Why Is Your Eyelid Skin So Unique?
Your eyelid skin is so unique (just like you) because your under eyes are usually the one thing we try to treat because it's usually the place we see dark circles, eye bags, fine lines, and other skin conditions. But the top of the eyes is also important too. The top of the eyelids can get irritation, flaky skin and discoloration, and even lose the elasticity in the skin, making our eyes feel, well, "old."
When it comes to our eyelids, the skin on the eyelids is much different than other parts of your body and requires additional care than the rest of your skin. Your eyelids have thin skin, fewer oil glands, and blood vessels closer to the surface, making you quickly see redness and discoloration.
Also, there's not a lot of fat cushioning it so that the eyelids can sag much easier. WTF. This means that this delicate area has to care for a little differently when developing your skincare routine with dry eyes.
Symptoms of Dry Eyelids
Some common symptoms of dry eyelids are:
- Flaky Skin
- Rough Skin
- Itchy Eyelids
- Eyeshadow appears rough and textured when applied
Redness & Irritation
What Causes Dry Eyelids?
"But Sonia! Why are my eyelids so dry?" Oh honey, do I feel this with every ounce of my soul.
Generally speaking, many people with broken skin barriers tend to have irritation all over their faces, even their eyelids. A broken skin barrier is caused by over-cleansing the face and washing the face in hot water instead of warm water (I know that a hot shower feels good, especially in a cold Chicago winter, but trust me!)
- Medications can also cause dry eyes and eyelids. Things like diuretics to treat high blood pressure have been known to cause dry eyes.
- Age-as we age, our skin naturally gets drier. If you have oily skin, thank your lucky stars, even as annoying as it can be!
- Contact Dermatitis
- Contact Dermatitis is when our skin can be irritated by using irritating things on our face. You can have irritation and not have an allergy, and it can cause your eyelids to be dry. Even simple things like:
- Hair Conditioner
- Hair styling products
- Eye Makeup (if you have an allergy to any kind of metals, mica in eyeshadows can cause irrational and contact dermatitis)
- Chlorine from the swimming pool (I rinse my face off after I get out of the pool!)
The crazy thing about contact dermatitis is that you may spread stuff to your face or eyelid without even knowing it! External irritants like dust, grass, or anything you might be allergic to can cause irritation. There might be different reasons for contact dermatitis than just products.
The nice thing about using a moisturizer or moisturizing eye cream on your eyelids, it will create a slight barrier on the skin, so it may be a bit more protective than not using any skin-care products on the eyelid.
Rosacea can cause dry, red eyes to be more apparent. I haven't had a flare-up in over two years! See my Blog article on how to get my rosacea under control here.
Can I Use My Regular Moisturizer For Eyelids, Without Irritation?
I've heard influencers and bloggers say that eye cream is a waste of money and that your regular moisturizer is enough to treat the dry skin on your eyelids. But not all eye creams and moisturizers should be used on your eyelids.
When it comes to formulations, not all moisturizer or moisturizing eye cream is created equal when it comes to avoiding eye irritation.
Eye creams as specifically designed to work around the skin around the eye area. Most eye creams are designed to use under the eyes, but not all eye creams can be used on the lower eyelids. If it doesn't suggest it can be used on the eyelid, chances are it's not designed that way.
But not all eye product is suitable for your sensitive eye area. (You know why I struggle with my eye cream for sensitive skin!) Moisturizer is usually only DESIGNED to go on the rest of your face and not go closer to the eye than your orbital bone.
For example, put a moisturizer on your eyes with SPF in them, and you're NOT going to have a good time. Moisturizers with sunscreens will burn the SHIT out of your eyes and leave your eyes feeling "cloudy" all day. The moisturizer with sunscreen may likely cause redness and irritation and possibly an allergic reaction. Yikes! We don't want that.
So, for the world's influencers to say that you can use your regular moisturizer on your eyelids isn't always the most accurate advice.
So, can you use a regular moisturizer on your eyelids without irritation? Sometimes yes, but sometimes no. The no-bullshit answer is that it depends.
Some things to watch out for on ingredient lists are sunscreen, any type of vitamin c, or other irritating substances that could be a common trigger for your unique skin type.
Different sensitive skin types have different needs for their eyelid skin. Menopausal skin, or if you're on medications that dry out the eye, may have different requirements for your delicate skin. I take high blood pressure meds (a diuretic) and need extra hydration on my eyelids.
What Is The Best Moisturizer For My Eyelids?
Here is some good news- when it comes to finding the best moisturizer for your eyelids, here are some things to look for:
Gel and eye gel types tend to work well in this department for daytime use, especially if you're going to be doing makeup. This is why Water Balm is a great eye cream and moisturizer in one, especially for the tops of the eyelids. For best results, apply Water Balm and allow it to dry down before applying eyeshadow.
If you're dehydrated, apply a wee bit of your moisturizing eye cream on top of your eyelids, then apply Water Balm on top. Allow absorbing into your skin while you drink coffee or get dressed before doing your makeup. This trick alone will smooth out the top of the eyelid so nicely and smooth out any fine lines you'll wonder why you haven't been doing this forever.
Because Water Balm plumps the eyelids, it will help the skin on the eyelids look smoother.
Water Balm is also great to apply on top of eyeshadow to create another layer of hydration, especially for those of us with super dry eyes if you haven't tried Water Balm.
A more emollient moisturizer for your eyelids is suitable for a nighttime routine since you can handle more decadent products at night. I believe in having two eye creams in your skincare routine—one for the day (before makeup) and one at night for a more moisturizing treatment.
How Should I Apply Moisturizer Around My Eyes?
When applying moisturizer or moisturizing eye cream around your eyes, there are two ways you can use it:
A skincare brush
I like to apply my eye cream or moisturizer for eyelids with a skin prep brush so I don't cross-contaminate any product on my eyelids that shouldn't be there. For example, maybe I have leftover sunscreen on my eyes, hand lotion, or even hand sanitizer. You would be surprised how other products you put on other parts of your body that are not intended for the face can irritate your sensitive skin. So if you're sensitive or like a more precise application, try applying with a skincare brush to your eyelids.
Your Ring Finger
Many estheticians were taught to use our ring finger because it allows us to apply our eye cream or moisturizer around our eyes with little pressure. And while I do like this technique, I don't think you HAVE to do it this way. If you use your index finger, just be gentle around this delicate area. The skincare police will not come for you (but the trolls and self-proclaimed social media experts might!) So don’t worry about it.
Ingredients That May Cause Irritation:
Here are some common culprits that cause irritation and itchy skin in the sensitive eye area:
Facial Oils Near The Eyes- -Your body temperature can cause facial oils to travel to the eye area and cause slight irritation. Be sure to keep facial oils outside the orbital bone area.
AHA's & BHA's
Other Common Skin Irritants (See our blog post)
What Is Moisturizer For Eyelids Good Before Applying Eye Shadow?
As a pro makeup artist for the last 30 years, when applying s a moisturizer on the eyelids before applying your eyeshadow, Water Balm for the win. I use this on almost everyone, especially my over 50 clients, with dry, menopausal skin.
You only need a wee bit of Water Balm to the top lid. Don't apply too much unless the skin calls for it.
Pro Makeup Artist Tip: I like to Skin Prep my clients, mothers of the bride over 50, an hour before I do their makeup before significant events. If you're over 50 and going to an event, do a luxury skin prep on yourself about an hour before you do your makeup. This gives your skin some time to marinate and look its best.
Wanna know how to do your makeup for a big event? I have a free comprehensive 40-minute Master Class on Luxury Skin Prep Here.
What to Avoid To Keep Eyelid Skin From Being Dry:
Here are some common causes that cause your eyelids to become dry:
- Hot showers-hot water can severely dry out the skin (this goes for other parts of the body as well!)
- Cold Weather-In the winter months, apply a layer of Water Balm on the top eyelids to create a barrier to the skin. This keeps wind and cold weather from drying out your eyelids even more.
- Oils around eyes (if you have dry eyes, don't use too much oil around the eyes as it can cause cloudiness in your eyeballs that is irritating to the eyes. The important thing to remember is to use as little oil as possible around the eye and usually do this step at night when your eyes are closed.
- Highly fragranced eye creams, concealers or eyeshadows. Moisturizer can irritate the eyes if it's highly fragranced.
- If you live in a dry climate, consider adding a humidifier to your home or room, especially your bedroom where you sleep (since you spend most of your time in this room).
- Moisturizers or Eye Creams with strong active ingredients that can be drying to the skin (think retinol, etc.); depending on the person, your mileage may vary.
- Windy days-Windy days can cause eyes and eyelids to become much drier. If you're out in the elements, wearing sunglasses can help.
- Don't apply too much of anything to the top of the eyelids. A little will go a long way in anything you put on.
When Moisturizer Doesn't Work For Your Eyelids
If you've tried all types of do-it-yourself treatments and home remedies, you might have an underlying condition that requires a visit to your dermatologist or ophthalmologist.
Whenever you have eye concerns that go on longer than a short period of time, it's best to get professional advice so that you don't have any other skin conditions or allergies. Sometimes a simple trip to your doctor can help. Sometimes doctors will tell you to use a topical corticosteroid.
I have to do so much to my sensitive eyes and eyelids.
My Home Remedy For Dry, Menopausal Eyes
- I apply warm compresses with a cotton ball or cotton round and apply for 10 minutes. Use distilled water, don't use water right out of the tap. Alternatively, you can use a warm washcloth too. I would avoid tea bags unless you know your skin can handle them. Again, use a mug of distilled water here to warm your tea bags.
- I then put my eye mask on top of the warm compress to keep the heat locked in.
- I usually do a 10-minute meditation while allowing my eyelids to rest and heal.
Self-Care Tip: Lock the kids and family out and take 10 minutes for yourself.
- I then apply my nighttime eye cream (the ones I am testing out for our line, from Japan and Korea)
- I then apply Water Balm moisturizer on the eyelids to lock everything in.
- Before I go to sleep, I use this lubricating eye ointment several times a week. Petroleum jelly-type eye ointment? Yes, and you would be surprised at how well it works, especially those of us with severe dry eyes.
- When I wake up in the morning, I usually will have a bit of a crusty eye from the eye ointment, but it's a small price to pay for my eyes to feel comfortable throughout the day.
When it comes to using moisturizer on your eyelids, as you see, there are a lot of times you can use moisturizers and eye creams successfully. Hopefully, this blog post was helpful for you to find the best eye creams and moisturizers to use on your eyelids.
And finally, if you're unsure what you should be using, it's always a great idea to work with your doctor and licensed esthetician to make customized skincare recommendations unique to you. While articles like these and the advice we seek on social media can be beneficial in your search for a solution, always remember that beauty isn't one size fit all.
What eye cream or moisturizer do you have success with on your sensitive, dry eyelids? Leave a comment below! I would love to hear from you!
Here's To Your Best Skin, At Any Age!