Welcome to Beauty In A Tik, where each week we put TikTok's viral beauty hacks and innovative trends to the test.
When it comes to beauty, TikTok is a fountain of knowledge. Where else would we learn that skin icing can bring down breakouts or that there's an easy way to fashion a stylish bun in under a minute? But for every effective beauty tip on the app, there's also a rather questionable one. Take lipstick blush, for example, or the thick hair hack doing the rounds.
This month, TikTok's beauty enthusiasts are obsessed with face taping: using plastic adhesive or 'face lifting patches' which they claim help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles overnight. The hashtag #facetape has amassed 7.1 million pairs of eyes and counting. Lots of TikTokers are using tape to create a 'snatched' makeup look using eyeshadow and eyeliner but among the videos you'll see skincare obsessives referring to face tape as an alternative to preventative Botox.
What is face taping and how can it help reduce fine lines and wrinkles?
Before the experts get into the nitty-gritty, you don't need me to tell you that there isn't anything wrong with lines and wrinkles. They're a perfectly normal and natural part of ageing skin but they do bother some people. If that's you, read on...
"Face taping is a technique that claims to tackle fine lines and wrinkles by strategically placing sticky tape on areas of the face," explains Dr Ioannis Liakas, medical director at Vie Aesthetics. "The aim is to use tape to constrict the muscles and limit their motion," which is said to minimise wrinkles. "Face taping tends to be an overnight ritual that involves sleeping with tape in place, in order to prevent you from frowning or making any expression during your sleep." It's also said to prevent creases caused by sleeping on your side or front. Though face taping is popular online, Dr Liakas says that the trend is not a new phenomenon. "The use of face taping has been around since the 1800s," he says, "but the trend has resurfaced thanks to social media."
"The truth is we do frown and make facial expressions during deep sleep," says Dr Kaywaan Khan, medical doctor and aesthetician at Hannah London. He adds: "Pillows can also potentially scrunch our skin up, causing fine lines to form over time." On TikTok, many users are turning to Frownies Facial Patches (which look like large plasters), placing them on their foreheads, cheeks and under-eyes in a bid to stretch skin and muscles taut and prevent wrinkles and creases from forming overnight. Other versions are available online, as shown by TikTokers Danna Omari and Christy Parr Watkins. Even MAC makeup artist Victor Cembellin is a fan (his video has racked up 233.6k views). A quick Amazon search will serve up dozens of face tape results, too.
Does face taping work to reduce fine lines and wrinkles?
Like many TikTok hacks, the benefits of face taping are anecdotal. "Hypothetically it would be great to relax the skin and keep it smooth throughout the night so we aren't forming fine lines," says Dr Kaywaan. "However, tape can't really stop the skin unless it's very tight — uncomfortably so. Even then, we'd need a trial or study to prove its benefit."
In Dr Liakas' opinion, facial taping can actually have the opposite effect when it comes to reducing wrinkles. "By taping the face to hold muscles still while sleeping, we are not preventing our muscles from working. Instead, we are adding resistance for those muscles to work against. This trains the muscles to work harder and become stronger. In turn, this will accelerate the formation of fine lines and wrinkles."
In the name of Beauty In A Tik, I decided to put my face on the line. Heading into my thirties, I've noticed more under-eye wrinkles and the skin above my brows feels softer and less elastic. I looked to Amazon and bought 40 face lifting patches that I thought would be best suited to my sensitive and acne-prone skin, proceeding to tape my under-eyes before bed for just over a week. They were a bargain at under £5. I expected lifted, smooth skin like TikTok's skincare pros but all I got were spots. What gives?
Is face taping safe or are there any side effects?
"The ingredients used in tape (especially the stronger ones which you will need for it not to come off during sleep) are not intended to be used on skin," says Dr Kaywaan, "and in some skin types, could cause sensitivity, irritation, redness and even breakouts." That makes sense. Teamed with nourishing skincare, some strips of tape slipped off during the night so I didn't see the full 'benefit'. Dr Liakas adds that when removing very sticky tape, there is a risk of pulling off a layer of the skin, which can cause trauma and result in underlying pigmentation. "There is also a risk of tearing the skin," he says. "Having an open tear can pave the way for bacterial infection and can leave scarring." Ouch.
How do you minimise lines and wrinkles effectively and what are the best skincare products?
Dr Liakas says that fine lines and wrinkles do not only appear as a result of our expressions throughout the day and while sleeping but also as a result of sun exposure, as well as natural volume loss that comes with ageing. "Facial taping does not have any effect against these factors," he explains. So what does work? Active skincare ingredients are the answer. "Wear SPF!" says Dr Liakas. "That should be a high factor application of sunscreen daily, even when the sun is not visible," he says. Choose either a factor 30 or 50 and always look for the 'broad spectrum' label, which indicates that the product will protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Try La Roche-Posay's Anthelios Age Correct SPF50+ Sun Cream, £25, which is highly moisturising but not sticky or greasy. You don't even have to apply moisturiser first.
Dr Kaywaan recommends incorporating a retinol serum or cream into your nighttime skincare routine. I like Dr Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol and Ferulic Texture Renewal Serum, £74, which combines retinol and environmental protection, or Olay's Retinol24 Night Serum With Retinol & Vitamin B3, £34.99. "Retinol reduces fine lines and wrinkles by increasing the production of collagen," he explains. "Additional benefits include fading age spots and softening rough patches of skin." Retinol is also great for fading hyperpigmentation and unclogging pores. If you're using the ingredient, always wear SPF during the daytime as it may make skin sensitive to sunlight.
"You could also use a serum that contains copper peptide," says Dr Kaywaan. "Studies have shown that copper peptide promotes the production of collagen and elastin in your skin. It also acts as an antioxidant (protection against the environment, e.g. pollution) and promotes production of hyaluronic acid, which is great for hydration, keeping the skin plump and smooth." Try Revolution Skincare's Copper Peptide Serum, £10, or The Ordinary's 'Buffet' + Copper Peptides 1%, £28.90, which has five-star reviews all round.
shop 5 products
What are the best treatments for fine lines and wrinkles?
If you'd rather visit a pro, Dr Liakas suggests the following smooth skin-enhancing treatments.
"Some facial treatments deliver hyaluronic acid (HA) which is a moisturising agent that makes it easier for the skin to retain water," he says. "HA helps hydrate your skin from within and is responsible for creating a more plump appearance." First up, mesotherapy. "This treatment involves injecting a cocktail of natural extracts, amino acids, vitamins and pharmaceuticals (including hyaluronic acid) into the middle layers of your skin to rejuvenate cells and stimulate extra production of collagen and elastin."
There's also the WOW Facial. "This is a six-step facial which can be hyper-personalised to your specific skin needs through a range of bespoke cocktail solutions, as well as use of LED light therapy," explains Dr Liakas. "The use of botulinum toxin injections (most commonly known as Botox) can also help reduce fine lines and wrinkles," concludes Dr Liakas. "The toxin acts to relax facial muscles, which limits our expression and therefore smooths out lines and even prevents the formation of future wrinkles."
Refinery29's selection is purely editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission. Transparency is important to us at Refinery29, if you have any questions please reach out to us.