The Best Ways to Handle Crow's Feet
All the tricks you need to soften those smile lines.
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There's nothing wrong with a little crinkle around the eyes. Those tiny pronged expression lines known as crow's feet can bring personality to your face; the tangible signs of the joy life has given you. But if those petite wrinkles aren't making you feel joyous, there's also nothing wrong with seeking out a little skin smoothing.
We talked to some of the top skin experts in the business to find out the best ways to get your crow's feet looking like hummingbird's feet.
What causes crow's feet?
When it comes to creating wrinkles, your eye area is sort of a perfect storm: thin skin that's more susceptible to environmental damage like UV rays and pollution, fewer oil glands which leave the skin drier and less supple, and lots of movement from facial contractions like smiling and squinting helps creases to form. Add in the natural loss of the subtle layer of skin-smoothing fat below your skin as you age, and you've got a recipe for lines.
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Can you prevent them?
However, there are ways to help curtail the damage. To keep skin smoother for longer, celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas recommends a combination of hydration, sunglasses to help ward off UV damage (make sure your sunnies come with UV protection), and that old skincare standby, sunscreen.
"Sun exposure is the number one cause of premature aging, and exposure to harmful UVA and UVB can cause premature wrinkle formation and thinning skin," warns dermatologist Howard Sobel. "Protect your eye area like you do your face, with SPF every day, and you’ll see fewer fine lines, wrinkles and dark circles over time."
The best at-home treatments
The good news is that when it comes to DIY crow's feet treatment, you've got plenty of options.
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Vitamins like vitamin A (from which retinol and retinoids are derived) and vitamin C (an antioxidant and brightening agent) can also help stimulate collagen around the eye area, giving skin more youthful firmness. However, since the eye area can be more sensitive than the rest of the face, approach a regimen of either of the vitamins slowly to avoid irritation.
Other skin-pro go-tos? "Cucumber is awesome for puffiness," says Vargas. "Shea butter for hydration, and galactoarabinan (derived from the larch tree) gives you major cell turnover but is also an anti-inflammatory." But one of her favorite fixes actually comes courtesy of your pantry. "Oddly enough, the sweet potato as an ingredient is really amazing. It has vitamin A for cell renewal, vitamin B to tone and soothe the skin, vitamin C for collagen production, beta-carotene for healing and anthocyanin for puffiness."
Professional treatments for crow's feet
To take a more firm stance against your loss of firmness, some of the usual suspects can lend a helping hand.
"Neuromodulators such as Botox, Dysport, and Xeomin," Frank suggests. "These treatments inhibit the movement of the muscle which in turn will reduce the likelihood of a crease or crow’s feet from forming." To get the most bang for your Botox buck, Sobel recommends preventative injections in your 20s and 30s to help stave off the appearance of lines, but even if you've already got crow's feet the injectables can soften them. For lines closer to the inner corner of the eye, look to a hyaluronic acid filler which can help plump away those creases.
"Microneedling is another great in-office procedure," Sobel adds. "It’s a minimally invasive technique that boosts your skin’s production of collagen and elastin. A dermapen makes thousands of tiny needle punctures in the outermost layers of the skin and stimulates your body to make more collagen in the area."
If the idea of tiny needle punctures around your eye is a bridge too far, Vargas favours a less hands-on method. "My favourite in-salon treatment for those lines is LED Light Therapy. It's amazing and is the only thing that builds collagen without damaging the delicate surface of the skin," she says.