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Dr. Alpana Mohta Ranka, MD, DNB, IFAAD, is a dual-board-certified dermatologist with over 90 research publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals.


Sunscreen for Eyelids: What to Use and Why?

Updated: Apr 29

Let me hazard a guess. You used your regular sunscreen on your eyelids and experienced a burning sensation. Don't worry; you are not alone.

Now that you are on this webpage, you are going to get the best information on what you should use to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.

If you are here just to check out the sunscreen you should be using for your eyelids, I would recommend that you first try the sunscreen you're already using on your face. If that causes a burning sensation in your eyes, then you could look for a sunscreen specifically for your eyelids.

Whether you have hooded eyes or not, your eyelids need sun protection too. Let's dive in!


Table of Contents


Best Sunscreen for Eyelids: Dermatologist Recommended

I'll be honest with you. There aren't many sunscreens specifically for eyelids.

This is an eye cream with added SPF.

Eye Cream with SPF 40

This is your best bet when it comes to sun protection for your eyelids. The SPF in this eye cream is not chemical-based. It's a pure phyisical sunscreen containing zinc oxide. Additionally, the cream is specifically formulated such that your eyes won't experience irritation. Bonus points for its depigmenting agents, namely caffeine, prebiotics and green tea, all of which are clinically proven to reduce hyperpigmentation.

2. CeraVe Mineral Sunscreen Stick for Kids & Adults Sunscreen sticks are great for eyelids because they don't melt, and therefore the application is more targeted. This means that they won't irritate your eyes.

CeraVe Sunscreen Stick SPF 50

The CeraVe Mineral Sunscreen Stick ticks all the boxes (refer to this section below) when it comes to choosing a sunscreen that won't irritate your eyes:

  1. Fragrance-free

  2. Devoid of common contact allergens

  3. Physical sunscreen

  4. SPF50

  5. Water-resistant

Blue Lizard Physical Sunscreen SPF 50+

If you don't want an eyelid-specific sunscreen and aren't fond of sunscreen sticks, you can opt for this physical sunscreen. It's a well rounded physical sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. This should not sting your eyes either.

Why is Sunscreen for Eyelids Important?

The delicate skin on our eyelids often gets overlooked in our skincare regimen. Surprisingly, eyelids account for up to 10% of skin cancers. Given their sensitivity, it’s essential to protect them from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Following are some reasons you should consider using a sunscreen for your eyelids:

  1. High Risk of UV Damage: The thin skin on the eyelids is particularly susceptible to the sun's UV rays, which can lead to burns, premature aging, and an increased risk of skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma.

  2. Eyelid Skin Cancer: As mentioned, the eyelids are a common site for skin cancers. Early protection can decrease the risk and eliminate the need for invasive treatments later on.

  3. Cosmetic Concerns: Sun damage can cause pigmentation leading to dark eyelids, wrinkles, and loss of elasticity. By ensuring your eyelids are protected, you maintain youthful skin longer.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen for Eyelids

According to research published in the International Journal of Women's Dermatology, the most common allergens in sunscreens include fragrances, propylene glycol, methylisothiazolinone, avobenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone (aka benzophenone-3).

So, for eyelids, avoid sunscreens containing the above ingredients. This is only applicable to both your eyelids and lips, because these sites extra sensitive. The research also found physical sunscreens to be less allergenic than chemical sunscreen.

Opt for sunscreens between SPF 30-50, since most sunscreens with higher SPF numbers have higher amounts of chemical sunscreen agents. Additionally, all sunscreens over SPF 99 are practically purely chemical-based. Apart from the above, the below are general guidelines that apply to all sunscreens:

  1. Broad Spectrum: Always pick a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

  2. SPF: For the eyelids, an SPF of 30 or higher is recommended. Remember to reapply every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating.

  3. PA Rating: PA rating reflects the level of protection offered against UVA radiations. Always opt for a sunscreen with PA+++ or higher.

  4. Blue Light Filter: Blue light primarily comes from digital screens, smartphones, tablets, and LED lights. Prolonged exposure to blue light contributes to free radical generation which is responsible for dark circles, crow's feet and wrinkles around eyes. Physical sunscreen agents, namely, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide can filter out this harmful blue light.

  5. Water-resistant: While no sunscreen is completely waterproof, water-resistant options provide better protection during activities where sweating or swimming is involved.

How to Put Sunscreen on Eyelids: Application Tips

  • Avoid Direct Contact with Eyes: Even though you're applying on the eyelids, ensure the product doesn’t get into the eyes.

  • Generous Application: Use enough product to create a protective layer. A thin application might not offer enough protection.

  • Combine with Other Protective Measures: Wear sunglasses with UV protection to give your eyes and the skin around them an added layer of defense. You may think wearing sunglasses is enough protection from UV rays but know that reflected UV rays can hit your eyelids, even from the area between the face and the glasses.


The health and aesthetic benefits of applying sunscreen to your eyelids can't be stressed enough. The delicate skin in this area requires special attention, and with the right product and application method, you can ensure it stays protected. Begin incorporating eyelid sunscreen into your daily routine to maintain eye health and preserve the skin's youthful appearance.

A side note: It's possible that the swelling of your eyelids is due to another reason. E.g., Eyelash or Eyebrow lice. This is fairly unlikely, but it doesn't hurt just to be sure. Also, don't forget sun protection for your hair too. Yes, UV rays can damage your hair too. Read my article on sunscreen for hair to learn more.


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