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Can Crow’s Feet Improve with Skincare?

Crow’s feet are a natural sign of ageing, though some of us may prematurely get these wrinkles around the eyes. Discover ways to help reduce their appearance.

Closeup of a woman’s smiling face showing faint Crow’s Feet in the outer corner of her eye.

Crow’s feet are wrinkles that appear in the most delicate and expressive part of your face – the eyes. While ageing is a natural process that happens to all living things, it can affect your confidence. Due to hectic lifestyles and sun exposure, some people may see crow’s feet sooner than they intended.

Fortunately, skincare has come a long way in addressing early signs of ageing. Let’s review how crow’s feet form and whether topical skincare options work to reduce them. We’ll also look at facial acupuncture as a feasible and exciting new option. 

Two Types of Crow’s Feet: Dynamic vs. Static Lines 

Crow’s feet, appearing in the outer corners of the eyes, are a part of the ageing process. As we age, our body’s cell production and renewal slow down. This also means our skin produces less collagen, a protein that gives the skin its structure and elasticity.

With less collagen, the middle layer of our skin, called the dermis, thins out. This leads to depressions in the outermost layer of our skin, the epidermis. These epidermal depressions are the wrinkles you see when you examine your skin in the mirror.

Crow’s feet can be categorised into two types — dynamic and static.

Dynamic crow’s feet form due to muscle movements under the skin around your eyes. You can see these lines only when you smile, squint your eyes, or frown. They look like a bird’s footprints; thus, the name “crow’s feet”. 

Meanwhile, static crow’s feet are visible even when your muscles are at rest. These result from many years of squinting, smiling and frowning. Premature ageing due to sun damage, smoking, and pore-clogging pollutants also are causes of early onset static crow’s feet. 

Anti-ageing Topical Skincare for Crow’s Feet: Do They Work? 

Woman applies facial cream on her face while holding a mirror in one hand.
Skincare companies claim that ingredients like retinoids, vitamin C, and peptides can reduce wrinkles, including crow’s feet.

Aside from living a healthy and balanced life, topical skincare is a go-to option for many of us. But do they work? The good news is some of them do. However, topical treatments only reduce the appearance of wrinkles rather than remove deep wrinkles altogether. 

Over four decades of research have shown retinoids can effectively improve wrinkles, including crow’s feet. Because retinoids stimulate collagen production, it helps to thicken the epidermis over time. 

Some retinoids, like tretinoin, work more quickly than others but may be too harsh for some people. Luckily, even milder over-the-counter retinoids like retinol can reduce wrinkles. The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology published a study in 2015 showing a significant reduction in facial wrinkles among study subjects following 12 weeks of retinol application. 

Recently, skincare ingredients on pharmacy shelves include vitamin C and peptides. While less studied than retinoids, these molecules also hold some promise in reducing crow’s feet. Vitamin C derivatives work similarly to retinoids, promoting collagen production in fibroblast cells in the dermis.

In a recent study published in 2020 in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, peptides were shown to stimulate collagen production at the basement membrane. This internal structure connects the dermal and epidermal layers of the skin. 

Reduce Crow’s Feet with Facial Acupuncture 

Woman with acupuncture needles in her face lies on a pillow while an acupuncturist places a needle on her temple.
Facial acupuncture shows great promise as a treatment for crow’s feet and premature wrinkles in general.

More recently, many skincare professionals also recommend facial acupuncture as a treatment for facial wrinkles, including crow’s feet. Acupuncture and herbal medicine are among the core modalities that make up Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Rejuvenate ageing skin with facial acupuncture 

TCM physician Kelvin Goh explains that the outer corners around the eyes are the meeting point of the gallbladder and Triple Burner meridian (san jiao, 三焦). “If these meridians’ qi (vital life force) and blood energy levels are stagnant, these areas will experience ageing faster as there is less energy to nourish these areas. Therefore, crow’s feet will start to form,” he elaborates.

He agrees that facial acupuncture can help reduce crow’s feet. “Acupoints that target these meridians regulate qi and blood energies and can ease Stagnation,” he confirms. A 2013 study by South Korean researchers demonstrated that facial acupuncture significantly reduced the appearance of wrinkles in 27 study subjects. 

Support the effect of facial acupuncture with exercise and herbs 

In addition to facial acupuncture, Physician Goh recommends regular exercise and following the right diet. “According to TCM, the Lungs oversee the skin. By having a pair of strong lungs from exercising regularly, the Lungs will regulate qi, essence, and body fluids on the body’s surface. This helps strengthen the skin’s elasticity,” he advises. 

Physician Goh also explains that the proteins responsible for skin elasticity, such as elastin and collagen, are considered yin (cooling) foods. The herbs that fall in this category include goji berries (gou qi, 枸杞), rose buds (mei gui hua, 玫瑰花), bird’s nest (yan wo, 燕窝), white fungus (yin er, 银耳), and peach gum resin (tao jiao, 桃胶). 

A 2022 study on edible bird’s nest published in Frontiers of Pharmacology demonstrated improved skin elasticity in the treatment group compared to that in the placebo group. As with all TCM regimens, it is important to work with a certified TCM physician before consuming these herbs.

Ultimately, there is nothing clinically wrong with having crow’s feet. Some may even say these lines reflect the life experience and wisdom we have gained as we age. Yet, it is also worthwhile to improve our appearance if it makes us feel better, especially with effective treatment options at our disposal.

References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. 2022. Wrinkles. [Accessed on 7 September 2022]
  1. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. Crow’s Feet. [Accessed on 7 September 2022]
  1. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2015. A comparative study of the effects of retinol and retinoic acid on histological, molecular, and clinical properties of human skin. [Accessed on 7 September 2022]
  1. Nutrients. 2017. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. [Accessed on 7 September 2022]
  1. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. 2021. Effectiveness of a formulation containing peptides and vitamin C in treating signs of facial ageing: three clinical studies. [Accessed on 7 September 2022]
  1. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2020. Anti-Wrinkle Benefits of Peptides Complex Stimulating Skin Basement Membrane Proteins Expression. [Accessed on 7 September 2022]
  1. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013. Effect of Facial Cosmetic Acupuncture on Facial Elasticity: An Open-Label, Single-Arm Pilot Study. [Accessed on 7 September 2022]
  1. Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2022. Anti-Wrinkle Efficacy of Edible Bird’s Nest Extract: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Comparative Study. [Accessed 7 September 2022]

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