If you often suffer from dry, irritated eyes, the best eyelid cleaners may be able to help. According to ophthalmologist Brian Boxer Wachler, M.D., a medical reviewer at All About Vision, “dry eyes are commonly caused by inflammation in the eyelid glands,” also known as “meibomian glands,” but different things can cause this inflammation in the first place. In order to find the right cleanser for you, you first need to pinpoint the cause.
“Debris can accumulate on the eyelids and in the lashes, which can also cause irritation and redness,” Dr. Boxer Wachler wrote in an e-mail to Bustle. In that case, “Hypochlorous acid helps to kill bacteria on eyelids,” and luckily, this is a common ingredient in most top-selling eyelid cleansers, available in both wipe and spray forms. It can also help to tackle stubborn styes.
Sometimes, however, dry eyes are caused by more than just germs and residue; irritation can also be a symptom of eyelash or Demodex mites. This issue should first be “diagnosed by an eye doctor,” Dr. Boxer Wachler wrote, but once you know you have them, you can use a cleanser that includes an eye-safe percentage of “tea tree oil, which can kill eyelash mites.”
Using Dr. Boxer Wachler’s feedback, these are the best eyelid cleansers to tackle debris or eyelash mites (and, consequently, your dry eyes, too).
The Best For Eyelid Debris & Bacteria
1. The Best Wipes
OCuSOFT is one of Dr. Boxer Wachler’s top recommended brands, and these lid scrub wipes are the most popular option with buyers. (In fact, they’ve earned more 12,000 reviews and an overall rating of 4.7 stars.) They skip the alcohol, fragrance, and dye, and instead use a mild cleanser on a soft pad to remove makeup residue, bacteria, and many allergens. Since the wipes are pre-moistened and individually wrapped, they’re great for both at-home use or on the go.
One reviewer wrote: “These really soothe irritated itchy eyes. I wear contacts and recently had an issue with a stubborn sty in my eye. These have been a huge help!”
2. The Best Eyelid Cleanser Spray
With over 8,000 reviews, Avenova eyelid and eyelash cleanser spray is another fan favorite that’s also ophthalmologist recommended. It contains 0.01% hypochlorous acid, which is FDA-cleared to cleanse lids, tackle bacteria, treat styes, and relieve dryness and irritation. Just spray it on in the morning and before bed. The bottle is glass to prevent the leaching of toxins, and the spray top makes application especially easy.
One reviewer wrote: “I have suffered from Blepharitis and dry eyes for many years. This is the first product that has ever helped me. The copycats are ineffective. This is the real deal.”
3. A Hypoallergenic, Vegan Spray
Finally, for general lid irritation, there’s Heyedrate lid and lash cleanser. This one is also a spray that contains a hypochlorous acid formula, but if you have especially sensitive eyes, you’ll be glad to know that it’s designed to be hypoallergenic and skips the alcohol, fragrances, parabens, sulfates, and preservatives. It’s also a 100% vegan choice. (If you’re looking to test out a smaller bottle, get the 1-ounce version for $20.)
One reviewer wrote: “A big help for those of us with dry eye. [...] I think I have the world's most sensitive eyes and skin and yet have no untoward or bad reaction to this, and it cleans beautifully.”
The Best For Demodex Mites
4. The Ophthalmologist-Recommended Cleansing Foam
Dr. Boxer Wachler recommends Cliradex eyelid cleanser because it kills mites using a tea tree oil, which is anti-inflammatory and effective for relieving dryness. (It can also be used as a full face cleanser.) Finally, it’s free from parabens, alcohol, fillers, and fragrances, so it should be gentle enough for most sensitive eyes. It’s also never tested on animals.
One reviewer wrote: “Cleans the "dex-mites" from your eyelashes. [...] Great for cleaning eyelashes.”
5. The Best Anti-Mite Wipes
The final recommendation from the eye doctor: Mediviz eyelid wipes, which contain real tea tree oil in order to tackle Demodex mites. They help to soothe irritation, prevent dryness, and minimize clogged meibomian glands, all in a handy individually packaged, pre-moistened solution. They also don’t require any rinsing, so they’re great to have on hand while you’re working, traveling, or finishing up at the gym.
One reviewer wrote: “If you have to treat for eyelid mites, this is an effective way to do so, nicely packaged, not irritating, well designed material.”