Fashion & Beauty

The Lines Around Your Eyes

January 30, 2022

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Okay, so this model has the benefit of better lighting than we get. But up close, her (baby) crow’s feet (after all, she’s a model, right?) are the byproduct of the same friendly squint we all get from smiling. And that’s not a bad thing. / iStock photo.


By Valerie Monroe

For nearly 16 years Valerie Monroe was the beauty director at O, The Oprah Magazine, where she wrote the popular “Ask Val” column.

If you’re interested in feeling happier about your appearance—especially as you age—you might like reading what she has to say about it. For more of her philosophical and practical advice, subscribe for free to How Not to F*ck Up Your Face at valeriemonroe.substack.com.

I HAVE STRONG feelings about crow’s feet: I like them. Personally, I think crow’s feet are the least unbeautiful of wrinkles; you get them from squinting, sure, but also from a fully engaged smile—called the Duchenne—in which the corners of your eyes get crinkly. It lets people know you are genuinely happy. That’s nice, right? Better: When people respond to your happiness, it precipitates a neural loop that can make you feel even happier. Am I saying crow’s feet are good for you? Kind of. Am I going too far suggesting the next time you notice them, you might take a moment to admire them? Not sure. Try it and let me know what you think.

Of course, if you disagree with me—I mean if there’s really a murder of crow’s feet on your face—you can diminish them at the doctor’s office with a couple of shots of neurotoxin like Botox or Dysport. This works because the drug freezes the muscles that, with repetitive movement, cause the wrinkles. Overdo it and you lose the ability to make the Duchenne, so don’t. Certain laser treatments can also diminish crow’s feet (more on that in another post). By the way, even the heaviest eye cream isn’t going to get rid of them, though it might plump the skin enough to make them just a little less noticeable. (But: I avoid heavy eye creams now because I started getting styes—which, if you’ve ever had one, you don’t want to have again. Now I sometimes scrub my lids with Johnson’s Baby Shampoo in the morning, especially if my eyes have been very dry at night. Another post on that, too, if you’re interested.)

Okay, back to what made me think of crow’s feet. Squinting. I thought of squinting because on my night table is this elegant little book light I bought recently (in white). I don’t wear glasses but need bright light to read (as many of us mature people do) and when this little thing came in the mail I was happily surprised to see how pretty it is. It also works great, with three settings and a charger you can hook up to your computer. I thought of getting a book light because I could see, late at night, my across-the-street-neighbor reading in bed. Thanks, Syd.

One other thing that helps avoid squinting: sunglasses. I bet you knew that. As a beauty editor, I used to get gifts of fabulous sunglasses all the time. (If you call them “sunnies,” I’m going to gag.) Anyway, I got stuck on a trip a couple of summers ago with a pair of sunglasses that weren’t working for me—too reflective—and I found these in a small boutique I’d wandered into. They seem to be indestructible unlike many fancy kinds, they block glare (though I don’t know if they’re ophthalmologist approved), and they’re inexpensive.

If you found this essay helpful, please let us know in the comment section, below.

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8 thoughts on “The Lines Around Your Eyes

  1. On the plus side of getting older, I have plenty of other wrinkles to distract the eye from the eyes.

  2. Pat McNees says:

    I have other kinds of lines on my face but no crows’ feet. I am glad to have that recommendation for the sunglasses, however, and I was really interested in what you have to say about cowlicks and avoiding that bald spot on the back of one’s head.
    https://valeriemonroe.substack.com/p/ephrons-complaint

  3. Nancy G says:

    My crows’ feet (notice where the apostrophe is) are my joy lines, my laugh lines, my living a full life lines. When I visit my cosmetic dermatologist my concern is my drooping eyelids (another column), not really my crows’ feet. Though I did just read something about “baby Botox” which doesn’t freeze your face. Welcome, Valerie. This is a wonderful group of women.

  4. Holly Pollinger says:

    Never thought crow’s feet could be interesting but there it is! Thanks!

  5. Barbara Kreger says:

    Haven’t seen your name before . You must be a new writer. Those of us who read MLB, feel connected – something like sisters. Looks like your contributions will add to our neural sisterhood loop. Brava

  6. Jane Firor says:

    I just rushed to the mirror to ck my crow’s feet. Had to take off my glasses to see them. They were then in such soft focus I kinda like them. All the lines look better. Hey, my entire face looks better!
    Welcome, Valerie! I love your jackhammer delivery — no annoying preludes. Great!!!

  7. Nancy McKeon says:

    Honestly, they’re just about the only lines on my face that I don’t hate!

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      I hear you and agree. Those are about the only lines that can be said to be “charming.”

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