What are Those Two Lines Between My Eyes, And How Do I Get Rid of Them?

When it comes to your “elevens,” the only real cure is to not move your face at all.

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Getting older comes with some definite perks: Acne is (typically) a distant memory, your shoe size stops changing and, of course, you can get into R-rated movies. Heck, people even pay attention to you when you speak, lest they miss out on any of the wisdom you’ve accumulated from your years being on this earth.

That said, getting older comes with its disadvantages, too. For one, your breath starts to smell something fierce, and for another, you start getting wrinkles all over your face. Some of those wrinkles you can live with, like the ones criss crossing your forehead that make you look distinguished, and probably are the reason people listen to your “wisdom” in the first place; others, like those two deep, vertical lines between your eyes that make you look like you’ve got permanent resting bastard face, are not.

Well, folks, those mean ol’ eyebrow-splitting lines have a name. In the dermatological community they’re known as glabellar lines, mostly because that space between your brows is called the glabella. But for the lay-people that have them — and desperately want to get rid of them — they go by a different name: “the elevens.”

I’m sure you can guess, judging from the look of them, where that nickname comes from. Yep, the elevens are a black mark on anyone’s face. But where do they come from?

Unfortunately, the elevens aren’t necessarily facial lines that you can point at in the mirror and say something like, “If only I had quit smoking,” or “I shoulda stayed out of the sun more.” No doubt, excess sun (and a lack of sunscreen) and a pack-a-day habit are two of the most common reasons people get wrinkles on their face early in adulthood, and a reason your elevens might be more pronounced than they would otherwise be if you never smoked a day in your life and stayed indoors all the time.

But for the elevens, a more common culprit for why we get them in the first place is simply repeated movement. Not sure if you noticed, but your elevens sit in a part of your face that’s highly involved in facial expression; basically any face you make that furrows your brow is going to repetitively work those lines. And, sadly, if you’re of an advanced age (like older than 35), that skin doesn’t bounce back the way it used to, resulting in your elevens looking more and more permanent the older you get.

So what can be done about your elevens? Well, for starters, you can make sure they don’t get any worse by adopting a morning skincare routine that involves applying a daily face moisturizer with sunscreen. Walking outside without this basic level of protection is just asking for trouble! And by trouble, I mean looking like someone ran across your face with a pair of ice skates.

If, however, they’re already pretty bad, you might consider biting the bullet and becoming a botox believer; no doubt there’s a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon in your relative vicinity happy to take your money once a quarter to banish your elevens into the shadow realm.

That said, you can make your elevens appear less pronounced: For starters, think about adding retinol, i.e., vitamin A, to your nighttime skincare routine. Retinol has been shown to boost collagen production, which can soften the lines of your elevens considerably. Alternatively, other anti-aging agents like glycolic acid (a powerful exfoliator), peptides (amino acids that can help your skin form collagen) and a good night cream to keep your skin moisturized can all help, too.

Bottom line is, there’s no reason not to be taking care of your skin as much as you can to prevent things like elevens from either getting worse (or forming in the first place). Because while being respected and admired for your years of experience is all well and good, not all of us are ready to look distinguished just yet.