Whether you got yours from winking, squinting, or blinking (or, most likely, a combination of all three), crow’s feet can be an unavoidable — and annoying — fact of life. The repeated contraction of the muscles that surround our eyes cause these frustrating lines to fan out, lengthening and deepening with age. Luckily, over-the-counter formulas are becoming more and more technologically advanced, and you can now target this thin, delicate area with less irritation. Keep reading: We asked three dermatologists to share some of their favorite firming, plumping, and smoothing picks.
SkinbySyd™ Luminous Eye Lift Serum ($32) features a fluorescent brightening agent that not only reflects light to make the area look less shadowy and dark, but also helps protect skin from high-energy light. “It shields the eye area from damaging light produced by smartphones, tablets, and computer screens,” explains board-certified, New York City-based dermatologist Hadley King, MD. She adds that the formula also boasts ceratonia siliqua, a fruit extract of locust bean carob, which she says works as a smoothing agent to iron out the look of fine lines.
When it comes to crow's feet, it's important to keep the skin strong so it can bounce back from folding, explains Joshua Zeichner, MD, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai® Hospital in New York. He recommends using a product that contains retinol, an ingredient shown to rev up collagen protection, which strengthens the skin’s support network to improve the appearance of wrinkles. “The Neutrogena® Rapid Wrinkle Repair® Eye Cream ($18) contains a specialized retinol formula that is both gentle but effective,” he explains. “It can help improve the appearance of lines you already have and prevent new ones from developing.”
[Editor's note: Retinol shouldn't be used by those who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. Please consult with your doctor before use.]
Rita Linkner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Spring Street Dermatology℠, is a fan of the Alastin Skincare® Restorative Eye Treatment ($85) due to its blend of peptides and botanicals. She says the formula does an excellent job of stimulating collagen production, keeping the skin around the eyes supple. “I tell patients to use it twice daily for a temporary plumping effect,” she says.
The Isdinceutics® K-Ox™ Eyes ($93) contains vitamin K-oxide to help diminish the appearance of dark circles, along with hyaluronic acid for hydration to plump the skin. “It also contains proprietary ingredient combinations to address firmness, puffiness, dark circles, elasticity, and tone,” adds Dr. King, who uses the product herself and recommends it to her patients.
New York-based board-certified dermatologic surgeon Howard Sobel, MD, is another advocate for retinol when it comes to treating and preventing fine lines, including crow’s feet. “The RoC® Retinol Correxion® Anti-Aging Eye Cream Treatment ($18) stimulates collagen production and improves cell turnover,” he says. “With retinoid products like this one, remember to start off slow, applying a small amount only a few times a week and increasing the frequency once you build up a tolerance.” You can also try the retinol sandwich layering technique, which could help reduce sensitivity.
This Revision Skincare® D-E-J™ Eye Cream ($97) is chock-full of peptides, vitamin C, and antioxidants like goji fruit extract to stimulate new collagen growth, explains Dr. Linkner. “It’s one of my personal favorites for smoothing out crepey lines and preventing more from forming down the road,” she says. Bonus: Dr. Linkner adds that this formula has a non-greasy finish, making it an excellent pick to wear under makeup.
The celebrity-favorite Kiehl's® Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado ($48) is one of Dr. Sobel’s top picks for sensitive skin. “Avocado oil is very moisturizing and soothing, which helps hydrate and plump fine lines,” he explains. “This eye cream also contains beta-carotene, a rich antioxidant that helps protect the skin from free radical damage.” Fans of this product also point out that it absorbs quickly and doesn’t cause concealer to crease or crack.
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