7 Ways To Define Your Jawline Without Going Under The Knife
Tight, sculpted, defined, chiseled, snatched — whatever adjectives you choose to describe a perfectly taut jawline, you may be able to achieve it without succumbing to surgery.
Before the advent of non-surgical treatments, the only reliable options for contouring the jawline for a more perfect profile were facelifts and neck lifts. Today, thread lifts, energy-based tightening tools, and the off-label use of injectables (think: Botox® and filler) are just a few of the minimally invasive ways providers can address aesthetic jaw concerns. “Rather than undergo invasive procedures that require general anesthesia and prolonged recovery times, non-surgical cosmetic procedures can temporarily sculpt the jawline with local anesthesia and limited recovery time,” says Brendan Camp, MD, a board certified dermatologist in New York City.
So, if you're looking for the best ways to tighten your jawline and shape your face, we've found the best non-surgical solutions — from A to Z — that will help you achieve a sculpted, chiseled look without going under the knife.
Understanding the Aging Jawline
Clinical research proves how bothersome a poorly defined chin-neck area can be. Social media and even the rise of video calls play a role in the desire to obtain a sharper jawline. “Undoubtedly, influenced perceptions about the importance of a structured jawline creates the desire to make the often-masked bottom half of the face as presentable as the top half,” Dr. Camp notes.
Even so, the jawline is a rather tricky area to treat because of the surrounding features (i.e. the chin and the neck) that affect its look. “A weak chin or bony support needs different treatment than extra fat under the chin,” says Yael Halaas, MD, a double board certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in NYC. So, even if a weak jawline is a primary concern, fat, muscle, loose skin, and bonyness must be considered since they all influence the outcome.
An angular jawline with just the right amount of definition is what both men and women are constantly chasing, says Jason Emer, MD, a board certified dermatologist in West Hollywood. “Men want a more square, masculine look, and women desire that chiseled, heart-shaped face,” he shares. But it can be hard to achieve that if the underlying structure is not naturally there. “Fillers are the only way to create structure in the jawline short of implants or jaw surgery,” he notes.
With that in mind, below are seven of the best at-home and in-office ways to achieve a more sculpted jawline — sans surgery:
1. The Magic of Makeup
Makeup is the quickest and cheapest option to define the jawline, and the best way to add definition to the jawline is by placing a contouring product directly on the jaw and behind the ears, says celebrity makeup artist Nydia Figueroa. “This will create the illusion of a stronger, more defined jawline by creating a shadow that pulls back the areas that you want to appear more sculpted,” she explains. As a general rule of thumb, dark colors recede and lighter shades (including highlighter) push features forward. So, the idea is to mimic as much of a natural shadow as possible.
When contouring the jawline, stick with either cream, powders, or liquids (we like the new KVD Beauty ModCon Liquid-Gel Contour) and always go two to three shades darker than your natural skin tone. “Matte powders create soft contours, and creams are best for achieving a more dramatic, defined look,” Figueroa explains. She recommends setting the contour with a matte finishing powder. Another pro tip? Blend with a soft brush. “If the product is not well blended in with the skin, it can look dirty or create the appearance of harsh lines on your face,” she cautions.
2. The DIY Techy — and Not So Techy — Treatments
You don’t need to be dealing with jaw pain or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder to know that we hold a tremendous amount of tension in the lower portion of the face. This stress can affect the alignment of the jaw, says Elizabeth Trattner, AP, a board certified acupuncturist and doctor of Chinese and integrative medicine in North Miami Beach, FL. “Techniques like gua sha, cupping, and even manual massage help to release the fascia and connective tissue and soften the muscles in the jaw, neck, and face,” she explains. They also promote blood and lymphatic circulation, which can reduce pain and swelling in the area.
- Massage: For starters, daily massage can help reduce puffiness in the area along the neck and under the chin, and the applied pressure can help release and sculpt the jawline. Try using a tool like Malaya Organics 3D Sculpting Facial Roller, which creates a kneading motion to make massaging a bit easier.
- Cupping: At-home cupping, like the WTHN Face Cupping Kit, can be a quick, easy, and painless way to get one step closer to a more defined jawline. “Cupping is negative pressure that stretches the skin and underlying tissue to dilate the capillaries,” Dr. Trattner explains. “Facial cupping does not leave marks like body cupping does because the cups are always moving.” In addition, cupping helps stimulate the draining of lymph in the face for less puffiness and better definition. Pairing cupping with acupuncture provides even greater efficacy, she says.
- Gua Sha: Another traditional Chinese medicine option, gua sha employs a smooth stone to increase blood and lymphatic circulation. “It has been used for over 5,000 years to release muscle adhesions and is easier to perform on yourself, whereas cupping involves more professional skill,” Dr. Trattner notes. Using a scraping or pressing technique, the gua sha is manually rubbed across points of the face — including the jawline — to gently and safely decrease puffiness for a more contoured effect.
- Devices: There are also some higher tech at-home options that mimic in-office treatments. Microcurrent devices, such as the ZIIP OX, can be used to lift and sculpt the skin, while LED light therapy tools, like the LAB=LIFE+BEAUTY Jawline Definer, use light waves to stimulate collagen production and increase skin cell activity.
- Skincare: Or, you can always go with a topical firming cream, like Payot Supreme Jeunesse Cou & Décolleté. The formula helps smooth skin with hyaluronic acid and contains firming agents like wakame and oat extract for improved contour.
3. Do a Shot (of Neurotoxins) for the Right Angles
It’s pretty standard for the muscles in the neck and jaw to become overactive with age, or you may have just been born with a prominent jaw. Either way, meticulously placed injections of neurotoxins (read: Botox®, Dysport®, Jeuveau®, and Xeomin®) can temporarily slim the lower face. “Botox® and other toxins can slenderize an overly round face, which can result from overdeveloped masseter muscles,” Dr. Halaas says.
Botox® can also be used to improve the platysma (neck) muscle, which hangs like a curtain from the jaw to the clavicle (collarbone), Dr. Camp adds. “Treating this muscle can affect how it rests along the jaw to provide more shape in the appearance of the bone,” he explains. The muscles’ inability to pull down on the jawline creates tightness and more space between the neck and the jaw. While the results aren't as immediate as some other options — it can take upwards of one week to be noticeable — the smoother visage lasts about three to four months.
4. For a Super Sharp Jawline, Filler Up
Both hyaluronic acid-based fillers (hi, Juvéderm® Voluma and Restylane® Lyft) and biostimulatory injectables (like Radiesse® and Sculptra®) can build up a weak jawline and create the appearance of a strong bone. “The filler gives the jaw more of a squared-off look and a 90-degree angle at the back of the jawline,” Dr. Emer says.
Injecting filler on top of the bony portion of the jawline adds balance and support for better definition between the face and neck. However, the line between a desirable and undesirable result is thin, cautions Neil Sadick, MD, a board certified dermatologist in NYC. Too much product in the area can lead to a saggy appearance, but, on the flip side, “not enough product may not give the adequate correction in terms of contour,” he says. As such, it’s necessary for the provider to understand the patient’s aesthetic goals. “It’s important to relay if you want a square jawline or a more tapered, rounded jawline,” Dr. Saddick notes.
But it's not just the jawline that requires attention. In some cases, surrounding features require added definition, too, in order to create a harmonious result. Two ‘tricks’ are to inject filler into the cheeks and temples and in front of the ear, which will help add balance and symmetry throughout the face.
5. Goodbye, Double Chin. Hello, Jawline.
Fat plays an integral role in a snatched jawline. When there is a bit too much of it under the chin, it can obscure the jaw’s sharp lines. “I’m seeing more patients at a younger age with double chins and skin sagging, which detracts from the jawline,” Dr. Emer notes. “They want these really chiseled jaws and chins — which is what everyone sees on celebrities and all over social media — so, usually, fat reduction needs to be a part of the plan.”
Fat under the chin occurs from a combination of genetics, aging, and diet. “As the face descends with gravity and age, the facial fat drops to lower positions along the jawline, which creates jowls,” Dr. Halaas says. “Additionally, aging and sun damage cause the skin to lose elasticity and droop, both of which are bad for the jawline.”
For a small amount of fat under the chin and along the jawline, Kybella® injections and CoolSculpting® permanently destroy unwanted fat cells from bulky areas. There’s also truSculpt®, a quick radiofrequency-based treatment that helps stubborn fat, too. “truSculpt® has no downtime and it contours the skin — almost like its shrink wrapping it,” Dr. Emer says.
6. To Tighten & Tone
When the skin is loose and lacks strong collagen and elastin, laser treatments may be able to help. “They can be beneficial in more aggressive laser resurfacing and can tighten the skin and tissue in the jawline area,” Dr. Sadick says. By delivering heat deep within the dermis to prompt new collagen, lasers cause a gradual tightening over time.” As he explains, the stronger the laser, the more pronounced the effect.
Dr. Halaas says that some devices can also decrease the fatty pockets of jowls and stimulate collagen and elastin for good contraction and tightening. “Radiofrequency, in particular, can be used in different ways, like under the surface of the skin as with AccuTite or FaceTite,” says Dr. Halaas. Unlike externally applied treatments, the procedure sits somewhere between non-invasive therapies and surgery. However, because it works internally and under the skin to melt fat and chisel the jaw and neck, it does require a few days of downtime and healing.
External treatments, like microneedling with radiofrequency, can also correct mild skin laxity. Of course, the treatment doesn’t address the muscle like surgery does, but it’s a way to gently resurface the superficial layers of skin and get some tightening with next to no pain or downtime. “These types of energy-based devices can be helpful when treating patients with jowls that drape over the jawline and obscure it,” Dr. Camp says.
Other noninvasive skin-tightening treatments that can tighten loose skin include Ultherapy® and Thermage®. In the former, Dr. Camp says ultrasound energy employed at specific depths tightens the skin by stimulating collagen production for a more well-defined jawline with sharper angles. “They can be helpful because they act by contracting collagen and then inducing new upregulation of growth factors associated with collagen remodeling and tightening,” Dr. Sadick explains. And then, of course, there’s the OG skin tightener, Thermage®, which providers still love for its collagen-stimulating capabilities — especially when used in conjunction with Ultherapy® to tighten the muscles along the jawline.
7. Lift With Threads
A popular procedure on social media, a thread lift uses dissolvable surgical threads that lift a saggy jawline back into place. Ideal for those who want maximum tightening and lift without going under the knife, threads can give a dramatic effect. “Threads also have mechanical and volumetric lifting capabilities and are usually implanted from the nasolabial or lower melolabial folds to the lateral face and ear zone, which gives a mechanical volumetric lifting to the jawline area,” Dr. Sadick shares.
With different types of threads available, doctors are able to customize the treatment. Dr. Emer, for instance, prefers Instalift threads to PDO threads because “they last longer, they help build collagen in the area, and they are steadier.” Dr. Halaas concurs. She uses Silhouette Instalift on her patients who want an immediate lift with minimal downtime. “The PLLA (poly-L-lactic acid) presents a well-studied, long-lasting, collagen-stimulating instantly and safely,” she says. “In addition, we can combine it with all of the other procedures to maximize the nonsurgical effect."
If you want a tighter and more sculpted jawline without surgery, there are not a lack of options. Regardless of the route you take, always consult with a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon first to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success. Keep in mind that, in some cases, non-surgical methods work best in conjunction with other treatments. And remember: These treatments may not have as robust of an effect as surgery, but they are a worthy solution for certain patients all the same.
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