Have you ever seen a photo of yourself or looked in the mirror and felt like you were frowning, even when you weren't? It could be because you have prominent glabellar lines—that's the technical term for the two vertical, parallel wrinkles that crop up between your brows and above your nose when you frown, aptly-dubbed "11s," or frown lines. "These are formed by the skin being pulled by underlying muscles," explains Dr. Robyn Gmyrek, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at Park View Laser Dermatology. When we're younger, the lines appear only when you contract the muscle to frown; they disappear when the muscle is relaxed, which is why they're called "dynamic wrinkles," she explains. But as we get older, these wrinkles become visible all the time and turn into "static wrinkles," also known as "wrinkles at rest," she says.
If these are the types of lines you're dealing with—and are bothered by—don't stress. There are a wide range of treatment options out there (although—spoiler alert—one method is far more effective than the rest). Ahead, dermatologists reveal the best treatments both at-home and in-office that can help diminish the look of glabellar lines.
Consider Botox for the Best Results
The experts we spoke with unanimously agree that Botox injections are far and above the best solution. "The most effective way to get rid of these lines is with a neuromodulator, such as Botox, Dysport, Xeomin, or Jeuveau," explains New York City dermatologist Dr. Hadley King. (These are all just different brand names of botulinum toxin injections.) They work by blocking the communication between the nerve and the muscle so that the muscles doesn't contract; because the muscle contraction is precisely what is causing these lines, neuromodulators are the ideal option for both preventing and treating them, says King. The only downside? The results will only last for about four to six months, so you'll need to repeat injections in order to maintain the effects, says Gmyrek. But the upshot is that they'll also help enhance the efficacy of the other treatment options below since the muscles will already be weakened, she adds.
Apply Topical Products With Peptides
Whether used in tandem with injections or solo for those who want a totally non-invasive solution, peptides are the ingredient to seek out in your skincare, says Gmyrek. More specifically, you'll want to use neurotransmitter-inhibitor peptides that essentially work via the same mechanism of action as Botox does, she adds (though these are admittedly not as effective). The most common ingredients to look for are: argireline (also known as acetyl hexapeptide-8), pentapeptide-18, pentapeptide-3, and tripeptide-3). These cosmeceutical peptides can help relax muscles, causing the reduction and softening of wrinkles and fine lines, says Gmyrek.
King is a fan of this serum, which boasts seven different peptides. "It's one of the only clinically-proven, topical products that helps smooth the appearance of expression lines, including glabellar lines," she says.
Use a Stick-On Silicone Patch
Stick-on wrinkle patches may seem a little gimmicky (and quite frankly, too good to be true), but both derms we spoke with say that they can have at least some temporary benefits. Typically made of medical-grade silicone, they work by both keeping the skin taut so it can't crease or wrinkle and locking in moisture that helps make the skin appear plumper and wrinkles smoother, says King. While Gmyrek notes that the effects aren't scientifically proven, she says that if you regularly wear them for several hours a day and aren't contracting your muscles during that time, you could see some improvement in your wrinkles. And, at the very least, they're a good option to reach for if you need a quick—albeit temporary—fix before a big event.
King recommends these patches, which she says help to soften both horizontal lines on the forehead and the vertical ones extending into the glabella.
Ask Your Doctor About a Thread Lift
The most invasive option on this list, polydioxone threads are sugar-based and are dissolved by the body over several weeks, says Gmyrek. They can be placed under the glabellar lines to provide some immediate improvement by lifting the lines, much like a filler would, she says. The other benefit? "They're also bio-stimulatory, meaning they stimulate the production of collagen and elastin in the area," she adds. And while glabellar lines are more of a result of repeated muscle movement than a breakdown of collagen and elastin, more collagen and elastin is never a bad thing in the quest for smoother skin.
Think About Trying Injectable Fillers
"If the glabellar lines are deeply etched in and don't sufficiently disappear after neuromodulator injections, then a superficial filler can create great results," says King (she cites the hyaluronic-acid based Belotero as one option). Injecting filler under the lines can help fill them and soften their appearance, adds Hadley, though she notes that because they're not addressing the underlying cause, the muscle movement, fillers won't keep the lines from getting deeper over time. (To that point, the combination of Botox and filler injections is a good way to prevent and treat, she says.) The big caveat here? Injecting filler into the glabellar lines is very risky: "The glabellar area has many blood vessels running through it, some of which lead back into the eye. If the filler were to get into the blood vessels, it could impede blood flow and cause a wound on the skin or, if the blood vessel leads to the eye, even cause blindness," cautions Gmyrek. With any cosmetic injections, but even more so in this case, make sure you're seeing a licensed, experienced provider.