Crow’s feet are fine lines that form at the corners of your eyes and become more obvious when you smile. They’re aptly named since they resemble the feet of a crow. Crow’s feet are among the most common of facial lines, and they’re some of the first to appear as part of the aging process. Fortunately, there are treatments available that can make these wrinkles appear much less obvious.
As with most lines and wrinkles, sun exposure plays a role. Years of exposure to the sun’s damaging rays causes breakdown of collagen and elastin tissue that gives skin its support and resiliency. This weakens the structure of the skin so that fine lines and wrinkles form more easily. The skin around the eyes is susceptible to wrinkling because the skin there is thinner.
Another factor that contributes to crow’s feet is squinting. Years of repeatedly contracting the muscles that open and close the eyes causes lines to form. People who spend years out in the sun without sunglasses or squint because they have poor vision are more likely to end up with crow’s feet. Smoking also contributes to wrinkling around the eyes. Smokers not only squint more, but smoking also degrades collagen and elastin both of which are important for youthful looking skin.
First, it’s important to prevent further damage. Invest in a good pair of sunglasses and a pair of eyeglasses if you have vision problems. This will reduce squinting. Always wear a sunscreen with an SPF factor of at least 30 that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Wear it even when you’re indoors since UVA rays can penetrate glass. Choose a sunscreen that is formulated with skin protecting antioxidants to guard against damage from the environment.
What about lines that have already formed? There are many eye treatment products which contain multiple effective ingredients that work together to boost collagen synthesis and strengthen the skin around the eyes. Many of these treatments also contain moisture binders such as hyaluronic acid, an ingredient that hydrates and rejuvenates aging skin. Over time, anti-aging ingredients soften and smooth eye wrinkles. Until then, there are also quick fix products that have an immediate noticeable effect on crow’s feet by smoothing them out. Apply these products before a party or special function to instantly make wrinkles around the eyes less noticeable.
Some dermatologists recommend prescription strength retinoids to treat lines and wrinkles around the eyes. Retinoids work well for treating lines and wrinkles, but many people can’t tolerate them because of the redness, flakiness and peeling they cause. A less irritating alternative is to use a combination of retinol and glycolic acid in over the counter products. Choose a product that is specially formulated to treat wrinkles under and around the eyes. If you have other eye issues, you might opt for a product that has the added benefit of reducing under-eye puffiness. Using a multi-tasking product regularly helps to correct crow’s feet while nourishing and reinforcing the thin skin that surrounds the eyes.
Crow’s feet are dynamic wrinkles that respond to injections of Botox. Professionally administered Botox injections paralyze the muscle that causes these lines to form when you smile. It’s an effective treatment, but the effects are only temporary, and you have to repeat it every three or four months. In addition, there are potential risks such as bruising and drooping of the eyelid. For eye wrinkles that are static and don’t go away when you stop smiling, some dermatologists recommend injecting a filler into the area to plump it up and “fill in” the wrinkles. This procedure also has to be repeated every four to six months.
Some dermatologists also do a series of chemical peels or a laser treatment to treat crow’s feet. This may require several treatments and the high cost of these procedures may be a limiting factor.
There are topical treatments that will improve the appearance of crow’s feet, but it’s also important to prevent new ones from forming by wearing sunscreen and avoiding smoking and squinting.