Here’s What Dermatologists Think About Facial Tape

Long employed for its lifting and wrinkle-reducing properties, here’s why facial tape may not be as useful as you think.
Beauty
Written by Témi Adebowale
03.30.2021
Here’s What Dermatologists Think About Facial TapeReshetnikov_art/Shutterstock

Facelifts are one of the most transformative plastic surgery procedures, and the rejuvenated and refreshed look of a facelift makes it an attractive option for anyone looking to banish the wrinkling and sagging that comes with aging. But facelifts are generally reserved for patients in their late forties and beyond, and many people younger than that wish to replicate the toned and tightened look.

Enter facial tape. Usually made of latex, silicone, or polyethylene plastic, the tape can either be used to give a ‘snatched’ look during the day or employed at night to fight wrinkles. Sold everywhere from eBay to Amazon, facial tape further entered the lexicon when people began emulating the queens seen on RuPaul’s Drag Race, who often use tape to both secure their wigs and to lift the face.

But, make no mistake, the practice has been around for years. “Face taping is not a new technique and has been used for years as a potential solution for some people looking to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, specifically to provide an immediate lifting effect,” explains Dendy Engelman, MD, a board certified dermatologist in New York City. “It originally gained popularity in the film industry, when actresses would wear tape under wigs to make their skin appear more firm on camera.”

While this practice isn’t new, it’s mostly been an insider secret — which means there has been a lack of information about the longer term ramifications and risks of the seemingly instant lift. We’re breaking down what you need to know about the ins and outs of facial tape.

Using Facial Tape for an ‘Instant’ Facelift

Snatching your face with tape can be achieved by applying packing tape or another kind of thick tape on one side of your face (behind your ear), then pulling it across your head to the other side. Another option are kits that include a silicone tab on an elastic band, and are applied similarly to the packing tape method.

And while using these methods intermittently shouldn’t do too much harm for most people, there are still some risks. Dr. Engelman advises against using tapes for long periods of time because they can actually have the inverse effect. “Extended usage of these adhesive tapes could cause exaggerated stretching to the skin and actually accelerate signs of aging,” she cautions. “There could be increased skin laxity induced from tight taping techniques and/or prolonged wear.”

Using Facial Tape for Wrinkles

Using facial tape to tackle wrinkles is controversial, as most dermatologists and aestheticians agree that tapes, patches, and bandages will not effectively reduce, remove, or prevent wrinkles. Wrinkle tapes are said to work if you directly place them on, say, your crow’s feet or forehead lines and leave them on overnight, but the main issue here is that the smoothing effect only lasts as long as the tape is on. Once you wake up and remove the tape, you’re back to square one.

Another concern? While rare, some people can have a reaction to the tape. “The adhesive itself is not dangerous to your skin, though wearing it for prolonged periods of time can result in the skin not getting enough air or natural moisturization, which isn't ideal in any situation,” Dr. Engelman shares. “There are cases where people develop an allergic contact dermatitis to ingredients that make up the adhesive.”

Alternatives to Facial Tape

While facial tape can offer temporary benefits in a pinch, Dr. Engelman doesn’t suggest it as a long-term lifting or wrinkle-smoothing solution. “I would recommend readers try to avoid facial tape, certainly on a regular basis,” she says. Instead, consider the at-home and in-office options that offer lasting benefits. “If they are looking for real, permanent anti-aging solutions, there are many more viable cosmetic and medical treatments that will safely and truly provide greater reductions in wrinkle visibility,” she shares. An added benefit? “You don't want to be tugging so aggressively on the skin on a regular basis,” she adds.

Here are three at-home and in-office wrinkle-reducing solutions that will have you saying ‘so long’ to your facial tape:

Skincare

Yes, skincare has its limits, but starting a quality skincare routine before wrinkles and sagging start to show up is a recipe for maintaining flawless skin. In addition to a broad spectrum sunscreen, look for products that feature collagen and elastin-boosting ingredients (think: retinol and retinoids), brightening antioxidants (hi, vitamin C and vitamin E), and exfoliating hydroxy acids (i.e. AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs). Don’t know where to start? Check out our guides to the best skincare routine for your twenties, thirties, forties, and after 50.

Injectables

Once you have your skincare regimen down, you may want to consider how professional treatments can fit into your routine. Cosmetic neurotoxins, like Botox®, Dysport®, Jeuveau®, and Xeomin®, reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles. When injected into an affected area (horizontal forehead lines, glabellar lines, crow’s feet, etc.), they temporarily limit muscle contractions, which, in turn, prevents the face from forming lines. Results generally last three to four months. It is increasingly common for patients in their late twenties and early thirties to begin routine neurotoxin treatments as a preventative measure to ward off deeper wrinkles down the road.

Laser Skin Resurfacing

The most invasive option of the bunch can also yield the most dramatic results. Ablative lasers — the gold standard in laser skin resurfacing — create a controlled burn to the skin to stimulate the natural healing process, which jumpstarts elastin and collagen production and, eventually, produces new skin cells. These powerful lasers can treat everything from sun damage and pigmentation to scarring and deep wrinkles.

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TÉMI ADEBOWALEis an assistant editor at AEDIT.

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