Wouldn’t it be great if we could wind back the clock from time to time? Not only could we undo any embarrassing incidents (hasn’t everyone tripped over in front of a crowd before?) but we could also rewind the ageing of our skin! Until someone finds the Fountain of Youth, the Beauty World will boom with anti-ageing lotions and potions. The first noticeable signs of ageing in most of us are the wrinkles that appear at the corners of our eyes – yes, we’re of course talking about crow’s feet!

It’s normal to get creases around the eyes when we’re grinning, squinting or having a good old laugh, but as we get older we notice that they don’t fade away as much as they used to… they become a more permanent fixture! To better understand how crow’s feet form, we need to start by looking more closely at the skin.

Our Changing Ageing Skin
Our skin contains a network of elastin and collagen protein fibres. As you can probably guess from its name, elastin gives our skin a kind of elastic property, allowing it to recoil into its normal state after it has been stretched and pulled. Add in collagen (the skin’s main structural protein) and the result is a matrix that leaves our skin both springy and strong. Unfortunately as we age, both elastin and collagen levels decrease in our skin. This means that our skin starts to lose its spring-back-ability and wrinkles begin to form.

So why do wrinkles first appear around the corners of our eyes?
Compared to the rest of the skin on our face, the area around the eyes is a lot thinner and therefore contains less collagen and elastin to begin with. Knowing this, it makes sense that wrinkles tend to become more noticeable here earlier, and so crow’s feet tend to be an early sign that our skin is starting to lose its spring!

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Ageing – what can we tackle?
We think of ageing as a natural process that cannot be helped, but we can actually split it into two types! Intrinsic ageing is the slow process occurring in everyone, governed by the changes happening inside the body. Collagen levels drop due to decreased production and increased degradation; elastin levels fall because the gene encoding it becomes less active. It may sound pretty scary, but the characteristic effects of intrinsic ageing are only ‘fine wrinkles and occasional exaggerated expression lines’ when we reach old age – that doesn’t sound too bad, does it? It’s extrinsic ageing from the outside of the body that can really do the damage!

Sunlight’s UV rays are a key player in this, prematurely reducing elastin production and producing single atoms called free radicals: capable of causing DNA damage in skin cells, which can contribute to wrinkles. What can we do to avoid this extrinsic photo-ageing?

Looking at protecting the eye area
We’re big advocates of SPF here at Beauty By The Geeks, but it’s fair to say that a lot of sun creams can irritate the eyes when you smother it onto your face before a day at the beach. Try to find one tailor-made for the eye area and also pop on some sunglasses too. A good pair will give you extra protection from the UV rays (check for a UV protection sticker!) and they will also stop you having to squint in the bright light!

These aren’t the only steps we can take to avoid getting crow’s feet – there are of course beauty products out there to help! If you’re a keen BBTG reader, you might already have heard of retinol. This vitamin A- derived compound stands out as a leader in wrinkle reduction. Working as an anti-oxidant, it can oppose and reduce the action of the damaging free radicals in the skin.

Tackle Crow’s Feet – Vitamin A
Vitamin A, particularly in the form of tretinoin (a retinoid), has been quite extensively studied in relation to photoageing (the form of extrinsic ageing from the sun). It’s been used in dermatology for ages, with studies showing it can protect collagen in the skin from being degraded, as well as helping the skin recover from photoageing. Most importantly, topical tretinoin use has been correlated with an improvement in visible wrinkles! We should point out that tretinoin is on the more ‘medicine’ side of anti-ageing ingredients, and you might be interested to know that other topical creams like those containing niacinamide, peptides and antioxidants, have comparable

Other forms of vitamin A are also thought to have beauty benefits, so it’s no wonder they’re a favourite ingredient for eye creams!

AHAs and BHAs
Alpha and beta hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs) are also important anti-ageing molecules. At moderate to high concentrations, they have been shown to increase levels of elastin, collagen and the thickness of the skin itself to smooth out the appearance of any pesky wrinkles. AHAs and BHAs are usually used in chemical ‘acid peels’ at these concentrations and in some people this can cause irritation. If you don’t shy away from intensive skincare, maybe these hydroxyl acid treatments will be an attractive crow’s feet treatment.

Some less well known approaches…
If a laborious skincare routine isn’t your thing, why not just get some boosted beauty sleep? You might have spotted our feature on Illuminage’s innovative copper-oxide infused Skin Rejuvenating Pillowcase and it is a definite must-read for fans of lazy skincare. The copper oxide in this product was shown to significantly reduce the appearance of crow’s feet after a number of weeks’ use when compared to a control in a clinical trial… it works and now we have another excuse for a lie-in!

Botox – the Beauty Extreme
Of course there is also the drastic approach of Botulinum toxin injections, better known as Botox. This toxin acts to paralyse the muscle around the temples, reducing the range of movement possible and also the degree of stretching and creasing the skin experiences. Considering the wide range of promising products on the market that aren’t quite as expensive (or as drastic!), this extreme anti-ageing procedure isn’t one that we’d recommend. We’re big on beauty, but we’re not big on such invasive approaches!

We Beauty Geeks all want to stay looking younger for longer, but let’s face it: crow’s feet are hard to avoid without some skincare intervention. Maybe if we kept completely straight faces and never laughed again, we could stave off these wrinkles for a few years more… but where is the fun in that?! We’re keeping a look out for useful lotions and potions, but we’ve vowed to grow older gracefully!

A new wrinkle on old skin: the role of elastic fibres in skin ageing
The Science of Elastin
A double-blind randomized study comparing the association of Retinol and LR2412 with tretinoin 0.025% in photoaged skin.
Reduction of facial wrinkles depth by sleeping on copper oxide-containing pillowcases: a double blind, placebo controlled, parallel, randomized clinical study.
Botulinum toxin injection for facial wrinkles
An antiaging skin care system containing alpha hydroxy acids and vitamins improves the biomechanical parameters of facial skin
Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety
Image: http://www.wrinkles-fine-lines-manly.com/how-to-apply-an-eye-creme-by-wrinkles-fine-lines-manly-call-us-on-02-9976-5868/