7 Things You Should Never Put On Or Near Your Eyes, According To The Experts

It goes without saying that your eye area is delicate and you can't use just any old products on your eyes. You may or may not realise that there are things you should never put on or near your eyes, as they might be damaging.

When you think about it, your eyes themselves are pretty sensitive in general — if you've ever had an eyelash stuck in your eye, you'll know how fast they can get sore and irritated — but the skin around them needs to be taken care of too. It's easy to see (and feel) that the skin around the eyes is much thinner than the skin on other areas of your bod, and as such, it needs to be treated with extra care. If you have sensitive skin, your eye area might be affected too, which could mean you need to use super gentle products on your eyes. I don't normally suffer from sensitive skin, but in the past I changed my mascara and it brought me out in a rash around my eyes; which goes to show how careful you need to be with this fragile area.

I spoke with experts about what not to put on or around your eyes, so we can all avoid unnecessary irritation — here's what they had to say.

1. Topical Steroid Creams

NYC dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner, tells me over email, "The skin around the eyes is among the thinnest on the body, so you need to careful about what you put there. What you may be able to tolerate on the rest of the face can cause significant irritation or even harm to the eye."

"Topical steroid creams help reduce inflammation and calm inflamed skin, but with extended use can cause skin thinning." Explains Dr. Zeichner, "You need to be particularly careful when applying to sensitive or thin skinned areas like the eye and limit use to no more than one week. Topical steroids around the eyes can also lead to increase[d] pressure in the eye and glaucoma with continued use." Thus, topical steroid creams are definitely a big no-no when it comes to the eye area.

2. Specific Chemical-Containing Products & Artificial Colors

Ada Lamela, Global Corporate Educator at Pevonia and licensed esthetician, tells me via email about the ingredients and treatments you should never use around the eye area. Lamela says to steer clear of products containing artificial colors and dyes, plus formaldehydes that she says are, "Drying and can cause irritation, redness, and swelling."

In addition to this, she tells me about hydroquinone, that she explains is, "Known for its harmful side effects and can cause irritation, redness, swelling, and photosensitivity [to] UV lights." Don't forget to check the labels of your favorite skincare products to make sure you're not applying these ingredients to your eye area.

3. Facial Moisturizers

"The skin around our eye area is one of the most fragile areas of our face, as the skin is actually thinner." Lamela says, "The mere exposure to the air and elements can cause visible changes around the eyes." In addition to the elements causing mayhem to the eye area, she explains to me that foaming agents can be drying and can cause flakiness too.

Heather Wilson, licensed esthetician and Director of Brand Development at InstaNatural, informs me over email, "Most facial serums and moisturizers are too aggressive for use on the delicate area around the eyes and can cause irritation, so to be safe — always stick to eye specific products for your eye care." Wilson adds, "Simply put — if a skin care product is not designed for use around the eyes, it shouldn’t be applied to the eyes. Although common ingredients can be used on the eye area, concentration levels should be adjusted to be safe for the eyes."

On the same topic, Haven Spa Senior Esthetician, Stalina Glot, tells me over email that face moisturizers, "...block access of oxygen to cells." Which can never be a good thing!

4. Acne Medications

"Acne medications are often applied to the full face but should not be used around the eye area." Says Dr. Zeichner. "Ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are great for the face, but if they inadvertently get around the eye, they can cause what we call a contact dermatitis, or an irritation of that skin. Especially if you have very sensitive skin, this can be a major issue."

"Be extra careful to avoid the eye area and wash your hands well after application so you don't touch the eye areas at night with fingertips that have residual medication on it. You can also talk to your dermatologist about acne medication options that are non-irritating to the skin e.g. ACZONE 7.5% gel." Dr. Zeichner recommends.

5. Scrubs

"Abrasive scrubs or rotary brushes can cause excessive irritation and even skin burns." Says Lamela. In addition to this, she tells me that microdermabrasion is, "Too aggressive for the eye area and can cause tearing in the skin, redness, irritation, and swelling." Which are obviously things we all want to avoid.

"Scrubs will irritate fragile/sensitive skin." Says Glot. So make sure if you're giving your face a gentle scouring, to keep the product well away from the eye area.

6. Products Containing Alcohol, Fragrances, Perfumes & Parabens

Lamela tells me that products containing alcohol can be drying and irritating, fragrances and perfumes can be irritating and can cause allergies, while parabens are, "Chemical irritants that cause photosensitivity."

However, if you find a more natural product created for eyes that doesn't include any of these ingredients, Lamela instructs on how to apply it to the eye area, “When cleansing the eyes, always use outward strokes on the upper lids and inward strokes on the lower lids." She says, "When treating the skin around our eyes always remember to be very gentle: Never rub or stretch the eye area. Eye creams should be applied in small amounts by using patting and light strokes around the eyelids."

But, bear in mind that according to Lamela, "Using the wrong products can cause inflammation which can lead to swelling, wrinkles, redness, itchiness, and even dermatitis.”

7. False Eyelashes

Ian Gavan/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

"As long as the product your using is explicitly meant to be used around your eyes, you should be fine." Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Janet Prystowsky tells me over email. "My only exception is false eyelashes. The adhesives in them can be irritating or cause allergic reactions to your skin, and the constant pulling on your real lashes could lead to damage or lash loss." This could be bad news for ladies who wear falsies regularly, but it appears that quitting false eyelashes will probably be better for your overall eye health.

According to Wilson, aside from using the right products, correct application of these products is key. She says, “Over and above what you should apply to the eyes, correct application of eye products is equally important." Wilson elaborates, "The eye area is warmer than the rest of the face, which makes products disperse across the skin easier. When applying eye products, it is recommended to use your ring finger since it is the weakest finger (which means less tugging) and focus application along the orbital bone — never putting product directly to the lash line. The warmth of the skin will move the product inward, covering the entire area. If you apply product too close to the lash line, the warmth will move the product into the eye which can cause discomfort.”

You only get one pair of peepers, so follow this advice on how to take top-notch care of them and avoid unnecessary irritation or worse!

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