What Causes Wrinkles Under Eyes When Smiling & How Can You Treat Them?

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The simple act of smiling can help to elevate a person’s mood, while stimulating the brain into releasing neuropeptides that stave off stress. A life filled with smiles is a happy one, at least until you start to notice little creases appearing under and around your eyes each time your mouth stretches into a grin.

Why are you experiencing wrinkles under eyes when smiling? And, more importantly, what can you do to get rid of them, as well as to prevent new ones from forming? Read on – we have all of the answers! Not only will we explain exactly what causes those pesky creases, but we’ll also share the most effective eye wrinkle treatments available, along with the best preventive measures to take.

Does Smiling Cause Wrinkles? What Causes Crow’s Feet & Wrinkles Around Eyes When Smiling?

Is it actually the act of smiling that’s causing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around your eyes? In some ways, yes. Each time you make certain facial expressions, grooves form in the skin.

When you’re young, these grooves simply bounce back to smoothness once you’re done smiling. However, as you age, the structural proteins in your skin, namely collagen and elastin, begin to weaken. This prevents your skin from springing back to normal after each smile, and those expression lines around your eyes soon turn into permanent under-eye wrinkles.

closeup of eyes

That said, it’s not all about smiling and the aging process. There are several other factors too that can cause a person to develop wrinkles around their eyes, with smiling only making those creases more obvious. Some of the other common contributors to wrinkles in the under-eye area are:

  • UV rays and sun damage
  • Smoking and vaping
  • Having dehydrated skin
  • Frequently rubbing your eyes
  • Genetics

How to Get Rid of Eye Creases & Deep Crows Feet

When it comes to reducing fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes, you have two main options; at-home products and cosmetic treatments. Let’s take a closer look at both:

Retinol Products

beautiful woman on phone

Retinol is a go-to for reducing wrinkles. Studies show that it takes around 12 weeks for significant improvements to be seen [R], although you will start to notice small changes after about four weeks of regular use. It works by boosting collagen production, which gives you tighter and firmer skin.

Retinol is used in varying strengths in skincare products. The stronger the concentration, the more potent the ingredient, but this also leaves you more vulnerable to side effects. Consider purchasing a low-concentration retinol eye cream and then adding in a higher-strength serum once your skin has adapted to the ingredient.

Eye Massage Exercises

lady massaging eyes

Although eye exercises may not diminish under eye wrinkles as quickly as skincare or medical treatments, they’re a great way to get rid of those crow’s feet in the long run. Eye massage exercises basically strengthen and thicken your eye muscles. As a result, your skin then has to stretch more in order to cover those eye muscles, which makes it taut and smooth.

There are numerous ways to exercise your eye muscles – a quick search online will reward you with various routines to try. The key is to do them consistently if you want to see results.

Professional Procedures: Botox, Hyaluronic Acid Injections, Lasers & Chemical Peels

woman in procedure

If you’d prefer to go with cosmetic treatments, you have a few options. Botox and other dermal fillers are a popular option because these are so effective at treating expression lines, which is exactly what those wrinkles when you smile are.

Another go-to is laser treatment. Lasers are used to stimulate collagen production in the skin, which not only gives you a firmer and smoother appearance with improved skin elasticity, but helps to lighten dark spots and discoloration too.

When it comes to chemical peels, there are now formulas available that are safe for use around the eyes. There are various strengths to choose from – light peels would suffice for early wrinkles and dead skin cells that cause a dull appearance, while a deeper peel would be necessary for severe crow’s feet and dark circles.

How to Prevent Crow’s Feet, Under-Eye Bags, and Inner Corner Eye Wrinkles

Worried that you’re going to have to stop smiling to prevent more eye wrinkles from forming? So long as you follow these preventative steps, you’ll be able to make any facial expression that you want without having to deal with fine lines and wrinkles:

Improve Your Lifestyle to Improve Your Appearance: Stop Smoking, Eat the Right Foods, and Get Enough Sleep

Your lifestyle plays a huge role when it comes to wrinkles under eyes when smiling. Smoking is a huge wrinkle trigger, so this needs to be cut out of your life ASAP.

pretty young brunette under sun

Your diet is important too – heavily processed foods filled with salts and sugars will only destroy the proteins in your skin. Try consuming foods that boost collagen production instead, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, along with lean proteins. Drinking enough water is essential as well – this will keep your skin cells hydrated and plump.

Finally, never underestimate the power of sleep. This is the time during which your skin repairs itself. It’s when the majority of collagen and elastin production occurs, meaning that sleep deprivation can make wrinkles so much worse.

Keep Your Skin Protected Every Day With Sunscreen & Sunglasses

Sun exposure is responsible for up to 80% of skin aging [R]. Your crow’s feet and fine lines wouldn’t be such an issue if the sun hadn’t been dealing its damage to your skin over the course of your life.

beautiful girl with shades

Fortunately, it’s not too late to start diligently protecting your skin. Daily sunscreen is a must – look for a broad-spectrum formula with an SPF of at least 30, and make sure that it’s safe for use around the eyes. Sun-protecting accessories can help to shield the eye area too, such as sunglasses and a wide-brimmed sun hat.

Use Creams, Topical Treatments, and an Eye Mask Containing Antioxidants & Other Collagen-Boosting Ingredients

Your skincare routine can play a huge role in preventing wrinkles from developing on a person’s face, so long as you’re using the right key ingredients. Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and resveratrol, boost collagen synthesis while protecting your existing collagen fibers from degradation. Keeping your skin hydrated too, with ingredients like sodium hyaluronate and peptides, also helps your cells to function optimally and stave off wrinkles.

Look for these ingredients in both serums and creams, but treat yourself to eye masks every week too. Not only will they help with wrinkles, but they’ll also minimize eye bags and puffy eyes.

RELATED: Best Drugstore Eye Cream for Wrinkles


Q: How do you get rid of wrinkles under your eyes when you smile?

Anti-aging products work well, but there are also cosmetic procedures that can help to get rid of wrinkles when you smile.

Q: Why is under my eyes so wrinkly?

Under-eye wrinkles form for several reasons, including sun exposure, pollution, and facial expressions.

Q: How do you prevent wrinkles when smiling?

Using the right products and making sure that your skin is as healthy as possible will help to prevent wrinkles when smiling.

Q: Why do I wrinkle so much when I smile?

If your skin looks overly wrinkly when you smile, this could be because it is lacking water. Wrinkles are so much more noticeable on dry or dehydrated skin.

Q: Are smile wrinkles good?

Smile wrinkles can actually be seen as a very attractive feature in a person.

Q: Can you get rid of fine lines under eyes?

Yes, it’s possible to get rid of fine lines and wrinkles underneath the eyes. Check out this page for more information on how to do that.

Q: What is the best treatment for under-eye wrinkles?

While dermal fillers are a good cosmetic treatment for under-eye wrinkles, topical products, such as eye patches and masks, work well too.

Q: What age do under-eye wrinkles appear?

Under-eye wrinkles and crow feet usually start to appear in a person’s 30s, although they can sometimes make an appearance in a person’s 20s.

Q: Why do you have fine lines or deep wrinkles under your eyes?

Fine lines and deep wrinkles under the eyes are caused by a variety of factors, including UV damage, muscle movement due to facial expressions, and an unhealthy lifestyle.

woman looking into mirror

Q: What types of wrinkles does botox treat?

Botox treats dynamic wrinkles, such as smile lines and crow’s feet.

Q: What is a holistic way to help with under-eye concerns?

Using skincare products made from natural ingredients while making sure that you’re living a healthy lifestyle and eating a good skin diet will help with under-eye concerns.

Q: What nonsurgical options are available to treat smile lines?

Topical skin care products containing anti-aging ingredients (such as vitamin A and vitamin C) are a great non-surgical way to treat smile lines and wrinkles.

Q: What causes premature wrinkles under the eyes?

Premature wrinkles under the eyes are often genetic, but they can also be caused by UV damage.

Q: Why do I have lines under my eyes?

Lines under the eyes are caused by a combination of factors, including UV exposure, aging, and allergies.

Q: How to smile without wrinkles under eyes?

If you regularly perform facial exercises and use anti-aging skincare products, then you’ll be able to smile without wrinkles under your eyes.

Q: What causes lines under eyes and on cheeks?

Lines under the eyes and on the cheeks are commonly caused by the aging process.

Q: Why do I have eye wrinkles when smiling at 20?

Wrinkles when smiling at the young age of 20 are often hereditary.

Q: What should I do about wrinkles eyes when smile?

Using eye care products will help to diminish wrinkly eyes when smiling.


While wrinkles under eyes when smiling may be completely normal, it’s common to want to smooth these away so that you can retain a youthful appearance for as long as possible. Fortunately, there are plenty of treatment options and preventative steps that you can take – follow all of the tips above and you’ll soon be beaming with a wrinkle-free grin.

Avatar for Megan Foley

Megan has been a freelance writer and editor since 2016. In that time, she’s penned a diverse collection of articles for online publication, with a focus on skincare and beauty. From in-depth product reviews to concise marketing content, Megan is passionate about developing content that informs, entertains, and inspires.