'How Botox and fillers gave me back my confidence after I lost my job'
Mum Toni Crowe, from Bangor, tells Una Brankin about the makeover that left her ready for the workplace again
Pretty Toni Crowe wanted to create the perfect selfie face after the shock of losing her job - with no warning - in advertising. The 33-year-old, from Bangor, achieved the V-line look through facial fillers and Botox injections and has regained the confidence she lost when the company she worked for closed down suddenly last month.
"We were given no warning at all, so it has been stressful," says Toni. "I wanted a new look for a fresh start, to get out there and find a new job, and I'm thrilled with the results."
The former sales manager contacted the River Medical clinic in Belfast for advice on how to give her face more definition and the sculpted look of selfie queens, Kim Kardashian and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini - or V-line shaping, as it's referred to in the beauty industry.
Toni says: "I think it's important to accentuate your cheekbones - they define your face - but I wanted the effect to be subtle. My cheeks were like golf balls straight after the injections with the expected swelling, but that subsided after a week and now I have far better structure to my face.
"It was a wee bit stingy, but it's not sore with the anaesthetic cream on," she adds. "It gave me a lovely profile - it's an art in itself. The therapist is a trained nurse and she took a lot of time and care to get the symmetry and the definition just right."
River Medical gave Toni her makeover free of charge. For her cheeks, River Medical used calcium based fillers (£390) which last up to 18 months. Toni also had Botox injections in three areas of her forehead, at a cost of £420.
"I can still move my eyebrows - I didn't want to look too frozen and unnatural," she says. "I wanted my lips done, too, but the therapist refused and said that I didn't need them. I would get the nose-to-lip folds done at some time in the future, and I wouldn't rule out cosmetic surgery on my nose."
Toni's new look has given her the confidence to look for a high profile job in public relations. Her husband Simon works as a fire officer. The couple have two children, Aimee (9) and Daniel (6).
"I was getting lines and wrinkles from sitting in front of a PC screen all day and from scowling at the kids," she says. "I don't mind admitting having fillers and Botox, even though they are still a bit of a taboo subject in Northern Ireland.
"Celebrities constantly deny having them done even when it's obvious.
"What I love about my new look is that it's natural looking and I'm going to maintain it through Vitalume vitamin infusion facials - all the VIPS have them. You only have one face so it's worth investing in."
Toni admits to neglecting her skin until she hit 30. Not using sunscreen has taken its toll.
"I had a skin analysis done a couple of months ago, and it showed up some dehydration, open pores, veins and sun damage, especially around my nose. I never wore sunscreen in my 20s, so I have a few problem areas and freckles.
"Now I cleanse, tone and moisturise twice a day and use a retinol vitamin A cream a few times a week. It thickens the skin and boosts collagen. It can be harsh on some skins, but I tolerate it okay.
"And I used to wear heavy Double Wear Foundation by Elizabeth Arden, because it was the only one that would stay put all day long, but constant use made my skin dry out. Now I use a light organic one by Jan Airdale in a compact, which is handy for touch-ups."
Treatments that help you look good for your age
Generally Botox is used on the upper part of the face and is administered by a doctor.
Dermal filler is used in the lower part of the face.
"It acts as a scaffold under the skin, providing structure and stimulating our own natural collagen to grow," says Aoibhin Cronin, a River Medical nurse. "Ultimately the body absorbs the product and leaves behind the natural collagen for long-lasting, subtle results.
"If you don't like needles, there are other good, pro-active anti-ageing treatments, such as Thermage, which has been made famous by Gwyneth Paltrow, who attributes her youthful looks to it. Thermage is a three-hour, radio frequency heat treatment - not for the faint hearted, but the corresponding results are astounding for suitable candidates.
"Another corrective treatment is the Fraxel - Jennifer Aniston is a fan - which works by stimulating the skin to heal itself, causing a surge in new collagen and elastin production. Come September, this will be the most requested treatment at River Medical, to un-do any of the damage caused during the summer. It's also good for lines and wrinkles, and even acne scarring."
Gentler alternatives include Pelleve, which uses advanced radio-wave technology to heat the deep layers of the skin, causing it to contract and tighten and produce new collagen; and Vita-lase, which combines the heat benefits of a laser treatment, followed by the application of collagen mask and potent peptides and serums. It's a two-part treatment spaced out 10 days apart.
"Nowadays, it's all about finding a treatment that makes your skin work hard; treatments that will work long after you have left the clinic," says Aoibhin. "It's about looking after what you have and looking good for your age, at any age."
Toni's tips for V-Line look with make-up and shading
1. Primer - I use Dermalogica Skin Perfect primer and Clarins Fix Make-up refreshing mist after applying foundation
2. Concealer - I love Benefit Boi-ing, before foundation and after
3. Foundation - I use Nuxe Prodigieuse DD creme. It has an SPF, smells great, is light on the skin but still has a great coverage
4. Highlighter - Charlotte Tilbury Film Star Bronze & Glow is pricey but lasts forever
5. Blusher - Senna Sun Up is great for highlighting the cheekbones
6. Eye-shadow and liner - I love Clarins Ombre Iridescente which is great for evening or day time
7. Face powder - Jane Iredale mineral powder covers shine and stays on all day
8. Lipstick and lip liner - I like Smashbox Pink Matte. If I'm doing dark eyes, I tend to stick with a neutral tone of lipstick
9. Lip gloss - Bobbi Brown High Shimmer, Bare Sparkle 15
10. Cleanser: Environ. All their products together provide a great balanced synergy for the skin