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 there are still plenty of things you can do to prevent and treat crow’s feet.
Struggling to put together an anti-aging skincare routine that really reduces the look of wrinkles and gives your skin 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 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. 🙁
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!
- Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 ($36.00): available at Cult Beauty, Sephora, and SpaceNK
- EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF47 ($25.00): available at Dermstore and Walmart
- Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ WetForce For Sensitive Skin And Children ($42.00): available at Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom 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.
Truth bomb: 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. Give up smoking and wear sunglasses on sunny days.
Related: 8 Science-Backed Ways To Replenish Lost Collagen
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, easier said than done. But, it’ll be worth it. You’ll live longer while looking younger.
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. So, yeah, wrinkles are gonna get 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.
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 them a little and make them less obvious.
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.
- 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.
P.S. 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!
- Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum ($69.00): available at Cult Beauty, and Sephora
- First Aid Beauty FAB Skin Lab Retinol Eye Cream With Triple Hyaluronic Acid ($42.00): available at Asos, Dermstore, Feel Unique, and Ulta
- Kate Sommerville +Retinol Firming Eye Cream ($85.00): available at Cult Beauty, SpaceNK, and Ulta
P.S. If you’re already using a serum or moisturiser with a low concentration of retinol, you can use that on your under-eye area, too. No need for a separate eye product.
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.