Lets talk about ‘Pillow Face’!

I love hyaluronic acid dermal fillers, and a modest amount expert placed in one’s face can have a beautiful and rejuvenating effect. What I don’t like is our obsession with trying to look like we did in our 20’s.

This distraction with youth often leads patients and practitioners to keep filling and filling, trying to chase the unobtainable. We have all seen those faces. The ones that are filled to max capacity. They look unnatural and almost disfigured. Now I’m not saying that adding a bit of oomph to your natural features is a bad thing. We just need to know when to stop.

Dermal fillers essentially fill a pocket of tissue to create lift and volume. It seems obvious then that if you keep filling the pocket it will become overstretched and you’re going to lose some. Yes, I said it! The filler will start to spread to places you hadn’t intended it to be. So, lets break down what contributes to pillow face. Starting at the top.


Your forehead is covered in very thin layers of tissue, with slight concavity at the temples and gentle angles from the hair line to brow. In this area dermal filler can be used to smooth wrinkles and revolumise the temples. Because we are working with such a small space even a small amount of overfill can result in the loss of natural angles and rounded temples. Whilst the difference may be subtle, that fact that is very slightly odd-looking changes your overall appearance.


The angle from the forehead to the nose (nasofrontal angle) is an area the is most often filled when patients are hoping to achieve a straight, Eurocentric appearance with dermal fillers. It is very commonly overfilled, taking away that natural angle, creating instead and high and broad angle that quite frankly looks strange.


Cheeks can contribute to pillow face in 2 ways. 1. Overfilling the lateral aspect of the cheeks can create a ledge that throws out the balance of the face. We all want cheek bones and contour, but don’t need to look like Maleficent to get there. 2. As we age the apples of our cheeks flatten out and adding a bit of filler creates a feminine youthful look. It goes wrong when we keep filling. Again, the pockets have limited space so instead of creating definition we end up creating chub.

 Jaw and chin

So, we’re trying to create soft angles, but when we get to the jaw we want a razor sharp line? Don’t get me wrong, I think jaw revolumisation for older patients is transformative. But adding bulk to this area gives me Desperate Dan vibes and means the chin disappears somewhat.  In this case, instead of adding modest volume to the chin to create balance, we need to add much more, creating the typical witches chin that seems popular at the moment.

Honorable mention … Lips

The space in which your lips are housed is very small so when we overfill them the product needs to go somewhere (Russian lips, I’m looking at you!). Over time little bits of filler leak into the surrounding tissue. You may not notice it for a couple of years, but it’s happening. Then all of the sudden you notice that you no longer have lips, but a mound of tissue and dermal filler that starts under your nose.

What can we do to keep looking good without pillow face?

There are options.

1. Don’t do anything. You’re ageing and embracing this is healthy and empowering.

2. Use effective skincare recommended by your practitioner consistently. Healthy glowing skin is the cornerstone of aesthetics and is beautiful whether you have wrinkles or not.

3. Go to practitioner who believes in moderation and can skilfully place small amounts of dermal filler for maximum effect.

4. Consider consulting a plastic surgeon with a good reputation who specialises in natural looking facial surgery.

Whatever you decide to do with your face remember that any plan you embark on should be about self-love and not loathing. If you hate your appearance or are preoccupied by your features it is worth exploring this with a counsellor or therapist, as these are issues that cannot be resolved under the needle.

AND wear your bloody sun protection!

Disclaimer: No hate to those whose desired aesthetic is ‘pillow face’.

Helen Western

Advanced Nurse Practitioner– Independent prescriber – NMC registered – registered nurse – aesthetics – Harley trained – insured – wrinkles – dermal fillers – microneedling – skincare – Frinton – lips – cheeks – marionette lines – nasolabial folds – beauty – Walton on the Naze – Holland on Sea – Clacton – Clacton on Sea – Frinton-On-Sea – Colchester – Harwich – aesthetics – Frinton – fillers – Obagi – skin care – Mole checks – Cryotherapy – moles – skin tags – skin boosters

Why I hate ‘Trending’ aesthetic treatments.

Every year there seems to be a new ‘trending’ treatment, boosted by “influencers” and Instagram models. If you lurk like me, you would have noticed trends for tear trough fillers, liquid rhinoplasty and more recently the ‘fox eye’ thread treatment.

My colleagues in aesthetics and I experience high demand for these treatments which then seem to wane off when the realities of the treatments come to light, or the next trend enters the arena. Indeed, you will see some clinics really focusing their advertising on pushing the sale of trending treatments.

Whilst there is nothing really wrong with these treatments (indeed in the right hands they can be very successful), the high demand means that people with limited experience or expertise treat a lot of patients who are not appropriate candidates, or the practitioners just don’t have the skills to carry out procedures well.

In every ethical clinic we first consider if the patient is the right candidate. We then consider if the treatment is the right treatment to achieve what we want. Then we need to pick the correct products. I also consider ‘is it worth it?’. Is the potential improvement worth the risks if something going wrong? Does the longevity of the effect justify the financial cost of the treatment? Is there another cosmetic or surgical treatment that would be better?

I personally like to watch and wait when new trends make it to Instagram. I like to listen to clinician’s experiences and read case studies. I then observe the emergence of adverse events and undesirable results relating to these treatments.

For example, many people will not see a significant improvement with tear trough fillers. Too often patients are left with swelling under the eye that stays for the entirety of the fillers life. There is only one product in the UK that is licenced for tear troughs, so many practitioners substitute with what they have got. Complex structures around the eye means that it is all to easy to place the fillers in the wrong space unless you are guided by ultrasound.

And don’t get me started on the risk of vascular occlusion with non-surgical rhinoplasty. Yes, it is a great treatment done well, but demand amongst my patient group is low and it is not something I wish to be pushing towards a younger audience when saving for surgical rhinoplasty may be better.

Similarly, the fox eye trend is commonly marketed to younger patients, but I fear that the scar tissue created in the delicate periocular area Vs the length of efficacy and reports of dissatisfaction amongst patients means the risk far outweigh the benefits. Indeed, a surgical eye lift may be much better for patients who may benefit.

Fortunately, some new trends veer towards the natural appearance and skincare is becoming more popular and effective. By simply adding a good vitamin C serum, Retin A and SPF 50 to your daily routine you will help your skin to glow and protect it from the environment. Investing in peels and microneedling is also a great way to start resurfacing the skin and induce collagen production.

To round up this rambling blog, my purpose has never been to alter my patient’s appearance so that they fit in with current trends or look like a cast member of TOWIE. It has always been to rebalance, create facial harmony and rejuvenate the appearance of my patients so that they can have a moment to practice self-care and improve their confidence.

Disclaimer: This is my personal and professional opinion. If you are reading this and your aesthetic is the TOWIE look or you make people look like this, more power to you. You do YOU! These trends are just not for me or my patient group.

Helen x

Helen Western

Advanced Nurse Practitioner– Independent prescriber – NMC registered – registered nurse – aesthetics – Harley trained – insured – wrinkles – dermal fillers – microneedling – skincare – Frinton – lips – cheeks – marionette lines – nasolabial folds – beauty – Walton on the Naze – Holland on Sea – Clacton – Clacton on Sea – Frinton-On-Sea – Colchester – Harwich – aesthetics – Frinton – fillers – Obagi – skin care – Mole checks – Cryotherapy – moles – skin tags – skin boosters

It’s almost time!

Ready for the relaunch!

Hi there,

Thank you for all your support over the last year. Your custom has meant that I can upgrade the clinic and give you the surroundings you truly deserve.

When we reopen it will be in The Mews Therapy rooms on Connaught Avenue. The space is looking beautiful, and apart from a couple of tweaks, it is ready for me to move in.

There is parking out front or to the rear of the building, and we are close to all the amenities. When you enter the building you can take a seat outside of my room until I grab you.

I would really love your feedback about the new environment and the service so please don’t be shy and let me know. Also your Google reviews are very much appreciated as this is helping the business grow.

Keep an eye on my social media for more information, and as ever, I am so looking forward to welcoming you.

Best wishes,


Happy Face Aesthetics

The Mews Therapy Rooms, 118/120 Connaught Mews, Connaught Avenue, Frinton-on-Sea, CO13 9AD

07984 184180

Advanced Nurse Practitioner– Independent prescriber – NMC registered – registered nurse – aesthetics – Harley trained – insured – wrinkles – dermal fillers – microneedling – skincare – Frinton – lips – cheeks – marionette lines – nasolabial folds – beauty – Walton on the Naze – Holland on Sea – Clacton – Clacton on Sea – Frinton-On-Sea – Colchester – aesthetics – Frinton – fillers – Obagi – skin care

Vitamin C: a true skin hero

Vitamin C, or L-ascorbic acid is a powerful antioxidant that neutralises harmful free radicals. It also inhibits tyrosinase which catalyses the production of melanin. This means that it protects the skin from being damaged by environmental pollutants and has the power to improve and prevent mild to moderate hyperpigmentation.

This skincare hero aids your skins natural regeneration, repairs damaged skin cells and may protect the skin from precancerous changes caused by UV. On top of this, because of vitamin C’s acidic qualities it triggers the production of collagen and elastin within the skin matrix.

Using it in the form of a pure serum gives better results than creams or lotions because it less likely to be contaminated or neutralised and can pass through the skin’s barrier more easily. When you buy your vitamin C serum it should come packaged in a dark glass vial to stop light and air neutralising it.

Vitamin C is available in different strengths from 5% to 20%. As a general rule of thumb for most people it is advisable to titrate the strength of your serum, so that your skin can become accustomed to this powerful product. If you’re prone to breakouts a weaker concentration is better as stronger doses may worsen your acne. If you have any redness or allergy you may need to discontinue use, but please consult your skincare practitioner for ongoing management.

Skincare regimes can be confusing, but with a little knowledge you can add this fantastic product to your regime easily. Here is my basic skincare regime for those of you not on treatment plans.

AM: Gentle cleansing wash > Toner > Vitamin C > Moisturiser > SPF 30-50

PM: Gentle cleansing wash > Toner > Vitamin A > moisturiser

NEVER use Vitamin C and Vitamin A at the same time as the products interact and can cause skin irritation at worst. At best, they just won’t work.

My favourite Vitamin C serums are the Obagi Professional-C range, which come in concentrations of 10% to 20%. This is such a potent range that you only need 4-6 drops to massage into your face and neck.

Benefits of Vitamin C:
– Improves uneven texture and colour
– Improves acne scarring
– Improves fine lines and wrinkles
– Improves dullness
– Reduces and prevents hyperpigmentation
– Can prevent precancerous changes
– Repairs damaged skin cells
– Triggers collagen and elastin production

Just like my SPF, I never go a day with out my Obagi Professional-C 20%.

SPF is the king of all skincare!

My personal favourite. Now £65!

What’s the big deal about sunscreen?

The leaves are turning brown and cooler weather is on its way. All of your summer clothes are being relegated to the back of your wardrobe and the last of your sunscreen is going in the bin. But whilst most of us are good at slapping on the sunscreen at the beach, we’re not so good at protecting our skin whilst going about our day to day business.

The sun is responsible for 90% of visible skin ageing. This means that most of our wrinkles, crinkles and dark spots are preventable, or at least manageable. Whilst the heat of summer may be over ultraviolet rays are still able to damage your skin even through cloud. That’s why people who go skiing return with that odd goggle tan. You may be relying on the SPF in your moisteriser and foundation to protect your skin, but what if I told you that it’s not enough?

What is SPF and the star rating?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and higher the factor or number, the longer it will protect you from UVB rays. In a nutshell, UVB rays have a short wave length and strong energy levels, which means they effect the epidermal (superficial) layers of the skin. This causes burning and most types of skin cancer.

However, SPF does not protect our skin from UVA rays, so choosing a sunscreen based purely on this may not offer the protection we need. UVA rays have a longer wavelength and weaker energy, so they penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin and cause tanning. Because UVA penetrates the deeper layers it is the biggest cause of premature skin ageing. On top of that UVA can pass through windows!

To protect your skin from UVA you need to seek out the star rating which is usually noted somewhere on the bottle. The star rating refers to the level of protection a product has from UVA and is graded 1-5. The more stars a product has the higher percentage of protection from UVA it offers.

But you love a tan? I’m sorry to say that tanning is the bodies inadequate way of attempting to protect your DNA from being further damaged by the sun. It is, in fact, proof that your DNA has been damaged by UV rays.

Different types of sunscreen

Chemical sunscreens are very popular because they are easy to apply and do not leave any white residue on the skin. They are available as lotions, oils and sprays. These products take about 20 minutes to be effective, penetrate deeper layers of skin. They work by absorbing UV rays, turning them it into heat and then releasing the heat through the skin. Many chemical sunscreens may not protect against UVA rays adequately, if at all. They are not great for people with sensitive skin, rosacea, acne or hyperpigmentation and can exacerbate these conditions. There is also the possibility that the chemicals are absorbed into the blood stream, but research is ongoing.

Mineral or physical sunscreen often have that white or chalky look and are available in creams and lotions. These products sit on top of the skin surface and deflect UVA and UVB rays in the way a mirror would reflect light. They are effective as soon as they are applied, and because most people can use them without it exacerbating any skin conditions, they are recommended by dermatologists and skin specialists. High end brands are usually less chalky than others.

Sunscreen checklist

Choose a broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or higher and use it daily all year round.

Check that the star rating is 4-5.

Make sure it is a mineral or physical product. Look for the main ingredients of zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide.

If you are out in the sun reapply every 2 hours or sooner if you are sweaty or swimming.

Don’t forget to apply it to your neck and décolletage