I have a lot of problems with Frownies. For starters, this anti-aging facial treatment was invented in 1884, by a mother who was displeased with her daughter's "unsightly wrinkles and frown lines." Nice, mom. Secondly, the name sounds like something a very sexy baby might say at the end of The Notebook. As if modern women didn't struggle enough with the desire to stave off aging skin AND maintain a modicum of feminist integrity. But, my main issue with Frownies is that they’re tape. Super stiff tape that you stick on your face. And, well, they work. Damn it.
There comes a time for everyone's face when the inevitable ravages of time, life, and squinting at your phone begin to show. We all have different wrinkle-prone areas: worry creases, crow’s feet, marionette lines. (By the way, could someone write their graduate thesis on the misogyny of wrinkle names? K, thnx.) Just as the clock struck 30, I noticed the early signs of a number ‘11’ forming between my eyebrows. I didn't panic. I definitely didn't stare in the mirror and whimper — for more than, like, 10 minutes.
We age. That's just the deal. The only 100% effective wrinkle cure is dying young. So, when I decided to try Frownies, it wasn't with the hope of turning back the clock. I just wanted to see if the rumors were true.
Frownies have been a Hollywood not-so-secret since the 1930s. Olivia de Havilland, Raquel Welch, and Marlene Dietrich were early adopters. And, even with the increasing popularity of facial fillers and Botox, contemporary actresses still apparently run home to sleep in face tape all night. Rashida Jones calls them her "beauty obsession," and I cannot think of anyone in Hollywood who is more stunning and less full of it — except maybe Meryl Streep, another fan.
My first night of sleeping in Frownies was weird. I tore off a patch of the stiff, perforated paper and wet the adhesive backing. As instructed, I relaxed the muscles between my brows, pulled the skin slightly to smooth it out (but not enough to make it taut), and stuck on the patch. It felt a little odd for a minute — like a splint. Reaching for my phone, I felt my brow press against the edges of the patch and thought, "Aha! No furrowing for you!" But, within five minutes, I forgot it was there.
In the morning, I peeled off the patch and saw that the faint 11 was gone. This was no surprise. The immediate and temporary effects of Frownies are obvious. If you iron a shirt, it's going to be wrinkle-free — until you spend all day moving around in it. If you're looking for a quick fix before an event or having your photo taken, Frownies will do the trick, guaranteed. But, that's just one, short-term perk.
Frownies straddle the line between preventative and restorative skin care. They work as a quick fix because of the smoothing effect. But, with consistent use, they're actually a form of muscle training: They physically prevent you from making repetitive motions that cause (and deepen) wrinkles, like squinting, furrowing, and, yes, making sad, wittle frown lines. Over time, your facial muscles evidently learn their lesson, decreasing the severity of these expressions even when you're not wearing one of the patches.
The Cut once called them "retainers for your face," and that pretty much sums up my experience. They're kind of annoying to wear, and every morning, I take them off and forget them on the bathroom sink. But, they work. So, fiiine, I'll wear them.
I've been using the patches for almost three months, and I must admit that “mean mommy” got it right. My 11 is impossible to find. I even took a day off from them occasionally, to see if it would reappear, and nada. Before I started this story, I could spot it faintly in photos and pointed it out to people. But, now I can even sense when I'm starting to furrow, and then I consciously relax.
Frownies aren’t Botox. But, not everyone wants to take that step. I can't guarantee I won’t try it down the line, but at this point, I have no reason to. Good Lord, this may be the best slightly archaic, kind of annoying, anti-aging treatment out there. If it's good enough for Meryl's wrinkles, it's good enough for mine — and, I think I can safely say, yours, too. The future is in face tape, people.
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