Immobilize your forehead for cheap – UK Frownies alternative

MAY 2015 UPDATE: I’ll leave this post here for reasons of historical accuracy, but I’m older and wiser and I use Frownies every night now. Yep, every single night I stick a beige triangle on my head. I recommend them. Also, I’m still alive. OK, read on:

You may or may not be aware of Frownies, overpriced face-rigidizers that are supposed to help keep wrinkles at bay by acting as removable paper Botox. Meant to be worn at night and/or when no one’s looking, they seem to be especially useful for the “elevens” (frown lines between the eyebrows). They are basically pieces of adhesive brown paper that you stick onto your face:

Frownies in action

Frownies in action

The reviewers on MUA have figured out that some brands of surgical tape work just as well and are considerably cheaper, but a lot of these reviews are US-based and I’ve not seen any UK alternatives suggested (although it’s been a while since I looked into this momentous issue, so, you know, my bad if the landscape has changed). My 11s have decided to arrive early and with a vengeance, so I’ve tried out a few different surgical tapes on this side of the pond and this is what I’ve found:

Boots own brand
Little to no immobilizing effect – too pliable.

Tesco own brand
Better, but some evidence of nocturnal frown activity visible upon waking.

3M Micropore Surgical Tape
Winner! No furrows to be seen in the A.M. As with Frownies, they’ll show up again to some extent later in the day, but I’ve found that with consistent taping mine have become much less noticeable even by the end of the day.

3M Micropore Surgical Tape

This is a good thing for me. It’s not just vanity (although it is partly that) – the rest of my face still looks mostly twenty-something, which it is, and I don’t want people to think I’m frowning at them all the time when they see incongruous 11s.

In the end, though, we are talking about putting tape on one’s face. So if this has been of interest to you, get to taping, but then go out and achieve world peace.

Speaking of which, I should note that I’m not in any way affiliated with 3M and I really hope they’re not some village-destroying, tax-evading evil entity.



  1. It is so easy to use the paper patch and they really do work. If you have one line between the eyes FROWNIES facial patch will last 4MONTHS. that is not so expensive and its easy. 🙂

    • rainbowmeow says:

      Hi, thanks for your comment. At £17.50 for a 144-count box of the forehead / between-eyebrows patches, they do seem pricey compared to surgical tape, but for everyone’s amusement I’ll try to do an estimated per-application price comparison later if I have time.

  2. Lindac says:

    I will try the surgical tape. The frownies really do work, although you have to be consistent with their use. The frownies are definitely overpriced. Beauty has the cheapest ones I could find for 14.99 and two dollars shipping.

  3. Rainbow Meow says:

    Hi Lindac,
    I hope the surgical tape has been working for you if you’ve tried it. Thanks for the tip re Frownies for those who do want to buy ’em.

  4. Frownies DO work. I love them and in my view I consider them to be great value at £17.50 per box wich lasts my 2-3 months. Chemical free and proved to work.. What more can you want ?

  5. I did see an alternative to frownies – that was more plastic therefore more rigid – cheaper, based in the UK but can’t remember the website.

    Will try the tape but frownies do work.

    • Rainbow Meow says:

      Let us know if you find it again! From what I understand, most people only need to use one strip of tape, maybe two, but lately I find that I have to use three. My frowning muscles are just too powerful 🙁

  6. Are you still using these? Micropore just creases up when I use it! Can you suggest anything else?

    • Rainbow Meow says:

      Hi Luca,

      Perfect timing – last night I finally did it. I ordered a box of Frownies. I’ll do a new post or update this one once I have a chance to try them out.

      The tape wasn’t cutting it for me anymore, although it did work well for me for a long time. I’m not sure why this happened, but I kept having to add more and more pieces of tape to keep the area flat at night. I was up to five (I originally only needed one), and when even that stopped working recently, I decided I needed to try something else. It’s like my forehead muscles were fighting back, and as it sounds like you may have found out, once they do overcome the tape and you start frowning, you are then stuck like that all night due to the tape and this can actually make the problem worse.

      I would recommend that (if you haven’t already) you try multiple pieces of tape to get the area really immobile, and see if that works. It did for me for quite a while. Hopefully your forehead will be less determined than mine! Also, make sure you pull the skin a bit to flatten out any existing creases/lines before you apply the tape.

      • How are the Frownies working? A friend just bought me my first box so I am reading up on how to use them. I was quite excited about your finding the 3M tape but it appears that it didn’t work after all.

        Thanks for all your work on this. My “11’s” are horridly deep.

        • Rainbow Meow says:

          Hi Lau,
          Well, in an exciting twist to my own personal forehead-taping saga, I think I had a dud batch of tape recently. I thought I’d give taping one more try before going to the Frownies, and it does seem to be working again now.

          The Frownies are still in their box at the moment, but I will try them for comparison against the tape. My elevens do sometimes show up again during the day, which is what a lot of people on MUA have found with both tape and Frownies (but for me, they are much worse if I haven’t taped for a few days, so I try to do it every night). Once I know which one is more effective for me, I will update the post. Good luck with whichever method(s) you try!

  7. from the frownies website :
    Contains: Unbleached Natural Kraft Paper with water-soluble dry gum adhesive.

  8. I also tried an alternative to Frownies which I preferred when I was sent a free batch as samples but I can’t remember the name of them perhaps they decided not go into production as I can’t find the product. I agree that frownies do smooth down the I I, even if its short term and yes mine are very deep even botox (never again!) didn’t do a very good job and to be honest I would rather stick something on my head rather than into it. I have also used steristrips (the old butterfly stitches) and they seem to be good at stretching out the I I, I got them from Lloyds they were very inexpensive.

  9. I dont understand why is there such a debate going on here seeking an alternative to Frownies ? I’m a user and a very satisfied one . For around £18 a box I use 2 patches for my 11’s four nights a week . That’s over 4 months maintenance.That’s £4.50 a month for a product that works and sticks firm . Why faff round sticking 4/5 layers of tape as an alternative ? The tape will most probably contain harmful chemicals in the adhesive .

  10. Hi I know this is an old post, but check out this artists tape it is exactly the same paper as frownies use, not sure about the glue, you get a huge roll for 6 pounds and you just cut them to size – I am sure the glue isn’t toxic

    • Rainbow Meow says:

      Thanks for the tip! I’ve heard that you can use “craft paper” as a substitute but never looked into that. The long-awaited Frownies update post remains long-awaited for now, but the summary version is that I now use Frownies exclusively. I’ve repented of my uninformed taping ways, although I don’t doubt that tape does work well for plenty of people with less determined forehead muscles.

  11. I have looked in to the “ingredients” of both frownies and watercolour artist brown tape as it is exactly the same….a role of tape costs 5 pounds and a lot longer than frownies ill keep you updated

  12. Have you also looked at eva frasers facial exercises, they help to strengthen the facial muscles, they have been a godsend… You should try them… I also bought a Carole DiMaggio book but find eva frasers work better for me… Eva is in her 80s and looks amazing

  13. Another alternative to Frownies – nasal strips (a rigid plaster you stick over your nose to open up the airways and help you breathe more easily – for hayfever, etc.). You can use them multiple times by sticking a cheap plaster or surgical tape over the top. But the artist’s tape sounds good too – will definitely try that. Thanks for the link, Clelia.

  14. I love Frownies have used them for about 4 years now I use them for my forehead and between my eyes , I don’t use a full patch I cut them down a bit so they last longer and still do the job ,


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    Bought A Frownies Facial Patches For Wrinkles

    […] recently, I decided I needed to try something else. It’s like my forehead mus […]

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