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I get it, forehead wrinkles—while very normal—can be annoying. Most of us start to notice them in our mid-to-late 20s (again, totally normal) as a result of repetitive movements and collagen breakdown, but the good news is that there are a ton of different ways (including anti-aging face serums and creams, Botox injections, and lasers) to smooth existing forehead wrinkles and even help prevent forehead wrinkles from appearing in the first place. So if you’re not into your forehead resembling a sheet of loose leaf, you’re in the right place. Ahead, the expert-approved tips, treatments, and product recs for getting rid of forehead wrinkles—for real.
Meet the experts:
David Shefer,MD, FACS is a double board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of the Shafer Clinic in New York, NY. Dr. Shafer specializes in all aspects of aesthetic and cosmetic surgery and combines surgical and non-invasive procedures, like injectables.
Joshua Ross is a celebrity facialist and founder of Skin Lab, a cosmetic beauty boutique with locations in Los Angeles, CA. Ross specializes in aesthetics and anti-aging treatments and procedures for the face and body, including chemical peels and radiofrequency facials.
What causes forehead wrinkles?
First we need to discuss the two types of wrinkles. “There are static wrinkles that occur from laxity and loss of collagen as we age and then there are dynamic wrinkles that are a result of repetitive movement,” says Ross. Forehead wrinkles fall into the latter category. Every time you raise your eyebrows or make a facial expression, the muscle underneath your skin contracts and a little forehead wrinkle forms. As we age (and you make those same expressions for years and years) those wrinkles become deeper and more pronounced when your face is at rest.
Are forehead wrinkles reversible?
To a degree, yes. Committing to a good at-home skincare routine and the occasional in-office derm treatment (we’ll dive into all that below) can help reverse forehead wrinkles and bring your skin back to a smooth, baby-like state. If your forehead lines are *super* deep, you’re only going to be able to soften them—not get rid of them completely. The key to reversing forehead lines is not waiting until they’re deep wrinkles to treat them. Newer fine lines are much easier to reverse than deeper ones that have been hanging out on your forehead for years.
What skincare ingredients help smooth forehead wrinkles?
Dr. Shafer and Ross both agree that retinoids and retinol—either via an Rx or medical-grade skin brand—are one the best ingredients you can use for treating forehead wrinkles. Retinoids are proven to jumpstart cell turnover and improve skin texture—plus they stimulate collagen and elastin production, the two proteins in skin responsible for it’s plumpness and firmness. Retinol is a long game though, which means you need to use one consistently for at least three months before you’ll see a result—and then you need to stick with it to maintain those results. Retinol can also be potentially irritating, says Ross, who encourages patients with sensitive skin to use a teeny tiny amount of retinol sandwiched between two thin layers of moisturizer. “It’ll create a little buffer between your skin and the retinol to mitigate any dryness or redness,” says Ross.
Other ingredients that can help smooth your forehead include wrinkles anti-aging peptides, glycolic acid, and hyaluronic acid. Peptides are cell communicating ingredients—they signal to your cells to make more collagen and elastin—but they take time to work (think: four or so month of regular use). On the flip side, glycolic acid and hyaluronic acid can help improve the appearance of forehead wrinkles almost immediately.
At-home chemical peels and exfoliating toners with glycolic acid help slough away the dead skin on the surface of your skin to create a smoother surface where lines are less noticeable, says Ross. And hyaluronic acid? Think of it like a sponge. The molecule draws moisture to the skin to boost hydration levels and temporarily plump up fine lines and wrinkles on your forehead, says Dr. Shafer, who is a fan of Skinmedica’s HA5 serum with hyaluronic acid.
The other biggie skincare product when it comes to preventing and treating forehead wrinkles is sunscreen, says Dr. Shafer. UV damage breaks down collagen production and accelerates the aging process, making forehead wrinkles worse. Make it a habit to apply a nickel-size blob of sunscreen with SPF 30 or more every morning (yep, even when it’s cloudy)—your face will thank you.
How does Botox get rid of forehead wrinkles?
Dr. Shafer’s favorite fix for forehead wrinkles? Botox. “It’s an excellent treatment for the prevention of wrinkles and it can help soften existing ones too,” says Dr. Shafer. B.otox works by temporarily blocking the nerve signals to your facial muscles, which prevents them from contracting. By reducing those contractions, the skin above the muscle stays smooth.
It’s not for everybody, but I have been getting Botox preventatively twice a year since 2018 and I’m obsessed with the results. My face still has some movement (aka I don’t look like a frozen housewife), but I have zero horizontal lines or wrinkles on my forehead and zero vertical lines between my eyebrows. In my experience, there’s zero down time with Botox and the results kick in about a week after getting injected.
What other procedures can get rid of forehead wrinkles?
Think of these as souped-up version of the chemical peel pads and exfoliators you use at home. They’re great for improving skin tone, texture, and clarity, all of which are important when it comes to minimizing the appearance of forehead wrinkles, says Ross. “Think about your skin like your floors. When your floors are dirty, you notice every little scuff and scratch, but when your floors are polished and clean, you don’t notice all of those little imperfections.” All those dry, dead cells sitting on your forehead are actually highlighting that wrinkle, so removing them with a chemical peel is key, says Ross.
Your provider will usually cook up a blend of pro-strength acids best suited to your skin type and apply them to the skin until they neutralize. Ross likes peels with glycolic and lactic acids for getting rid of forehead lines, and for really deep lines a more powerful TCA peel. The exfoliating acids dissolve the bonds that hold together dead cells on the skin’s surface and also help speed up the skin’s renewal process too. Some acids, like glycolic acid, can even stimulate collagen production as well.
Ross recommends ablative or semi-ablative lasers—like CO2, Fraxel Repair, and Clear and Brilliant—for helping to get rid of forehead wrinkles. These types of lasers “wound” the skin to create a resurfacing effect and also stimulate collagen production to smooth lines. These lasers are incredibly powerful, and need to be used cautiously, especially on melanin-rich skin. “I always encourage people to do more laser treatments at lower settings than one really, really strong, treatment on a heavy setting to avoid injury or scarring,” says Ross.
RF Microneedling treatments—like Genesis RF, Vivace, and Pixel8—combine radiofrequency and microneedling technologies to help get rid of forehead wrinkles too. During a RF microneedling treatment, hot, sterilized needles are “stamped” into the skin to create a wound-healing response in the skin (just like the lasers above) to boost collagen production for a smoother surface. Unlike lasers, RF microneedling devices are considered “color-blind” making them a safer choice for deeper skin tones, says Ross.
When it comes to getting rid of forehead wrinkles, a taking a combined approach is best, says Dr. Shafer. that means utilizing a variety of the pro treatments and products mentioned aboveand, like daily SPF, Botox, and energy devices like lasers and RF microneedling. And remember, if you’re concerned about forehead wrinkles, it’s best to treat them early on (and not until they’ve been etched into your skin for years) if you want the best skin-smoothing result.
why trust cosmopolitan?
Lauren Balsam is the deputy beauty director at cosmopolitan with eight years of experience researching, writing, and editing skincare stories that range from the retinol eye creams to the best facials for smoother skin. She’s an authority in all skincare categories, but she is an expert when it comes to all the ways you can smooth forehead wrinkles. She regularly tests and analyzes anti-aging products and treatments for efficacy, while working with the industry’s top dermatologists and estheticians to assess new formulas and brands.
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