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Crow’s Feet Wrinkles

What are crow’s feet wrinkles?

Crow’s feet are the fine lines that radiate out from the outer edges of your eyes. They’re often given other names, such as ‘laughter lines’ (or sometimes ‘laugh lines’), ‘character lines’, or ‘expression lines’.

If you want the technical term for crow’s feet wrinkles, it’s periorbital rhytids. (Peri means ‘around’, orbital means ‘of the eye socket’ here rather than the M25, and rhytids are—you’ve guessed it—‘wrinkles’.)

Crow's Feet Wrinkles

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Suggested Products for Treating Crow’s Feet Wrinkles

Which skincare products might you try, to see real results? Here is a selection of the ones I really rate - because they do a great job, and are a pleasure to use.


Alpha H Liquid Gold

One of my all-time favourite products - a brilliant multi-tasker which delivers both immediate and long-term results. It’s a liquid…

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Altrient-C Liposomal Vitamin C

Vitamin C is key both to general health and to your skin but taking high doses can be a quick route to an upset stomach. Altrient has…

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Calecim Professional Multi-Action Cream 50g

An extraordinary, cutting edge product derived from stem cells that produces tighter, smoother, firmer skin with fewer wrinkles. Calecim…

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Dermalux Flex MD

Alice says “I tried the Dermalux Flex at home during lockdown in spring 2020. I used it 4-5 times a week for 3 months and had detailed…

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Dr. Harris Anti-Wrinkle Sleep Mask

Smooth frown lines and ease a busy mind with this brilliant new eye mask created by top aesthetic practitioner Dr Steven Harris. It may…

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FAQ ABOUT Crow’s Feet Wrinkles


What causes crow’s feet wrinkles?

Crow’s feet wrinkles are caused by muscle movements. When you’re young and your skin is strong and springy, it will crease up when you use the muscles around your eyes, but will look smooth as soon as your face relaxes. But as you get older and your skin becomes less firm and less elastic, the creases around your eyes slowly settle into visible wrinkles. This section discusses the effects of age on your skin; other sections further down this page discuss the role of muscle movements.

As your skin ages, the collagen—the structural protein that acts as the scaffolding for the skin—gradually degrades, so it provides less support for your skin. At the same time, your level of elastin—the protein that gives your skin its bounce—drop, so there’s less of this stretchy protein to keep your skin taut.

Another factor that contributes to your skin loosening is that, as you age, the lower layer of skin in your face (the subcutaneous layer) gradually loses the fat that has been helping keep your skin plump. Worse yet, the bones in your face gradually lose some of their bulk through bone resorption, which costs your face yet more volume. Losing this volume from the bones and the fat means that your skin begins to hang loose, like a balloon that is deflating.

What age do you get crow’s feet?

This depends on your genes and how well (or otherwise) you have treated your skin over the years, but crow’s feet wrinkles generally start to show up before the age of 30. They’re some of the first lines to set in on the face, partly because we make so many expressions involving our eyes, so the skin around them is constantly being stretched and scrunched, and also because the skin around the eyes is finer and drier than elsewhere on the face, and fine, dry skin is quick to wrinkle.

What muscle causes crow’s feet?

The muscle that causes crow’s feet is the one that surrounds your eye socket. This muscle is called the orbicularis oculi muscle (where orbicularis means ‘ring-shaped’ and oculi means ‘eyes’, as in ‘oculist’). When the orbicularis oculi muscle contracts, it pulls the skin inwards toward the eyes, causing wrinkling, especially at the corners of the eyes.

Does smiling cause crow’s feet?

Yes, up to a point – but don’t stop smiling, because that would be a sad thing and it won’t help your crow’s feet much. Squinting, frowning, and any other expressions or activities that cause you to contract your orbicularis oculi muscle will also contribute to causing crow’s feet. Even blinking, which most of us do something like 20,000 times a day, works your orbicularis oculi muscle and has a knock-on effect on your skin.

How do I prevent crow’s feet?

Try the following to prevent or reduce crow’s feet:

  • Start with appropriate skincare — The right skincare is really helpful for the eye area. Skincare is especially important if your crow’s feet lines haven’t yet appeared—in other words, you need skincare before you think you need it. As you know, the eye area has delicate skin, so you need to treat it gently. Don’t overload this skin with rich, oily creams, because those can lead to clogged white spots called milia; and be cautious before you reach for hardcore ingredients. Instead, use hyaluronic acid serums to keep the skin hydrated, and seal this into place with a lightweight moisturiser. You can also use specialised hydrating eye-mask patches—the sort of tear-shaped ones that you stick onto the skin below the eye—which give a quick hydrating boost.
  • Protect the skin around your eyes with sunscreen — Don’t forget to apply sunscreen around your eyes – especially since the eye area is so vulnerable to ageing. You may be able to just use the same sunscreen that you use on the rest of your face. But if your eyes are sensitive, make sure your sunscreen is fragrance-free – most eye products should be fragrance-free, but some aren’t, and they can be irritating.
  • Use specialised eye creams for an extra boost — If standard skincare serums aren’t enough to keep the skin around your eyes hydrated and smooth, look for a specialised eye cream. On the high street, Olay’s Pro-retinol Eye Cream comes with studies to show that it does what it claims, and so many of my doctor-friends use iS Clinical’s Youth Eye Complex that it must be good.
  • Wear large sunglasses — Not just a fashion statement, oversized sunglasses protect more of the eye and block out more of the sun’s rays. UV radiation is well known to accelerate wrinkle formation through sun damage.
  • Sleep on your back, or use a silky pillowcase — Sleeping on your side presses your face into the pillow, which is thought to dehydrate the skin overnight, and also to press the face into lines. A slippery silk or satin pillowcase reduces this effect.

When prevention comes up short, you can turn to treatment. See the ‘What is best for crow’s feet wrinkles?’ section, further down this page, for tweakments that can help banish your crow’s feet.

Can you get rid of crow’s feet?

If your crow’s feet wrinkles are just starting to appear, you may be able to get rid of them temporarily – but they will come back as you age.

If your crow’s feet are already well established, you will likely be able to reduce them significantly but not get rid of them.

What is best for crow’s feet?

Various tweakments can make a big difference to your crow’s feet wrinkles. Among the most promising tweakments are red light therapy, wrinkle-relaxing injections such as Botox, and skin-tightening treatments such as radiofrequency or Tixel.

Red Light Therapy
Lying down under a canopy of warm red lights feels too easy to be effective—but in fact, LED red light therapy can work wonders on your skin. The effects of red light therapy include reducing inflammation, encouraging cell renewal, and smoothing the skin. For best effects, you will need to repeat the treatment every few weeks.

Red light treatment kicks your wound-healing response into life, causing newer, healthier skin cells to grow over several weeks after the treatment. These new cells are firmer thanks to new collagen, and absorb and retain fluid better than the old, damaged cells they replace. The fluid retention plumps up your skin, reducing lines and making it look and feel smoother.

Many practitioners offer red light therapy. If you find it hard to attend regular appointments, try a home-use device instead. They’re less powerful, so you’ll need to use it more often, but it can be a practical alternative. Have a look at the Currentbody Skin LED Mask if you’re interested.

Wrinkle-relaxing injections

Anti-wrinkle or wrinkle-relaxing injections, such as Botox, are really effective at softening crow’s feet wrinkles. The toxin needs to be injected into the muscles around the edge of your eyes, to deactivate the lively muscles that are so good at crumpling your skin up into creases. The fact that the treatment lasts for several months means that, during this time, it will discourage new lines from forming, as well as making existing lines less obvious. The full effect of the Botox takes one to two weeks to appear, so don’t expect an instant softening of lines in the first few days.

Radiofrequency

Radiofrequency energy has a ‘shrink wrap’ effect on the skin. It works by heating up the collagen within the skin to the point where it contracts—so you will see a small improvement immediately after treatment. The main improvement, though, comes over the next two or three months as the collagen, which rightly assumed it was being attacked, remodels itself and produces new collagen, which means tighter skin. Many versions of radiofrequency treatments can be used around the eye, and can help soften the appearance of crow’s feet wrinkles by firming up the skin and making it that little bit tighter.

Tixel

Tixel is a relatively hardcore treatment option for skin resurfacing. It is not comfortable, and it requires a few days of downtime afterwards. But it is certainly effective in dealing with problems such as crow’s feet wrinkles and can be used all around the eye area, including over the eyelids.

Rather than using radiofrequency, focussed ultrasound, or another sophisticated technology to create trauma in your skin, Tixel simply uses heat. The treatment head of the device is 1cm square, and packed into that space are 81 titanium rods with gently pointed ends. These are heated up to 400 degrees C, then lightly touched onto the skin to create the necessary trauma. The rods cause tiny pinpoint burns, leaving fractions of skin intact in between them, which helps the treated skin to heal swiftly.

After the Tixel treatment, your skin will likely feel fiery-hot and look pink and puffy; you can’t wear make-up for at least 24 hours, until healing starts, so you may want to avoid public spaces. The grid-mark of burns gradually heal over the next week, leaving fresh, smoother skin.

Are crow’s feet attractive?

You might not think that crow’s feet are attractive, but if you had no evidence of movement around your eyes when you smiled? That would look downright weird, wouldn’t it? So the jury is out on this question, and you shouldn’t expect it to return soon.

Crow’s feet wrinkles make your face more expressive, and studies have shown that people judge smiling faces that include crow’s feet as more spontaneous and authentic than smiling faces without them. People also consider faces with crow’s feet wrinkles more intelligent and more attractive than faces without them.

So there’s a good chance your crow’s feet wrinkles are making you appear more intelligent, authentic, spontaneous, and attractive. But even if you prefer to try to reduce or remove your crow’s feet wrinkles for now, you can be sure that they will return with time, so you will be able to enjoy these improved perceptions later.


ASK ALICE

Alice answers your question. Want to ask Alice a question? Pop it in here and check back in a few days for the answer.


Hi Alice, I have hooded eyes and under-eye wrinkles. I recently had my first dose of toxin on the crow's feet area, which I've been impressed with, but I don't think this can be done close to the eyes, so what could I try to help under the eyes? Any…

Procedures that give good results for those small wrinkles under the eye include laser and radiofrequency microneedling. Laser can also be used on hooded eyelids, as can types of plasma treatment such as Plexr. These don't give as full or definite a result as a surgical eyelift but they can certainly make a difference. For skincare, take a look at some of my favourite eye creams.…

I’m looking for solutions for under-eye wrinkles. I’m 61.

Start by using a really good eye cream which will help smooth the appearance of the wrinkles, then I'd suggest reading up on the various tweakments that can help with under-eye wrinkles, like laser and radiofrequency. Take a look at this recent Tweak of the Week video, too. You can see how much radiofrequency microneedling improved Linda Lusardi's under-eye area. Next, find a fab practitioner in your area and have a consultation with them to see what treatments they can suggest that you would be comfortable trying.…

Monthly Hydrafacial or monthly Caci? I’m 43 with skin in reasonably good condition but starting to notice some signs of ageing, so planning to treat myself to a monthly facial.

Hiya, editor Georgia here. In an ideal world, budget permitting, you'd do both! HydraFacials are more geared towards extractions and hydrating the skin, improving surface issues like breakouts or dry skin. You do get some collagen stimulation from the LED light element but if your main concern is signs of ageing then I’d go for monthly CACI treatments instead. CACI is specifically for combatting signs of ageing by stimulating the facial muscles using electrical microcurrent. If you're new to CACI, you'll be advised to book a course of treatment and to have the first few treatments a fortnight apart. Find out more here.…

Toxin for some reason doesn’t work on me. I recently had soft fillers around the eyes and that made minimal difference. Is there any other treatment you would recommend? My practitioner can’t understand why it doesn’t work because I still have…

Hiya, editor Georgia here. It could be that you are resistant to the drug (botulinum toxin), but this is really quite rare. Manufacturer clinical trials showed that no more than 1.5% of patients develop 'neutralising antibodies', and the figures are something like 1 in 10,000 that it doesn’t work for. Usually, if the treatment doesn’t work, it can be because of the dosage (not everyone’s the same, and some people need a higher dose) or the dilution of the product. You could try another practitioner if yours perhaps isn’t quite so experienced. Toxin and fillers around the eyes will usually do different things (sometimes both are an…

I’m 56 years old – post-menopausal. My skin is ageing – fine lines, wrinkles and loss of volume. Bit nervous of treatments. Injectable moisturisers or radiofrequency? Any advice please.

Well, it slightly depends what result you're after. Injectable moisture treatments are great for hydrating and re-conditioning the skin and will give a certain amount of smoothing and a bit of tightening. They cost around £400 a session and you'll need two or three of them to see a result – click here to read our detailed article on the cost of these treatments. RF microneedling is better for skin tightening and smoothing – it's a much more aggressive procedure that provokes wound-healing and remodelling of the collagen over the following three months – and it's much more expensive, it costs between £850 and £1,500 per session, and…

I got wrinkle-relaxing injections at Christmas for crow's feet but I have now developed under-eye bags at the corners of my lower lids. Is there anything I can do? I don't want to leave the house, I'm so depressed.

I'm really sorry to hear this, it sounds like you have been given an inappropriate treatment and too big a dose of it, too. There's not much you can do except wait for the effects of the treatment to wear off. It may be that the toxin is interfering with the way the lymph system around your eyes is working, so look up online how to do a gentle lymph-drainage massage around your eyes and see if that helps to de-puff the bags.

What would be your recommendation for a 38-year-old starting to show signs of ageing? Dark circles, fine lines and general lacklustre, dull skin.

I'm very keen on a supporting skin from within with appropriate supplements. My favourite three are a liposomal vitamin C called Altrient C, Totally Derma collagen drink, and OG omega-3 supplements which all benefit the skin in different ways. Tweakments-wise, a round or two of an injectable moisturiser treatment might help boost your skin condition and skin strength and amplify the effects you get from skincare and supplements.…

I'm 53 and have started to suffer under my eyes. The skin seems loose and is causing creases. What do you recommend or what ingredients I should aim for? Thanks

Sympathies, it's just what happens as we age, perfectly natural but not something that brings us joy. I'd start with a good quality eye cream to help hydrate and strengthen the skin, and take a look at the concerns on the site where you can look at all our specific advice for eye concerns.

Qualified nurse does my Botox in North West England. She said it costs her £120 to buy the amount that does 3 areas on me (crow's feet, frown lines & forehead). Is it too cheap to be real/ safe Botox? Im concerned after seeing your post on unsafe…

Hiya, editor Georgia here answering on Alice's behalf. This is a difficult question to answer as Botox is bought by the vial but priced for the consumer (you) by the unit (usually there are 100 or 200 units to a vial) or area – whichever way your practitioner chooses to price it. Unless your practitioner is offering it to you at cost price – meaning she wouldn't be making any money – I'd say £120 in total for the three areas you mention is cheap enough to raise alarms. Better to find a practitioner you trust than risk it. Enter your postcode into our Practitioner Finder to find someone reputable near you to visit instead. It's…

Hi, I'm only 29 but am thinking of getting baby Botox to prevent fine lines and wrinkles. Is it unwise to start too early?

Hiya, editor Georgia here answering on Alice's behalf. While I'm sure it's not necessary for you yet, it's not at all unwise to start anti-wrinkle injections in your late twenties – in fact, preventative toxin has been clinically proven to stop imprinted lines (the ones that are still present when the face is at rest) settling in in later years. Alice actually made a video and wrote about this topic in December. 'Baby Botox' is a good approach at your age, too – a sprinkling of just enough toxin to soften and freshen. Just don't have too much or get it too often and keep in mind the financial investment that comes with starting at a…

Hi Alice, is there an age you’d say is too young for Botox? I’ve turned 28 and am considering it around eyes. Thank you!

Hiya, editor Georgia here answering on Alice's behalf. 28 is probably around the youngest age I'd advise having toxin, as long as you can afford it – bear in mind that if you like the results it will be an ongoing investment around every 3 months or so. It's also worth using a decent eye cream if you don't already, either before you decide to have Botox or alongside, as a good one really can make a difference to crow's feet, assuming that's what you're looking to treat. Here are some we recommend. Finally, as you're young, stick to a small amount so you don't inhibit too much expression around your eyes.…

I had Botox for the first time with an experienced dermatologist. It didn’t work so we did two top-ups, which also didn’t work. Then we tried two different brands but also didn’t work. Seems like I have antibodies. Any tips about where to…

It sounds like you are resistant to the drug, but this is really quite rare. Manufacturer clinical trials showed that no more than 1.5% of patients develop “neutralising antibodies”, and the figures are something like 1 in 10,000 that it doesn’t work for. Usually, if the treatment doesn’t work, it can be because of the dosage (not everyone’s the same, and some people need a higher dose) or the dilution of the product. But you say the practitioner was an experienced dermatologist. It’s hard to tell if you had all the treatments at the same clinic. It may be worth getting a second opinion, but you could be wasting your money if…

I have read your information about the three recommended eye creams but still don’t know which one to use. Which is your number 1?

Ah, tricky! They're all great. Why not start with the Elequra Eye Architecture cream and see what that does for you? If you have the budget, the Medik8 R-Retinoate eye cream is fab. It will give you results, but it's gentle with it.

Which is better, the sensica or the nu face for marionette and crows feet?

Hi, they do rather different things. I'm a big fan of the NuFace devices for keeping up the tone and tautness of facial muscles. Sensica uses radiofrequency energy to heat and tighten the surface of the skin and smooth wrinkles that way - though if you're up for trying that I'd suggest the new Dermadeep RF Pro from Orlaya which is a lot more powerful albeit more expensive at £499.

Best eye cream for wrinkles not bags

These three on this link are all brilliant eye creams. Also, wear sunscreen during the day, to protect the delicate skin around your eyes from damaging UV rays.

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