Medically reviewed by Mary Lucas, RN
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 2/21/2021
Crow’s feet — the small wrinkles that can form near the outer corners of your eyes — are some of the most common, easily visible signs of aging.
Although crow’s feet aren’t always visible when your face is in a resting state, they can stand out when you smile, laugh or make other facial expressions, making them a common sight in photos.
Like many other signs of skin aging, crow’s feet aren’t totally preventable. However, the right combination of healthy habits, preventative measures and good skin care can slow down the rate at which crow’s feet and other lines develop in your skin.
Some skin care products, medications and cosmetic procedures may also help to make your existing crow’s feet less visible.
Below, we’ve talked about what crow’s feet are and how they form. We’ve also shared a range of science-based tips, techniques and habits to help you get rid of existing crow’s feet or lower your risk of developing crow’s feet in the first place.
Crow’s feet are small, fine lines that form around your eyes. They begin at the outer corners of your eyes and extend outwards towards your temples.
Like other lines and wrinkles, crow’s feet are a common sign of aging that can develop as you get older.
There are two common types of crow’s feet. Dynamic lines are crow’s feet that show when you use the underlying muscles of your face.
These may be visible when you smile, squint or make other facial expressions that involve the skin around your eyes.
Static lines are crow’s feet and other lines that are visible all the time. These lines tend to form over time and often become more obvious as you get older.
A wide variety of factors can cause crow’s feet. Three of the biggest factors that can contribute to crow’s feet are long-term sun exposure, repetitive facial expressions and exposure to smoke from cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Natural changes that occur in your skin as you get older, such as a reduction in elasticity, also play a role in the development of crow’s feet and other wrinkles.
While it isn’t possible to totally avoid crow’s feet and other signs of skin aging as you get older, practicing good skin care and healthy habits can help to slow down the effects of aging on your skin and make crow’s feet less of an issue.
Some science-based medications and cosmetic procedures can also make existing crow’s feet less visible.
There are several ways to treat crow’s feet. If you only have mild crow’s feet, over-the-counter treatments such as moisturizers and anti-aging creams may help to make them lighter and less visible.
For deeper, more obvious crow’s feet, you may want to consider using a prescription medication or a cosmetic treatment like Botox® or dermal fillers. We’ve provided more information about all of these options below.
Several over-the-counter products can lighten and treat crow’s feet. You may need to use these products for several months before you notice a significant improvement. Options include:
Moisturizer. While moisturizing your skin won’t physically remove crow’s feet and other wrinkles, it can make them less visible and may even prevent them from worsening.
Our Everyday Moisturizer features hyaluronic acid — a natural agent that can hold more than 1,000 times its weight in water. It’s best to apply moisturizer when your skin begins to feel overly dry — a topic we’ve explained more further down the page.
Over-the-counter anti-aging creams. You can find numerous anti-aging creams online and in drugstores. Many of these creams feature active ingredients that work by slowing down the effects of aging, including the development of crow’s feet and other fine lines.
Like with other skin care products, the ingredients used in a product matter much more than the brand name. Good active ingredients to look for in over-the-counter anti-aging creams include niacinamide, ascorbic acid and peeling agents like salicylic acid.
Our full guide to the best anti-aging creams goes into more detail on how to choose an effective over-the-counter cream for treating and preventing skin aging.
Prescription skin care medications such as tretinoin can reduce the appearance of crow’s feet and other fine lines. Options include:
Tretinoin. Tretinoin is a topical retinoid that’s used to improve skin coloration, get rid of acne and treat fine wrinkles that can develop around your eyes and in other areas. It’s one of several active ingredients in our prescription Anti-Aging Cream.
As a retinoid, tretinoin helps to increase your skin’s production of collagen, an important structural protein that gives your skin its elasticity and texture.
Tretinoin works well as a treatment for fine wrinkles, but its results aren’t immediate but may take several weeks to months to be evident.
One study found that tretinoin produced a large improvement in fine wrinkling over the course of six months. Another study produced similar results over the course of 24 weeks.
Our guide to tretinoin for wrinkles and skin aging goes into more detail on how tretinoin works as an anti-aging treatment.
is also a topical retinoid. Like tretinoin, research has found that it’s effective at treating many common signs of skin aging, including periorbital wrinkles (lines that develop around your eyes).
Although full-strength adapalene creams require a prescription, low-strength adapalene is available over the counter under a variety of brand names, including Differin®.
Since crow’s feet develop around your eyes, it’s important to be careful when you apply these treatments.
Spread tretinoin and other medications away from your eyes and take care not to allow any of the medication to come into contact with your eyes or eyelids.
Several cosmetic procedures can make crow’s feet and other fine wrinkles less visible. Some of these involve physically filling in lines in your skin, while others involve rejuvenating your skin to stimulate the production of new cells and increase smoothness. Options include:
Dermal fillers. Injectable fillers made from hyaluronic acid and other substances are a common treatment for crow’s feet and other fine lines. These work by restoring volume to your skin and filling out creases such as crow’s feet.
Dermal fillers can be very effective, but they don’t last forever. To maintain your results, you’ll generally need to get new fillers injected every few months. Since fillers can cost hundreds of dollars, this can prove quite expensive over the long term.
Botulinum toxin (Botox®). Botox injections temporarily paralyze or weaken the muscles in your face. This helps to treat crow’s feet, fine lines and other wrinkles that are caused by repetitive expressions that involve your facial muscles.
Like dermal fillers, Botox is effective but isn’t permanent. On average, Botox injections last for four to six months, after which you’ll need to get new injections to maintain your results.
Skin resurfacing procedures. Some cosmetic procedures work by removing the outer layers of your skin, either through the use of a device (dermabrasion), lasers (laser skin resurfacing) or chemicals (chemical peeling).
These treatments stimulate the production of new skin cells and reduce the appearance of crow’s feet and other fine lines. Costs can vary from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars depending on the type and severity of the procedure.
The most effective way to avoid crow’s feet is to prevent them from developing in the first place by practicing healthy, skin-friendly habits.
Contrary to popular belief, protecting your skin from the factors that contribute to aging is neither difficult nor expensive. In fact, many of the most effective ways to prevent crow’s feet are free or highly affordable.
Many of these habits and techniques will also help to prevent other signs of skin aging, such as wrinkles, age spots and skin discoloration.
Moisturizing helps to trap water inside your skin, protecting it from many forms of environmental damage and helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines such as crow’s feet.
The best times to moisturize are after you bathe or shave. It’s especially important to use moisturizer after you take a bath of shower, as the heat from the water can strip moisture from your skin.
Tanning, whether you do it outdoors or in a tanning bed, can expose your skin to a significant amount of UV radiation. This can worsen the most common signs of skin aging, including wrinkles, age spots and crow’s feet.
Worse yet, tanning can significantly increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Try to limit the amount of time you spend in direct sunlight, especially in the morning and early afternoon.
UV radiation from the sun is one of the most significant causes of aging. In fact, experts believe that 90 percent of the visible signs of skin aging are caused by cumulative damage from sun exposure.
When you need to spend time in the sun, make sure that you use sunscreen. For the best results, choose a broad-spectrum, SPF 30+ sunscreen. If you plan to swim, use sunscreen that’s water-resistant to avoid getting burned while you’re in the water.
Repetitive facial expressions cause your facial muscles to contract, creating lines in your skin. Over time, making the same expressions may cause these lines to deepen, resulting in crow’s feet, smile lines and other signs of aging.
Since it’s common to squint in bright weather, try wearing sunglasses when you spend time outdoors on a bright, sunny day. This may help to slow down the development of crow’s feet and other wrinkles caused by squinting.
Smoking is closely associated with the signs of skin aging, including wrinkles and crow’s feet. In fact, one early study into smoking and aging directly refers to crow’s feet as “smoker’s wrinkles.”
If you’re a smoker and would like to prevent your crow’s feet from worsening, it’s best to quit. Our guide to quitting smoking explains how you can do this, from giving up tobacco to dealing with nicotine cravings, avoiding smoking triggers and more.
It’s generally okay to drink a beer, cocktail or glass of wine every now and then. However, excessive drinking can dehydrate your skin, leading to damage that can worsen the signs of aging.
Drinking excessively can also affect your sleep habits and general health. For better skin and better health overall, try to follow the CDC’s recommendation of up to two drinks per day for men or one drink per day for women.
Research shows that sleep deprivation is associated with increased signs of aging in your skin, including uneven pigmentation, reduced skin elasticity and more obvious fine lines such as crow’s feet.
According to the CDC, people aged 18 and older should aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night.
Like many other signs of aging, crow’s feet aren’t completely preventable. Over time, it’s normal to develop some fine lines and wrinkles on your face, including crow’s feet.
From avoiding the sun to moisturizing, the right habits can slow down the development of crow’s feet as you age. If you already have crow’s feet, these habits may help to stop them from getting worse.
For more severe crow’s feet, prescription medications such as tretinoin and procedures such as dermal fillers or Botox can make crow’s feet and other fine lines less visible.
Your skin is your largest organ, as well as the one that’s most exposed to the elements. While it’s impossible to completely stop the aesthetic effects of aging, the right combination of habits and products can make aging gracefully a much easier process.
Our guide to anti-aging skin care for men goes into detail on how the aging process works, as well as how you can care for your skin and maintain a youthful appearance as you age.
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