These Beauty Influencers Are Getting Real About The Costs Of All Their Procedures

"These videos can be helpful for people to see that the beauty they see online is not natural, that it's a result of procedures," said psychologist Charlotte H. Markey. "On the other hand, it can easily lead people, especially vulnerable people, to feel like their bodies are projects."

A video went viral last month showing aesthetician nurse Miranda Wilson pointing out all the procedures she had done in 2023.

In the clip, the 30-year-old beauty influencer says she had Botox twice last year ($1,000 total), masseter Botox once to achieve a more defined jawline ($1,200), two lip flips ($100 each) and traptox ― or Barbie Botox, as it’s been called ― once ($1,600), for shoulder slimming and tension relief.

Wilson then moves on to injectables: She gets Volbella lip injections once a year to maintain her lip shape ($650) and two vials of Sculptra injected to restore volume in her face ($1,600 total).

Lastly, to rejuvenate her skin, three or four times a year she gets vampire facials, which involve taking a sample of your own blood, extracting the plasma and then injecting it back in your face with microneedling. (The treatment, less frighteningly called microneedling with PRP, runs anywhere from $500 to $1,300 per session.)

The video received more than 1 million views ― and a wide range of reactions. Though some applauded Wilson for her transparency, others said they found the endless upkeep inherent in such a beauty regimen to be “incredibly sad.”

“This woman (absolutely gorgeous) is the perfect example of when men say a woman is ‘naturally beautiful’ but really they’ve had all of these procedures,” one person wrote of the clip on X (formerly Twitter).

Wilson isn’t the only one lifting the veil on costly med-spa procedures. Along with influencers in the last year, celebrities including Kylie Jenner and Ariana Grande all fessed up to lip fillers and Botox. (Jenner doing so after years of vehemently denying she’d ever touched her face.)

Though the admissions are relatively small ― no one is admitting to a Brazilian butt lift (BBL), a BBL reversal (yes, they have those now) or a face-lift ― it’s a welcome relief after years of celebrities either denying having work done or chalking their youthful appearances up to a skin care product they’re promoting or to just drinking lots of water. (Or, in Olivia Munn’s case, lots of water and Japanese potatoes.)

‘I’m not promoting anything, just lifting the veil on beauty procedures’

Dawn Montieth is among the influencers getting frank about her noninvasive cosmetic procedures. An aesthetic injector in Southern California with more than 78,000 followers on TikTok, Montieth said she created her “What I’ve Had Done” video because she didn’t want to gatekeep procedures. Being honest with her followers also felt more ethical than pretending her perfect skin and taut jawline were simply the results of miracle beauty products you could find at Sephora.

“When you’re on social media, it’s easy to get caught up in the allure of flawless influencers, but it’s crucial to remember that what we see is often just the highlights and not the full picture,” she said.

Many influencers who undergo treatments stay quiet about them to preserve the lucrative deals they have with beauty brands; if you mention that you just got $600 worth of Restylane lip filler and then hawk a $30 “plumping” lip gloss the next day, you might as well kiss any future brand deals or sponsorships goodbye.

But Montieth thinks most influencers ― and celebrities ― are just self-conscious and worry about the judgment of outsiders if they’re frank about the work they’ve had done.

“That’s why I wanted to create a safe and honest space to openly share my experiences,” she said. “By shedding light on these topics, I want to empower others to make informed choices about their own beauty journeys.” (Of course, given her line of work, it’s also good for business to promote such procedures.)

Sabryna Salmon, a 30-year-old content creator from Los Angeles, created a two-part series pointing out the procedures she had done before turning 30: Kybella under her chin and knees cost $500 or $600, but it was worth it, she says in one clip. Sculptra to get a rounder butt was definitely not worth it, since it requires around 10 sessions at $900 a pop.

Salmon sees her videos as part of the de-influencing trend on TikTok: Since last year, many influencers have started creating videos in which they dissuade their followers from buying certain cult-favorite products they personally find subpar.

“Some of these procedures can be expensive!” Salmon told HuffPost. “I’d hate to see anyone waste their hard-earned money.”

She added, “I’m certainly not promoting anything, just lifting the veil on the reality of beauty procedures; at my heart I’m just a girl’s girl and happy to share.”

Penny Gsell, a 27-year-old from Philadelphia, spends around $600 a year on procedures. In her “What I’ve Had Done” video, she rated the treatments on a scale of 1 to 10.

At 9/10, lip filler is “a must.” “They’ve completely changed my confidence,” she says in her clip. Septorhinoplasty to straighten her nose and improve nasal breathing got a mere 5/10.

Gsell said her goal is to remind young girls that what they see on their Instagram feeds can be just as deceptive as what she’d see in Teen Vogue and Cosmo when she was growing up and impressionable: Size 1 or 2 models whose photos were edited to the nth degree, even though they didn’t need it.

“When I grew up and learned about cosmetic procedures, I knew that if I was to ever get anything done that I would never want a little girl to look at me and think, ‘I’ll never look like her’ or compare herself to me without knowing that I’ve had work done,” she told HuffPost. “I always like to add the disclaimer that what I speak about only pertains to me and work I’ve had done. Everyone is beautiful, and no one needs to have work done.”

Gsell also wants to dispel the idea that people who get work done are “fake” or insecure.

“You live one life in one body,” she said. “I believe if you want to get something done to your one body to make yourself feel the best you can in your one life, then you should absolutely be able to do so without judgment.”

Briana Merriweather, a 30-year-old from Alabama, made a video on her procedures for the same reasons as Gsell. (She told HuffPost she spent about $8,000 on various procedures last year.)

“I used to compare myself to women on Instagram and feel so inadequate,” she said. “I’m committed to making sure my presence doesn’t make others feel inferior.”

Her hope is that her honesty will inspire more influencers to be candid about their own cosmetic procedures. “Even those who may not appear to have had any work done are likely utilizing treatments like Botox,” she said.

Do these videos really help people with body image issues, though?

An argument could be made that these videos are positive, helping to reset people’s ideas of reality so they’re not fooled by every Instagram model they see: These influencers are naturally beautiful, yes, but thousands of dollars worth of treatment certainly helps, too.

There’s a reason those collages featuring pics of celebrities before and after plastic surgery are so popular: “You’re not ugly, you’re just poor,” the caption dependably reads ― this generation’s “maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline.” People want reassurance that the 10s they see online are genetically gifted, just not that genetically gifted.

But a case could also be made that influencers are normalizing these kinds of intensive treatments, setting already sky-high beauty standards even higher with each new viral procedure: fox eye lifts, buccal fat removal, Barbie Botox, lip flips ― the list of Instagram Face micro-adjustments you can get, and with a Groupon, grows by the day.

In light of the “growing social acceptance” of such noninvasive procedures, plastic surgeons say demand for such treatments are at an all-time high; there was an increase of 26.2 million nonsurgical procedures, like lip fillers and Botox, performed in the United States last year alone.

“There are definitely two sides to this trend,” said Charlotte H. Markey, the director of the Health Sciences Center at Rutgers University, Camden, and the author of “The Body Image Book for Girls.”

“On the one hand, it can be helpful for people to see that the beauty they see online is not natural, that it’s a result of procedures,” she told HuffPost. “On the other hand, it can easily lead people, especially vulnerable people, to feel like their bodies are projects and that there’s a never-ending list of things they need to ‘fix.’”

Because these procedures are priced more reasonably than, say, breast enhancements or liposuction, the allure of getting one (or five) is even stronger.

Group4 Studio via Getty Images

“These videos can be helpful for people to see that the beauty they see online is not natural, that it’s a result of procedures,” said psychologist Charlotte H. Markey. “On the other hand, it can easily lead people, especially vulnerable people, to feel like their bodies are projects.”

In some ways, it levels the playing field, said Jess Sprengle, a licensed professional therapist who specializes in treating eating disorders. The mysteries of poreless skin, perfect facial balance and perfect teeth aren’t such mysteries when one influencer has unpacked the procedures she’s had done to achieve the look: Fraxel laser treatment, rhinoplasty, dermal fillers, veneers and the rest of it.

“You might see a perfect-looking photo of someone and think, ‘Oh, I remember that X said they get procedures done, and it seems like this is common. I’m not going to look that way because I’m not getting those procedures,’” Sprengle said. “Of course, in the photo, they could also be using a filter.”

Still, Sprengle wishes that as a culture, we could explore our obsession with youth and aesthetic perfection rather than skipping ahead to normalizing these procedures, especially for young people.

“It’s not so dissimilar to the recent discourse around Ozempic and other weight loss drugs,” she said. “We’re seeing people talk at length about the negative side effects of the meds, and there’s increased normalization of very adverse symptoms because, well, the person got to be thin at the end of it, so it must be worth it!”

Transferred to this topic, Sprengle said, there’s a strong message that the admired person “looks like this now and they’re beautiful and thriving!” None of the negatives, such as body image issues or obsession with youth, seem to matter as much.

Of course body autonomy matters ― you have every right to do whatever you want with your body, Sprengle said, especially if it “allows you to feel some modicum of comfort or security.”

“I do think the transparency is a very positive step, especially if it’s true transparency versus transparency with a goal ― because, unfortunately, vulnerability is as much a marketing tactic as anything else,” Sprengle said. “But I still think we have a long way to go.”

Read more

Leave a Reply