Meet the women who can’t face the new term without back-to-school Botox! Freshly done facial fillers. Fat dissolving jabs. Teeth whitening. £700 extensions. Forget the little darlings looking the part…
- Many mothers are having cosmetic tweakments to get school gate ready
- Shanin Lonsway, 51, who lives in London, has spent £3,030 on her look
- Mother-of-two says it’s scary knowing other mums will be checking her out
- Lindsay Edwards, 36, from Bedfordshire, has spent over £3,000 getting ready
Preparations for the new school year began weeks ago in the Lonsway household.
Never mind the freshly-pressed uniforms and shiny new shoes for her sons, mother-of-two Shanin, 51, has undergone beauty tweakments and treatments to ensure she is school-gate ready.
Top of her to-do list was Botox, which she had injected into her crow’s feet, forehead and along her eyebrows in the two weeks before term begins. Then came fillers in the apple of her cheeks and along her cheekbones at the same time — and a small amount to subtly plump her lips, too.
At the end of August, she travelled from her home in north London to Nottingham for hyaluronic acid treatments to banish her ‘turkey neck’ by boosting the collagen in her skin.
SHANIN Hair extensions: £700 Botox: £450 Fillers: £1,100 Fat dissolve: £400 Facials: £300 Mani and pedi: £80 TOTAL: £3,030
She has also endured fat-dissolving injections in her tummy and bottom, allowing her to squeeze back into her designer jeans after a summer of indulgences.
And new hair extensions were applied painstakingly last month when her hair was coloured a perfect chestnut brown in time for the autumn term.
‘The list is exhausting!’ admits Shanin, a stay-at-home mum. ‘But my looks are important to me and when my sons return to their private boarding school next week, I feel it’s my duty to glam up for them.’
According to Shanin, she is far from alone in indulging in back-to-school Botox.
She says: ‘This school costs me £42,000 a year in fees for my sons, Dylan, 14, and Noah, 11, and the women who send their children there redefine the word competitive.
‘I usually bump into aristocratic mothers with titles, those ultra-thin European ‘mamas’, not to mention Tiger Mothers from the Far East. And we’ve all had work done.
‘This September, everyone will be that bit more careful about how they look. We’ve had to work harder than ever after letting things slide in lockdown.’
The school run has long been known as the classroom catwalk with yummy mummies flaunting their carefully curated outfits. But now, after a year of lockdown lethargy, many mothers are raising the stakes with cosmetic tweakments and blowdries to give them the edge.
Anti-ageing cosmetic doctor Dr Martin Kinsella says: ‘This August, we’ve seen more women than in any other August pre-Covid.
FAYE Facial: £60 Botox: £200 Tear-trough fillers: £450 Eyebrow and lashes: £20 Nails: 20 Hair £105 TOTAL £855
‘Mums in their 30s have been focused on anti-wrinkle treatments — and that’s mainly been Botox and tear-trough fillers, which remove under-eye wrinkles. For the older mothers, it’s subtle-looking fillers.
‘They’ve all avoided anything involving recovery time, such as threadlifts. These mums don’t have the time to set aside while bruising fades.’
Hairdressers, too, have experienced a bookings surge.
Dennie Smith, who owns busy salon Vintage 62 in South East London, says appointments for the end of August and the first week of September were gone eight weeks ago.
‘Before this year, we’d have slots allocated to children and teens for back-to-school haircuts,’ says Dennie. ‘This summer it’s the mums, too.
‘The cost just doesn’t seem important. They’re having cuts and colours and their priority is looking good.
‘My salon is in a busy catchment area of four — private and state — schools. All the mums are prioritising themselves ahead of the new school year.’
For Shanin, who’s single, it’s all the more important because it will be her youngest’s first day at his prestigious school.
She says: ‘I make no bones about the fact that I put my face and body through countless procedures to make my boys proud of me. They love that I make an effort for them.
‘And it takes a lot of planning — you can’t have all the treatments at once and, with some of them, you risk side-effects, so you have to have them well in advance.’
It’s only in the past five years that Shanin has succumbed to injectables. Like many women her age, she has been targeted by seductive social media adverts and says she has noticed more this spring and summer — from clinics in her area promoting special offers to cut-price surgery overseas.
LINDSAY Hair: £95 Laser hair removal: £150 Pigmentation removal: £300 Eyebrow microblading: £300 Invisalign braces: £2,200 TOTAL: £3,045
‘I have spent just over £3,000 on all the treatments including hair altogether,’ she says. ‘And it has paid off. I feel confident about taking the boys back to their school.
‘My ex-partner will drive us in his swanky new BMW so that we arrive in style. I’ve been to Harvey Nichols and bought a red pair of Gucci heels for £575 and some expensive NYDJ jeans. There is back to school, but back to boarding school is on a whole new level, so I’ll need to look sexy but conservative.
‘Even though I’ll put my best, pedicured foot forward, it is scary knowing the other mums will be checking me out.
‘What’s the worst insult I can be called as a mother in 2021? Frumpy — I’ve never been labelled it yet and I’m happy to work hard and spend the money to ensure I never do.’
Another mother who’s faced down this September’s school return with the determination of an Olympian athlete is administrator Faye Mitchell, 45. She lives with her partner and their eight-year-old son and daughter, seven, in Leeds.
‘I take pride in how I look and would hate the children to be embarrassed by my appearance,’ she says. ‘So before school starts again, I have had a packed schedule.
‘After the lows of lockdown and a summer of indulgence with the children, I’ve been swimming several times a week to get my size eight figure back.
‘I’ve also been doing 30 minutes of core exercises three times a week.’
There are also the all-important beauty treatments: ‘The prospect of out-of-proportion lip fillers turns my stomach, yet Botox works wonders!
NIKKI Botox: £300 Microblading: £89 Hair: £100 TOTAL: £489
‘I’ve also succumbed to tear-trough fillers in the crease underneath my eyes. It boosts collagen production and plumps the hollows underneath the eyes at a cost of £450. I have had both procedures done in the last month, in time for them to work for the big day.
‘This year, we need all the help we can get, and that includes many mothers who are younger than me. When they can’t frown in their 20s, it is a giveaway!’
Faye had her first Botox injections in her frown lines when she was 32, before her eldest started school in 2008.
She believes it’s paid off because her children and their friends often tell her that she doesn’t look her age.
‘Not being able to keep up anti-ageing maintenance bothered me more than I thought it would during lockdown.
‘Homeschooling aged me, too! I now realise it’s the little things that keep you going on the school run.
‘It’s why I’ve gone the extra mile this year to look young and fresh. From eyelash tints, haircut and tweakments, it’s all made a massive difference — I feel and look good.
‘My husband has no idea how much it all costs, although he will now! But he’s very laidback about my beauty habits.’
Faye Mitchell, 45, (pictured) who lives in Leeds, said it’s important that she looks good, so that she can go out for lunch with her mummy friends
Faye has also already planned her outfit and knows exactly what she will be doing after she has waved her children off.
‘I am going to wear a flowery maxi dress with a pair of on-trend white trainers. It’s important that I look good so I can go out for lunch afterwards to celebrate our freedom when I meet up with my mummy friends.’
Other mothers have learnt the hard way about which outfit to choose for the school run. Take personal stylist Lindsay Edwards, who lives in Bedfordshire with her husband, Ryan, 40, a car salesman, and their two sons, Jake, 15, and Christopher, 11.
‘When I started doing the school run over ten years ago, I was working in childcare and didn’t take any pride in how I looked. I felt my figure had changed after having children, so wore shapeless styles in dull colours to avoid scrutiny.’ It was when other mothers started to make comments that she began to approach the school run differently: ‘They were always asking if I was tired, as I obviously looked so washed out.
‘Those immaculate women can be quite intimidating.
‘Hanging out in cliques, they just had an innate confidence and I realised I needed to take the same care about doing the school run as I would about going out for the evening.’
Lindsay Edwards, 36, (pictured), who lives in Bedfordshire, said on the days when she just turns up at the school gates, she gets comments such as ‘you’re looking tired’
That’s why this year Lindsay, 36, approached her boys’ return to school with the kind of preparations a Hollywood actress would make before walking the red carpet at the Oscars.
‘The date of the autumn term is circled in red on the calendar,’ she says. ‘I organised a diary packed with beauty appointments so I look flawless on the first day back at those gates.
‘Earlier this week, I had my hair cut and coloured with honey and caramel highlights to give me that smart, end-of-summer style.
‘I’ve had my eyebrows threaded and tinted. And, since September can still be warm enough to show bare arms and legs, I’m having laser hair removal three days before the boys go back.
‘At the same time, to lessen my summer freckles, I’m having pigmentation treatment on my face, chest area and shoulders.
She also had Invisalign — a teeth-correcting process — which included bleaching over the holidays at a cost of £2,00.
‘I don’t begrudge a penny of it,’ she says. ‘I want to look my very best when we mothers all reunite on the morning drop-off again.
‘That’s why I’ve also got the perfect outfit picked out.
Lindsay (pictured) became so interested in her appearance that four years ago she became a personal stylist
‘The most important thing, of course, is getting my boys to school on time. But I will refuse to step out of the house until I’m looking my very best.’
Why exactly does she go to all the bother?
Lindsay says it’s because she knows what it’s like when you don’t try your hardest.
‘In the days when I just turned up, I’d often get comments such as ‘you’re looking tired’. It wasn’t meant in a mean or nasty way. I think the other mums just saw me and thought maybe I was run down. But it made me feel self-conscious about looking a mess.
‘I soon realised I had to do something about it — for my own self-esteem. And my husband is really supportive as he knows how great I feel when I look good.’
Lindsay became so interested in her appearance that four years ago she became a personal stylist. Her business, Reimagise, includes colour analysis, full image consultation, personal shopping and wardrobe edits.
‘Now school-run mums come to me for advice!’ she says. ‘Lots of them know who I am and have even asked how they can look as good at the school gate.
Nikki White, 34, (pictured) who lives in Stockport, Greater Manchester, said her sons always compliment her on her appearance but she wants to impress the other mums
‘It feels great to be able to help.’
Mature student Nikki White, 34, is another who admits to upping the ante with her back-to-school preparations this year.
She admits it makes her feel better when standing at the school gates with other mums whom she finds more than a little intimidating.
‘My beauty routine has changed since Covid restrictions have lifted,’ she says. ‘I didn’t really pay much attention during the lockdowns but, this autumn, I’ll spend more time than ever before getting ready and doing my make-up. That can be anything from an hour to 90 minutes.’
Nikki says that while her sons, who are aged ten and seven, always compliment her on her appearance no matter what she wears, it’s the other mums she wants to impress.
Nikki plans to wear her best jeans with heels and a nice top and has had her hair cut and coloured, plus microblading to fill out her eyebrows.
But it’s the beauty tweakments that propel her into the super-groomed category.
Last year, she had the ‘teeniest’ squirt of filler in her lips because she wanted a fuller look. She was so happy with the results that, with back-to-school looming, she has had her first Botox injections this summer.
Nikki (pictured) said it’s important to congratulate girlfriends on a new outfit or tell them when they’re looking good and wearing a nice dress
‘I was self-conscious of what I saw as the wrinkles forming around my eyes. I could see the effect straight away. My skin was smooth again and I was really happy with the results.
‘The other mums are older than me and can be rather cliquey. That’s why I prefer to look my very best when I take the boys to school.
‘While I do keep myself to myself a little bit, now that we’re out of the pandemic and I am feeling good about how I look, I will say hello. While I do chat to some of them, it can still be intimidating.’
Nikki, who lives in Stockport, Greater Manchester, can’t understand why mothers are cliquey, especially as she goes out of her way to compliment other women.
‘I think it’s important to congratulate girlfriends on a new outfit or tell them when they’re looking good and wearing a nice dress,’ she says.
‘We are all making an effort and it pays to recognise that. If Covid has taught us anything it’s that we need to stop competing and simply be kind to one another.’
Additional interview by Angela Epstein
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