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How to Improve the Appearance of Crow's Feet
By Dr. Josh Axe
December 10, 2022
Somewhere around the age of 30 or 40, you’re likely to notice fine lines and wrinkles forming on your face, especially around your eyes and forehead. One of the first types to emerge may be “crow's feet,” which earned their name because, you guessed it, they look like the wrinkly, sprawled-out feet of crows. This is a part of the normal aging process, of course, but some people want to limit that trend as much as possible.
Wondering how to diminish the appearance of crow's feet? While expensive treatments such as lasers and botox can make a big difference in evening out your skin’s texture, this approach isn’t for everybody.
For those who would rather tackle wrinkles less aggressively and more holistically, lifestyle approaches that can help decrease the appearance of crow’s feet include: supplementing with collagen protein, using topical ingredients such as retinol and vitamin C, and if you’re up for it, trying microneedling.
Crow’s feet are wrinkles that form at the corner of the eyes and expand out towards the hairline and forehead. They’re more prominent when you’re smiling or squinting, two expressions that actually contribute to their formation.
While people of all ages can have some degree of crow’s feet, older adults usually have more pronounced fine lines and wrinkles. The type of crow’s feet shown on younger people are “dynamic,” meaning they’re seen when someone is moving their face. But in older people, crow’s feet are often both dynamic and “static,” meaning they show even when the facial muscles are at rest.
At what age do crow's feet appear? Some degree of expression lines usually begin to develop in someone’s 20s, with most people noticing them by age 30+.
Are crow’s feet ever considered attractive?
Yes! This brings up a good point: You don’t necessarily have to try to erase crow’s feet or fear them forming. Some people find lines and wrinkles around the eyes to actually be endearing and to show someone’s character — considering they indicate that someone smiles and laughs a lot.
What is the cause of crow's feet? Like other types of wrinkles, crow’s feet naturally and normally form when the skin around the eyes loses some of its volume and elasticity in certain spots.
Dryness — such as winter dry skin — can also make crow’s feet appearance worse, since this reduces how plump skin appears. Unfortunately, the skin surrounding the eyes is typically both thinner and drier than other areas of the face, which is one reason wrinkles tend to form here first.
Specific normal causes of crow’s feet include:
Repeated muscular movements and facial, including laughing, smiling, blinking and squinting
Normal collagen degradation (loss of collagen protein in the skin)
Skin effects caused by excessive sun exposure (UVA and UVB rays) or tanning beds
Other forms of free radical effects, such as smoking and pollution
Dermatologists treat crow’s treat in a variety of ways, including with use of dermal fillers, laser treatments and botox injections. While these can be effective at reducing the appearance of wrinkles and perhaps even decreasing the likelihood of new ones from forming, they’re also pricey and mostly unnecessary.
Furthermore, cosmetic treatments that involve use of lasers, injections and peels come with some risks, such as negative reactions, redness, irritation and even worsened eye drooping. Plus, when overdone, wrinkle treatments tend to lead to your face having a stiff and unnatural look that isn’t very appealing.
How do you help diminish the appearance of crow's feet and improve your skin’s elasticity? You can try these lifestyle approaches. As always, you should consult your healthcare professional prior to beginning any dietary or lifestyle regimen.
Collagen, a type of structural protein made from linked amino acids, is responsible for forming connective tissues found throughout your body, including in your skin, joints and tendons. When it comes to helping to fight the appearance of wrinkles such as crow’s feet, collagen is one of the best supplements to seek out, considering it helps to keep skin firm, bouncy, elastic, smooth, strong and evenly textured.
As we age past our 30s, our bodies naturally make less collagen, plus we experience collagen loss from things like excessive sun exposure, pollution and a poor diet. Supplementing with collagen can therefore help to offer the building blocks the body needs to create its own collagen and help to reduce the appearance of crow’s feet.
Many people who supplement with collagen consistently for several months notice that their skin looks generally firmer, plump, hydrated and healthy, instead of the appearance of dry or "crepey skin."
What’s the best collagen for skin? Type I collagen is by far the most abundant type of collagen found in the human body. It’s made up of eosinophilic fibers that form the skin (dermis), contributing to its desirable stretchy and elastic qualities.
Try our Multi Collagen Protein, which provides type 1 collagen plus nine other collagen types, including a proprietary clinically studied fermented eggshell membrane collagen that helps to reduce the appearance of crow’s feet after four weeks of use and to support healthy skin.
How quickly will collagen work? As mentioned, Multi Collagen Protein can help to make crow’s feet less visible and improve their appearance after four weeks of use, and to improve skin tone after eight weeks of use.
Ancient Nutrition's makes two collagen formulas geared specifically towards skin health:
Multi Collagen Protein Beauty Within: This unique powdered formula combines collagen with superfood ingredients such as phytonutrients that support overall skin health and skin elasticity. Consuming this collagen product daily can help improve the appearance of crow's feet after 28 days, and also contribute to hair thickness and growth while reducing hair breakage. Add one scoop of this powder daily to 8 ounces of water or another beverage such as smoothies.
Multi Collagen Protein Beauty + Sleep Support Capsules: These convenient capsules also have the clinically studied, proprietary fermented eggshell membrane collagen ingredient to help reduce collagen degradation with noticeable results. This formula supplies you with ingredients such as magnesium for sleep support, plus multiple types of collagen to support healthy skin, improve the appearance of crow's feet after 28 days, and promote healthy hair thickness. (Sleep can also help alleviate dark circles under the eyes.)
While some sunlight is beneficial for our health, considering it helps us produce essential vitamin D, the majority of negative effects to our skin is due to too much sun exposure. UVA and UVB rays emitted by the sun, as well as by tanning beds, cause changes to our skin cells that can result in unwanted wrinkles and discoloration.
To prevent sun damage from taking a toll on your skin’s tone and texture, dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen with SPF 30+ on your face daily. Ideally, choose a mineral sunscreen that isn’t absorbed into your skin (like chemical sunblocks are), but rather that sits on top of your skin and helps to bounce rays off.
A number of skin care ingredients can potentially help to improve and even prevent crow’s feet — with retinol being one of the most studied and highly-recommended. Retinol, derived from vitamin A, has multiple uses for the skin health and its appearance, including reducing fine lines, and evening skin’s texture and tone.
There are various strengths and types of retinol to try on your skin; start with a low strength (around 1 to 2 percent retinol) and use it every other night on clean skin to allow your skin to adjust. Be careful about wearing retinol in the sun, since it can increase photosensitivity and burning.
For even greater results improving your skin’s elasticity and “glow”, use vitamin C serum and niacinamide serum (or vitamin B3) as well as retinol. However, you’ll want to test your skin’s reaction first when combining these anti-aging ingredients, since together they may increase sensitivity.
To plump up your skin and help prevent creasing, always apply moisturizer to clean skin twice daily (morning and night, over other products like serums and retinol).
Look for creams or lotions with hydrating ingredients such as glycerin, hyaluronic acid, shea butter and oils such as argan, marula and almond oils. Skip those with dry and irritating ingredients including alcohol, parabens, talc, phthalates and fragrances.
Microneedling, sometimes also called dermarolling or skin needling, involves pricking the skin with tiny needles that stimulate the skin to temporarily increase inflammation, which is a normal bodily response.
This might sound like a bad thing, since inflammation usually makes skin red, puffy and irritated; however, microneedling only triggers inflammation on the skin’s surface in a way that encourages it to repair itself. According to dermatologists, microneedling can promote skin growth factors and stimulation of fibroblasts and other collagen-producing cells, improving skin’s elasticity.
Uses for microneedling include potentially helping to diminish the appearance of crow’s feet and other fine lines, scars, enlarged pores and possibly deeper wrinkles. Since it’s possible to damage your skin if you microneedle incorrectly, work with a reputable dermatologist for help.
Other helpful tips for helping to improve the appearance of crow’s feet and wrinkles:
Eat a nutrient-dense diet with plenty of antioxidants, as well as other vitamins for skin health including vitamin A, vitamin B3, vitamin C and zinc.
Drink lots of water to hydrate your skin from the inside out.
Get enough sleep and manage stress.
Exercise to boost circulation.
Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CNS, is a doctor of chiropractic, doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food and nutrition. He operates leading natural health website DrAxe.com and is co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, a health supplement company. He’s also author of the books Eat Dirt, Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine, Keto Diet, Collagen Diet and Ancient Remedies.