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Walk-in Dermatology > Blog > Cosmetic Dermatology > Glabellar Lines: Everything You Need to Know

Glabellar Lines: Everything You Need to Know

July 13, 2020
smiling woman touching her forehead

If you’ve ever “knit your brow” then you’ve probably seen glabellar lines. Glabellar lines are the lines on your forehead. These might only appear when you frown or laugh, but as you age, they can become permanent fixtures on your face.

Let’s go over everything you need to know about glabellar lines: what are glabellar lines, why do we develop them and other facial lines, the possible causes of these lines, and the best ways to treat them at-home and with clinical help.

Understanding Glabellar Lines

What are Glabellar Lines?

Glabellar lines or glabella lines appear in the glabella, the skin over your forehead, between and above the eyebrows and right above the nose. When you wrinkle your face by talking, yawning, laughing, or making expressions, the glabella is the skin most affected by the muscle activity beneath the surface.

Over time, as a result of a combination of causes including genetics, skin tightness, muscle activity, face shape, and various intrinsic and extrinsic causes, the lines that appear in your glabella may remain permanently, evolving into wavy furrows in the forehead. These are known as glabellar lines and they can continuously worsen over time if not treated. Thankfully, there are a variety of home remedies and clinical treatments available to minimize and even erase the appearance of these lines.

Are Glabellar Lines and Frown Lines the Same?

Glabella lines and frown lines are often used interchangeably to describe the lines above the nose and around the forehead, with some even using the term “glabella frown lines.” While the two terms refer to similar lines in the same area of the face, they do not mean exactly the same thing.

Glabellar lines are found above the eyebrows on the forehead. These lines run horizontally from one of the eyebrows to the other. Frown lines, however, can be found between the eyes, adjacent to the eyebrows. These creases are deep, vertical lines that stretch from above the side of the nose to right above the eyebrows in most people.

Emotional Wrinkles and How Expressions Lead to Lines

These two types of wrinkles are known as emotional wrinkles, because one of the most common causes of glabellar lines and frown lines is the wrinkling of the face when we show emotions, laugh, frown, and generally make expressions. But why exactly do expressions lead to lines on the face?

While laughing, frowning, and extreme facial expressions should have little to no effect on your eyebrows and facial muscles when you are younger, they start to affect your face as you age.

This is because the skin generally becomes looser as people age, partly because the collagen bonds found in the face become weaker over time. Once you reach middle-age, repeated facial movements around the face and eyebrows can start to permanently affect the shape and texture of the skin, leading to the appearance of wrinkling and sagging.

Are Glabellar Lines Just a Cosmetic Problem?

So are glabellar lines something you should worry about, or are they just a cosmetic problem? For the most part, glabellar lines are just an issue of appearance, meaning they can lower your self-confidence and self-esteem if they prevent you from liking the way you look. While this might not be important for some people, the effects of glabellar lines on personal appearance can be significant, adding years to your age and appearance.

However, dermatologists often diagnose serious conditions when patients come in for check-ups that they believe to be purely cosmetic. Like other types of lines, glabella lines are a symptom of cardiovascular disease, a serious condition.

Atherosclerosis is a cardiovascular condition that increases a person’s chances of having a stroke or a heart attack. Researchers have found that there is a link between glabellar lines and atherosclerosis, and a skilled dermatologist can help diagnose patients who might just be checking in for cosmetic purposes.

This link is caused by the plaque that builds in the arteries of individuals with atherosclerosis. As plaque builds up in the arteries, one side effect is the narrowing of the arteries, reducing their elasticity over time. The reduction of elasticity in the arteries leads to less oxygenated blood reaching the major organs of the body. With less oxygen-rich blood comes a number of symptoms, including deep forehead creases or glabellar lines.

Glabellar lines and weakening glabella muscles are a great way to detect atherosclerosis, because they are much easier to notice than insulin resistance or high blood pressure. If you start seeing glabellar lines developing over your forehead, then your forehead and eyebrows issue might be more serious than just too much laughing or frowning.

Causes of Glabellar Lines and Other Wrinkles

Glabella lines and other wrinkles can be worsened by too much physical stretching of the face, but that is just one of the factors that can cause and worsen these lines. Here are the other possible intrinsic and extrinsic causes of glabella lines and other wrinkles:

Intrinsic Causes

  • Genetics: Some people are simply predisposed to developing wrinkles at an earlier age than others. Our genetics make up the speed of gene deterioration, and some of us naturally have genes that deteriorate at earlier ages. If you are experiencing wrinkles far beyond your age, then it may be due to genetics.
  • Hormones: Estrogen plays an important role in hydration and blood flow to the skin and skin thickness. For women, having less estrogen means having a greater chance of skin wrinkling, which is why there is a significant increase in wrinkling for menopausal women. Hormone replacement therapy for estrogen is a great way to treat wrinkles in women experiencing menopause.
  • Free Radicals: Molecules and atoms that have electron bonds which are unpaired in the body. These lead to a number of disruptive issues, such as increasing a person’s chance of developing cancer, changing DNA, and also damaging the structural integrity of collagen bonds in the face, leading to wrinkles. People get free radicals from environmental pollutants, UV light, and also from their own bodily production.
  • Glycation: Glucose is an essential fuel for the cells, and when the body (and specifically our collagen bonds) are exposed to too much glucose, they can break down in a process known as glycation. Collagen fibers exposed to too much glucose can become brittle, leading to an increase of wrinkles.

Extrinsic Causes

  • Sun Exposure: Aside from facial expressions, sun exposure might be the biggest factor in wrinkle development. UV radiation from the sun causes intense damage to the collagen in the skin. This damage leads to the loss of its natural elastin, which provides the skin with its elasticity and firmness. While the body can repair the damage from UV rays, this damage is never totally fixed, and newly-produced collagen fibers create uneven repairs beneath the skin that cause wrinkling. Any kind of sun exposure that leads to skin reddening or tanning counts as skin damage.
  • Smoking: People who smoke tend to have much worse skin than those who don’t, and there are a number of reasons why. The active ingredients in cigarette smoke naturally damage collagen in the skin upon exposure. Additionally, smoking reduces hydration and blood flow around the skin, leading to less oxygen, nutrients, and more dried-out skin.
  • Facial Expressions: As stated above, facial expressions play an important role in the development of wrinkles. They lead to emotional wrinkles which are also known as dynamic expression lines. The years of residual tension caused by laughs, frowns, and smiles gradually reduce the skin’s natural elasticity, leading to these expressions’ lines becoming a permanent fixture of the face.
  • Sleeping Position: While not a major factor in wrinkle development, sleeping position has been known to matter when it comes to how soon you might show facial wrinkles. Try to avoid sleeping with your face against the pillow in the same position night after night; vary it up and let the nightly pillow pressure move around the face.

The Most Common Causes for Glabellar Lines and Other Wrinkles by Age Group

If you’re unsure what might be the biggest cause for your glabellar lines, frown lines, and other facial wrinkles, part of this can be determined by your age. Here are the different age groups and what wrinkles in these ages mean when determining the causes:

  • Ages 20 to 30: At this age, individuals are still young enough to have their natural skin elasticity. The most common cause for wrinkles at this age would be overloaded stress. Internal and external stress can lead to “detrimental formations” in the facial skin. Changing your diet, meditating, adjusting your posture, and taking stress relieving medication can help.
  • Ages 30 to 40: Wrinkles at this age are most commonly a sign of dehydrated skin, as the blood flow and nutrition start to slow down approaching your 40s if you don’t help your body. Light face chemical exfoliation can help, as well as a nightly facial moisturizer. Finally, make sure you are getting enough sleep and staying hydrated at all times.
  • Ages 40 to 50: It is normal to have wrinkles on several areas of the face at this age. Skin at this age produces significantly less sebum, meaning it is more sensitive to small bouts of stress and light environmental changes. If you often find yourself in different weather environments (travelling or with bad office ventilation) then this might be a cause.
  • Ages 50 to 60: Wrinkles at this age should definitely be checked, as these can be related to the condition of your heart. Cardiovascular disease should be caught as early as possible, and noticing it due to glabellar lines and weakening glabellar muscles is a great way to keep yourself healthy.

How Do You Reduce or Get Rid of Glabellar Lines?

Although the most straightforward and effective way of reducing glabellar lines is through Botox and other injectables, you can also attempt to minimize your frown lines with natural methods. Altering your diet and implementing a potent skincare regimen may not be enough to wipe away these lines completely, but they can make your skin healthier and less susceptible to facial lines.

How Do You Get Rid of Glabellar Lines Naturally?

Your body’s overall health can be seen through your skin. Increased inflammation can lead to the development of acne. Without proper sleep or a healthy diet, your skin’s natural healing properties will be overwhelmed by stress, which can affect how your skin looks and feels.

Here are some ways you could improve the appearance of glabellar lines and muscles naturally:

Moisturize your skin 

Keeping your skin hydrated is one of the easiest ways to prevent lines from forming. While the body produces natural oils that can keep the skin hydrated, exposure to harsh environmental factors and using certain cosmetic and even skincare products can strip essential oils from the face. Aim to moisturize your skin at least twice a day, especially the glabellar area.

Get seven to eight hours of sleep each night

The body uses sleep as a signal to begin its healing and restorative functions. In fact, sleep deprivation is known to interfere with wound healing and can even promote inflammation, which can cause breakouts. Sleep deprivation can also lead to water loss, causing dry and dehydrated skin. You can easily support your skin by getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night.

Eat skin-boosting foods

Hydration is the key to keeping your skin clear and healthy. Drinking the recommended eight glasses of water a day can help protect your skin against facial lines. Taking supplements or eating foods rich in omega 3-fatty acids are key to improving your skin naturally.

Use sunscreen

Most of our skin damage comes from prolonged and unprotected sun exposure. One of the easiest ways to take care of your skin and prevent glabellar lines is by applying sunscreen. Applying sunscreen on a daily basis not only reduces your skin’s susceptibility to glabellar lines but also protects it from hyperpigmentation and lowers your risk of developing skin cancer.

Exfoliate chemically and physically

The skin naturally undergoes an exfoliation process to remove dead skin cells and replace them with new ones. You can help this process by using physical scrubs or chemical exfoliants to help bring out healthy skin. Keep in mind that chemical exfoliants can be particularly irritating to first-timers. When using products with glycolic and lactic acid for the first time, test the product on a small area on your jaw before applying it to your whole face. Cut the application time in half (5 minutes instead of 10) to let your face acclimate to the chemicals.

Home Remedies For Glabellar Lines 

There are some home remedies you can do to try and improve the appearance of your frown lines. These home remedies include:

Exercises to Get Rid of Frown Lines 

While there hasn’t been any scientific evidence showing that facial exercises can effectively reduce the appearance of frown lines, doing these can relax the muscles and skin on your face, which could release tension and temporarily improve the appearance of your frown lines.

To target your glabellar area specifically, work on the frontalis muscle, which extends from the forehead down to the area above the eyebrows. Massage this area by placing your palm on one side and massaging your temple with your other palm. Do this for two minutes every day to release the tension from the frontalis muscle.

Repetitive smiling, laughing, and frowning are the common culprits for glabellar lines. However, unknown tension in this area could also contribute to these lines. Massaging the area every day will keep your forehead looking smoother and more relaxed in the long run.

Over-The-Counter Treatments 

Skincare options can be useful in combating frown lines, especially if your lines aren’t that severe. Using powerful active ingredients might be all you need to address the issue. When buying skincare products, look at the ingredients list and try to purchase products with the following:

Peptides 

Peptides are short chains of amino acids that serve as foundational blocks for collagen, keratin, and elastin. These proteins are essential in reinforcing your skin’s protective barriers. These proteins are also responsible for your skin’s texture. Without a certain “bounce” facial lines become easily embedded into your skin.

Peptides are topical treatments found in creams and serums. They trigger collagen production, which improves skin elasticity. As a result, your skin becomes firm and appears more youthful.

Hyaluronic Acid 

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring ingredient. Its primary responsibility is to help retain water, improving your skin’s hydration. Contrary to popular belief, hyaluronic acid doesn’t actually hydrate the skin on its own. Think of it as a magnet that pulls water molecules closer to the skin, trapping them and reducing their chances of dissipating.

The effects of hyaluronic acid are immediately recognizable. Products with hyaluronic acid leave the skin feeling supple and more radiant. This acid is often found in serums, moisturizers, and creams, but can also be taken orally.

Topical treatments are used on the skin’s surface to improve the appearance of wrinkles, including glabellar lines. In fact, hyaluronic acid is the main ingredient for fillers, including Restylane and Juvederm products, but is otherwise accessible through skincare products.

Antioxidants 

Antioxidants are commonly touted as the end-all-and-be-all of skincare ingredients. In reality, antioxidants alone aren’t enough to combat free radicals and other harmful stimuli that can negatively impact the skin.

However, taking antioxidant supplements or using products with antioxidants can boost your skin, as long as you have primary treatments addressing your skin problems. Vitamin E, Selenium, and Vitamin C are specifically useful in improving skin function and appearance.

For instance, Vitamin E is considered one of the most important antioxidants for the skin considering its main function is to reinforce cells and prevent damage.

One of the more common active ingredients in skincare products is Vitamin C, which is commonly used to treat hyperpigmentation and discoloration issues. Vitamin C can have unstable formulations, so knowing what type of Vitamin C is most beneficial to your skin will help prevent unnecessary breakouts.

Medical Treatment Options For Glabellar Lines 

If you’re looking for the most effective treatments for filling out glabellar lines, look no further than fillers and injectables. These chemicals are medical-grade and specifically designed to fill in these lines, lift the skin, and effectively smooth out the muscles around the eyebrows.

Not familiar with injectables like Botox? Here are the top medical treatment options for glabellar lines:

Botox

Botox treatment is made from Clostridium Botulinum, and is the world’s most popular injectable — for good reason. Botox is unique in that it suppresses the muscles altogether, which not only smooths wrinkles, but also prevents future lines from forming.

The Botox treatment works by temporarily paralyzing the facial muscles and muscles around the eyebrows with its active ingredient, botulinum toxin A. Botox is injected on the site, freezing the muscles in place and preventing them from moving.

Dermatologists typically use 20 units of Botox during a treatment for glabellar lines. Results typically last for three to six months with maximum effect.

Dysport

Dysport is another brand with botulinum toxin as its primary ingredient. Patients typically use Dysport treatment as a Botox treatment alternative, or switch over to Dysport after they have built up a tolerance from Botox injections.

Dysport’s claim to fame is that results are more natural-looking than Botox. With an adjusted dose, Dysport is able to produce the same results, without completely freezing muscle movement. Dermatologists typically use 40 to 50 units of Dysport to address frown lines. This treatment works best for adults up to age 65.

Juvederm

Juvederm is a hyaluronic-acid based filler used for treatment of glabellar lines around the eyebrows. Unlike Dysport and Botox treatments, Juvederm is better for filling in lost volume in the glabellar area and smoothing over the lines, for people who need more help with their eyebrows and facial muscles. The filler creates a temporary lift that smooths out the area. Results from Juvederm can last up to 12 months.

These are just some of the cosmetic treatment options suitable for treating glabellar lines of all skin types. For a full list, visit our web page covering various options.

Draw the Line with Walk-in Dermatology 

Tired of seeing a permanent frown on your face? Want a better look? Walk-in Dermatology can help put an end to your glabellar line headache. We offer a comprehensive range of glabellar treatments, from Botox to Restylane to Juvederm, that can help erase those lines for good.

Not sure which treatment to pick for maximum effect? Get in touch with us today to book a free cosmetic consultation. Afterwards, we’ll create a treatment plan that’s specifically made to address your needs, using the product line best suited for you. Book an appointment through our web site today.