Just as Love Island has become synonymous with thong bikinis and the ‘It Is What It Is’ philosophy, so has a certain ‘look’ reigned supreme since the series arrived on ITV2 in 2015. In fact, that particular combination of lip filler, cheek filler and Botox - a sort of surgical contouring - that we saw on our screens in contestants such as Megan Barton Hanson, Olivia Atwood and Shaughna Phillips, became known as the Love Island Face.
This year, however, we’re seeing something different. The pronounced lip and cheek filler have made way for something softer and fresher. Contestants such as Tasha Ghouri, Indiyah Polack, Paige Thorne and the newly departed Antigone Buxton look ‘more individual’ than what we’ve seen in more recent series, says GP and cosmetic doctor Dr Jane Leoanard.
‘I think on reflection of the contestants of recent series there was a consistent theme: it’s the Kim Kardashian look, this idea of contouring and building up a profile, fillers along the jawline, cheekbones and chin, in some cases the nose, so from a side profile the effects can be really good, you sharpen up your features. But it doesn’t work on everyone and a lot of the girls we were seeing on Love Island, I think perhaps the practitioners who did the work hadn’t properly assessed them on an individual basis. Some it looks great on, but others it can make you look older and more masculine.’
Dr Jane adds, ‘Looking at the girls this time around I think they look more individual. They may have had some tweaks - it’s hard to say without seeing them beforehand - but they definitely look more natural, younger and fresher. So I think if they’ve had anything done it’s been minute tweaks - potentially baby Botox or a little bit of lip or cheek filler, but definitely on the more subtle side so it doesn’t look like they’ve had very obvious work done.’
Whilst obviously a) there’s nothing wrong with having any cosmetic procedures and b) we can’t comment on what any of the girls on this series have had done because they haven’t discussed it, it is interesting to note Dr Jane’s observations after years of cosmetic tweakments becoming a defining narrative surrounding the show.
The pronounced lip and cheek filler have made way for something softer and fresher.
Megan Barton Hanson famously had £25k of enhancements prior to appearing, whilst last year all bar one of the women (Kaz Kamwi) had undergone either botox, lip fillers, breast implants, or all three. It sparked a debate when Hugo Hammond claimed that he’s not attracted to ‘fake’ women shortly after Sharon Gaffka and Faye Winter both confessed to having had cosmetic work done. Faye called on him to ‘get f***ing educated why girls get work done’, while Sharon explained that it’s ‘fine’ if Hammond isn’t ‘not into fake stuff or girls that look really fake’, but added that he doesn’t ‘know the reasons why we’ve had stuff done’.
That conversation was pretty meta, however, considering that Love Island has been cited as a reason for a huge increase in young girls seeking cosmetic procedures. Until 2018, the show’s sponsor was plastic surgery company MYA - targeting viewers with multiple adverts throughout the show. A study conducted by the Safety in Beauty Campaign last year found that 87% of girls aged 15-18 would want cosmetic treatments after watching Love Island, and last year’s series saw a surge of +37 per cent searches for lip fillers.
Could the tide be about to turn, though? After finishing the show last year, Faye made the decision to get her 4ml of lip filler dissolved, deciding instead to get a smaller amount of 1ml injected. Series five contestant Molly-Mae Hague has been very publicly on a mission to reverse some of the work she had done before the show, having her lip filler and veneers removed. In her book, Becoming Molly Mae, the 23-year-old writes: ‘The reality was that my once-sharp jawline had jowls hanging underneath, my lips felt lumpy, uneven and unnatural. I didn't feel prettier. I didn't feel better. Filler had made me feel worse.' She adds, ‘I feel like I'm still definitely going through the process of trying to make everything as natural as I possibly can.’
Dr Jane says that she has noticed that, beyond Love Island, there has been a slowing down of the more obvious work with filler. ‘More natural and subtle treatments are becoming popular, I’m doing things which are for anti-ageing purposes rather than changing the way people look so much. At one time people wanted it to be obvious they wanted work done, and now I feel like they are using treatments to slow down ageing rather than obviously changing the structure of people’s faces.’
On the show, it’s possible that casting has intentionally moved away from the surgery narrative, says Dr Jane. ‘It was quite dangerous to suggest that there was a classic Love Island look, that girls had to look a certain way to get on the show. I think there needs to be more awareness that you don’t need to look a certain way or have work done in order to be considered to be on the show and have this lifestyle.’
Of course whilst there may be a slight shift in cosmetic trends becoming apparent, that doesn’t mean that the female contestants’ looks aren’t still subject to nasty criticism on social media. Casa Amor newbie Coco Lodge has been subjected to negative ‘before and after’ videos on TikTok, suggesting she doesn’t look like her social media posts. And Ekin-Su Cülcüloglu has been described as ‘unrecognisable’ from images of her at university before she had veneers and a boob job.
Dr Jane says that cosmetic procedures should be viewed more kindly. ‘There’s nothing wrong with having any treatments if that’s what you want. But you shouldn’t feel pressure to have things done to try and get on the show, or into the public eye. Seeing people like Molly-Mae having their procedures reversed is hopefully showing that they feel comfortable as themselves without the filler is a really positive step in my opinion.’