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Well before we hit 40, most of us start to develop little (or not-so-little) vertical wrinkles between our eyebrows, commonly known as “frown lines.” Ranging from barely visible creases to deep dents, frown lines can give us a perpetually grumpy look, and they only worsen with the passing years. Fortunately, a four-figure face-lift isn’t necessary to deal with these pesky wrinkles. Relatively inexpensive ways to prevent and lessen them include avoiding obvious culprits (such as tanning beds) to a quick trip to the dermatologist.

The Obvious Bears Repeating

Clearly you’d prefer to prevent the lines between your eyebrows from forming in the first place, but even if it’s too late for that, you can still keep them from worsening by avoiding some basic skin no-no’s: namely, sun and cigarettes. The cigarettes are easy—just don’t smoke. Period. Besides drying you out, the chemicals in cigarettes break down collagen and elastin in your skin—a major cause of wrinkles. Avoiding the sun is slightly more complicated, because—as of 2010—most of us are deficient in vitamin D. Allowing your skin to soak up about 10 minutes a day of direct sunlight is probably your best bet; after that, opt for wide-brimmed hats or a natural brand of sunblock (look for ones that do not contain PABA).

First Line of Defense

A basic skincare routine will keep you supple, between your brows and elsewhere. Evidence is still flimsy that pricey products do much at all, so save your money for the Botox (more on that later). Simply cleaning (with a mild facial cleanser and never soap) every night and applying a moisturizer is enough. If you want to spend a little more money, products that contain retinoids or alpha hydroxy acids are the only ones with any proof of efficacy in softening fine lines. A product called Frownies is cheap and all natural (it’s basically a piece of tape that you put between your brows overnight), and some people swear by them, so they are certainly worth a try.

When All Else Fails

Depending on your budget, Botox may not be unaffordable. At $400 to $500 (as of 2010) to deal with frown lines for about three months, it’s true that it could end up costing you a couple of grand a year. However, it’s by far the most effective way to deal with these furrows, by incapacitating the muscles and preventing the lines from getting worse, while also softening existing wrinkles. And don’t worry—that frozen face we often associate with too much Botox isn’t caused by a shot between the brows, but rather by getting rid of the horizontal lines across the forehead, which takes away the ability to register surprise and is the culprit of the waxy look. In the end, lots of expensive (and unproven) skin products could cost you as much in a year as a few shots of Botox!