People have been stressing about eye wrinkles for a long time: the term crow’s feet actually dates back to 14th century Middle English. (Pictured above is the gorgeous and classic beauty Lauren Hutton, who we think has the most enviable crow’s feet.) These little lines—which appear as short wrinkles at the corner of each eye—are natural signs of aging. In terms of medical beauty, Botox is the easiest avenue for treatment and prevention, but there are a lot of other solutions, too. Adopting the right eye routine as well as certain topical treatments can both ease current trouble spots and slow formation of new lines.
When you smile, your orbital muscles shorten and relax, causing wrinkles to temporarily appear. Squinting causes a similar muscle movement, making it another crow’s feet culprit. As you age and your skin loses some of its natural elasticity, these once-shallow wrinkles become permanent, and more deeply set. In addition to muscle movement, lack of oil-secreting glands around the eyes—combined with a thinner inner layer of skin—make the area more susceptible to drying and wrinkling as we age.
While facial muscle movement is the core cause of crow’s feet, sun exposure also contributes to premature wrinkling and a reduction in skin elasticity. To help prevent these issues, you need to wear sunscreen all the time, 30 SPF or higher. We know you know this. But we also know you probably forget (we’re all human). Whatever your preference for UV protection, make sure you wear it daily—consistency is key.
And don’t forget the sunglasses. Wear UV-protective sunglasses when you venture outside; these lenses will not only protect the delicate skin around your eyes, they’ll help prevent unnecessary squinting, too. While we love our Ray Bans, they aren’t doing our crow’s feet any favors. Pick sunglasses that cover and protect as much as possible. Here are some top sun protecting picks from Charlotte’s Book experts.
Moisturizing eye creams help combat common eye-area aging issues, especially if you seek the right combination of active ingredients. Look for vitamin A to help ward off sun damage while bolstering collagen production and restoring elasticity to crepe-like crow’s feet. Hyaluronic acid also helps soften the appearance of fine lines. Keep an eye out for peptides in your skin care products, too. Peptides essentially fool the body into producing more collagen by posing as particles of broken collagen, which makes for less pronounced wrinkles.
CB Editor’s picks: Our favorites include 3Lab’s The Eye Cream, $120, which is chock full of peptides. The formula is delicate but nourishing and great for sensitive skin. Darphin’s Wrinkle Corrector Eye Contour Cream, $78, is a great one as well, with
At the dermatologist’s office, an injection of Botox serves as the most effective crow’s feet treatment currently available. Botox exerts a temporary paralyzing effect on the orbital muscle, attacking crow’s feet at their foundation. While it was first approved in 2002 to treat “frown lines,” the FDA then approved Botox for improving crow’s feet wrinkles in 2013. This can be used a preventative technique (paralyzing the muscle so it does not make the movement), or it can be used to help relax any crow’s feet that have already formed.
Ablative lasers are another effective treatment in minimizing eye wrinkles. Through the process known as resurfacing, these intense beams eliminate the topmost layer of the skin, which encourages collagen production and gives way to smoother, more youthful looking skin. Studies conducted by the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery and the Korean Journal of Ophthalmology (in 2008 and 2009, respectively) both reported visible improvement in the appearance of crow’s feet after skin resurfacing with ablative carbon dioxide and erbium lasers, both of which are commonly used by dermatologists.