- Frown lines are deep wrinkles caused by many factors including aging, genetics, smoking and repeated muscle movement.
- Effective in-office treatments include neurotoxin injections and dermal fillers.
- Frown lines can be minimized by using specially formulated moisturizers, serums and masks.
- Prevent the formation of frown lines by maintaining a healthy diet, staying hydrated and adopting a good skin care routine.
Frown lines, also referred to as wrinkles, forehead furrows, glabellar lines, worry lines or “the 11s,” are deep vertical lines located on the forehead, between the eyebrows and around the eyes.
What Causes Frown Lines
Wrinkles fall into two categories: static and dynamic. Static wrinkles are visible when our facial muscles are at rest, while dynamic wrinkles appear when facial muscles are in motion or contracting.
Many factors contribute to frown lines and wrinkles. Understanding those factors will help in prevention and treatment, and the selection of the best action plan in terms of treatment.
Aging is one of the most significant causes of frown lines because the production of components responsible for skin elasticity—such as elastin and collagen—slows down with age.
This decrease in elasticity negatively affects the support network that is responsible for maintaining skin’s volume. Reduced elasticity results in visible lines and wrinkles, even when muscles are at rest.
Genes are a part of our DNA, and determine our race, as well as the color and type of skin we have: normal, dry, oily or combination. Because of their lower melanin and collagen levels, Caucasians, are more prone to lines and wrinkles; people of color are more resilient to lines and wrinkles as they have high collagen levels. The presence of oil glands, which tend to be more present and large in darker skin, also correlates with shallower wrinkles.
For those with lighter skin tones, excessive exposure to sunlight is responsible for 80% of the visible signs of facial aging, including deep facial wrinkles. This damage is caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation and is aggravated by light skin’s minimal natural defences to this damage.
Additionally, while damage is less severe for those with darker skin tones, as darker skin has a level of natural protection to this damage, it is still a significant cause of environmental skin aging and wrinkling.
These harmful rays break down the skin’s collagen and elastin, causing facial skin to lose elasticity and form wrinkles. Precautions, such as avoiding sun exposure and applying sunscreen regularly, can help to mitigate this damage for people of all skin tones.
Smoking is associated with premature facial wrinkling. Studies demonstrate that smokers experience a higher rate of wrinkles than nonsmokers, due to tobacco’s damaging effects on skin elasticity and texture.
Repeated muscle movement
Wrinkles between the eyebrows become deeper through repeated movement of the muscles that are used when frowning. Repetition of facial expressions, such as squinting, smiling, furrowing the brow or frowning, can cause deep vertical lines appear between the eyebrows and may increase in severity over time.
Sleep and stress
Stress causes tension and this can prompt repeated facial expressions that lead to frown lines. Lack of sleep also contributes to facial lines. In fact, poor quality sleepers show increased signs of skin aging, including reduced elasticity and the appearance of fine lines.
How to Treat Frown Lines
A number of effective options are available to help treat frown lines. For finer lines, prevention is key, while neurotoxin injections and at-home skin products are effective at treating existing lines. For deeper moderate to severe lines, dermal fillers are successful treatments.
Begin treatment in your 20s
Frown lines can develop at any age, but most people start noticing them in their early 20s. As a preventative measure, start treatment at the first signs of frown lines before they deepen further.
Effective nonsurgical in-office procedures can treat furrowing frown lines. Although no treatment is permanent,viable in-office options include neurotoxin injections and dermal fillers.
Neurotoxin injections, such as Botox, are an FDA-approved neuromodulator, which works by blocking nerve signals to the muscles.
When injected into targeted muscles, neurotoxin’s active ingredient, botulinum toxin type A, temporarily blocks muscle contractions. This softens and reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
By relaxing the muscles in the face, it also prevents further deepening of dynamic wrinkles. Xeomin and Dysport are also botulinum toxin injectable neuromodulators used in this procedure.
Visible results of these procedures may last up to 3 to 4 months before a new treatment becomes necessary. Treatments are virtually painless and patients can return to normal activities immediately after treatment.
For best results, these treatments should be performed by an experienced professional.
Costs of neurotoxin injections vary depending on the number of injections, the brand, and the size of the treatment area.
Dermal fillers are safe injectable agents offering a temporary improvement of the appearance of moderate to severe lines. They act by creating support under the skin, which smooths out frown lines and other facial lines and wrinkles. Dermal fillers commonly use collagen or hyaluronic acid as agents.
Injections are performed with fine needles and patients usually experience only mild discomfort during the session. As this procedure is minimally invasive, patients can return to normal activities immediately after treatment.
Results are typically noticeable 2 to 3 days after injection, and may last up to 4 months.
The cost of dermal filler treatments vary depending on the number of injections, scheduled touch-ups, the amount of product used and the size of the treatment area.
How to Treat Frown Lines Without Neurotoxins or Fillers
In addition to neurotoxin injections and dermal fillers, you can treat frown lines with facial moisturizers, masks and serums containing various active ingredients.
Moisturizers and masks with hyaluronic acid
To reduce the appearance of frown lines, keep your skin well hydrated by applying moisturizers and face mask formulations. Look for formulas containing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid (HA), which helps skin retain water molecules and decreases frown lines by improving facial volume.
Serums with retinoids and HA
Serums are formulations rapidly absorbed by the skin that deliver concentrated doses of select ingredients. Some of these ingredients, such as topical retinoids, promote cell turnover and combat fine lines. Like cream and lotion facial moisturizers, serums can also contain HA.
Skin care routine
It is best to customize your skin care routine to suit your needs, targeting your treatment to fit your skin type and focusing on your specific concerns. A tailored skin care routine should include washing with a mild cleanser.
When washing, drying or applying skin products, treat your skin gently. Because vigorous scrubbing can irritate skin and increase the appearance of wrinkles, use the pads of your fingers and apply gentle pressure.
To maintain balance and protect your skin, it is best to moisturize and apply sunscreen, by using oil-free and noncomedogenic products.
Finally, as a form of preventive care, the application of a serum or an eye cream or gel can also be part of your skin care regimen.
Many at-home treatment options can contribute to the reduction of frown lines, such as aloe vera gel supplement and red ginseng extract. Although some may be effective, at-home treatments may not fully address your skin’s needs and they are not a substitute for professional medical advice and diagnosis.
Some skin issues require advanced medical treatment. Cosmetic dermatologists provide informed medical evaluations and the safest and most effective methods of treatment to suit specific skin conditions.
Aloe vera gel supplement
Dietary aloe vera gel has anti-aging properties for the skin. By increasing collagen production, aloe gel significantly improves wrinkles and elasticity in the skin.
Red ginseng extract
Long-term use of fermented red ginseng extract provides anti-aging benefits and significantly improves facial wrinkles. Its efficiency is based on the fact that red ginseng possesses bioactive compounds, which increase collagen synthesis in skin.
Facial exercise, including those that entail puckering and squeezing the cheeks, have not been demonstrated to be effective in reducing facial lines and wrinkles, due to a combination of lack of evidence and poorly controlled studies. Additionally, facial exercises are not professionally accepted treatments.
How to Prevent Frown Lines From Forming
Skin aging is unavoidable, but adopting good habits can contribute to prevent the signs of aging. Some of those habits include diet and hydration, the daily use of sunscreen, moisturizers and getting adequate rest.
Diet and hydration
A healthy diet and consuming adequate amounts of water are linked to skin thickness and rejuvenation. This impacts how quickly wrinkles may appear.
For example, a diet high in vitamins A, C, B3 and E will have a significant effect on increasing the production of collagen, preventing the appearance of fine lines. On the other hand, insufficient water consumption will impact the density and plumpness of the skin and contribute to the appearance of wrinkles.
The sun’s rays break down skin elasticity, which can accelerate signs of aging. The regular use of sunscreen when outdoors protects the skin from ultraviolet radiation and damage.
While sleeping, skin produces new collagen, which prevents wrinkles. Since increased collagen means plumper skin, good sleep hygiene can prevent frown lines from forming.
Moisturizers replenish water loss and improve skin elasticity. To prevent frown lines, a good skin care regimen should include a moisturizer with ingredients such as HA, retinol and peptides.
There are many effective options available to treat frown lines. Various in-office procedures are safe and effective, such as neurotoxin injections and dermal fillers.
While not as effective, several at-home treatments can also contribute to the reduction of wrinkles, such as the use of facial moisturizers, masks and serums that contain active ingredients such as HA and retinol.
Because wrinkles appear over time, prevention is key and can include the daily use of sunscreen, following a proper diet and getting enough sleep.
When considering professional treatments for frown lines, it is advised to consult an expert. A medical practitioner will understand the best approach for your specific issue and provide the best treatment option.
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