In theory, it sounds like a good idea: yank back your most wrinkly skin, tape it in place to prevent it it from moving, and wake up looking years younger. Do it nightly and, supposedly, you can see results in as soon as a week.
“Face taping” has been trending on social media as a gravity-fighting at-home skin care hack. (Missed those posts? Check out the trendsetters here, here or here.)
But what’s behind this trend, and will it really work? We talked to experts to find out.
“It involves applying tape to the skin to pull wrinkles taut for an immediate lifting effect, or wearing tape overnight to prevent movement of muscles and decrease the likelihood of wrinkles forming and becoming deeply etched into the skin,” she explained.
‘A Quick But Temporary Fix’
Proponents claim a whole host of benefits, from long-term reduction of wrinkles to lymphatic drainage. But what do our experts think?
The most positive response was from dermatologist Dr. Roberta Del Campo, and even she had reservations: “I’m on the fence about it, but I have many patients who swear by it,” she said. “I did try it myself at night and I saw a smoothing effect in the morning.”
But Del Campo cautioned that there might be long-term repercussions. “Theoretically speaking, long-term use may actually cause the muscles to overcompensate, leading to stronger muscles trying to work through the tape,” she said. “When muscles become thicker from working harder, this ultimately can lead to deeper lines.”
Her suggestion? “I recommend avoiding nightly taping, but rather trying it [at] night only in the several days leading up to an important event,” Del Campo said. “This will give you a softened look for that time, but you won’t have the potential risk of muscle hypertrophy, which is that increase and growth of muscle cells, that could happen with long-term regular use.”
Dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick said that “individuals looking for a quick, albeit temporary, fix may want to try this out, but to be honest, there are better and more effective options out there to reduce wrinkles.”
“That said, makeup artists have utilized face lift tape as a way to get people red-carpet ready,” she continued.
‘More Harm Than Good’
Other experts were adamantly opposed to the idea of ever letting tape anywhere near your face.
“Aside from being unrealistic to use a piece of tape to keep your face in place throughout the night, it can do more harm than good,” said plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Horn. “Using tape, especially a type that’s supposed to hold your skin down for a whole night, can damage the skin barrier when you take it off. It can cause redness, irritation and acne breakouts. The adhesive must be incredibly tight and therefore, uncomfortable to use for an extended time.”
Dermatologist Dr. Angelo P. Thrower noted that people usually try face-taping at home and without supervision by a professional.
“That, combined with the multiple variables present in an uncontrolled environment, could result in skin lesions or other problems,” he said. “While it might seem like a harmless procedure, the skin on the face is delicate, and the glue on the tape may cause many other problems. I don’t recommend doing this at home because it doesn’t really work.”
Marcus echoed that point.
“Honestly, I don’t see any point in doing this,” Marcus said. “I would prefer that my patients focus on using quality skincare ingredients and in-office procedures to stimulate collagen that supports the rejuvenation of their skin.”
‘And It Doesn’t Even Last That Long'
“It’s not going be a long-term wrinkle solution,” said Joie Tavernise, a medical esthetician and founder of JTAV Clinical Skincare.
Marcus agreed: “Once tape is removed, skin will return to its resting state, so any effect will last only until the tape is removed.”
And dermatologist Dr. Deanne Mraz Robinson, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale New Haven Hospital, said the same: “There aren’t studies, research or science behind this practice, and the effects are very short-lived.”
‘Sensitive Skin? Be Cautious'
Experts warned the trend could be rough on your skin, particularly if it’s sensitive.
“Before applying adhesive, I would make sure to try a small patch test to exclude the possibility that your skin will react to the adhesive,” Marcus said.
Robinson added: “I would caution people with sensitive skin, eczema or rosacea to steer clear of this practice, as it could worsen their skin. The adhesive in tape can be irritating and or cause an allergic reaction in predisposed patients.”
‘More Work Than It’s Worth’
“I’m never against trying skin care trends, but personally, I feel that with the advanced technology, products and techniques we have to combat wrinkles, this seems like more work than it’s worth,” Tavernise said. “I believe in investing your time and money into efficacious treatments and products that are made to target wrinkles and fine lines.”
If you really want to give this a try, make sure you have the right equipment, she added. “Don’t use any other product than one that has been made for this specific purpose,” Tavernise said. “Transparent tape, duct tape or any other household tape contain adhesives and are not made to be applied to the face. Look for brands that have clinical studies to back them up and ones that have been reviewed.”
Or try something else altogether. “Instead of spending time and effort taping your face at home, I recommend investing in a good skin care routine which includes daily sunscreen application and perhaps retinol,” said dermatologist Dr. Reid Maclellan, adjunct faculty at Harvard Medical School and founder and CEO of dermatology company Cortina.
Finally, consider these wise words from Tavernise: “It’s important to be a little cautious and skeptical when it comes to skin care trends on TikTok. As we know, things are not always as they seem online, and it’s always best to be gentle with your skin and consult your skincare professional when you can.”