It takes more than good genes to look beautiful
Ageing is part of life, but no one wants to walk around looking old and haggard.
Much as one can’t stop the ageing process, today, it is possible to delay the signs of ageing using different techniques and Kenyan women have not been left behind in this quest to stay youthful.
They are willing to spend a pretty penny for that youthful look.
“Women the world over are ready to pay whatever it takes to make time stand still,” says Dr Lorna Sangale, an aesthetician, “People are paying to enhance their looks for different reasons, regardless of age.”
Kenyan women are spending millions of shillings on facial products, facials, chemical peels, Botox, fillers, liposuctions, breast augmentation and tummy tucks in a bid to slow down the ageing process or address problem areas.
This multi-million shilling industry is mainly driven by the need to look good and is not to women above a certain age. Some are starting as early as in their 20s.
Dr Stanley Khainga, a plastic surgeon and chairman of the Kenya Society of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, says the demand is coming from women of all ages, “the range starts from ladies who have given birth, middle-aged ones, to those in their early 20s.”
He says there is an increase in the number of patients who have worked hard all their lives and are now investing on themselves adding that he has patients in their 60s who want their sagging faces fixed, those who want liposuction for chubby areas and others who want their big ears fixed.
He even has a young woman in her 20s who wants more shapely legs and another is seeking a narrower nose bridge and a more defined tip.
Both he and Dr Sangale say competition in the job market has also played a major role with women wanting to look good so as to gain confidence and earn more, in addition to an increasingly beauty-conscious middle class with extra money to spend on attaining the look they want.
It is because of all these that there has been increased demand for surgical methods to address problem areas.
Women are going for breast reduction, especially those who suffer major backaches and headaches, as well as liposuction.
“Liposuction is really picking up in this market and the price depends on the area you want corrected,” he adds.
Costs can range from Sh80,000 to Sh500,000 or more, depending on the area to be worked on. Facelifts, though not common among Africans who apparently “age more gracefully” cost more than Sh250,000, excluding anaesthetic and hospital fees, says Dr Khainga. These costs also do not include consultation fees which are about Sh4,000.
Non-surgical aesthetic treatments such as laser, Botox, and fillers are becoming quite popular because they are quicker, less painful and more subtle than plastic surgery.
These are procedures done by trained doctors in a sterilised environment in their clinic and after a few pricks here and there, over a lunch break, on can get back to their desk.
Dr Sangale is currently specialising in laser liposuction, which costs half the price of a surgical one at Sh250,000. She concentrates on weight-management treatments because she realised many women were looking for non-invasive procedures that gave them the same result, and laser was it.
“The demand for weight-management procedures is even higher than facial ones such as Botox and fillers, especially among Africans,” she says.
Laser treatment is gaining popularity for body sculpting. The cost of treatment includes a diet plan and eight sessions.
Botox and fillers are also becoming widespread locally with the injection process taking a mere 15 to 20 minutes, excluding the consultation before the treatment, with quick results.
Botox, a drug made from botulinum toxin is injected to paralyse muscles and temporarily alleviate the wrinkles and lines associated with ageing, is mainly used to address crow’s feet and frown lines while fillers, injected into the deeper layer of skin is to correct deep lines, fills where people lose face fat – laugh lines – and enhance lips.
Dr Saroop Singh Bansil, a dermatologist and cosmetologist, says these treatments have gained popularity in the past couple of years especially among Kenyans.
“They say they want to look younger and better with many of the clients coming when age lines start to show,” he says. He also gets patients from across East Africa.
The costs depend on the individual doctor, with the price ranging from Sh30,000 to Sh120,000 depending on the number of shots of Botox and fillers, which last up to 12 months while Botox stays for six to eight months.
Dr Sangale emphasises the need to have these injectable procedures done by a professional who can deal with complications, “they are not to be handled casually as they can have serious consequences.”
The doctors say some of their clients want repair of botched procedures, which is time-consuming and more costly. Also on the increase are patients who want correction after using skin lightening creams – which are illegal in the market – and tablets.
“They are still in the market and are harmful to the liver and skin. We get patients who want to reverse the impact and sometimes it’s hard since once the skin is thin, there is not much we can do about it,” says Dr Bansil.
But not all women want to risk the repercussions of these invasive treatments and most still rely on skincare products for that youthful look, even though this takes longer to show results.
Hundreds of skincare products are launched annually promising remarkable results including slowing the ageing process, addressing wrinkles and skin rejuvenation.
Through word of mouth, the media and travelling Kenyan women are exposed to these products, some of which are locally available or sourced abroad. The growth in the personal care market in Kenya is attracting international brands to set up shop locally.
Just last month, Estée Lauder launched their products in the Kenyan market through a franchise agreement with Lintons Beauty World who now have Estée Lauder and Clinique counters at The Junction Mall.
“There has been increased demand for these high-end cosmetics as consumers have become more affluent and better informed about beauty products,” explains Dr Joyce Gikunda, Lintons Beauty World managing director.
Jacqueline Tindi, Estée Lauder adviser at Lintons says there has been a lot of interest in the skin care range with women of all ages, seeking expert advice and wanting to interact with the products. “Women want to put their best face forward. With these products, you are sure of ageing gracefully” she says.
It costs not less than Sh23,000 to get the range of Estée Lauder products including a cleanser, toner, moisturizer and Advanced Night Repair Serum, which Jacqueline says is a must-have for all women.
This alone comes at cost of Sh8,000. The Estee Lauder Perfectionist Wrinkle Lifting Serum, for reducing wrinkles and fine lines, is the most expensive product on the shelf at Sh12,750.
The Clinique range costs Sh26,000, excluding the fast-moving Dark Spot Corrector, which retails at Sh10,800.
In December 2011, Paris-based L’Oreal also set up shop in the country though it did not unveil its top end products which include L’Oreal Paris and Lancôme.
However, there is more to looking youthful than applied products and procedures, a healthy diet, exercising regularly, staying out of the sun and a healthy lifestyle – cutting down on smoking and alcohol – go a long way.
Ms Tindi says the most important thing is to protect your skin from the sun as it’s the main reason behind premature ageing.
The quest to look younger and sculpt the body to one’s desire isn’t just a woman’s pursuit. Men are also dipping into their pockets to look good.
Dr Khainga says the men are also knocking on his door for procedures such as hair transplants, liposuction, and removal of breasts among others.
“We can do a hair transplant like Wayne Rooney’s though the price depends on the extent of the operation” he says, adding that the price tag can go up to Sh500,000.