The practice of using face tape is nothing new—Hollywood stars like Marlene Dietrich and Lucille Ball were known to use them when on camera for an instant rejuvenation. Today, face taping is seeing a revival of sorts thanks to social media, which only shows a few minutes of the whole story, say some facial experts. While the temporary solution can make for a great viral video, doctors who specialize in facial aging say to proceed with caution. When using face tapes there are a few things you should know about what they can and cannot do and the long-term damage you can be left with if used the wrong way.
What can facial tape show you about your skin?
According to Chicago plastic surgeon Michael Horn, MD the tapes used to give a younger look are working so well because they’re offering an instant reversal to the natural aging process or lax skin due to sun damage, weight loss or skin sagging due to excessive drinking or smoking. “Elastin and collagen, essential proteins produced in the skin, maintain their youthful appearance. As we age, these proteins decrease,” he explains. “Skin needs the ability to bounce back when stretched which is lost with the aging process.”
Dr. Horn says the face tape can offer a preview of what a more permanent solution might achieve. When you employ the use of skin-lifting facial tapes, you’re essentially mimicking the results of a facelift procedure. “People aim to restore youthful qualities like higher cheekbones, defined jawlines, and no wrinkles or under-eye hollows,” he adds.
Can tape reduce your wrinkles?
New York facial plastic surgeon Konstantin Vasyukevich, MD says there are two types of face tapes trending on social media and viewers should note that only the patches can actually help reduce wrinkling. According to the surgeon, face taping should not be confused with wrinkle patches because leaving the tape on for long periods of time can lead to negative results.
“For wrinkle patches, you should know how the facial muscles operate and where to place them. Wearing them overnight for a long period of time can minimize the depth of those wrinkles because in essence it is doing something similar to Botox in that it’s limiting the movement of those muscles. But you have to know where to place them and where to provide tension in order to stop the wrinkle from forming or getting deeper while you sleep,” he shares.
For face taping that gives skin a lift, the experts do not recommend wearing them for extended periods. “Using a piece of tape, especially one that is ‘supposed’ to hold your skin down for a whole night, can damage the skin barrier when you take it off. This tape isn’t made to be safe on the skin and can cause redness, irritation, and acne breakouts,” notes Dr. Horn. “The adhesive must be incredibly tight and therefore, uncomfortable to use for an extended time to ‘hold’ the muscles still.”
Can leaving tape on too long affect your skin?
Unlike wrinkle patches, keeping face tape on for a long period of time can have an adverse effect. “When you tape your face to immobilize muscles, you prevent them from functioning as intended, adding resistance. In doing so, you’re training your facial muscles to work harder and, in turn, become more powerful. Over time they can get stronger, accelerating the formation of the fine lines and wrinkles you were hoping to avoid,” says Dr. Horn.
Dr. Vasyukevich agrees, saying the tapes are suitable for short uses like weddings, nights out, or video tutorials. Prolonged use may stretch the skin, which should be avoided. “They are a visual tool, but nothing more,” he says. “What you’re doing is the opposite of lifting when you’re using these too long and that is where the danger lies. It’s actually stretching the skin and that’s not what you want so you have to be careful.”
How can you get a long-term lift?
For someone who is noticing the improvements the face tape can make, the experts say a conservative facial procedure may be helpful for a long-term lift. “A mini facelift is a procedure that’s more limited in scale,” says Dr. Vasyukevich. “It’s not as steep, the incisions are much shorter the healing time is a lot faster.”
Dr. Horn suggests alternatives for a refreshed look without tape. “To reduce lines and wrinkles, use SPF 30 sunblock, adjust your skin-care routine, and consider Botox or filler,” he advises. “Adding retinoids improves cellular turnover, reducing fine lines.”