There’s no set age at which wrinkles suddenly develop. For some, fine lines and wrinkles don’t start making an appearance until the fifth or sixth decade of life. For others, creases start cropping up earlier—even as young as your twenties. Ultimately, though, all skin ages eventually. And among the earliest signs of aging to appear are crow’s feet: those delicate crinkles that appear at the corner of your eyes when you squint or smile. While they’re often a sign of a life well-lived—or at least, one full of laughter—these creases can make you appear older than you are, especially when they start to stick around 24/7. The good news is that crow’s feet are super common, and there are a lot of skincare products out there designed to help improve their appearance.
Here, we’ll give you the scoop on crow’s feet, how they form, and what you can do to help prevent them. You’ll also discover a few of Kiehl’s best anti-aging eye creams to help reduce crow’s feet once they do appear (whether that be at 35 or 60). Read on for your crash course on preventing and managing visible crow’s feet.
What Are Crow’s Feet?
The term “crow’s feet” refers to the small, horizontal creases that appear around the outer corners of your eyes when you squint, laugh, or smile. The name, as you may have guessed, comes from their resemblance to a bird’s footprint. When you’re young and your skin is elastic, crow’s feet typically disappear once you stop squinting. Over time, however, these minor creases can turn into permanent wrinkles. Because they’re most obvious when you laugh or smile, they’re also sometimes referred to as “laugh lines.”
What Causes Crow’s Feet?
Crow’s feet, like all wrinkles, ultimately result from a loss of skin elasticity. When you squint or smile, the muscles around the corners of your eyes contract, causing the skin over the muscles to wrinkle. As your skin becomes thinner and less resilient, these temporary lines can become permanent creases that remain visible even when your muscles are relaxed.
While a loss of skin elasticity is the main cause of crow’s feet, there are numerous factors that can accelerate this process, including unprotected sun exposure. In addition, having dry skin may make fine lines and wrinkles, including crow’s feet, appear more prominent.
Can You Prevent Crow’s Feet?
In theory, if you never smiled, squinted, or laughed, you might be able to avoid developing crow’s feet. Obviously, though, that’s not realistic (or appealing—what’s life without laughter?). In practice, the best way to prevent and minimize the appearance of crow’s feet is by taking care of your skin.
One way to do this is by wearing sunscreen every day, as sun exposure accounts for around 80% of visible early facial skin aging.I Every morning, after applying your moisturizer, we recommend smoothing on a generous layer of sunscreen, like Super Fluid Daily UV Defense SPF 50+. This broad-spectrum, antioxidant-infused formula helps protect the skin against UVA and UVB rays, as well as damaging free radicals that can contribute to skin aging. The non-comedogenic sunscreen is suitable for all skin types and can be used daily as part of your regular skincare routine.
Of course, when seeking to avoid crow’s feet, skincare is only part of the equation. You should also aim to avoid direct sunlight—especially at midday—and wear protective accessories, like wide-brimmed hats and UV-filtering sunglasses, whenever possible.
4 Kiehl’s Must-Haves For Smoothing Crow’s Feet
Even if you’ve taken precautions and applied your sunscreen diligently every day, you may still develop crow’s feet at some point—most people do. When you first notice these creases, adding an anti-aging eye cream to your skincare routine can help improve their appearance and prevent them from worsening. Keep reading to discover how to visibly reduce crow’s feet with Kiehl’s best anti-aging eye treatments.
1. Powerful Wrinkle-Reducing Eye Cream
To improve the appearance of existing crow’s feet and help prevent further damage, Powerful Wrinkle-Reducing Eye Cream is a must-have. Made with copper PCA and calcium PCA, this potent anti-aging eye cream helps boost elasticity to combat fine lines and wrinkles. The skin-refining formula helps reduce the appearance of crow’s feet and other age-related concerns, like puffiness, for a visibly smoother-looking under-eye area.
2. Powerful-Strength Dark Circle-Reducing Vitamin C Eye Serum
If your crow’s feet are accompanied by other eye-area concerns, like dark circles, we recommend adding Powerful-Strength Dark Circle-Reducing Vitamin C Eye Serum to your daily routine. This lightweight, layerable eye serum with hyaluronic acid and vitamin C instantly smoothes and hydrates the under-eye area to help improve the appearance of tired eyes. It’s clinically-demonstrated to help reduce both blue and brown under-eye circles in just seven days, while continued use visibly improves the appearance of crow’s feet for brighter, fresher-looking eyes.*
*Clinical grading of the full panel tested in an eight-week study.
3. Super Multi-Corrective Eye-Opening Serum
While a loss of skin elasticity can contribute to crow’s feet, it can also cause sagging, particularly where the skin is thin (like around the eyes). To help diminish crow’s feet and firm up your eye area, reach for Super Multi-Corrective Eye-Opening Serum. The powerful serum is clinically-demonstrated to visibly smooth fine lines and wrinkles within just one week.* Over time, it helps firm and lift sagging skin around the eyes, leaving your eye area looking more open and youthful.
*Based on consumer evaluations after four days of use.
Kiehl’s Tip: Layer your eye serum under a richer moisturizing eye cream, like the cult-classic Avocado Eye Cream, for added hydration.
4. Age Defender Eye Repair
While all of the above eye treatments are suitable for all, we find that oftentimes guys prefer using products tailored specifically for their skin. If that sounds like you, try incorporating Age Defender Eye Repair into your anti-aging skincare routine. The formula with cocoa butter and rye seed extract helps visibly firm the eye area, improving the appearance of crow’s feet and under-eye wrinkles. It also brightens the eye area and helps diminish dark under-eye circles to reveal a smooth, recharged appearance.
I. Zhang, Shoubing, and Enkui Duan. “Fighting against Skin Aging: The Way from Bench to Bedside.” Cell transplantation vol. 27,5 (2018): 729-738. doi:10.1177/0963689717725755