Overstreet believes the Botox secrecy is fueled by emotion. “Vulnerability is a key component in a relationship to building an emotional connection, but sometimes we are not comfortable disclosing things we are already insecure about it,” she says—aging being one of them.
“Oftentimes this behavior [of hiding Botox] is traced to something—to how someone grew up, to a feeling that we aren’t enough, or a fear of facing criticism. We all age, that’s a reality, but a lot of people fear facing criticism around those shifts from their partner,” she says.
As Botox has become more accessible, women have become caught in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” mindset—believing they will be judged by their partners if they don’t live up to the Hollywood standard of beauty but will also be judged for choosing an artificial solution to aging. It’s no wonder many women are choosing to not open up a conversation about it with their partners.
Dermatologist Shereene Idriss, MD, known as the @pillowtalkderm on Instagram, sees this secretive behavior among both her male and female patients regularly. “Both men and women at my practice don’t want their significant other to know what they’re doing,” she says. “And it’s not just limited to their significant others. Some people still want to keep it very private. And it’s not just a financial question either.”
To keep the secret, Dr. Idriss has allowed patients to pay in cash or split between credit cards and cash or checks. She’ll also advise on what procedures will have less bruising than others.
“I think social media is much more accepting when it comes to Botox and fillers, but in society as a whole, it is still sometimes frowned upon…. It’s not surprising that the secrecy is still going on,” she says.
For some women, not telling their husbands or boyfriends about their use of Botox has less to do with keeping it a secret and more with feeling they shouldn’t have to tell them.
Public relations executive Ariel Moses, 36, started getting Botox before her wedding six years ago. “I saw it as something I needed to do to take care of myself,” she says. “It’s not a secret, but I don’t tell my husband every time I get a bikini wax or every time I do something run of-the-mill, and I didn’t see this as any different. We have enough to talk about; I don’t have to tell him everything.”
Journalist and PR consultant Nicole Pearl, 44, also thinks it’s her body and her choice. Despite working in the beauty industry for much of her career Pearl didn’t use Botox until the pandemic hit. “Between the pandemic, and kids, and sleepless nights, it started to be on my mind,” she says.
After doing her due diligence and going for a consultation, she went for it—without telling her husband. Pearl ultimately put the experience of getting Botox for the first time on Instagram, and a friend told her husband about it, so it didn’t stay a secret for long.
“I’m not one for hiding things from my partner, and I definitely think if the decision will impact you financially, you need to be aligned with your partner, but in the end, I saw it as my decision to make,” she said.
In the end, Pearl’s husband said he could barely tell she’d had it done. “We put Botox on a pedestal, maybe because we think it’s a gateway to other cosmetic procedures. But dyeing your hair can be even more radical,” she says.
While it’s a common refrain that many men don’t even notice when their significant other gets Botox, Overstreet cautions people to think about the bigger significance of actively keeping a secret. “A lie of any nature is going to start to damage a relationship,” she says, advising that if this is a secret you’ve been keeping from your partner, to get ahead of it to lessen the damage.