how to treat and prevent crow's feet

How do you treat crow’s feet?

It happens to everyone. One day your face is nice and smooth, the next you look in the mirror and… What the heck are those lines around your eyes?!

Hello crow’s feet! Those annoying buggers are the first fine lines that start to appear on your face. Like, in your 20s! Isn’t that too young for wrinkles?!

You know what they say: knowing your enemy is half the battle. Here are the main causes of crow’s feet and how to deal with them so you can keep them off your face for as long as possible:

What Are Crow’s Feet?

Crow’s feet are those wrinkles etched in the corners of your eyes. They resemble the feet of a crow – that’s where they take their name from.

The first wrinkles to make its appearance on your skin, they also look deeper and more pronounced than wrinkles on other sides of the face…

Blame it on how delicate and thin skin is there. That also makes crow’s feet harder to treat. But harder doesn’t mean impossible. There are still plenty of things you can do to prevent and treat crow’s feet.

Struggling to put together a skincare routine that minimises wrinkles, prevents premature aging, and gives your complexion a youthful glow? Download your FREE “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):

How To Prevent Crow’s Feet

When it comes to wrinkles, prevention is always better than cure. Crow’s feet are no exception. Here’s what causes them and how you can keep them off your face:

Crow’s Feet Cause #1: Unprotected Sun Exposure

Nothing damages skin more than UV rays. They destroy elastin and decrease the production of collagen, two essential proteins to keep your skin young, firm and elastic.

It works like this: when you’re young, your skin acts like an elastic: it may wrinkle up a bit when you smile or squint, but it goes right back into its smooth shape afterwards. But, when you start losing too much collagen and elastin, it can’t do that anymore. It becomes loose, saggy, and wrinkled. 🙁

This happens when you’re still young. Your skin starts loses 1% collagen a year once you turn 21! At first, the loss is so small, you can barely see it. But over the year, it compounds until crow’s feet start to appear around your eyes.


This one is easy. Wear sunscreen EVERY single day, come rain or come shine. Those sneaky UV rays can penetrate through clouds and windows, and even get reflected on snow. Don’t think you’re safe just because you can’t see the sun or you’re cuddled up indoors. If you’re serious about preventing crow’s feet, sunscreen is a must. Just be careful: Sunscreen can sting if it gets into your eyes.

Best Picks:

  • Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 ($36.00): A tinted mineral sunscreen that provides broad spectrum protection. Most suitable for dry skin. available at Cult Beauty, Sephora, and SpaceNK
  • EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF47 ($25.00): A wonderful, lightweight formula for oily skin that provides broad-spectrum protection without leaving a greasy, white mess. Available at Dermstore and Walmart
  • Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ WetForce For Sensitive Skin And Children ($42.00): Lightweight and waterproof, this sunscreen provides high broad-spectrum protection gentle enough for sensitive skin. Available at Neiman Marcus and Sephora

Related: Why Mineral Sunscreens Are The Best For Sensitive Skin

Crow’s Feet Cause #2: Squinting

UV rays aren’t the only thing that robs you of collagen. Its production naturally slows down with age. And I’m not talking about old age. As you know now, from the age of 21, you lose 1% of collagen every year!

At first, you don’t notice it. The loss is so minimal, your skin snaps back into place after squinting. But fast forward a few years later and squinting has etched permanent lines around your eyes!


Squint as little as possible. I know, easier said than done. This is something you often do without realising it. If you’re not already, wear sunglasses on sunny days so you won’t have to squint as the sun blinds you (is it me or the best tips are so obvious? Duh!). Oh, squinting as you smoke is a big cause of crow’s feet too. If you don’t care to quit for your health, maybe this’ll do the trick.

Related: 8 Science-Backed Ways To Replenish Lost Collagen

bioderma photoderm max spf 50 aquafluid review

Crow’s Feet Cause #3: Smoking

I don’t have to tell you smoking is bad for you. You know that. But did you know smoking is another thing that reduces collagen and elastin in your skin? If you’ve read this far, you know how essentials those proteins are in keeping wrinkles off your face.

That’s not even the worst of it. Smoking decreases blood flow, too. Put simple, this means your organs (skin included!) don’t get the proper amount of oxygen and nutrients they need to function properly.

Oh, and the squinting. You’re doing way more of that. No wonder smokers age much faster than their non-smoking friends.


Give up smoking. I know, you don’t want to do that. I have smokers in my family and I understand the resistance to quit. All I’m saying is, you can smoke or you can have good skin. The choice is yours.

Related: The Ugly Truth: The Effects Of Smoking On Skin

Crow’s Feet Cause #4: Menopause

Did you know estrogen and collagen are connected? You lose the one, you lose the other. Guess what? You lose a lot of estrogen when you go into menopause. This is why, after the menopause it, you lose collagen at a much faster rate. You know where I’m going with this. Those crow’s feet are suddenly gonna get a lot worse. 🙁


You can’t prevent menopause. The best you can do is discuss hormonal therapies with your doctor. They can work well for some people and have severe side effects in others. Make sure you get all the info you need before making your choice. Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion. A good doctor will take the time to answer all your concerns and make sure you’re comfortable with your decision.

medik8 retinol eye TR

How To Treat Crow’s Feet

I’ll be honest: unless you opt for Botox or fillers, you can’t get rid of crow’s feet completely. The best topical skincare can do is to reduce crow’s feet and make them less obvious. I know it’s not the answer you want to hear, but I’m not interested in lying to you to sell you a $200 cream you don’t need. I’ll always tell you the truth, so you can make informed choices.

Is reducing crow’s feet, even if not completely, good enough for you? Meet retinol. It’s a form of Vitamin A that helps reduce wrinkles in three ways:

  • It has antioxidant properties that fight free radicals, the nasty molecules that destroy collagen and elastin and give you wrinkles.
  • It boosts the production of collagen, the protein that keeps skin firm.
  • It speeds up cellular turnover, the skin’s natural exfoliating process.

The catch? Retinol is harsh. It often causes redness, flaking, and irritation – especially in the delicate under-eye area.

So how can you use it on crow’s feet? Pick a product with the smallest concentration you can find (1% is way too harsh!) and use it only a couple of nights a week. If all’s well, slowly increase dose and frequency. If you experience side effects, cut back.

More retinol doesn’t equal smaller wrinkles. If you use too much too soon, you’ll dry out skin so much, your crow’s feet will look way worse. Talk about backfiring!

FYI, you don’t need a separate eye cream with retinol. I use my face retinol serum. First, I apply it all over my face, then pat what’s left of it on my fingers on the delicate eye area. That way, I give crow’s feet their medicine without irritating the delicate undereye area.

Best Picks:

  • Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum ($69.00): It contains retinol + ferulic acid, a powerful antioxidant that can fight 3 types of free radicals to prevent new wrinkles from forming. Available at Cult Beauty
  • First Aid Beauty FAB Skin Lab Retinol Eye Cream With Triple Hyaluronic Acid ($42.00): It contains retinol to reduce wrinkles and 3 forms of Hyaluronic Acid to plump up crow’s feet, so they look smaller to the naked eye. Available at Dermstore and Ulta
  • Kate Sommerville +Retinol Firming Eye Cream ($85.00): A simple retinol formula enriched with natural moisturising oils to plump up wrinkles. Available at Cult Beauty, SpaceNK, and Ulta

Related: How To Make The Most Of Retinol (Even If You Have Sensitive Skin)

The Bottom Line

Crow’s feet are a natural part of aging, but a healthy lifestyle, daily use or sunscreen and the right skincare products can keep them off your face for longer.