NuFace, Frownies and face tape: Our obsession with at home Botox and what it says about us – USA TODAY

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Millennials are getting lots of preventative botox, and we mean lots!

Forget thinking about botox when you turn 50, millennials have a new obsession aside from millennial pink and that is getting preventative botox. Susana Victoria Perez (@susana_vp) has more.

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  • At-home, anti-aging products are all the hype for those who want the Botoxed look without injections.
  • Frownies are facial patches to prevent wrinkles, while NuFace is a high-tech device to lift your face.
  • Though these products do offer some anti-aging benefits, there’s a catch.
  • Some sociologists also worry that these products perpetuate a toxic obsession with women’s youth.

With the help of an injection, Botox can give you a lifted, wrinkle-free face. But now, women are trying to achieve this youthful look from the comfort of their own homes.

Recently, at-home anti-aging treatments have been all the hype. Take, for instance, Frownies Patches, a wrinkle-smoothing patch to prevent forehead and other facial wrinkles. Or face tape, which holds your skin taut for an instant lift. And now, there are even advancements in technology with products like NuFace, a device that uses micro-current technology to help lift and tone your face.

The goal of all of these products is to create that Botoxed look in minutes, all while avoiding the price and discomfort of Botox or surgical face lifts. 

“These options are becoming so popular because they are affordable, easy and convenient if you just want to look good for a special event, and/or you just don’t feel like going to a doctor’s office,” explains Dr. Michele Green, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital. “For some, it allows them to see what a certain procedure can do for them without altering their face.”

These products may be cheaper than Botox, but what is the real price being paid? Some experts worry that NuFace, Frownies and face tape are only further perpetuating a centuries-old, sexist standard for women: that they must constantly strive for youth in order to be “beautiful.”

The Botoxed look used to be mocked. Now, it’s the norm. 

The increased interest in these products comes after a shift in society’s view of Botox itself, which has gone from shamed to sought after. 

“During the early 2000s, Botox was commonly associated with reality TV stars who had excessive amounts injected. These individuals were questioned and ridiculed and Botox certainly did not have as good of a reputation it has today,” Green explains. “Since then, Botox has changed from being tabloid fodder to standard practice for many individuals trying to look youthful.”

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Experts say the pandemic has also played a role in heightening interest in these treatments as well as revolutionizing DIY methods to achieve a taut face. Before, it was difficult to get an immediate, lifted look without a professional. But as elective medical procedures took a backseat during COVID, more options emerged for people to pamper themselves from home.

“The appeal is that these are all at-home treatments, and it’s interesting that the whole culture of going to the salon or medical spa has become less popular since the pandemic,” says Naomi Wolf, author of “The Beauty Myth.” “There’s a certain sense of empowerment of having your beauty ritual at home under your own control.”

However, some experts worry that its popularity reflects a toxic culture that promotes using beauty treatments to conceal, rather than embrace, fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots. This pressure is especially damaging for young women, who are expected to conform to unrealistic beauty standards. 

“All these anti-aging technologies, procedures and services are marketed primarily to women because we have a double standard where women experience aging in very different ways than men. Men get ‘distinguished,’ women get ‘old,'” says Dana Berkowitz, associate professor of sociology and women, gender and sexuality studies at Louisiana State University.

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How do these treatments work?

Just as Botox has gone from mocked to mainstream, DIY methods are gaining steam — but Green says you likely won’t get the same result.

With NuFace, you sweep a device across you face for only a few minutes in order to contour facial muscles. Frownies are like a cast for facial muscles, Green explains, holding them flat and smooth to help release tension and lift deep expression lines. Face tape constricts muscles and limits their motion, oftentimes minimizing wrinkles, slimming the jawline and creating a “facelift” effect.

Though these new products can aid in making this wrinkle-free appearance more accessible, the results are short-lived. Frownies only smoothen frown lines for a few hours, and you will typically have to wear the patches for at least three hours prior to get those results. The NuFace can work, but it requires consistent usage and is often much weaker than devices used in a medical office.

“These products have been heavily advertised to almost seem like miracle workers, but many individuals do not get the drastic changes shown in adverts. For longer-lasting results, it is best to consult with a dermatologist to see what your options are in achieving your aesthetic goals,” Green explains. 

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What face tape, NuFace and Frownies say about our obsession with youth

Some experts hope these at-home products will encourage younger women to stray from more invasive procedures like Botox or face lifts. The great thing about Frownies and face tape, Green says, is they’re “relatively risk-free,” adding the NuFace has even been FDA-cleared.

“It’s often unnecessary to inject someone under 25 for cosmetic reasons unless they have strong wrinkles that are negatively affecting their self-esteem or if they have a medical condition that Botox can treat such as teeth grinding or migraines,” she says, adding Botox will have “little to no benefit” when if it’s done too young since collagen production only begins to decline around 25 years of age.

But others worry that the normalization of these treatments further illustrates how the gospel of anti-aging is spreading to younger, more impressionable girls. 

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“There’s always been a narrative that aging is a terrible thing for women. This is nothing new. But what I think is unique about this particular historical moment is that this narrative is being marketed to younger and younger women under the guise of responsible prevention,” Berkowitz says. 

Nowadays, young women feel pressured to get cosmetic procedures like Botox before wrinkles are even formed. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, nearly 21,000 Botox injections were performed on teens aged 13-19 in 2017.

Overall, Green says the increased use of social media filters may be to blame for this obsession with youth and appearance. 

“During the pandemic, people were spending more time on social media and were constantly in front of a screen. As a result, more individuals became more self-conscious about their appearance and wanted means to achieve an appearance similar to what filters provided for them. These products enabled them to get great results without needing to even leave their home.”

But Wolf fears the beauty industry is profiting off of teens’ insecurities to prevent aging at all costs. 

“It makes me sad that women who are barely even mature are made to feel they need to take drastic measures (for their appearance), but I would say those attitudes are a leftover of this notion that women shouldn’t age,” she says.

Instead of demonizing perfectly natural features like wrinkles or fine lines, experts say it’s important to normalize and embrace the aging process. 

“We take anti-aging for granted. We don’t even question what it actually means. We’re all going to age. We’re all going to look like we’re aging at some point so we’re just prolonging the inevitable,” Berkowitz says. 

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