As we age, we commonly develop wrinkles and fine lines on our faces. One area where these signs of aging are particularly noticeable is around the eyes. Under-eye smile lines are a common cosmetic concern and can be tricky to treat. In this post, we’ll explore what causes under-eye smile lines, how to prevent them, and what treatments are available to smooth them out.
What are Under Eye Smile Lines?
Under-eye smile lines are small wrinkles that form around the outer corners of the eyes when a person smiles. They are often referred to as “crow’s feet” because they resemble the feet of a bird in flight. While they are a common sign of aging, under-eye smile lines can also be caused by other factors, such as sun damage and smoking.
Eye smile: Are they the same?
The term “eye smile” generally refers to smiling with your eyes and mouth, which has recently gained popularity on social media platforms. A genuine eye smile can make a person’s face look brighter and more attractive, and many people are trying to perfect this technique for their photographs. Many celebrities and influencers also showcase their eye smiles on social media platforms, which helps to popularize this trend.
While developing your eye smile is a major beauty point, having smile lines can be considered the opposite. It appears that, in fact, many believed having facial lines can indicate early aging. This is the reason why many women (and men!) opt to try cosmetic procedures to hide their wrinkles and age.
Types of under-eye wrinkles and their causes
Moisturizing products may help minimize fine lines around the eyes.
People may have one or more types of wrinkles under their eyes, each occurring due to a different cause.
Over time, the repeated contraction of muscles underneath the skin can cause dynamic wrinkles. These tend to show up when the muscles are used — for example, when someone smiles.
Dynamic wrinkles typically develop between the eyebrows and the forehead. Crow’s feet, which are wrinkles near the outer corners of the eyes, are also an example of dynamic wrinkles.
Skin damage causes static wrinkles, which remain visible even when the facial muscles rest. Over time, dynamic wrinkles can become static wrinkles.
Exposure to the sun, smoking, and poor nutrition can all contribute to static wrinkles.
The age-related sagging of facial structures causes wrinkle folds.
These usually develop in the grooves between the nose and mouth but may also occur underneath the eyes.
Causes of Under-Eye Smile Lines
There are several causes of under-eye smile lines. One of the most common is the loss of collagen and elastin in the skin as we age. Collagen and elastin are two proteins that give skin elasticity and firmness. When these proteins break down, the skin becomes less elastic and more prone to wrinkles.
But other common contributing factors may be possible to avoid, like:
- UV radiation
- repetitive movements and expressions
- environmental factors
Harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays break down the collagen in your skin. Collagen is the main protein in your skin tissue, and it’s key to your facial structure holding up over time.
Ultraviolet rays can come from unprotected sun exposure and sunless tanning beds. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), unprotected exposure to UV rays leads to an earlier appearance of leathery skin and wrinkles.
Smoking exposes your skin to oxidative stress, damaging collagen and elastin. This leads to wrinkles.
Smoking also constricts the blood vessels in your face, obstructing circulation to your blood vessels and depriving your skin of vitamin A.
Repetitive movements and expressions
Facial expressions, like smiling, frowning, and furrowing your brow, can cause fine lines to develop on your face.
Even your sleeping habits can cause fine lines if the same facial muscles are pushed against a pillow during sleep each night. Your skin loses its ability to bounce back to its original place as you grow older.
Research indicates that sleeping with your face buried in your pillow can contribute to lines under your eyes.
Environmental factors, such as dry weather, wind, and pollution, can also contribute to lines and wrinkles under the eyes.
Treatment for Under-Eye Smile Lines
If you’re already showing signs of under-eye smile lines, don’t worry – several treatments are available to help smooth them out.
Lots of people turn to home remedies to improve the appearance of wrinkles underneath the eyes. Various home remedies, such as placing cucumber slices on the eyes or applying banana face masks, have been popular for many years. Still, there is little scientific evidence to confirm that these methods work.
However, research does suggest that polyphenols, a chemical compound in foods such as green tea and pomegranates, can help prevent wrinkles. In addition, an earlier study found that using vitamin C cream might reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Hundreds of anti-aging products and eye creams are sold in drug and grocery stores, but the evidence supporting their effectiveness varies.
The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery warns people to be wary of buying products that promise miraculous results. They also advise people looking for anti-aging skin care products to:
- use moisturizers to help minimize fine lines around the eyes
- look for a product that the manufacturers have designed specifically to treat wrinkles
- avoid using more than one anti-aging product within a few days or weeks
- use products that suit their skin type
- look for products that are hypoallergenic and either noncomedogenic or non-acnegenic
Ingredients to look out for on the labels of anti-aging products include:
- broad spectrum SPF sunscreen
- alpha hydroxy acids
- argan oil
The AAD advises people to have realistic expectations of anti-aging skin care products, noting that these tend to provide only modest results.
During facial rejuvenation, a trained healthcare professional will inject a substance called botulinum toxin, or Botox, into the skin. People use it to treat dynamic wrinkles, such as crow’s feet. It works by stopping the muscles underneath the wrinkles from moving. Improvements tend to last for 3–4 months. The possible side effects include long-term muscle paralysis, Bell’s palsy, and permanent eye damage.
One of the most popular is injectable fillers, such as hyaluronic acid. These fillers are injected into the skin around the eyes, plumping up the area and reducing the appearance of wrinkles. A trained healthcare professional injects collagen or hyaluronic acid into the skin underneath the eye during the procedure. The results are usually immediate.
The possible side effects include bruising, bleeding, and infection, and some people may have an allergic reaction to the filler. In rare cases, fillers may lead to vascular occlusion, which can cause tissue death.
Microneedling is an increasingly popular treatment that reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
During this procedure, tiny needles are used to poke holes in the skin, which can be followed by applying skin cream or serum. As the skin heals, collagen is stimulated, improving fine lines and skin texture.
This treatment uses a laser to remove the top layer of skin around the eyes, exfoliating dead skin cells, stimulating collagen production, and smoothing out wrinkles. While this treatment can be more expensive than fillers, it can also provide longer-lasting results.
There are non-invasive treatments, such as chemical peels and microdermabrasion. These procedures remove the outer layer of skin, encouraging the growth of new, healthier skin cells. While these treatments may not be as effective as injectables or laser resurfacing, they can be a good option for people who want to avoid more invasive procedures.
How to Prevent Wrinkles and Fine Lines Under Eyes
If you don’t want to increase the number of under-eye wrinkles and fine lines, take the following precautions to keep the delicate skin in that area smooth and supple. Make the following a habit while the lines are still shallow and not deep wrinkles yet.
Protect Yourself With Sunscreen and Other Accessories
Sunscreen is arguably the most effective anti-aging skincare product you can wear daily. Don’t reserve it for hot summer days on the beach. UV rays are present year-round, even on cloudy days. Apply sunscreen gently on and around your eyelids, avoiding direct contact with your eyes. Remember to reapply SPF every two to three hours. On sunny days, supplement your efforts with UV protection sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.
Keep Your Skin Hydrated
Use a proper moisturizer, especially around your eyes, to avoid dryness and fine lines associated with dehydrated skin. A separate eye cream can provide added hydration. Still, for some people, a well-formulated moisturizer with ceramides can work just as well in keeping dark circles, fine lines, and wrinkles around the eyes away.
Rest Your Eyes
If you look at a screen for long periods, give yourself a break for your eyes’ sake. This can be as simple as taking short breaks throughout the day away from the computer, television, or smartphone. For added comfort, pamper yourself with cooling eye masks that reduce puffiness and irritation from eye strain.
Adopt Good Habits
Whether you smoke or rub your eyes constantly, be mindful of these habits’ effects on your eyes and the rest of your skin. Sometimes, small changes can lead to significant results over time.
Under-eye smile lines can be a frustrating cosmetic concern, but they can be managed successfully with the right prevention techniques and treatment options. If you’re concerned about your under-eye smile lines, consult a dermatologist or plastic surgeon to discuss the best treatment options. You can regain a youthful, vibrant appearance and feel confident in your skin by taking the right steps.