At some point during your childhood, your mom or your grandmother or another fed-up adult probably said to you, “Quit making that expression or your face will freeze like that!”
Like any self-respecting kid, you probably felt compelled to test out the theory for yourself: You scrunched up your face even more, held it for a minute or two, then triumphantly reported that your face did not, in fact, freeze like that.
And back then, it didn’t. You had that gorgeously elastic little-kid skin that snaps right back into place no matter what kind of weird contortions you put it through.
Fast-forward thirty years, though, and it’s a different story altogether.
For me, it started with my left eyebrow. I do this thing where—if I’m confused or irritated—I raise my left eyebrow. Used to be, the skin around my eyebrow went right back to where it should be. But now that I’m creeping (or maybe being dragged is a more accurate way to put it) toward my mid-30s, it doesn’t do that anymore. There’s this little ghost of a line, right where there used to be smooth skin.
The reason is pretty straightforward: “Constantly making an expression causes collagen to break down in that area,” explains Eric Schweiger, M.D., founder of Schweiger Dermatology in New York City. “Eventually, it can form a permanent line. It’s similar to folding a piece of paper—the more times you fold it, the deeper the crease becomes.”
The question, of course, is what to do about it. And the obvious answer is Botox, which paralyzes muscles. Take away your face’s ability to make a certain expression, and no more lines in that area. You can’t fold the paper anymore, so to speak.
Here’s the thing, though. I’m just not in love with the idea of Botox. I have nothing at all against those who get it, it’s just that—at this point in my life—it’s not for me. And that got me thinking about what else I could possibly do. I’m already pretty diligent about skincare (I do Retin-A every night and sunscreen every morning), I eat healthy (lots of fruits and veggies), I work out regularly. Short of just not moving my face anymore…
And that’s when the proverbial light bulb turned on.
What if I consciously tried not to raise my left eyebrow anymore? And while I was at it, what if I tried to cut down on squinting and frowning, too? Kind of like… self-inflicted Botox. S.I.B., let’s call it. I’ve done crazier things in the name of beauty, and hell, it’s not like I was going to stop laughing or smiling. It’s just the negative, stress-filled wrinkle-causing expressions I’d try to cut out and/or minimize.
(Sidenote: Research shows that frowns can amplify negative emotions, so simply cutting down on angry expressions can boost your mood. Win, win!)
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