Crow's feet, laughter lines, wrinkles... it doesn't matter what you call them, they are one of the earliest signs of ageing that appear on our skin.
Although the first and finest of these lines may in fact add a little character to the face, like the first grey hairs, they are likely to strike terror in our hearts when we notice them.
As with so many of these beauty issues, there is no charm that will ward them off forever, and no miracle cure once they appear, but we can at least try and develop good habits that won't encourage them, or make them worse once they start to form.
Remember that crow's feet appear around the eyes, where the skin is thin and delicate. And, to a great extent, it's the eyes that hold the key to keeping them at bay. If you treat your eyes right and avoid straining them and scrunching them up to see, you won't be encouraging the wrinkles to form in the first place. So, remember these six points:
- Annual visits to the optician will ensure you have the right glasses or contact lenses and should minimise the need to peer at things with screwed up eyes. If you're getting new glasses, make sure you take time to choose ones that suit you and that you're comfortable with: if you end up with a pair you don't like, it'll be tempting not to use them.
- Sun glasses are also important. Good quality lenses in green, grey or brown are best, and large lenses give more protection to the eyes. They serve a double purpose as they protect your eyes from UV radiation and also stop you squinting in the bright sunlight.
- If you work for long periods at a computer, invest in one of the more modern screens or use a screen filter, and reduce the brightness of the display. Make sure you rest your eyes regularly: take five minutes out each hour, look away from the screen, blink rapidly a few times and look out of the window, if possible at a distant horizon. If your eyes get dry, use drops.
- Watch television in daylight, rather than in a dark room, as it puts less strain on the eyes, and try and avoid refections on the screen. Although sitting close up may not cause permanent damage to your eyes, it will make them tired and that can make you start scrunching them up again, so watch where you choose to sit.
- If you read e-books, you'll need to watch the light conditions, too. It will depend on whether you have a reader that uses e-ink, or a tablet with full colour screen as to where it's best to read it: just remember that if you're straining your eyes, you're encouraging those crow's feet.
- We all know cigarettes are bad for our general health, but smoking also has a two-fold effect that can encourage crow's feet. First, the nicotine destroys the collagen and elastin in the skin, leaving it lifeless and less pliable, so it's less able to recuperate from any damage. Secondly, though, when you smoke, or spend time in a smoky atmosphere, there's a tendency to squint against the tobacco smoke, which, once again, encourages the crow's feet to develop.