I’m resigned to the fact that my face will eventually show signs of age, but I do possess a lingering, teeny bit of foolish vanity. I am not into elective cosmetic surgery, however, so after some woolgathering, I came up with this process to address the fine vertical lines which are starting to appear between my eyebrows. This method is dirt cheap, and, for me anyway, has had a distinctly positive effect. I hope it helps you, too.1

Method

  1. Take an adhesive bandage, the kind you’d wrap around a cut finger to halt the bleeding. Fabric bandages seem to work best as they are extremely flexible, but in a pinch, the basic plastic ones will do.

  2. Peel the outer wrapper off, but not the backing that covers the sticky adhesive. Cut the bandage lengthwise2 down the middle with scissors. This should produce two long, skinny half-strips.

  3. Peel off the backing on one half-strip, using care to keep your fingers off of the adhesive as much as possible in order to preserve its full sticky-power. You now have a long, skinny strip (hereafter referred to as a half-bandage) with sticky adhesive on both ends and a piece of gauze in the middle.

  4. Stick one end of the half-bandage just above and slightly medial (inward towards the invisible centerline of your face) to the inner corner of one eyebrow. Just above your nose, but to one side, get it?

  5. Gently pull the half-bandage in an arc over your eyebrow, very slightly stretching the skin at the bandage's attachment point to draw it outward towards the side of your face. Just a little bit. Then stick the other end down wherever it seems to make the most sense. If you are careful, you can actually curve the half-bandage a bit to follow the contour of your eyebrow as you desire.

  • Rinse and repeat for the other eyebrow.
  • I get the best results from applying these in the evening and sleeping overnight with them, or during the day when I have free time and some privacy. (Wearing these things will get you stared at, as it looks quite odd, and may well draw commentary from even the most patient of significant others and friends.) The longer the application, the better, but even a few hours seems to help.

    How it works

    The phrase of the day is "muscle fatigue", baby!

    The human face is home to many muscles, almost all of them quite small but heavy-duty workhorses nonetheless, being in nearly constant use to help us be better understood to those other beings journeying through life alongside us. In the vicinity of the bridge of the nose and the forehead are the....

    • frontal belly (frontalis) of the epicranius3 : the big muscle of the forehead, which runs vertically

    • procerus : the muscle that runs vertically between your eyes between the nose cartilage and the frontal belly

    • corrugator supercillii : the muscle that runs transversely from the bridge of your nose outward to the top of your orbit (eye socket)

    • orbital part of the orbicularis oculi : the muscle that more or less follows the path of your eyebrow

    • palpebral part of the orbicularis oculi : the muscle that works your eyelid, somewhat circular in fashion though the fibers run mostly transversely

    • levator labii superioris : a skinny muscle which runs from near the outside corner of your mouth to near the inside corner of your eye

    Skin wrinkles develop in a direction transverse (crosswise) to the direction that the fibers of the muscle runs, as a result of chronic contraction of the muscles. If you concentrate frequently and are facially expressive, lines4 will, with age, eventually show up between your eyebrows.

    The primary culprit in the creation of vertical lines between your eyes is corrugator supercillii. That the word 'corrugator' appears in its name is no accident. It's not a large muscle, though -- maybe an inch (2.54 cm) long and half of that from top to bottom. None of the facial muscles are large. The biggest are the temporalis, which unsurprisingly enough lies in a large dimple at the side of your skull along your temple (and it can be a major culprit in tooth and jaw problems, not to mention your garden variety "tension headache"), and the epicranius itself.

    So then: The corrugator is not a studly muscle. How can it cause such wrinkles? Well, your skin has even tinier muscles of its own, most of which are interested in telling your hair to stand up on end or not, but it simply can't compete even with the wimpy power of the corrugator. And there, O Reader, lies the answer.

    One way to "deactivate" a muscle, or in other words, cause it to reduce or stop its ability to contract, is to tire it out. This concept is heavily utilized in physical therapy, and for good reason. The rationale, simplified, goes like this: A muscle requires fuel in order to contract. Sometimes a habit makes a muscle "like" to contract. But if you force a muscle to fight to contract, it may burn through its readily available fuel, and then cease to contract (or at least not contract quite so hard) out of sheer and sulky defeat.

    THAT is what happens with this method. If you anchor down a sticky bit at the inner portion of your forehead, near those vertical lines, then stretch that half-bandage with even a bit of tension and anchor down the tail end somewhere out on the side of your face, that wimpy little corrugator muscle will just fire and fire and fire until it uses up all its available fuel and collapses on the couch... and those lines on your forehead will smooth out somewhat.

    Mind you, this is not a quote perfect unquote "cure" for erasing facial lines, but it it can certainly help.

    Nature or nurture?

    I've found that using this procedure over time seems to be slowly training me to not wrinkle my face so much in assorted ways. Maybe it's my imagination, but I think that perhaps I've increased my body awareness of my face; I recognize more often now that I'm wrinkling it, and can stop myself. And I've also noticed that the status of my face (i.e., wrinkled or smooth) can actually affect my mood, whereas conventionally, one would expect the opposite causality pattern to obtain.

    Big business (or at least small business) knows about it, too

    At least two commercial products, Wrinkies and Frownies, appear to utilize the concept I have presented here. Wrinkies are meant to be used at the outside corners of one's eyes and Frownies between the eyebrows. References may easily be found by Googling, though some vendors have discontinued carrying them. Now that you know the secret, though, why bother buying them?

    Advanced dewrinkling methodology

    There is another natural method which I suspect works even better that what I have presented here, but I haven’t tried it yet, so I’ll node it when/if I do. (Can you guess what it might be?)

    Footnotes

    1. If you have a serious medical condition which affects your face, consult your physician before trying the ideas suggested here. Regardless, though, drink lots of water, use sunscreen, and take a daily multivitamin / multimineral if your diet could be better.

    2. Why in half? Well, thinner sections of bandage are easier to manipulate above the curvature of the eyebrow, for one thing. For another, while the cost of this is literally peanuts next to botox, you do not need a full bandage for an eyebrow. Save yourself some money by cutting the bandages in half!

    3. The epicranius is an interesting muscle. On your forehead, it's called the frontalis and is the culprit of the horizontal lines sometimes found there. It wraps completely over the top of your head to the back. As it passes over your skull from front to back, it transitions from muscle to a thin sheet of fascia called the galea aponeurotica, which eventually transforms back into a muscle again at the base of your skull, where it is known as the occipital belly of the epicranius. The occipital belly, in turn, anchors into all sorts of structures such as the sternocleidomastoid fascia, which then descends your neck. Incidentally, the epicranius is the active culprit in those cases of utterly weird people who can actually twitch their scalps forward and back under conscious control. The ability to do this seems to be related to a having a well-developed occipital belly, which is a fairly rare occurence.

    4. These facial lines are also known as kidney lines in Traditional Chinese Medicine, but explaining that is outside of the scope of this writeup.

    References

    Plates 20 and 21 of Atlas of Human Anatomy, by Frank H. Netter, M.D., Seventh Printing, 1994. ISBN 0-914168-19-3

    Page 34 of Color Atlas of Human Anatomy, by R.M.H. McMinn and R.T. Hutchings, 1977. ISBN 0-8151-5823-8

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