People Are Buying Fillers Online and Injecting Them Into Their Own Faces

Sketchy online shops and YouTube are serving a dangerous market for “DIY” cosmetic procedures

Angela Lashbrook
Published in
8 min readJun 26, 2019


Illustration: Joseph Melhuish

In Microprocessing, columnist Angela Lashbrook aims to improve your relationship with technology every week. Microprocessing goes deep on the little things that define your online life today, to give you a better tomorrow.

“I“I have been doing this for my lips for over 2 years 😉 ,” writes user “mandapanda” on the beauty forum Essential Daly Spa, which positions itself as “one of the best online sources for luxury skin care cosmetics.”

“Got the [Restylane] from Canada and get numbing cream and sterilize like crazy,” the post continues. “I know it may seem mad and dangerous … 😲 But had it done so many times and know techniques etc… just cheaper when I do it!”

Mandapanda’s post is one of hundreds on the website where people discuss doing their own cosmetic injectables, including lip fillers and neuromodulators like Botox. Posters provide each other with tips, encouragement, and reviews of various sites where people can buy the fillers without a prescription or a medical license. And they warn about sites that they suspect are selling dangerous or counterfeit products — the kind that could kill you.

Unlike older, surgical forms of cosmetic procedures, such as face-lifts and nose jobs, fillers can be done quickly, with short recovery periods. They’re made of naturally-occurring hyaluronic acid, and typically make the skin appear “plumper” — think of Kylie Jenner’s lips, for example. And they’re also exploding in popularity: According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, practitioners are administering 200% more “minimally invasive cosmetic procedures,” including fillers, Botox, and laser hair removal, since 2000. Yet they can still be expensive, ranging to about $600 for Botox to $3500 for Sculptra, and many in the medical community think that this cost, combined with fillers’ reputation as a quick and easy beauty fix, has led more people like Mandapanda to attempt their own.

While there’s very little data about how many people are doing their own injectables, several…



Angela Lashbrook

I’m a columnist for OneZero, where I write about the intersection of health & tech. Also seen at Elemental, The Atlantic, VICE, and Vox. Brooklyn, NY.