Frown lines – what do they convey about you?

Article - Frown lines – what do they convey about you?

Are frown lines making you look constantly angry or annoyed? Do you have a feeling others may misinterpret your emotions because of your “angry” look? Perhaps this feeling has even  started to affect your well-being and self-esteem? These are all common reasons why people seek frown line treatments. 

What do your frown lines say about you?

We humans are very good at interpreting emotions just by looking at a person’s face. Minute differences in muscle movements tell a lot about our state of being. For example, we can often tell the difference between a genuine smile and a fake smile, when someone just pretends to be happy.

Permanent wrinkles such as frown lines may communicate mixed signals. A person can be happy and smile, but frown lines could make the face look angry, worried, or irritated at the same time.1

The disparity between what we feel and what our faces express can give rise to anxiety.  When we hear (often well-meaning) comments such as “did you sleep well last night?” it may unintentionally hurt us.1

Our overall skin quality can also affect how we perceive ourselves. If our skin looks dry and dull, we may think we look “unhealthy” and frown lines add to that impression. If, on the other hand, our skin is clear and radiant, we may not notice frown lines (and other wrinkles) so much. 

More precisely, which wrinkles are frown lines?

When wrinkles appear in the same places and due to the same muscle movements, they are often given specific names.

Frown lines are the vertical lines (the “number eleven”) that appear between our eyebrows when we frown. Frown lines are also called glabellar lines as the area just above the nose and between the eyebrows is called the glabella.2

Frown lines are sometimes confused with forehead lines, which are the horizontal lines on the forehead. Forehead lines sometimes become more visible as we frown, but they also appear when we raise our eyebrows in happy surprise.

Why do we get permanent frown lines?

The glabella is a complex area with many facial muscles, such as the corrugator supercilii and procerus muscle.2

When these muscles move, they pull the skin. Repeated pulling of the skin may over time give rise to permanent frown lines. Frown lines can look a bit different on people. Some have just fine lines and others deep furrows. The common denominator here is that when frown lines become permanent, they don’t disappear when the face is at rest.2

Aging, smoking, and sun exposure make the skin less elastic and weaken the skin’s underlying support structure. These factors can further contribute to the formation of wrinkles that are visible, not only when we frown but also when our face is relaxed.1

Frown lines can form quite early in life. Clinical studies investigating frown line treatments sometimes include patients from 18 years.3

Frown lines are connected to self-perception and self-esteem

Few of us want to look unhealthy, tired, angry, or worried when we’re not. We want others to perceive us the way we feel inside. We want to meet a relaxed face when looking in the mirror, not an angry or annoyed face.

Frown line treatments are often connected to self-perception and self-esteem.1 When we look our best we tend to feel good about ourselves and become more self-confident.

Frown line treatment options

Skincare is often the first option when treating frown lines and other signs of aging. Skincare products containing retinol could be a good option. Retinol (a form of vitamin A) is well-known for its positive effect on wrinkles and its ability to improve skin elasticity.4

When we have distinctly marked frown lines or deep furrows, skincare products may not give us the result we want. In this case, various aesthetic treatments can be of help..

If considering an aesthetic treatment it’s important to consult a qualified healthcare practitioner who can thoroughly explain different treatment options and what we can expect from them. 

Precision treatments

The consultation may in fact take longer than the actual treatment. During your consultation, you have the chance to bring up all your worries and concerns and discuss the pros and cons of different treatments with your healthcare practitioner.

Depending on the result you desire, natural-looking or not, precision in the treatment may be something to discuss with the healthcare practitioner. Make sure your healthcare practitioner understands exactly what you’re looking for. 

Improvements in well-being

Clinical studies on frown line treatments may include measurements on patients’ well-being and satisfaction regarding their facial appearance. 

For example, in a recent study, patients reported improvement in their facial appearance and psychological well-being.3

As with all aesthetic treatments, have realistic expectations. A frown line treatment will not fix your life problems. A precision treatment performed by a qualified healthcare practitioner can however help you look less angry and align your facial expressions with how you truly feel inside.


1. Finn CJ et al. Dermatol Surg 2003;29(5):450–455, 2. Walker HM, Chauhan PR, Anatomy, Head and Neck: Glabella, In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan.2022 Jul 25, 3. Kestemont P et al. Aesthet Surg J 2022;42(3):301–313, 4. Ganceviciene R. et al, Dermatoendocrinol. 2012;4(3):308–319; 5. Hilton S et al. Dermatol Surg 2022;48(11):1198–1202