Why are Social Media Influencers Taping Their Faces Before Bed?
One of the latest old-school beauty trends experiencing a revival on social media—joining the ranks of other classic DIY treatments such as slugging, which has also taken off among millennial and Gen Z skincare-aficionados—is face tape. Yes, face tape. It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like: strategic taping of the face to keep muscles from moving or features in place, and, most of the time, worn through the night for maximum effect.
If face tape sounds familiar, well, that's because it's been around for a while. One of the first commercialised face tape products in the western world was called Frownies, adhesive wrinkle-prevention face patches first marketed by a woman called Margaret Kroesen in 1889. In the ensuing centuries, physically immobilising face muscles to prevent forehead wrinkling, neck wrinkling, and the "elevens" (those two vertical links between the brows) with medical tape has popped up as a trend every couple of decades.
This time around wrinkle face tape is trending on social media, especially on TikTok, and we wanted to find out whether the longevity of the wrinkle tape craze means that it's a treatment that actually works, so we asked some experts about face taping and how effective it is as preventing fine lines and wrinkles. We also asked about how wellness body hackers are using face tape to tape their mouths shut in order to encourage nose-breathing while asleep.
Here's what the professionals had to say.
Wrinkle tape works best on 'dynamic wrinkles'
"Face tape for wrinkles are only truly effective in reducing facial muscle tension in young people with dynamic wrinkles (wrinkles that appear when you make a facial movement)," says Dr. Vincent Wong, a leading cosmetic doctor based in Knightsbridge.
"Once the muscle tension is strong enough that dynamic lines become static lines (i.e. they are there even when you don't make a facial expression), these tapes become less effective and the wrinkles will return soon after the tapes are removed. On average, users are recommended to use tapes for at least 30 days to see any changes.
"It is important to choose the right material so that you don't occlude the skin when using them. I would highly advise against using it if there are any signs of broken skin or inflammation (such as acne, rosacea, psoriasis) in the area you intend to tape."
Using face tape is a form of behaviour modification
"For years I have recommended using 'office tape' vertically over the elevens that invade our forehead from concentration and frowning," says Cynthia Rowland, creator of the Facial Magic facial exercise system.
"Just place a one inch piece of tape vertically over the lines before bedtime—the results will be apparent in the morning. The tape will not allow you to frown during your sleep. It’s a form of behaviour modification."
Mouth tape can help with a more restful night's sleep
As for body-hackers and wellness enthusiasts taping their mouths shut before bed? The trend might look scary, but could also have positive sleep and health benefits.
"Mouth taping sounds like something out of a horror movie, except that it's a small thing that can actually help save your life," says Dr. Yuliya Rabinovich. "Nasal breathing is one of the keys to healthy mind and body. It's great to be able to breathe through our mouth on occasion when our nose is stuffed up, but this backup plan is just that. We're not designed to breathe through our mouth on a regular basis.
"Our amazing innate filtration system and nitric oxide production that kills bacteria, viruses and mold, resides in the nose. So by bypassing our body's natural filtration system when breathing through the mouth we are unnecessarily challenging our immune system which can lead to irritated throat and enlarged tonsils to say the least.
"Nasal breathing helps reduce stress and anxiety," Rabinovich says. "The simple action of opening mouth to breathe while we sleep pushes the soft tissue of our oropharynx (like the tongue) to the back of mouth thereby occluding or obstructing the airway leading to sleep-disordered breathing or even Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The purpose of saliva is not just to aid in digestion, but saliva also has a protective function. It washes away food debris and buffers the oral environment to bring the oral pH to neutral (pH of 7), which is tooth enamel's happy place.
"Breathing through the mouth dries saliva before it has a chance to perform its function leading to overgrowth of bacteria which in turn can lead to bad breath, tooth decay and gum inflammation. Becoming aware of the adverse effects of mouth breathing is half the battle in committing to keeping mouth closed while sleeping."
So what should you look for when buying mouth tape for a better night's sleep?
(Related: Battling Insomnia Due to Covid-19? 8 Simple Tips to Improve the Way You Sleep)
"You can certainly buy something that specifically says 'mouth tape'," Rabinovich says, "however something that covers the entire mouth can be overwhelming. A cheaper, and less daunting alternative may be a simple medical tape. The point is not to tape mouth shut, for many the thought alone can be scary. The point is to place tape from just above the top lip to just below the lower lip to apply light pressure to keep lips closed but won't prevent mouth breathing if absolutely necessary. Most people find mouth taping comfortable. They report better sleep and less teeth grinding.
"For those who can't get used to mouth taping it's possible that the problem isn't in mouth tape itself but rather in the ability to breathe through the nose. It's important to start with proper nasal hygiene such as nasal irrigation with warm salt water followed by soothing nasal spray like XClear. If that doesn't help, a visit to ENT is warranted. Mouth taping is a wonderful tool, but it won't work if you can't breathe through your nose due to some other underlying issue."