Face and mouth-taping trend potentially dangerous: Experts
In the TikTok video, @itzamelika, an influencer from Germany, is seen going to bed five nights in a row with large, round patches plastered over her forehead.
She removes the patches each morning and the creased lines etched into her forehead appear to fade as the days pass.
By the end of the 22-second video, which has amassed almost 13 million views, the lines on her forehead appear to have disappeared completely and she tells her audience that it even became difficult to raise her eyebrows.
@itzamelika, who has 139,000 followers on TikTok, is just one proponent of face taping, which is the use of tape to prevent fine lines and wrinkles in areas such as the forehead and nasolabial folds.
The use of kinesiology tape on the face is part of a larger international anti-ageing beauty trend.
@itzamelika said she started taping her face overnight as she tends to overly emote her facial expressions.
Netizens claim that the tape trains one’s face to reduce muscle contraction in these areas and thus prevents lines from forming.
People have been known to tape their faces both while awake and asleep, “training” their faces consciously and subconsciously.
While there are specially formulated face tapes such as the Reusable Forehead Mask by Los Angeles-based beauty brand Skin Gym and Wrinkle Patches by American company Frownies, people have also been known to use both regular and medical grade tapes for this purpose.
One user on online shopping platform Shopee said in a review for a pack of anti-wrinkle patches that she saw visible improvements in her fine lines after “just a few hours” of use.
But experts The Straits Times spoke to questioned the validity of such claims and some even warned of face-taping’s potential dangers.
Dr Adrian Ooi, a plastic surgeon and medical director of Polaris Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, said that there is “some basis” behind face-taping if it helps reduce facial movement.
He said: “Part of facial ageing and formation of fine lines and wrinkles is the pulling action of the underlying muscle on the skin, as well as loss of collagen and elastin.
“The premise behind taping the face is to reduce muscle movement and keep skin taut. This can be achieved through various ways, both consciously and subconsciously.”
He added that he uses kinesiology tape for face-taping post-operatively to help reduce movement and swelling.
Dermatologist Kong Yan Ling, a co-founder of skin clinic DermAlly, was hesitant about the long-term benefits of face-taping.
Dr Kong said: “Face-taping may help to temporarily lift the skin and smoothen wrinkles while they are left on the face, but the effects would only last for as long as the tape is kept on.”
In fact, she said that face taping may actually accelerate the formation of fine lines because taping the face to hold certain muscles still “theoretically adds resistance when using that muscle”.
This means that facial muscles have to work harder to move when the tape is applied, and would over time become stronger, hence accelerating the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
Exaggerated stretching of the skin when removing the tape could also increase skin laxity and accelerate the signs of skin ageing.
While both Dr Ooi and Dr Kong said there is no immediate danger in face-taping, both agreed that those with sensitive or fragile skin might have increased chances of developing allergic reactions from the glue of the tape, especially if it is not formulated to be used on skin.
These manifest as itchy red rashes, and pimple breakouts can also occur from occluding parts of the face with tape.
People with fragile skin might also damage their skin barrier when removing the tape if the adhesive is too strong. Applied incorrectly, tape to the skin can even cause blistering.
One Shopee user who also purchased anti-wrinkle patches said that they were “painful to remove” and a “waste of money”.
When asked for anti-ageing alternatives to face-taping, experts said there is a wide array of options which can deliver similar results.
Dermatologist Coni Liu, founder of DermAlly, said: “To address the skin laxity which is causing the sagging of the skin, there are many non-surgical ways to achieve a ‘facelift’”.
These include energy-based devices like high-intensity focused ultrasound or radiofrequency.
“These treatments stimulate collagen production at different layers of the skin, resulting in firmer and tightened skin,” Dr Liu said.
Other alternatives include less invasive procedures such as botox injections, as well as more drastic methods like surgical facelifts.
For those who prefer a stay-home option, Dr Ooi said a curated skin care regimen that includes the use of antioxidants, retinol, moisturiser and sun protection can do wonders in improving skin quality.
Antioxidants, moisturiser and sunscreen can help protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation and pollution. Antioxidants and retinol also help exfoliate the skin and increase collagen production, which can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
“When thinking about this, total paralysis is not the aim,” he said.
A similar trend, where people tape their mouths shut to sleep has also gained traction for its alleged health and aesthetic benefits.
Online influencers have claimed that sealing their mouths forces them to breathe through their noses instead, resulting in a more chiselled jawline and straighter nose over time.
People have been seen using medical, cosmetic grade tapes, and even the likes of scotch tape to seal their mouths shut before bed.
While experts agreed that breathing through the nose is ideal as the air is filtered and humidified, most said little can be done to change the appearance of the adult nose and jaw without medical procedures.
They also warned that amateur mouth-taping is scientifically unsound and even dangerous.
Dr Dennis Chua, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist from ENT Surgeons Medical Centre, said: “If someone needs to mouth-breathe during sleep, it is a sign of nasal obstruction.
“Taping the mouth in a patient with a nasal obstruction can potentially result in oxygen levels dropping during sleep, which is a condition known as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).”
Beyond causing chronic snoring, OSA can also lead to an increased risk of congestive heart failure, heart attacks and stroke.
ENT surgeon Goh Yau Hong who owns ENT, Head & Neck Surgery agreed: “Mouth-taping in the presence of nasal obstruction is just plainly not plausible.
“Taping of the mouth or wearing a jaw strap is a simplistic and dangerous method of dealing with mouth breathing. These measures are, however, often employed after one undergoes corrective nasal surgeries.”
For alternatives to achieve that chiselled jaw and nose, doctors advised that aligning the teeth with dental devices could work in streamlining one’s jawline.
Botox injections can also be used in slimming down these facial features.
Dr Ooi said that while reducing muscle action can help with wrinkle prevention, people should also preserve their natural beauty which is highlighted through expressed emotions.
He added that natural beauty includes dynamic age appropriate features.
“In a 60-year-old facelift patient, there should still be the ability to develop slight wrinkles with smiling - this is the emotional aspect of beauty.”