They’ve been hiding in plain sight for 100 years. Now the masses are hooked on them to fight frown lines — and maybe much deeper concerns. But do they really work?
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Don’t be fooled by the #wokeuplikethis caption on gorgeous selfies. Many of us rise and completely skip the “shine” part of things.
And it’s — in part — because of frown lines.
These deep-to-barely-set lines tend to look stronger first thing in the morning because our facial skin is thinner and more elastic. This means any movement or muscle activity during sleep (not to mention pressing your face against a pillow) can cause wrinkles.
Addressing the issue head-on are Frownies. The “original wrinkle patch” is a simple, flesh-colored adhesive that claims the same skin-plumping benefits as Botox, only without the needle.
You apply them like bandages on your forehead and between your eyes every night. They essentially “tape” your skin taught, hindering wrinkle formation as you sleep. Many users claim to see smoother, less wrinkled skin in the morning.
People are going wild about them on Instagram, including @slechleiter, who wrote on her post, “I am looking less angry every day… I have almost no 11s when I wake up.”
Still, Dr. Hooman Khorasani, chief of the division of dermatologic and cosmetic surgery for The Mount Sinai Health System, points out that you have to use them nightly for results.
“Once you stop using them, you will lose the dermal support,” he reminds us. “Once [that happens], the dermis will contract again and the wrinkles will reappear.”
Frownies have been around for much longer than the ‘Gram — 100 years, in fact. They came into the public eye in the 1950 film “Sunset Boulevard” when silent film diva Gloria Swanson is shown getting ready for a close-up wearing the patches.
But these patches have only recently become a full-blown sensation, since they’re now up for grabs in the mainstream at retailers like Walgreens.
At under $20 per 144-count box (versus around $500 for the typical round of Botox injections) the uptick in sales isn’t surprising.
The headache hack
In fact, fans often use the hashtag #yogaforyourface when posting selfies with Frownies, drawing parallels to the patches’ ability to calm and focus you.
Acupuncturist and Eastern medicine expert Renee Altman from Greenfield, Wisconsin, concurs that there’s a correlation.
“The area you put the tape in the center of your eyes is an acupuncture point called Yintang. It’s the location of the third eye and amazing for stress reduction,” she says.
What science says: There’s no hard evidence to support claims that Frownies can help with headaches. Reports are anecdotal. But being that they’re a relatively low-cost and low-risk treatment, many have found them an option worth exploring. (It’s unlikely they help with migraines or tension headaches, though.)
The depression helper
From a clinical psychology perspective, frown lines and depression could go hand in hand.
What science says: Patches like Frownies train the skin to stay firm and frown lines to disappear, which could help your brain get the feedback to not feel unhappy. However, conclusive evidence to support taping your face to ease depression symptoms is lacking.
Frownies aren’t the only players in the patch and tape game.
1. Hydrogel patches
While not made to pull at your skin, they do provide a burst of moisture, which can give you a brighter, more wide-awake look. e.l.f. cosmetics’ hydrogels are made for under the eye and contain purified water, seaweed extract, and licorice to soothe that delicate area.
2. Silicone tape
Made with silicone gel, silicone tape is used for under the eyes, on the décolleté, or even on stretch marks. Silicone gel was originally used to treat burns or scars, as a means of hydrating and firming dry skin.
3. Nexcare clear tape
Anti-aging warriors are also taking treatment into their own hands and coming up with hacks. Check Reddit and you’ll read rumblings about Nexcare clear tape, made to be primarily used in hospitals to tape catheters and IV tubes to patients’ bodies. Some are now stretching the tape across wrinkles on their face, mimicking the Frownies school of thought.
There are plenty of methods, but for that sure fix, it could be back to Botox. Dr. Khorasani also points to Dysport, a wrinkle-reducing injection treatment that he says has been gaining ground on Botox.
“It kicks in faster and has the same efficacy. It’s also a bit cheaper to purchase so patients can expect about $50-$100 in savings,” he notes.
Embrace the skin you’re in. It may take a little bit of destigmatizing and breaking down internal barriers, but it’s worth it.
And wrinkles and fine lines, it turns out, aren’t such a bad thing. Researchers at Western University found that wrinkles around the eyes actually give a person an air of sincerity.
Banishing your lines may provide prime selfie moments — but if you keep in mind you’re already beautiful, then a few crinkles and cracks won’t hurt a thing.
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression, reach out to your doctor for support and treatment options. There are numerous forms of support available to you. Check out our mental health resources page for more help.
Kelly Aiglon is a lifestyle journalist and brand strategist with a special focus on health, beauty, and wellness. When she’s not crafting a story, she can usually be found at the dance studio teaching Les Mills BODYJAM or SH’BAM. She and her family live outside of Chicago and you can find her on Instagram.