Crow’s Feet: How To Prevent Them, How to Disguise Them

If someone was to make a league table of wrinkles from most inoffensive to “ugh, Botox immediately!” I’d wager crow’s feet would come out on top. But there’s something quite charming about a twinkly eye compared to, say, an angry between-the-brow furrow or (the least sexy of all lines) deep smile lines (or nasolabial folds as they’re known in the business).

That said, lines under eyes (and around eyes) and eye creams are subjects that come up all the time when I’m chatting to friends or strangers at parties, so clearly it’s an area of concern. Given that our eyes do tend to show the signs of ageing before anywhere else, it makes sense that most of us are a bit fixated on our crow’s feet; why do we get them? How can we prevent them? And how can we use make up to hide them?

Why do we get crow’s feet?

This bit’s simple. Lines are caused by skin creasing as we repeatedly make expression. When we’re young and our skin is choc-full of collagen and elastin it bounces perfectly back into place, then as production slows down, so does the bounce, eventually forming creases that don’t go away. Our eyes are a famously expressive area, whether you’re smiling, frowning, peering into the sun or eyes-wide aghast, those peepers will crease accordingly. Add to that the fact the skin is thinner here than just about everywhere else, is constantly exposed to the elements, and lacks sebaceous glands that produce hydrating oil, and you have a recipe for crows feet.

How do I prevent crow’s feet?

Quite a few ways, firstly wear shades when the sun is out and SPF every day – UV damage and squinting into the sun accelerate things hugely. Ensure your skincare is getting right up to the eye area – whether you believe in using a separate eye cream, or feel your normal serum is fine is up to you – ingredients to look for are Hyaluronic Acid, an excellent hydrator, and peptides which communicate with ageing skin cells, telling them to rev up collagen production.

Daily massage is a great idea, relax those overactive muscles by tapping your ring finger around the orbital bone, which also has the benefit of boosting circulation and lymphatic drainage to de-puff. Paula’s Choice Resist Anti-Ageing Line Minimiser, £45, has fantastic ingredients, no filler and feels light and gel-like, if you have dry skin and want something a bit richer, try M&S Formula Biotech Eye Cream Super Peptides, £16.

Can I reverse crow’s feet?

That depends how involved you’re willing to get. If a line has already embedded it’s pretty tricky for anything non-invasive to turn that around. If you’re ok with injectibles, Botox is very effective at temporarily relaxing that line-causing muscle, while fillers like Juvederm can be used to re-plump deep static lines (although many doctors would recommend using these in conjunction with Botox) Who treats you is crucial, so do your research if you’re going down this route.

If you say no to needles, there are other options. Retinol is just about the only thing that can actually reverse skin damage, improving lines and texture on an ongoing basis, but be cautious around the eye area as Retinol is very potent and can be irritating. I love La Roche Posay Redermic R, £29.50, use as a serum every couple of days and build up your tolerance. For an insta-fix, Ren Instant Brightening Beauty Shot Lift, £30, contains tiny contracting particles that noticeably (albeit temporarily) tightens and firms skin around the eyes. 

What make-up is best for crow’s feet? 

Concealer sinking into crow’s feet is a commonplace, and irritating problem, so use a primer that acts in a pollyfilla-ish way, sitting in the line so your makeup doesn’t. Again you could take your face primer right up to the eyes – Smashbox Photo Finish Primer, £26, is legendary for a reason – or use a specific eye primer, my new favourite it Kat Von D Lock It Colour Correcting Primer, £18, which unlike so many comes in shades for a range of ethnicities. If your lines sit right in the corners of your eyes, shadow might creep in there too. The best way to avoid this is use a powder formulation (creams and liquids just don’t have the ‘grip’) use a neutral base shade all over on top of your primer, then your chosen colour over that. I find Urban Decay Eyeshadow, £15, brilliantly budge-proof and it comes in 76 shades, so there’s sure to be something there you find useful, beautiful or both.