Diminish the look of frown lines over time with these at-home, dermatologist-approved solutions.
Since turning 27 this year, a stubborn frown line has made itself at home in between my eyebrows. Even when I'm not actually frowning, it's there, taunting me (and making me look perpetually annoyed). These lines—sometimes referred to as "elevens," thanks to their shape—are the result of repeated movement over time, a loss of elastic tissue as we age, and good-old genetics, explains Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist and creator of the Sea Radiance skincare line.
Dr. Jaliman stresses the importance of healthy habits like getting plenty of sleep, not smoking, and eating an antioxidant-rich diet to prevent existing lines from worsening. And while over-the-counter products are unlikely to completely erase frown lines (unless they're extremely faint to begin with), "they can definitely soften and smooth them," she says. Here, her top over-the-counter picks to reduce the appearance of frown lines at home.
Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Vitamin C Anti-Aging Collagen Booster
In your 20s, when lines are still subtle, Dr. Jaliman recommends using a product that contains vitamin C, an antioxidant that can help repair free radical damage, such as Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Vitamin C Anti-Aging Collagen Booster. In addition to vitamin C, "it also has glycerin to moisturize, aloe to soothe skin, and green tea extract, which helps against free radical damage," she says.
Olay Active Botanicals Intensive Night Cream
If you have some skin discoloration, Dr. Jaliman suggests Olay Active Botanicals Intensive Night Cream. It contains niacinamide (also known as B3), which can help even out skin tone while also improving fine lines. "This is a good choice for a woman with lines in her 30s," she says.
Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Turbo Face Serum
"Peptides stimulate collagen production," says Dr. Jaliman. "They are effective and gentle, a good choice for women in their 50s." She likes Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Turbo Face Serum, which is made with peptides as well as glycerin to help moisturize.
Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum
And then, of course, there's retinol, the vitamin A derivative famous for its anti-aging powers. There are plenty of great over-the-counter retinol creams to choose from, but Dr. Jaliman is partial to Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum, which contains both retinol and super-moisturizing hyaluronic acid. "It's very effective, but not irritating," she says. One important caveat: "If you use any retinol product, you should use it at night in a cream or serum, as it can make you sun-sensitive."
EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
Dermatologists agree that SPF is the ultimate antiager. "People who wear sunscreen religiously tend to look much younger than their actual age," says Dr. Jaliman. "UV rays damage our collagen and elastic tissue and cause wrinkles." She recommends wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater, like EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46, every single day, rain or shine.
It seems obvious, but becoming more aware of your default expressions can prevent lines from deepening over time (do you unknowingly frown whenever you look at the computer, for example?). And while there are many "facial exercises" on the Internet that claim to reduce lines, Dr. Jaliman doesn't recommend them. "It's the opposite of Botox," she says. "They'll just cause more lines." Instead, she says, you'd be better off investing in a product that helps "train" your muscles to relax, such as Frownies. They're a good choice, since they force you not to make the expression while you're sleeping.