We tried face taping, a Botox alternative, to smooth wrinkles. It worked like magic — for a few hours.

We tried face taping, a Botox alternative, to smooth wrinkles. It worked like magic — for a few hours.
  • Frownies are patches you stick on your forehead, which are meant to gradually reduce wrinkles.

  • Two Insider reporters put them to the test by wearing them overnight for two weeks.

  • While our wrinkles did smooth initially, the effects wore off in the space of a few hours.

When it comes to anti-aging procedures, not everyone has the money or desire to go down the Botox route. Some prefer a more straightforward hack: taping their wrinkles overnight with products like Frownies face stickers.

It's an age-old trick: Frownies, for example, has existed as a brand since 1889 — about a century before Botox was first introduced to the masses as a treatment for wrinkles.

Norma Desmond in "Sunset Boulevard" wearing anti-wrinkle facial patches.
Norma Desmond in "Sunset Boulevard" getting ready for her close-up with anti-wrinkle stickers.Getty Images / Hulton Archive / Stringer

After we interviewed Frownies fans who swear by them, it made us want to give the $24 patches a try. It seemed like one of those products so simple and straightforward, it had to work.

You can use Frownies on smile lines, crow's feet, between the eyebrows, and on the forehead.

We scrolled through the Frownies Instagram page where the (impossibly smooth) face of the company, Helen Morrison, extols the virtues of the strips, claiming they relax the facial muscles to stop them from forming wrinkles.

The time it takes to see results varies from person to person, she said. Some people seem to see instant changes, for others it will take a few weeks or even months.

The idea is that you use them every night until you get the results you want, and then go down to three to four times a week or however often it takes to maintain the skin you want.

We tried Frownies every night for two weeks, but both decided they were too much effort for the results.

Rachel's experience: The juice wasn't worth the squeeze

When I learned about Frownies, they sounded too good to be true. Affordable, non-invasive patches you stick on your forehead that make the wrinkles go away? Sign me up.

Now 30, I've started feeling insecure about the fine lines that have appeared on my face over the last few years.

Rachel Hosie
The "fine lines" made an appearance towards the end of Rachel's 20s.Rachel Hosie

The first time I put Frownies on, my boyfriend — with whom I live — had just gone away for a week. I thought it would be the perfect chance to see if he noticed a difference — and I also wouldn't have to worry about his reaction to the strange stickered woman lying next to him.

Putting them on was a bit of an effort. The Frownies come in one long strip and you have to tear them into triangles along the perforations and also tear off the pointy corners.

Rachel tried Frownies in different formations.Rachel Hosie/Insider

The idea is that instead of using one large Frownie, overlaying small ones on top of each other allows them to mold to the shape of the forehead better. It is, however, more effort.

Frownies are sticky on one side like a postage stamp, and you use water to stick them to your skin. You have to wait at least 15 minutes after applying moisturizer and spend a few seconds massaging the skin before sticking them on. You then have to pull the skin taut with one hand to smooth out the wrinkles, while using the other hand to stick the wet side of the Frownie to your face. It's a little fiddly, but not too complicated.

I wasn't 100% sure whether I was doing it right. Does it matter if some of the edges aren't totally flat to the skin? Do you need to cover the whole forehead? I tried slightly different formations each time.

The Frownies had a certain smell about them — it wasn't unpleasant to me, it was almost chocolatey — and although my forehead felt very stuck, I forgot I was wearing them for the most part. It was only when I rolled on to my front that I could feel them.

You remove the Frownies by splashing water on your face which loosens the glue, and then you carefully slide a finger underneath to peel them off. It only takes a few seconds and while it doesn't feel nice as such, it's not painful.

After removing Frownies
First thing in the morning, just after removing Frownies.Rachel Hosie/Insider

The first morning, I was amazed to find I actually did see a difference immediately after removing the Frownies. My forehead really did look smoother and the wrinkles were a lot less pronounced.

However, an hour later it was back to normal, and this was the case every day of my experiment.

A week in, my boyfriend came home from his work trip and, unsurprisingly given I did not think the Frownies had done anything, he did not express shock at my noticeably smooth forehead. When prompted, he said he thought there was a difference. But I suspect he was saying what I wanted to hear.

Rachel Frownies before and after
Rachel before (left) and after two weeks of Frownies.Rachel Hosie/Insider

Two weeks down and as far as I was concerned, my forehead looked exactly the same. I was disappointed, as I'd really wanted them to work.

Morrison has said on Instagram that people just need to be more patient and stick at it for longer. But, honestly? I don't think I can be bothered. When it comes to skincare, I am very low-maintenance (which is my way of saying lazy).

I'd like to have a smoother forehead, but I just don't think I want it enough to keep going with Frownies.

Julia's experience: Results that didn't last

A woman wearing Frownies facial stickers and giving a thumbs up
Julia wearing Frownies.Julia Pugachevsky

I bought Frownies months before this experiment. After scouring Reddit threads on forehead wrinkles and cheap Botox alternatives, I invested in these, a retinol serum, and a big bottle of water.

Until Rachel suggested we try them, I attempted putting them on exactly once. The instructions felt intimidating (I have to hold my skin taut?) and I couldn't get over the smell, which reminded me of peppermint extract and the stale scent of old books.

From interviewing people who wear these regularly, I got the tip that I should look at the brand's Instagram for application tips. I went about my usual routine (cleanser, retinol, moisturizer) and, once my skin dried, gently wet four triangles and pasted them on my head. I knew I should probably add more, but I also knew that I had no chance of keeping up with this routine if I had to go through several sticker sheets each night.

The first morning I woke up, I muttered "Happy International Women's Day" to myself as I wet my face, peeled them off, and inspected my forehead wrinkles with the intensity of an award-winning truffle pig. No changes yet.

Frownies anti-wrinkle sticker progress after one week
Julia's results after one week of using Frownies every night.Julia Pugachevsky

Around day four, I noticed a difference. I ran my fingers over my forehead in the shower and marveled at how smooth the area was, setting my face back three to four years ago when my wrinkles didn't occupy a solid 8% of my brainspace.

My heart sank. These really worked, but it meant I'd have to routinely sleep with patches on my head. I already wear a retainer; with massive stickers, my desire to cuddle with my boyfriend in the morning dwindled. "What was the point," I wondered, "of going out of my way to look conventionally hotter if the process left me feeling anything but?"

It also made me increasingly obsessed with my wrinkles. I would monitor how creaseless my forehead looked in the morning, then feel bitter defeat when the lines came back by evening. Did I really have to be so facially expressive all the time? Couldn't I laugh or hold a plank without raising my eyebrows?

It gave me the impression that my wrinkles were beyond help (aside from $400 Botox shots). It tracks with what my sources said for my story: My forehead would "freeze" for a little bit after removing the Frownies, but as I naturally moved my face throughout the day, they'd return.

Frownies progress after 3 hours
Julia's results after wearing Frownies for three hours, never more afraid of someone hacking her phone and seeing 27 serial killer-like forehead close-up photos.Julia Pugachevsky

When I spoke to Dr. Cameron Rokhsar, a board-certified dermatologist and an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, about Frownies, he said that they would work best if I wore them right before going out, rather than overnight, to get optimal results.

So, I put them on at 2 p.m. for a total of three hours. I did my work and took the patches off to see the same smooth skin I usually had in the mornings. I could see myself slapping these on before a headshot appointment or fancy event, though I don't know how well they'll work when I'm not already wearing them every night.

When I got to the last day, I was excited to not have to wear these anymore. I still don't think I'll try Botox anytime soon, but even doing the hard, annoying work of accepting my body seems easier than trying to tape it to perfection.

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