Is it Safe to Moisturize My Eyelids?

By: Chris Obenschain  | 

Getting Beautiful Skin Image Gallery You moisturize your face to minimize the effects of aging, but can you nourish your eyelids, too? See more pictures of ways to get beautiful skin.
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The eyes and eyelids are extremely sensitive, so it's only natural that you might be hesitant about slathering chemical-laden moisturizers over and around your peepers. However, you can safely moisturize your eyelids. In fact, the ingredients found in eye creams and facial and skin moisturizers are largely designed to do the same thing -- nourish dry skin. So, many of them can be used interchangeably on any part of your body, including your eyelids.

Some doctors have even proposed that there's no difference between products like moisturizing eye creams and regular skin moisturizers. Dr. Amy Wechsler, a dermatologist, puts it bluntly. She says, "Don't waste your money on expensive eye creams. The skin around your eyes may be delicate, but it doesn't need a special formula! Your regular moisturizer will do just fine" [source: Wechsler]. Many people have used traditional moisturizers on their eyelids on a daily basis for years with no trouble at all.

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However, you still need to be careful with your beauty practices. The skin on your eyelids is both fragile and temperamental. It's thinner than the flesh covering the rest of your face, and it contains fewer oil glands, meaning that the area can easily become dehydrated or aggravated [source: Urquhart]. In fact, the eyelids are one of the most fragile parts of the human body, so even moisturizing products that you use every day on your face or elsewhere might irritate or inflame the skin in this delicate area [source: Victor and Yalof]. If a moisturizer causes your eyelids to burn, itch, swell, turn red, or anything else you find uncomfortable, gently rinse your eyes with soap and water. If that doesn't help, go see a doctor, and be sure to use a different moisturizer in the future.

You'd think that specialized, expensive eye creams would be easier on your eyelids than other moisturizers, but that's not usually the case. Sure, some products work better than others, but the ingredients and formulations of most eye creams are identical to that of their facial counterparts [source: Begoun]. Just look at the list of ingredients on the back of any of those pricey little containers of moisturizing eye cream and compare it to that of an inexpensive facial moisturizer. Chances are, they'll be quite similar.

The good news is that unless you already have a brand of eye cream you swear by and can afford, you can stop worrying about buying expensive beauty creams to moisturize your eyelids. You're just as likely to run into problems with top-shelf creams as you are with regular moisturizers, so try using several products until you find one that works for you.

Originally Published: Jan 11, 2010

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Moisturize Eyelids FAQ

What causes dry eyelids?
Like the rest of your skin, everything from aging to the climate you live in to low humidity to allergens can make eyelids dry.
What does eyelid dermatitis look like?
Eyelid dermatitis causes eyes and eyelids to be itchy, swollen, painful or irritated. It can also present as a red or scaly rash or thickened, creased skin around the eye. Symptoms may be present in both or just one of the eyes.
What is the best moisturizer for dry eyelids?
Some doctors have proposed that there's no difference between eye creams and regular skin moisturizers. So you can just apply your regular fragrance-free skin moisturizer to your eyelids if they're looking dry.
What natural oils can you put on your eyelids?
Coconut oil, castor oil, and olive oil are all natural options that can all be used to help treat dry eyelids.
What can I put on my eyelids for blepharitis?
Blepharitis appears on the eyelash line or inner edge of the eye and is caused by bacteria or another health condition like rosacea, eczema, eyelash mites, and dandruff. Good eyelid hygiene is the best prevention and treatment for blepharitis. Additionally, an over-the-counter antibacterial eyelid scrub is a good addition to your morning and evening routine.

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Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Begoun, Paula. "The Beauty Bible." Beginning Press. Seattle, 2002.
  • Urquhart, Rachel. "Woman's Face." Knopf. New York, 1997.
  • Wechsler, Amy M.D. "The Mind-Beauty Connection." Free Press. New York, 2008.
  • Victor, Steven M.D. and Ina Yalof. "Ageless Beauty." Crown Publishers. New York, 2003.