They may be called “laugh lines,” but not everyone finds their crow’s-feet to be very funny. These fine lines, says Prevention magazine, which are caused by repeatedly contracting the muscles around the eyes over time, either show up just when you move your face (like when you smile or squint) or also when it’s static, meaning you can see them even when your face is relaxed. “The more you use these muscles, the more wrinkles you’re going to get,” says Tyler Hollmig, MD, director of laser and aesthetic dermatology at Stanford Health Care.
According to Hollmig, the best way to banish crow’s-feet is with Botox injections, which temporarily relax and paralyze the muscles near the eye area, or with injectable fillers. But not everyone is a fan of needles or the high cost of cosmetic treatments.
The good news is that there are natural ways to help soften the appearance of crow’s-feet. Although these DIY options can take longer to produce results than more high-tech remedies, they tend to be gentle on the skin and have few downsides. Before you dive in, Hollmig recommends testing a patch of skin (try a spot that’s hidden, like right behind your ear) for 2 days in a row to make sure you don’t have a reaction before applying these natural wrinkle-fighting treatments to your face.
–Papaya + Sugar
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This tropical fruit contains enzymes that slough away dead skin cells, along with vitamin C, which helps stimulate the production of collagen, says Adina Grigore, founder and CEO of the natural skin-care line S.W. Basics. She recommends creating a mask by mashing up one papaya with a fork and mixing it with a sprinkle of raw sugar – a natural form of exfoliating glycolic acid. “Glycolic acid is derived from sugarcane,” explains Hollmig. “It firms and tightens the skin and also improves pigmentation and sun damage.” Leave the papaya-sugar mask on your face until it dries, then remove with warm water.
Avocados are loaded with healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals that promote glowing skin. And research shows that higher intakes of total dietary fat, such as from avocados, are significantly associated with more skin elasticity, which helps prevent wrinkles. Applying avocado to your skin topically will reap similar benefits to eating them. Grigore recommends mashing an avocado (good to do when you have one that’s overripe) and slathering it around your eyes and over your face. Leave it on for 15 minutes, then rinse off with warm water.
This healing plant hydrates skin, which will soften the appearance of fine lines around the eyes. “Aloe vera is loaded with antioxidants and is insanely healing,” says Grigore. She recommends using a fresh leaf from an aloe vera plant – just slice it open vertically and dab the gel from inside the leaf around your eyes.
It’s well known for its health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and certain cancers and aiding in weight loss, but green tea also packs some serious wrinkle-fighting power. Research shows that green tea extract, which is rich in anti-aging polyphenols, significantly improves elastin in skin, which can help fend off wrinkles. Try drinking green tea on a daily basis to get a big skin boost.
–Raw Shea Butter
Shea butter is intensely moisturizing and contains vitamin A, the active ingredient in retinoids, the gold standard wrinkle treatment. Grigore recommends rubbing raw shea butter around your eyes and on the rest of your face before bed to wake up with smoother, more supple skin. Rich moisturizers will plump up skin, notes Hollmig, “and make wrinkles appear more subtle.”
There’s a reason slices of chilled cucumbers placed over the eyes are a spa cliche: They work. Preliminary research suggests that cucumbers have anti-aging properties. They contain anti-inflammatory compounds, reduce swelling, and infuse the skin with hydration, which helps fill in fine lines. Apply a slice to each eye, kick back, and relax for 15 to 20 minutes.
For more great health tips, pick up a copy of Prevention magazine, visit www.prevention.com, or follow us @PreventionMag.