The eyes play a major role in almost every facial expression used to communicate. Excessively using the muscles that control your eyes when you squint, smile, or frown can cause early wrinkles around the sides of the eyes, known as crow’s feet to form.
Genetics and lifestyle also play a part in the formation of lines and wrinkles on the face. There are a number of lifestyle factors, cosmetic and medical treatments that can help to prevent and reduce the appearance of crow’s feet wrinkles.
What are crow’s feet?
The orbicularis oculi muscle surrounds the eye and is responsible for controlling the closing of the eye. When this muscle is activated, it tightens around the eye and pulls the skin forward, causing crow’s feet to form. This muscle is also used when blinking and when forming facial expressions such as squinting, frowning, laughing, and smiling.
Crow’s feet are wrinkles that form around the outside of the eyes over time. As the skin around the eyes is exceptionally thin, wrinkles in this area can form fairly early due to constant muscle use and a gradual reduction in your skin’s elasticity.
The biggest cause of crow’s feet is a loss of elasticity in the skin combined with early wrinkles caused by smiling and squinting. Over time, your skin’s elasticity decreases and normal facial expressions result in heavier wrinkles around the eyes.
Feel like your crow’s feet are forming a little too early? Don’t worry – it’s normal for crow’s feet to form when people are in their 30s, although some people are affected by visible crow’s feet in their mid-20s.
Why do crow’s feet appear?
From unhealthy habits to genetic ageing patterns, there are several key reasons for crow’s feet to appear. Everyday behaviours such as repeated squinting in bright sunlight are often all it takes to cause the early onset of crow’s feet.
Over time, your skin’s ability to produce collagen decreases, leaving your skin less elastic and more likely to fix in place when it’s repeatedly stretched and relaxed.
When you smile, squint, or frown, your skin is pulled tight and then loosened, which can produce lasting lines. Since not smiling simply isn’t possible, crow’s feet are one of the most common facial expression wrinkles.
Think of your skin as a form of fabric. When you’re young, collagen keeps your skin as flexible as possible like a piece of elastic fabric. Over time, decreases in collagen make your skin more likely to wrinkle when stretched, like a cotton garment.
How to prevent crow’s feet
From dietary changes to simple lifestyle tweaks, there are numerous ways to reduce the chances of your lifestyle adversely effecting your skin health leading to the formation of early fine lines and wrinkles.
Addressing causes of excessive expression
Facial expressions are essential in human communication and empathy, however there are certain factors which may make you more likely to frown or squint- making you more likely to develop early expression lines such as crow’s feet.
Excess squinting may be related to an undiagnosed eye sight problem, so it may be wise to have your eyes checked and your glasses prescription updated. Secondly if you live in a sunny climate where you are constantly squinting to avoid the sun, wearing tinted lenses or sunglasses may stop you squinting in the sun, delaying the formation of crow’s feet.
Maintain a healthy diet rich in antioxidants and drink plenty of water
It’s important to remember that while no diet can completely eliminate the effects of ageing, however a balanced, nutritious diet may improve overall skin health, promote repair of skin cells and may delay the onset of early fine lines and wrinkles.
Foods that are rich in antioxidants are ideal for fighting the age-related effects of unhealthy skin. When your body is fed a diet of nutrient-rich fuel, it naturally has the tools it needs to keep your skin in optimum condition by mopping up harmful chemicals known as free radicals which can reduce essential skin proteins such as collagen and elastin.
Try to avoid foods that contain a lot of simple sugars or unhealthy fats, and instead emphasise foods that are rich in ‘good fats’ and antioxidants including vitamins C, E and A.
When it comes to preventing the signs of aging, the most effective treatment is truly free of charge, it is water. Your body is over 60 percent water, making it essential that you keep yourself well hydrated. Try to drink at least six tall glasses of water every day in order to keep your skin as hydrated as possible.
If you’re a coffee drinker, try increasing your water consumption to make up for the increase in water loss a cup of coffee can lead to. Diuretics like coffee can deplete the skin of moisture that’s necessary for keeping the skin’s natural barrier well maintained.
Cigarette smoking and excess alcohol can lead to premature skin ageing
Nicotine and cigarette smoking can lead to a reduction in the amount of collagen that is repaired in the skin, making it essential that you avoid smoking cigarettes if crow’s feet are a concern. In addition, cigarette smoke can irritate and dry out your facial skin.
If you’re a smoker, make it a priority to kick the habit before you invest in any cosmetic treatments or dietary routines to prevent crow’s feet from forming. As well as being bad for your general health, cigarettes are one of the most potent factors in early ageing.
Alcohol is directly and indirectly responsible for crow’s feet. Like caffeine, alcohol is a strong diuretic that can leave your skin dehydrated and damaged. From low quality sleep to dehydration, it’s best to avoid heavy alcohol consumption if you’re concerned about crow’s feet. Stick to the occasional glass of red wine which is higher in antioxidants compared to other alcoholic drinks.
Avoiding sun exposure prevents wrinkles from forming
As well as increasing their risk of developing skin cancer, people that often expose their skin to sun light are far more likely to develop wrinkles prematurely. To keep crow’s feet at bay, try to avoid exposure to bright sun whenever possible and use a daily sunscreen to block harmful and ageing UVA and UVB sun rays.
Deep sleep repairs your skin
Having adequate sleep, between Six to Eight hours of night time sleep increases production of HGH (human growth hormone) – a powerful hormone that helps to repair damaged skin and helps to maintain skin elasticity.
Deep sleep is one of the most effective ways to minimise the effects of hormones that cause stress in the body. Deep sleep reduces your body’s production of cortisol – a stress hormone that can lead to diabetes, obesity, and skin collagen loss.
How to reduce crow’s feet
While skincare products and treatments can’t eliminate crow’s feet, they can be helpful in promoting visibly healthy skin and stopping early lines and wrinkles from deteriorating at a fast rate.
Skincare products for crow’s feet
Antioxidant serums can help deliver high dose Vitamins to the skin where it is needed to help the skin repair itself and maintain good overall skin health.
Crow’s feet form when skin becomes thin, brittle, and inelastic, making it vital that you use a high quality moisturiser to help the skin protect itself by maintaining its natural moisturised barrier.
Exfoliating products can help to remove a top layer of dead skin cells giving the skin a brighter and smoother appearance which may reduce the visibility of fine lines and crow’s feet. Microdermabrasion uses a machine made tip to similarly brush off the top layer of skin cells.
Retinol creams are a vitamin A derivative which is used in different forms by dermatologists to treat different skin conditions including acne. There is a good amount of evidence to show that retinol increase skin turnover, can make the skin tone appear more even, and help to reduce the appearance of early fine lines and wrinkles.
Cosmetic treatments for crow’s feet
Cosmetic treatments such as laser and chemical peels may help to reduce early fine crow’s feet wrinkles, They work on the principle of skin healing, by causing a deliberate chemical or a laser burn to the very top layers of skin, thus promoting healthy, new and fresh skin growth; which may appear smoother compared to the old skin and help to reduce the appearance of very early fine lines and wrinkles.
A course of treatments is typically required to get the best results, and depending on the strength of the treatments, there may be some down time where the skin may peel or flake off for a few days to up to a couple weeks.
Botox injections to treat crow’s feet
Botox is a muscle relaxant which is used to treat crow’s feet. It is injected into the orbicularis oculi muscle which is responsible for causing these expression lines. It helps to temporarily stop the skin wrinkling and can treat crow’s feet for three to four months.