When you were younger, everyone always told you that those laugh lines on your aunt’s face were a sign of a happy life. You believed them. Until it was you exhibiting the tell-all signs of aging. Now it’s not so cute. For some people, they’ll start to show up in their mid-20’s. If you’ve done a good job taking care of your skin so far, they’ll come much later.
Preventing those little lines is next to impossible, but there are ways that you can make them almost disappear.
Smile Lines or Crow’s Feet?
When you smile, you crinkle the skin around your eyes. If those lines go away when you stop smiling, they’re just smile lines. If they stay by themselves, they’re crow’s feet.
Where Do Crow’s Feet Come From?
Collagen and elastin are proteins that make up our skin and they’re responsible for its elasticity. After being stretched and compressed, it’s able to bounce back to its place. As we age, our body’s production of these proteins is drastically reduced. Couple that with the fact that normal metabolic processes and daily environmental stressors can cause damage to your tissues, and you’ve got a recipe for the formation of wrinkles!
Since your face repeatedly moves in specific ways when you laugh, smile, frown, or squint, those crinkled areas are the ones prone to forming fine lines and wrinkles over time.
Can Crow’s Feet Be Prevented?
Not altogether, but there are certain risk factors that will predispose you to developing them earlier than nature initially intended or make them worse. You may not be able to avoid them altogether, but avoiding these risk factors can lessen the chances you’ll see these laugh lines develop early on.
The sun is definitely public enemy number one, here. Exposure to sun causes skin to lose collagen and elastin, so you’ll want to avoid it as much as possible. Stay out of the sun altogether between the hours of 10am and 2pm . . .or at least keep to heavy shade. When you don’t have a choice, apply a good broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 all over your exposed skin. You’ll want to apply it 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply it at least every 2 hours. This holds true even if it’s a cloudy day!
Smoking is even worse, as it instigates the process that causes your skin to age faster and develop wrinkles. There are many reasons to stay away from cigarettes. Add this one to your list, too.
Ways You Can Combat Crow’s Feet
- Keep Your Moisture Up. When your skin loses moisture, the dryness that results can lead to fine lines and wrinkles. You’ll want to be sure to drink plenty of water every day to stay hydrated and use a good moisturizer cream. Look for products that contain active ingredients like retinoids, alpha-hydroxy acids, and copper peptides.
- Exfoliate Daily with Glycolic Acid. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells from the top of your skin, forcing fresh skin to the surface and adding volume to the epidermis, which helps to smooth out lines. Collagen is formed under the top layer of skin, and using glycolic acid helps to promote new production of collagen, which also adds volume to reduce those lines.
- Peptides are another helpful ingredient. When applied topically, the body thinks it’s receiving a message to produce new collagen.
- Protect Yourself from the Sun. No joke! That’s why we mention it twice. Apply your sunscreen every single day. On top of that, add in the extra protection of using UV protection sunglasses. Ildi Pekar, a NYC-based aesthetician recommends donning a pair of UV-protecting shades whenever you’re out in the sun. She says sunglasses will not only prevent sun damage, but will also keep you from encouraging crow’s feet from squinting.
- Try BOTOX®. Creams aren’t necessarily enough for some people, so they opt to try BOTOX®. It relaxes the muscles around the eyes so they can’t contract when you smile, laugh, or squint. When you’re not doing those things, your crow’s feet will be less pronounced. It can’t get rid of the little lines completely, but can reduce their appearance drastically. The procedure is expensive, involves needles, and doesn’t last (effects can last three to six months), but it’s relatively effective and FDA-approved. There’s actually a topical form of botulinum toxin that can be applied in the office. The effects last just as long, and the bonus is no needles! Have a discussion with your dermatologist as soon as you start to notice the fine lines, as early treatment with the neuromodulator can help to prevent the collagen from breaking down completely.
- Get a Massage. “This is the area you wrinkle so quickly because [it] has the most active muscles,” says Pekar. “So you need to relax those muscles every night.” Remember, crow’s feet pop up because that area is constantly contracting from repeated muscle use, so massaging around your eyes for a few minutes each night while you apply your eye cream can help to relax them.
The key is to not stress! Stressing will actually cause more damage from those pesky free radicals that are generated by daily living (and sun exposure). Just follow the steps above, and you’ll be on your way toward smoother, younger-looking eyes.