the blood from pooling. As the injector came into the room, I felt my hands instantly turn clammy, and I tried to avoid looking at the needle.
The dermatologist explained that she would inject “units” of Botox into various problem areas to help reduce wrinkles in the future. When she asked where I wanted to be injected, I was at a loss. I hadn’t even considered what I wanted to look like. I just assumed all Botox was the same. After looking at my face way too closely in the mirror, we (and by that, I mean the doctor while I nodded along blindly) decided on 20 total units around my hairline and where my eyes crinkle in the corner. She put a few marks on my face, stepped back to admire her handiwork, and asked if I was ready.
I nodded and with my eyes shut, I tried to stay still as she pierced my skin over and over again. To my relief, the nurse was right: It didn’t hurt that bad. It felt like a rubber band snapping my skin — uncomfortable but not outright painful. A few minutes later, she smiled and said I was done. “Don’t sleep on your stomach and don’t do any cardio today,” she said, and we laughed at the idea of me doing cardio before I hopped on the table and walked out of the office.
As soon as I got to the car, I stared at myself in the mirror, wondering why I didn’t notice any changes. When my face still looked the same the next morning, I called the office and was told I wouldn’t see the full results for a week or two. This meant when I stopped being able to move the top of my head a week and a half later, I forgot about the Botox and completely panicked. It felt utterly bizarre — I’d wiggle my eyebrows but they didn’t go nearly as high as before and all the muscle movement stopped in the middle of my head.
Essentially, the top half of my head was paralyzed.
While Botox did what it was supposed to do, the problem is it was doing it too well. My face looked distorted, with a distinct line in the middle of my forehead where the muscle stopped moving. When I relaxed my face I looked angry, (a common side-effect of getting over injected) and when I raised my brows, my forehead bunched unnaturally. After a few frantic calls with my dermatologist and a visit to a specialist the truth was simple: I had been over injected. Less units in more areas of my face would have softened out the results and my only option was to either get more Botox to even things out or just… wait.
The body eventually metabolizes Botox, which is why you have to repeat the procedure to keep your results. The bad news is that while the Botox would eventually fade away from my forehead and my muscles would move normally again, there wasn’t a way to undo the results immediately. Since I wasn’t going to risk getting more Botox, I left the office detected but humbled.
At the end of the day, no one will notice my forehead and if they do, who cares? My crow’s feet are officially gone and after enough time, they’ll be back just like the moment in my forehead. The thing is looking in the mirror and feeling like your reflection is off is disorienting. I’m lucky the results will fade and eventually my face will feel normal again, but trying Botox made me realize that all the cosmetic surgery in the world would never feel as good as just… appreciating myself for who I am. It wasn’t until I felt like my face had changed that I realized how much I liked it to begin with, just how it was.
Results & Final Thoughts:When it comes to things that’ll go wrong in my life, bad Botox will soon be forgotten. And I’m glad I gave it a try. Maybe next time — if there’s a next time — I’ll go to someone who injects full-time, as opposed to my doctor who handles a lot of different appointments. Now when I look in the mirror, I think about how nice my natural face is, and how much I can’t wait for it to come back. As time goes on I might start to hate my wrinkles but for now, I think I’m going to embrace them. And if I’m feeling self-conscious? I’ll reach for some cream instead of getting injected. At least then I can wash off the results if they’re not up to par.
Rachel Varina is a social media, digital marketing, and editorial expert living in sunny Tampa, Florida. When she’s not creating content or collaborating with brands, you can catch her devouring thriller novels and supporting pineapple in the great pizza debate with her husband and two rescue pups by her side. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.