You can call crow's feet "laugh lines" or "character lines," but these slightly more flattering terms still refer to the same, inevitable sign of aging: the wrinkles that begin to form at the outside corners of your eyes when you hit your mid-twenties. They may show up earlier for people who don't take good care of their skin and later for those who do. But either way, crow's feet are all but unavoidable.
The skin on our faces stretches like a rubber band, thanks to a property called elasticity. This means that it can return to its original form after being pulled or compressed -- pretty important when you think about how much we move our faces. Unfortunately, as we get older, our skin loses its elasticity. That's why we form wrinkles and certain parts of our body start to droop. One of the main reasons for this is that our bodies' production of collagen and elastin, two proteins responsible for our skin's elasticity, lessens with age [source: AAD: Aging Skin, MayoClinic:Wrinkles].
One way to avoid crow's feet would be to never smile, laugh, frown or squint. Since that seems next to impossible, most of us have to look into other ways of fending off those v-shaped wrinkles. For starters, you can protect yourself from the sun's harmful UV rays by using sunscreen. Exposure to UV rays is one of the most common ways our skin loses collagen and elastin, and ultimately, its ability to bounce back. If you're a smoker, you're even more at risk. Smoking kick-starts the biochemical processes that cause your skin to age faster [source: AAD: Aging Skin].
That being said, you can put on sunscreen every day, never touch a cigarette and still get crow's feet. But there are a number of ways to reduce their appearance. Read on to find out how.
Creams for Crow's Feet
When our skin loses moisture, the resulting dryness can lead to fine lines and wrinkles. There are a couple of ways to combat this. The first is simple: Drink plenty of water every day to keep your moisture levels up. The second is to use a good moisturizing cream [source: MayoClinic:Wrinkles]. Here's where it gets tricky. If you've been to the store lately and looked in any of the beauty aisles, then you know how many moisturizers there are on the market. They all claim to deliver the same results -- healthier, younger looking skin. So which ones actually work?
While some over-the-counter creams -- when used regularly -- will effectively diminish the appearance of crow's feet, these remedies are unlikely to actually prevent wrinkles or permanently restore your skin's elasticity. Shop wisely and look for creams that contain active agents like retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids and copper peptides -- prescription wrinkle creams often contain the same ingredients in higher doses. If the nonprescription creams you're using don't provide the desired effect, you could consult a dermatologist to see if something with a pumped-up level of active ingredients would be appropriate [source: AAD: 10 Tips, MayoClinic:Wrinkles].
Keep in mind that while some wrinkle creams may seem expensive, they are generally cheaper than cosmetic surgery and procedures like Botox, and, over the long run, may give you the results you seek. Different brands of cream range in price from a couple dollars to a couple hundred. Do your research. A higher price tag doesn't necessarily make a particular product more effective. Understanding how the contents of various wrinkle creams factor into the equation may help you save in the long run [source: AAD: 10 Tips, MayoClinic:Wrinkles].
If creams won't do the trick, read on to find out how Botox can help get rid of your crow's feet.
Botox for Crow's Feet
For some, creams aren't enough. But there's another, nonsurgical option: Botox. Crow's feet are most pronounced when you work the muscles around your eyes, so their appearance is unavoidable when you smile, laugh or squint. Botox -- short for botulinum toxin injections -- literally relaxes those muscles so they can't contract. It works by blocking the chemical signal that travels from your nerves to your muscles, telling them to function. Though Botox treatments are FDA approved and generally safe, they can result in complications if the toxin spreads beyond the treatment area, so you should only receive injections from a certified physician [source: MayoClinic: Botox, WebMD: Botox].
The upside of Botox is that it only takes a few minutes. The downsides are that it involves needles, it isn't cheap, and it doesn't last. To break it down, the procedure involves injecting the toxin into specific muscles around the eyes, or any other area you might want treated. There is no anesthesia so you're likely to experience some discomfort. Currently, the average cost per treatment is roughly $400 [source: Louis]. After an injection, it may take up to a week to see any results, and those can last anywhere from three to six months [source: AAD:Botulinum, MayoClinic: Botox].
There are a few side effects that come with the procedure, including temporary bruising and headaches. While the bruising is rather common, the headaches are rare and should go away over the course of a couple of days. It's also important not to rub the treated area after an injection. Doing so may encourage the toxin to seep into your eyelid muscles, causing them to droop. Unfortunately, there is a possibility of this happening even if you don't rub the treated area, but the droopiness fades over time [source: MayoClinic: Botox, AAD:Botulinum].
The bottom line is that while Botox can't completely get rid of your crow's feet, it will reduce their appearance significantly. If you can handle the needles and you've got the cash, you can hide those wrinkles with almost no effort on your part.
If Botox is a little extreme for your tastes, read on to find out about some cheaper, natural remedies.
Natural Cures for Crow's Feet
When it comes to keeping the area around your eyes wrinkle free, expensive creams and procedures like Botox can be effective, but not always affordable. For those who can't shell out the money, there are more than a few natural cures for crow's feet out there, some even backed by science.
Several natural remedies have one thing in common: vitamin E. Vitamin E contains powerful antioxidant properties and is found in a number of creams that are effective against fighting wrinkles [source: WebMD:Vitamin E]. So it only makes sense that home remedies containing vitamin E might also be effective. The first is a recipe including flaxseed oil, and all you have to do is swallow it. The oil contains vitamin E -- as well as vitamins B and C -- and has numerous other positive health benefits to go along with reducing wrinkles.
The second home remedy couldn't be easier. Simply poke a small hole in a vitamin E tablet and apply the contents directly to the affected area surrounding your eyes. You should use a full tablet on each eye [source: Emmerson].
Egg white face masks are also popular among those who favor the natural approach. First, make sure your face is clean. Then apply an egg white to your entire face (and remember to wash your hands thoroughly, since you're handling raw egg). After 15 minutes or so, the egg white will dry. When it does, just wash it off with warm water and gently dry your face [source: Emmerson]. This should help tighten your skin and therefore reduce the appearance of crow's feet.
Concocting another, simple crow's feet cure is just a matter of preparing a healthy meal. Foods that are rich in antioxidants, like eggplant, asparagus, fish and olive oil can play a role in protecting the skin. Conversely, some foods -- like full-fat milk -- may elevate the chance that you'll develop wrinkles [source: MayoClinic: Q&A].
While you're likely to notice crow's feet at some point in your life, don't fret. There are plenty of options to reduce their appearance. Read on to find out lots more information about getting rid of crow's feet.
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