AND THE CROW'S
Fun fact: back in the 1820s, a batch of sausages killed multiple Germans. These sausages contained a poison discovered by Dr. Justinus Kerner that was--you guessed it--botulism (caused by ingestion of the botulinum toxin). If it weren’t for Dr. Kerner, we might not be where we are with Botox today!
No, not a remake of the 1963 classic The Birds. These crow's are the fine lines around the eyes aka your crow's feet. No matter what age you are, if you go up to a mirror and give yourself a big, cheesy smile, you'll see them appear. The issue, of course, is that as time goes on, the crow's are there to stay...even when we're not smiling.
Now, if you're someone like Tippi Hedren who starred in various Hollywood films, including The Birds, you probably want to stay far away from Botox, or at least make sure you get "light" treatments. Botox works by relaxing the muscle it's injected to, which is what turns your frown upside down about 7-10 days post-treatment. The science sounds a little scary, but I'm going to get into it anyways because knowledge = power, especially when it comes to cosmetic procedures.
Botox is made from a neurotoxin called botulinum toxin, which is made from a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. Remember how I said earlier that it "relaxes" the muscle? That was a nice way of saying it. Technically, it paralyzes the muscle. Sounds sort of terrifying, right? It really isn't. Botox is the most common cosmetic procedure performed in the US of A, with more than 6 million treatments happening every year. Good times.
This is why it's important to understand how Botox works. I love Botox with all my heart, but it has its pros and cons. For example, I tend to frown a lot, so I get some Botox popped into the area between my brows every three months or so. Unfortunately, this means I can't frown. If you're saying to yourself, "Wait--I thought that was the point?", yes, that IS the point of Botox, but it means that I'm unable to make a very typical and common facial expression. This changes your ability to non-verbally communicate. My family loves it because they say I look less grumpy as soon as my Botox kicks in (I naturally have #RBF, I can't help it) but it also means that when I'm in a conversation with someone my face will look a little "blank" in that area--I can't frown to express consternation, disapproval, sympathy, etc.
Which brings me to my main point: the crow's. I'm asked about this area the most which is why I'm writing a post specifically on it. The idea of not being able to frown might not bother you (it doesn't really bother me, at least--people seem to think I'm friendlier when I have my Botox) but it's definitely something to think about when you're considering Botox around the eyes.
Here's how I break it down for patients: There are two types of smiles: Duchenne, and non-Duchenne. Duchenne smiles are named after The French scientist who studied smiles back in ye old days of the 1800s. A Duchenne smile involves two things: contraction of the zygomatic major (the actual "smile" around your mouth) and the orbicularis oculi (giving you your cute little cheesy cheeks and crinkling your eyes aka giving you crow's feet). These include both voluntary and non-voluntary contractions.
Are you thinking, what in tarnation is a non-voluntary contraction? That would be the contraction of your orbicularis oculi around your eyes. We supposedly can't contract this muscle voluntarily (studies are mixed on this, and many try to regardless--this is where smizing or "smiling with your eyes" comes from) meaning that a "true" smile, or a "Duchenne smile" involves this non-voluntary contraction. Whew. Who knew smiling involved so much work?
Ready for the really weird tidbit of info? A study at UC Berkeley looked at the 1960 Mills College yearbook. All of the women who had Duchenne smiles at the time their photo was taken tended to have 1) positive outcomes in marriage and 2) higher levels of well-being 30 years later. Wild, right?
If you're still confused at the difference, think about it this way: imagine you're at a family reunion. You don't really want to be there, but feel obligated because your relatives are starting to get old and you think, "what if this is the last time I ever see them?" So you guilt yourself and go and of course the entire time you're thinking about how you could be home binge-watching You on Netflix (yes, Penn Badgley is creepy AF in it but let's all remember him as Dan in Gossip Girl. The boy is foine. Period). The dinner drags on and the food is kind of bland and you're tired and FINALLY! Miracle of all miracles, it's time to politely say your goodbyes and leave. BUT WAIT. It's time for the family photo. You all shuffle together and you're squished and prodded and probably some random cousin fifty times removed is standing in front of you blocking half of your head. The person taking the photo grabs the camera, raises it up, and says, "Say Cheese!" with much more enthusiasm than you think is called for. What kind of smile do you make? Exactly.
That is what we call a "non-Duchenne smile", aka a fake smile. Now imagine a different scenario: you're out with friends, the wine is flowing, the food was de-lish, and you're having a GREAT time. Your friend whips out her iPhone, puts it to Portrait mode and takes a pic of you as you're laughing. Now THAT is a Duchenne smile. Easy peasy, right? Now you should have a very clear idea of how smiles work. Now how does Botox fit into all of this?
Botox paralyzes (ahem, relaxes) the muscle it's injected into. Meaning, if you get it injected around the eyes, it can affect your smile. Now, to be clear, I am not advising against Botox in this area. It does amazing things to open up your eyes and soften your face. However, there are a few things I always point out to clients:
The goal of Botox for the crow's is NOT to completely remove every single little wrinkle. If you get that much Botox injected around the eyes, completely freezing any and all movement in that region, it will be FROZEN. This is not necessarily a bad thing. But understand that you will not be able to have a full smile. You will smile with your mouth only. Try this in the mirror. Literally. Right now. Go try smiling at yourself without moving any muscles around your eyes. Get back to me with the results. It probably looked something like this.
The goal IS to help open and soft the eyes. You can do this by getting a gentle brow lift both between and above your eyebrows using Botox. This gives a nice lifting and opening to your eyes and face that, personally, I think most patients are going for--they just don't have the terminology to know how to ask for it.
There have been some recent studies that show we can fake a Duchenne smile when needed, but the study was done under neutral conditions. In other words, so far we can't say if people can fake a Duchenne smile under circumstances in which they're feeling bad about the situation. Regardless, if you get Botox in that area, it doesn't matter--you can't contract the obicularis oculi which is needed for a "true smile."
Now, there are a few things you can do to help the eyes out aside from Botox:
2) Stay hydrated. We talked about this on my last post. You don't need to chug and chug gallons of water, but make sure you're drinking high-quality water, and enough to suit your lifestyle.
3) To keep the eyes looking bright, make sure you don't have an overload of sodium in your diet. This isn't specifically for the crow's, just the eyes in general. I've found that, counter-intuitively, puffy eyes actually make wrinkles look more obvious.
4) When in doubt, ice it out. Two cold spoons from the fridge is a time-tested technique. I know some people who use an ice cube all over their face first thing in the morning, including around the eyes to de-puff.
Reach out if you have questions using the contact form located on the home page. Questions & suggestions are always welcome. While you're at it, check out my Instagram for more fun tips & tricks, and to say hi!