Why do I have frown lines?
The forehead is expressive. We use it to communicate a great many emotions to the people around us: frowns, raised eyebrows, sympathetic looks, brows raised in delighted surprise – a whole range. The muscle movements involved in such facial expressions are known as ‘dynamic’ movements by cosmetic doctors, because they move the skin on top of them, forming creases where the skin folds to accommodate these movements. If you are always pulling your eyebrows together when you frown, creating the vertical ‘eleven’ lines between your eyebrows, these wrinkles start to set in.
Why these lines become entrenched as you age is because your skin becomes gradually less firm and springy. This is because the levels of collagen (the protein that keeps your skin firm) and elastin (the one that keeps your skin springy) drop as you get older. Then, when the skin is continually squashed into a crease, it loses its ability to bounce back.
How much does it cost to use toxins to get rid of frown lines?
toxins, or other anti-wrinkle injections, will cost upwards of £100 per treatment area—and most people need more than one area to be treated. The price varies greatly according to the practitioner’s location and expertise, so use my practitioner finder to find a reputable practitioner who can give you a quote.
How do I get rid of frown lines between my eyebrows?
Start with skincare. First things first, you need a moisturising sunscreen, and you need to wear it every day if you want to get rid of your frown lines. This is crucial because ultraviolet light, which the sunscreen protects against, really hastens ageing and the wrinkling process.
Secondly, dry skin wrinkles more quickly than well-hydrated skin, so consider adding a moisturising serum containing hyaluronic acid into your skincare routine. Despite technically being an acid, this is one of the gentlest ingredients you can use, and we naturally have it in lots of places in our bodies, including the skin. It’s incredibly hydrating and sinks into the upper layer of the skin, where it hangs on to water—each molecule of hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water—and plumps up the skin. Use it under moisturiser, sunscreen, make-up, or whatever you’re putting on your face. It works best when sealed into place with a product on top of it.
A third tip is to add a vitamin A cream for regeneration into your skincare regime. Retinol (part of the retinoid family) is one such vitamin A derivative, and an ingredient that you’ll see cropping up everywhere. It works to kick-start collagen production, and simultaneously reduce the rate of collagen breakdown in your skin. This means that existing collagen lasts longer, and new collagen is made faster. It also speeds up the rate at which ageing skin cells renew themselves, which has an exfoliating effect on the skin, and has additional effects (unclogging blocked pores and reducing excess pigment production) that make the skin look clearer and less wrinkled as a result.
It’s important to know that retinol can easily irritate the skin, particularly if you use too much of it too quickly. Side effects of overuse of retinoids include redness, dryness, itchiness and skin peeling. That said, there are new types of active retinoids being launched all the time which are really effective at improving the skin, and are much less irritating than some of their older siblings.
Because of this potential for irritation, when you start using a retinoid cream, use it twice a week only, and no more, for two weeks. Your skin needs a while to get used to it, and you need to work out what kind of dose your skin can tolerate. This is also important because it takes three days for a reaction from a retinoid to show up in your skin, so you have to be very cautious and wait to see what the irritation’s like before you reapply the cream. Everyone’s skin is different, and tolerance of retinoids is no exception. Before you get overzealous with use of a retinoid, remember that with skincare you are running a marathon, not a sprint, so it’s better to be gentler to your skin and build up slowly than crashing in headfirst. If you’re finding the retinoid a bit drying, pop a moisturiser over the top of it. As well as just being moisturising, this can have the added benefit of helping to ‘buffer’ the retinoid and soften its effects.
Most retinols and retinoids should be applied at night. This is because they’re sensitive to daylight, which makes them break down and lose their effectiveness. There are, however, some new forms which have been engineered to not be affected by daylight in this way—so, whichever product you use, follow the instructions when you apply it. Lastly, using a retinoid will make your skin more sensitive to daylight, so using sunscreen is more important than ever here. You want to protect the fresher, clearer skin that the retinoid is giving you, not waste it.
Anti-wrinkle injections, and other tweakments
I think we all know what’s coming next… Anti-wrinkle injections made from botulinum toxin A are the main way of softening lines on the forehead, and toxins is the best-known brands of these. Softening frown lines with toxins is the most common tweakment there is.
It works because toxins is a dilute form of nerve toxin. When injected into the facial muscles that help to pull our faces into expressions, it interferes with the nerve signals which tell the muscles to contract. This stops these muscles from folding the skin up and causing wrinkles, giving the skin a chance to renew itself, softening the appearance of these wrinkles or lines. It’s quick and effective, and the results will last for several months. Once the effects of the toxin have worn off (this typically takes a few months), the muscles fully regain their function.
People worry about anti-wrinkle injections because (a) they’re nerve toxins and (b) we’ve all seen photographs of celebrities with badly-done toxins in the past, giving the impression that toxins freezes the face totally. However, while it is undeniably a toxin, it is also a prescription medication and has many medical uses alongside its cosmetic applications, so it is one of the best-studied and most thoroughly researched cosmetic treatments out there—all to ensure it’s safe. And it is. The data shows that botulinum toxins are well-tolerated and that adverse side effects are more to do with the use of a needle than it is associated with what’s being injected.
As for the frozen face, a good practitioner would hate for anyone to even be able to spot that their regulars have had wrinkle-relaxing injections at all—they want it to look natural, so their work is cautious and subtle, and every treatment is personalised to fit that patient’s face and style. Some people want to get rid of the lines altogether, and they’ll have heavier treatment. But most people want just a softening and a freshening of the face that leaves them able to move their faces.
So how do you avoid bad toxins? The answer: find an experienced practitioner who has a reputation for giving their clients a natural-looking result. It’s also always a good idea to book in for a review two weeks after treatment. The full effects of the treatment will be showing by then, so if, say, one eyebrow has ended up arching slightly higher than the other, the practitioner can even things out with a small adjustment. You can also always ask for just a gentle dose the first time you have treatment if you’re nervous about it – ask for ‘baby toxins’ or ‘mobile toxins’. If you want more information, for example about potential problems (bruising, over-treatment or drooping eyelids), head over to my page about toxins or anti-wrinkle injections in general.
All this said, anti-wrinkle injections are not the only tweakments which help to reduce the appearance of frown lines, so if you object to needle-based tweakments or dislike the idea of toxins, you do have other options. Here are four of the best:
Skin peels. These are exfoliating treatments using alpha-hydroxy acids like glycolic or lactic acid. They work by painting the peel onto the face, where it helps to loosen the chemical bonds that hold the dead skin cells onto the surface of your face, so those old cells can be swept away, revealing the fresher skin beneath.
Laser skin rejuvenation. Lasers sound heavy-duty, but they can be great for smoothing and tightening the skin. There are many types of lasers that work on the skin in different ways—including ablative lasers, non-ablative, and fractional lasers. Ablative lasers work by scorching away the surface layers of skin (effective but requires a lot of recovery time, and they’re not used much these days), whereas non-ablative lasers work by creating heat in the skin (which boosts collagen production, improving the appearance of the skin) without actually doing any injury to the skin’s surface. Fractional, or fractionated lasers, are those which are fired through a grid of tiny holes. This means that between every channel of damage that is burned into the skin, there is a scrap of intact skin, which reduces the damage on the skin’s surface and speeds up the healing process. Speak to your chosen practitioner about which type of laser treatment would be best suited to you, and have a look at our page on laser treatments here for more information.
Radiofrequency skin tightening. This, like with fractional laser treatment, is another way of creating heat in the skin, to convince the skin cells that they have been injured badly enough to kick-start the wound healing response that freshens and tightens the skin. While laser works mainly on the surface of the skin, radiofrequency travels a short distance into the skin and takes action a bit deeper down. Radiofrequency also has the added benefit of making the existing collagen contract—because of this, it’s sometimes described as having a ‘shrink-wrapping’ effect, tightening up the skin on the face slightly.
Microneedling. This treatment uses tiny, super-sharp needles to create multiple punctures in the surface of the skin (a bit brutal, but effective) and these minute wounds stimulate the wound-healing response that floods the skin with growth factors and creates new collagen and elastin, creating — over the next few weeks – a fresher, smoother and firmer surface.
Can I have filler to get rid of frown lines?
Injections of dermal filler can be used on frown lines, but you would only want this to be done if your frown lines are really deep grooves. Otherwise, when your forehead is relaxed and not pulled into a frown, the fine lines of filler may be visible on the surface.
Can I use a chemical peel for forehead wrinkles?
Yes! See the section above on how to get rid of frown lines – the chemical peel works just as well for forehead wrinkles as it does for frown lines.
How can I prevent frowning when I am concentrating?
This is easier said than done, but it is possible. In the mirror, frown at yourself, then relax your forehead and eyebrows, and observe the difference. Breathe in, breathe out, and stay relaxed. You might think you can’t learn to do this in real life, but with a bit of practice, you can. Frownies (mentioned below) can help with this.
Do frownies work?
Frownies are small patches of paper with adhesive backing, which work to reduce the appearance of forehead wrinkles by helping you to train yourself not to frown when you are concentrating. You stick them onto your face when it is relaxed, and then as soon as you start to scrunch up your face or frown, the patch tugs at your skin and you become very aware of your facial movements. Of course, it is possible to replicate this effect with sticky tape—but this is a little less kind to your skin when you take it off. Frownies won’t get rid of your wrinkles, but they can help you to stop them from getting (significantly) deeper.
An added benefit of using Frownies is that, in the same ways that forcing a smile even when you’re not happy can lift your mood, relaxing your face, even when you’re stressed, can help you to feel that bit calmer.
Can I use exercises to get rid of my frown lines?
Facial exercises tend to aim to plump up muscles in the face more than preventing wrinkling—but what you can do is, as mentioned above, practice relaxing your facial muscles when you’re concentrating, or any time you would normally scrunch up your forehead.
How can I get rid of eleven lines naturally?
Unfortunately, beyond training yourself not to wrinkle your forehead when concentrating and staying healthy and eating well to strengthen your skin, there’s very little that can be done ‘naturally’ to get rid of or prevent the eleven lines from forming. However, there are plenty of tweakments which can do wonders, and many skincare options too for those who prefer a less invasive solution.
Do anti-wrinkle serums stop frown lines?
‘Anti-wrinkle serums’ encompass two things: products which strengthen the skin, which can make frown lines less obvious (including retinoids and moisturising serums, as mentioned previously) and topical ‘toxins’ gels which claim to have the effects of toxins without needing invasive injection. In my opinion, these are a total waste of money and not your best option—but there is now some evidence from trials that topical gels including 10% argireline can relax fine lines from dynamic muscles. If this is something you’re curious about, try a gel with this concentration of this ingredient—it might be worth a shot.