This paper analyses the free vibration response of sandwich curved and flat panels by introducing the zig-zag function (—1)kζk (ZZF) in the displacement models of classical and higher order two-dimensional shell theories. The main advantage of ZZF is the introduction of a discontinuity in the first derivative, zig-zag effect, of the displacements distribution with correspondence to the core/faces interfaces. Results including and discarding ZZF are compared. Several values of face-to-core stiffness ratio (FCSR) and geometrical plate/shell parameters have been analyzed. Both fundamental vibration modes and those corresponding to high wave numbers are considered in the analysis. It is concluded that: (1) ZZF is highly recommended in the free vibration analysis of sandwich plates and shells; (2) the use of ZZF makes the error almost independent by FCSR parameter; (3) ZZF is easy to implement and its use should be preferred with respect to other `more cumbersome' refined theories.