Crow’s feet are wrinkles that appear around the eyes where the muscles attach to the skin. They kind of look like little crow’s feet (hence the name), and like other wrinkles, they are a normal part of aging.
But while it’s totally normal to have crow’s feet, lots of folks are looking for ways to make them less noticeable. Here are the best ways to help prevent and treat fine lines by your eyes.
Here’s what could be causing your crow’s feet:
- Age. Skin becomes less elastic over time. Also, your skin produces less natural oil as you get older. This can make your skin look more dry and wrinkled.
- Genetics. Do your parents have crow’s feet? You might get it from the gene pool.
- Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. UV radiation breaks down the skin’s connective tissues like elastin fibers and collagen. This can speed up the aging process and make you wrinkle faster.
- Environmental pollutants. Bad news for city folks, air pollution can cause premature aging, including wrinkles.
- Smoking. Cigarettes may also accelerate aging.
- Facial expressions. Squinting, and smiling, and scowling, oh my! Grooves form under the skin when you move your facial muscles. Over time, these grooves can become permanent wrinkles.
- Mask wearing. New research shows people have noticed more crow’s feet since the pandemic. The potential cause: “smizing” to make up for the rest of the face being covered.
Crow’s feet are a natural part of getting older and a sign of facial movement (i.e., smiling). There aren’t a ton of ways to prevent these wrinkles — unless you stop smiling completely. But there are some prevention tips that may help reduce the appearance of wrinkles like crow’s feet. You may want to try to:
- Stop smoking. Smoking can make you wrinkle faster (although more research is necessary).
- Use sunscreen on the daily. SPF 30 should be the minimum and it should include zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (these block the short ultraviolet A rays that cause degradation of collagen) ☀️.
- Throw on some shades. Wear polarized sunglasses that protect your skin from rays and limit squinting.
- Stay moisturized. A little under-eye moisturizer can go a long way.
- Wear a hat. Wearing a brimmed hat can help block the sun from your face.
Even if you take every preventative measure, sometimes your face ages with you. And that’s fine — it’s just part of having a face.
While there’s currently no lasting cure-all for crow’s feet, there are treatments available that reduce the appearance of crow’s feet or temporally prevent them from becoming more visible.
Here are the best options for your unique needs.
There are tons of ointments, creams, and lotions that claim they diminish crow’s feet. But they aren’t miracle workers.
Look for over-the-counter (OTC) creams that include retinol, antioxidants, and some peptides. These ingredients might improve the appearance of wrinkles. Other products that contain glycolic acid and lactic acid may help remove the top layer of dead skin and stimulate new skin growth.
If OTC options don’t do the trick, a doctor can prescribe treatments like tretinoin (Retin-A).
Keep in mind, everyone’s skin is different (and many products are different, too). It’s best to talk with your doc before trying a DIY remedy.
Botox, Dysport, Xeomin, or Jeuveau are cosmetic procedures that use neurotoxins to weaken or paralyze facial muscles that cause wrinkles. Neurotoxins, such as Botox, take up to 2 weeks to see results and usually last 3 to 4 months before full muscle movement returns. Once muscle movement comes back, you can repeat the treatment again.
Some folks also use Botox to prevent facial lines and wrinkles from developing. The results usually last about 3 months.
Possible side effects can include:
- redness or discoloration
- unintended paralysis
These symptoms usually clear up in 1 to 2 days. But if they don’t, give your doctor a call. Since it takes a full 2 weeks to see the full result, some docs may also offer touch-ups after 2 weeks.
This newer cosmetic treatment (also called the “vampire facial”) involves injecting the wrinkled area with platelet-rich plasma separated from your own blood. So, you’ll need to get your blood drawn and your face poked.
A research review showed that platelet-rich plasma could help rejuvenate the area with new skin. This may temporarily help smooth out lines, but more research is needed on the topic. At best, the procedure takes about 3 sessions for results that last about 18 months. Plus, it can take weeks to months to notice an improvement.
Platelet-rich plasma is generally considered safe, but it’s important to contact a pro (typically a board certified dermatologist) since it involves handling blood. But you should avoid the procedure if you have:
- hepatitis C
- blood cancer
- skin cancer in the area you want to treat
- cardiovascular disease (or take blood thinners)
Side effects may include pain, bruising, and swelling.
Chemical peels can give you a full-face glow-up and can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. They remove the older layers of skin to reveal the younger skin below. The exact results depend on the type of peel you get and your skin type.
Professional peels range from superficial to medium-depth. Superficial peels tend to be pretty painless and usually require little to no recoup time. But medium-depth peels are another story.
Medium-depth peels can be uncomfortable. In some cases, you’ll receive anesthesia during the procedure. And you might need several weeks to bounce back.
For the best results, try getting a superficial peel every 2 to 4 weeks or a deeper peel every 6 to 12 months.
Fillers essentially “fill” in grooves to lessen those deep creases and folds, but they don’t change muscle activity.
Dermatologists inject dermal fillers (aka soft-tissue fillers) into crow’s feet with a small needle. Each filler has its own properties, and some last longer than others. Your doctor can provide the most appropriate options based on your skin care goals, but fillers aren’t commonly used for crow’s feet, since Botox tends to be more effective.
Popular dermal fillers include:
Laser resurfacing removes the upper layers of the skin to rejuvenate and tighten the skin. It also stimulates collagen growth.
Other laser and resurfacing options include neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet, carbon dioxide laser resurfacing, nonablative laser, intense pulsed light, or thermal resurfacing including radiothermoplasticity. But these procedures don’t stop muscle movement, which is the underlying cause of the wrinkles.
You might receive pain relief meds before the procedure. Recovery time depends on the intensity of the treatment. Some folks can take several weeks to heal after laser resurfacing.
Some potential side effects are:
- redness or discoloration
If you’d rather just work with aging, makeup can help you hide those fine lines.
Crow’s feet are notoriously tricky to conceal, but here are some tips to cover them up:
- Apply a lightweight moisturizer before putting on makeup.
- Avoid heavy makeup that can make your wrinkles look thicker.
- Stick to a silicone-based primer for a smoother appearance.
- Try a bold lip to draw attention away from your eyes.
- Blend a bit of your foundation with a wet sponge for a lighter finish.
- Don’t use loose powder — it can settle in the wrinkles and make them stand out more.
Crow’s feet are a totally natural part of aging and a sign of living life (and lots of smiling!).
But if you want to get rid of them, there are several treatments that can reduce their appearance.
The treatment you pick depends on how intense the lines are and your skin type. Ask your doctor what option they think will work best for your skin care goals.