As I lie back in the chair, the consultant squints at my face and runs a manicured finger over my skin.

'You already have some frown lines developing,' she says with an affected sigh.

'I think it would be fine to proceed with Botox. Better to prevent than cure. Think about it.'

Ella Samoles-Little: The 18-year-old was offered Botox injections at leading cosmetic clinics

Just an hour earlier, I'd been thinking my skin was pretty good. Apart from the odd spot, I had few problems and counted myself lucky.
But when I ask the consultant at cosmetic clinic Sk:n in Harley Street what she would recommend to keep my skin in the best condition, it seems Botox is just for starters.
Although Sk:n has put my face under a screen to check for sun damage (the consultant reports, with surprise, that there is none), she seems determined to find something.
'The skin around your eyes is rather dry,' she adds. I blink uncomfortably.
'I suggest an eye cream - 60,' she says. 'And you know you have open pores - they could do with two or three face peels.'
The consultant is in full sales flow and seems oblivious to my growing discomfort as she picks up on one perceived flaw after another.

'You do also have some thread veins,' she continues, 'only tiny ones on your cheeks, but you don't want them to grow larger - we could sort those out.'
'For how much?' I ask.

'75 for each of the face peels,' she replies, consulting her price list, 'and 119 each for two laser treatments for the thread veins.'
That's almost 500 - and she hasn't even included the Botox.
When I set out to discover exactly what treatments - and at what cost - cosmetic and beauty clinics would give to an 18-year-old, I didn't expect such a focused attempt to make me spend money.

In the U.S. Botox injections have been linked with deaths caused by severe allergic reactions (file picture)

At least when I approached the clinic later and told them who I was, they admitted: 'We are extremely disappointed that a nurse or a therapist made this recommendation and we agree that this is a serious issue.
'Irrespective of any recommendation made, the client would have to see one of our doctors before Botox could be administered.
'In response to growing numbers of women as young as 18 becoming interested in anti-ageing treatments, we are going to raise the age-limit for injectable treatments to 25.'
If they do that, it's a step in the right direction, even if they would get short shrift in the U.S., where teenagers are using Botox, for example, before they go to the end-of-year prom, presumably in the hope that the freezing effect of the toxin will make their faces look extra fresh.
Perhaps those girls do not know - or do not care - that four recent deaths in under-18s over there are suspected to be as a result of Botox usage.
In America, Botox has also been linked with deaths caused by severe allergic reactions and breathing problems - 180 reports have been sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about Botox and a competitor called Myobloc.
Meanwhile, a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience claimed Botox can spread to the brain.
Rats were injected with the toxin and three days later scientists found traces in the rodents' brain stems which were still there six months later.
The toxin produced by the bacterium clostridium botulinum is one of the deadliest germs known to man, and many doctors are also concerned that some patients are actually becoming addicted to Botox.

A selection of needle-free, 'Botox alternatives' available on the high street

Such concerns make for disturbing reading when you consider research in this country by cosmetic group Surgicare, which found that a growing number of teenagers and twenty-somethings are 'craving' anti-ageing treatments - ranging from Botox to microdermabrasions, fillers and potent facial peels.
This, presumably, is because they feel pressure from celebrities and the media to somehow freeze their youthful looks in time and stop the natural ageing process in its tracks.
But I would say, after my visits to a range of nationwide cosmetic clinics, that any young person simply entering a clinic, even out of curiosity, is likely to become a victim of the hard sell I was exposed to.
For, based on my experience, many of these cosmetic surgery consultants are prepared to do or say anything to push their products and get you hooked on cosmetic treatments.
It's not that I am against cosmetic surgery itself. Although my mother, Janina, 45, looks fantastic for her age without such treatments (and is horrified that anyone would consider injecting anything into her youngest daughter's face), they are something I might consider when I'm much older.
I've read that some doctors believe that, used early enough, small amounts of Botox can prevent wrinkles and lines from forming. But isn't it just wrong for someone of my age to be having injections in the name of vanity?
I'm also aware that some studies have revealed that Botox can leak into the blood system and, although it's been available for 16 years, no one knows the full side-effects of using it at such a young age.

Ella: 'When you visit clinics such as these every tiny imperfection is magnified'

While my friends and I love make-up and making the best of ourselves, fretting about lines is not something we have ever discussed. To be honest, I believe very few British 18-year-olds would even consider these procedures unless someone put the idea into their heads.
And Sk:n wasn't the only clinic that offered me Botox or scary dermabrasions and facial peels (which, from my understanding, are basically acid-based so that they can strip off the top layer of your skin).
My next stop was Transform, in West London, where the number of people getting Botox at their clinics has doubled since 2005.
So perhaps it's not surprising that when I arrive for an appointment and ask about Botox - which costs from 199 - no one bats an eyelid. Instead, I am praised for mentioning it.
'Botox is a brilliant prevention method,' says the very convincing sales lady, as I obey her request to frown.
She tells me her youngest patient was previously aged 24, but that I could have some Botox now in the 'problem' frowning area between my eyes - right now, in fact, in the consultation room - 'if you are really bothered about it.'
When I reply that I am not sure, she is quick to mention 'alternative methods'.

Microdermabrasion is one, and costs 65.

'You'll absolutely love the feel of your skin, and even the feeling of getting it done,' she says.
And when I ask if I am just a little too young for what sounds to me a harsh treatment, she replies: 'No, it's for all ages. It's great if you're going out because it gives this fantastic glow to your skin.'
The leaflet she hands me, however, clearly shows older, middle-aged women having the treatment, and it also doesn't impress me that for 65 I can expect the results to last for only up to a week.
She then suggests a multitude of expensive creams.

The Helios Care is 15 and then there's vitamin C cream, at 54, which is 'really good for the skin', and something called OPC gel that reduces the redness, which, until she mentioned it, I hadn't even realised I had (that's another 46).
When we approached Transform subsequently, we are told: 'Botox is not commonly given to 18-year-olds and not something we encourage, but it may be right for some women of that age. Microdermabrasion is an excellent treatment for women aged 18 and upwards.'
The Harley Medical Group was my next call. 'Some practitioners may offer you Botox, but please don't listen to them because if it was right we would offer it to you here,' confides the lady consultant at the beginning of my consultation.
Like, all the other consultants, she is perfectly coiffed and constantly refers to the fact she has undergone many of these treatments herself.

Not that any of them are frankly the best adverts for these clinics they represent - there is something suspiciously false about them and their oddly frozen foreheads.
She adds that the youngest person she has treated with Botox was a woman of 25.
I'm relieved that I am not a prime candidate for Botox, but she is soon recommending another treatment I can spend my money on.
'The microdermabrasion is good for fine lines,' she says. This would cost me 150 for one treatment, and I may well need a second one.
Once again, more expensive creams were offered. Agera Cleanser (23), the MaG Peptide Serum (48) and a daily moisturising cream with an SPF 15 (30 from the Acne skin range).
Thankfully, my bruised ego is somewhat restored at the Botonics clinic in London.

The consultant tells me the youngest person she has treated with Botox is 27 (by now, this is sounding 'old') and hardly anyone else in their 20s.
'There are too many reasons not to get it done,' she says reassuringly when I suggest it might be just the thing for me.
'For a start, even if you were to go ahead with the procedure, it would be difficult to find a surgeon to treat you.'
She is the only person to say that if I had Botox now, by the time I reached 30 it might no longer work.
She comments that I have good skin, suggesting only that I use Roc Vitamin A cream, which costs 15.
For the first time in my week of visits, I feel as though I have received sensible advice.
At home, my mother is equally relieved, worrying how damaging to my self- confidence and self-esteem going to these clinics has been.
And if it was bad for me, a relatively sensible and normal-looking girl, I can imagine young women who are seriously insecure about their looks being sucked into paying hundreds, even thousands of pounds for treatments they simply don't need because these so-called experts confirm their worst fears.
When you visit clinics such as these, every tiny imperfection is magnified, and inevitably you end up wondering if you should have some sort of treatment.
I had found myself noticing blotches and lines in the mirror that were previously imperceptible. At one point, I had even considered - albeit fleetingly - undergoing a treatment right then and there.
Thankfully, common sense kicked in and I reminded myself what I'd known all along - 18 is far too young.

It's the anti-wrinkle treatment linked to several deaths, so clinics wouldn't inject Botox into a girl of 18... would they? | Mail Online