You're Thinking About Botox All Wrong


I met Lisa Goodman at the Gramercy Park Hotel last August and I’ve been dying to write about her ever since. She was pitched to me as the “Jen Atkin of injections”—which is a mighty good way to pitch someone to a beauty editor because all beauty editors live and die for Jen Atkin. But it should be said that Lisa is not Jen Atkin—she is her own person, and a very interesting one at that. She’s not a dermatologist, she’s not a surgeon, though she’s worked with both. She opened GoodSkin Los Angeles last year in Los Angeles' Brentwood neighborhood as an “anti-aging clinic.” Maybe you haven’t heard of an anti-aging clinic before, but that’s OK—Lisa’s planning on changing that.

More aptly, she’s hoping to change how American women understand injections in general. “What you’ve been sold about Botox and Juvéderm and Restylane is all wrong,” is her opening line—and it's a good one. Her pitch: “Anyone who works with injections knows ‘the science of beauty’—that if you give this size cheek, this size eye, this size chin, you’re going to be prettier. That’s the American approach and it’s why so many people start getting that plastic surgery mask and start to look the same. The first thing I tell every new client is that I have to undo what you were sold here because it wasn’t what I was sold. In Paris, where I trained, it's totally different. I know you were sold Botox for wrinkles but try to think of it bigger. Try to think of Botox for lift.”

Botox for lift! If there's one takeaway here, that is it. Not forehead freezing, not wrinkle prevention, not scare tactics. It’s an approach that draws its inspiration from physical therapy and sports medicine. (Conveniently enough, Lisa’s father and brother work in those fields respectively.) The root of it is about training your face to look its best throughout your lifetime.

As much as Botox, Restylane, et al can be seen as artificially changing the face, the cold hard facts are that our faces change as we age no matter what. Lisa tells story after story about clients who come in and say they don’t recognize themselves in the mirror anymore. And not just because they’ve been sold bad plastic surgery. The face is covered in muscles—some that pull up but more that pull down. As we age, the down muscles get stronger, forming the face in different ways as they develop. For instance, a tense neck and jaw, from TMJ or sitting at a desk all day, can lead to a wider face over time. Lisa’s technique is to address these tendencies early and strengthen the up muscles and retrain the way you use your face, so you keep your look longer. “Can I help someone at 35? Absolutely. But by 45 it’s a lot harder.”

If you’re thinking, “But that doesn’t address my forehead lines,” it’s because it doesn’t necessarily. This isn't about erasing time so much as it is maintaining everything about you that you like. (That, and Lisa mentions that there are enough topical wrinkle solutions on the market that you can take care of that yourself, and for much less money.) I can’t tell you what an appointment with Lisa would be like, because each appointment with each client is different. While any doctor or specialist will be happy to give you a consultation before coming in, syringes blazing, Lisa requires it. And please don’t bring a photo of Bella Hadid—she won’t look at it. Instead, Lisa examines photos of you now, photos of you five years ago, photos of your parents now, photos of your parents 20 years ago…save the magazine clippings for the hair salon. On a personal note, all the before and afters I've seen of Lisa's work are astounding. Patients look like they've come back from the most restorative vacation where they just slept for three years straight. No one looks like they've had work done.

It's interesting territory to explore, particularly because people are still so reticent to talk about what work they're having done and how frequently. I’m sure there are a lot of differences between LA people and New York people, but the one that stands out most to me is the former’s willingness to talk about Botox, fillers, and the like…I was barely on the ground for four hours before I had my first conversation about preventative Botox with a 28 year-old who’s been getting injections for years. From my experience, it's a much more hush-hush thing in New York.

But that’s changing. Debora L. Spar, the president of Barnard College, wrote an essay in the New York Times a few weeks back about the feminism of fillers that's a great read. No doubt there's stigma, but it's an attitude that might be cemented in fear. Maybe it's the beauty industry's uncanny ability to make you feel ugly before promising to make you beautiful again. And the less people talk about it, the more people are subject to getting bad Botox. And nobody deserves bad Botox.

"We would like to change the conversation about injectables so that it’s not Botox shaming and injection shaming for people," Lisa told me. "I want people to see you and know it's you and your unique look—not think you're Olivia Munn or someone." It's a positive approach, certainly. Botox, but with the addition of really good vibes. Makes for good looking faces—and even better business sense, I suspect.

—Emily Ferber

Photo via Goodskin Los Angeles.

Next up: Botox in your 20s? An injectables veteran tells all.