The Best Thing You Can Do for Dry, Flaky Eyelids, According to Doctors Who Know

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If every square inch of your body is currently chapped, you're not alone. But figuring out how to treat dry skin eyelids can be especially tricky, since your regular moisturizing remedies might not cut it.

“The under-eye skin, eyelids, and surrounding skin is extremely thin, with the lowest elasticity, firmness, and oil production,” says Gary Goldfaden, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Goldfaden MD. “[It also has] the worst barrier function (i.e. limited absorption of actives and poor protection from environmental stressors).” Aka not the best combo for staying flake-free.

Looking for some medical advice for dry, flaky eyelids? That's where dermatologist recommendations come in. Keep reading for common causes of dryness, the best creams for dry eyelids, and sensitive eyelid care tips that will help fight off dry skin around eyes and eyelids in record time.

Experts In This Article

The causes and symptoms of dry skin on eyelids

There are a few common causes of dryness to be aware of. First up, flaky skin that comes about due to environmental reasons. "Like other areas of the face, dry skin may occur from time to time but tends to be more common in the winter due to cold, blustery weather,” says Chaneve Jeanniton, MD, an oculofacial plastic surgeon and the founder of Epi.Logic Skincare. “Because eyelid skin is thinner and more delicate, this dryness may feel more irritating than it would elsewhere.”

According to Jeannette Graf, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, topical products like sunscreen, makeup, and soap can also cause dryness and flaking skin around the eyes. However, if your dryness is accompanied by redness, itching, or swollen eyelids, it could mean that an allergy or contact dermatitis is to blame. "This type of dryness is triggered by irritants that are airborne or directly in contact with the skin," adds Dr. Jeanniton. Common culprits include pollen, perfumes, makeup, nail polish, and hairspray.

That’s not all. Certain conditions can be common causes of dryness, too, resulting in flaky skin around your eye area. “This can be caused by atopic dermatitis (eczema), seborrheic dermatitis (caused by yeast overgrowth, inflammation, increased androgen levels, and increased lipid/oil gland production), or in some cases, rosacea,” says Dr. Goldfaden.

Because there are so many potential triggers and causes, Dr. Goldfaden says it doesn’t hurt to make an appointment with your derm before trying a dry eyelids home remedy. They can give medical advice for dry, flaky eyelids—especially if you’re experiencing symptoms like irritation, redness, or pain, or dealing with dry skin on eyelids that won't go away no matter what you do. “It’s important to see a dermatologist to better understand what’s causing it,” he says.

But if you’re not experiencing any symptoms beyond the flakiness and want some moisturizing remedies (aka whatever it takes to get rid of dry eyelids overnight!), keep reading for some doctor-approved skincare tips to add to your eyelid care routine.

How do I get rid of dry skin on my eyelids?

One of Dr. Jeanninton’s top skincare tips is pressing "pause" on your usual routine. (Yep, that even includes your favorite drugstore lash serum.) "It’s possible that the eyelid skin is mounting an inflammatory reaction to an ingredient in your skincare or makeup, so my recommendation would be to streamline your routine—less really is more in this situation," she says. She recommends using only hydrating, calming, and moisturizing ingredients for sensitive eyelid care. And when you start wearing makeup again, opt for eyeshadow for sensitive eyes.

How about cleansing the dry skin around eyes and eyelids? Dr. Graf says her dry eyelids home remedy involves avoiding soap and water, even when you’re being gentle. "Instead, I would use a makeup remover, micellar cleanser, milky cleanser, or even something thicker like Ponds,” she says. “After using one of these removers, wiping the area with a wet soft cotton wipe is preferable." Dr. Goldfaden adds to avoid using hot water, as well as itching, picking, or rubbing your skin. If you need some extra relief, try using tea bags on eyes, which can help soothe the area.

The final step in treating flaky skin is investing in one of the best creams for dry eyelids that won't irritate the sensitive area. If you're wondering how to get rid of dry eyelids overnight (okay, okay—maybe not that fast), dermatologist recommendations include Epi.Logic Eye Contact 360 Night Repair Cream ($90) and Cetaphil Deep Hydration Refreshing Eye Serum ($22). Whichever option you go with, simply apply twice daily—day and night—and you’ll be flake-free before you know it. (There's also plenty of eye creams for sensitive skin and anti-aging eye creams to choose from, as well as the editor-approved Ilia eye cream.)

How to prevent dry, flaky eyelids in the future

Now that you know how to treat dry, flaky eyelids with dermatologist recommendations, there are some skincare tips and moisturizing remedies that can help prevent the issue in the future.

First things first: Eyelid care starts with removing all of your makeup before bed, which will keep it from irritating the skin as you sleep. Dr. Graf also recommends staying away from products that contain skin irritants—like alcohol, fragrances, dyes, sulfates, and parabens—plus harsh cleansers and exfoliating scrubs. "Use gentle skin-care products and soaps, and look into getting a humidifier to pump more moisture into your room when you sleep," she says. "Also, avoid hot water around the eyes, since it can strip the skin of its natural oil, called sebum, which will dry out the skin."

And, of course, if you notice any flakiness, don’t mess with it. That’s only going to further irritate the area and make it so the dry skin on eyelids won't go away. Instead, restart the treatment process all over again. “Basically, all triggers/topical products should be eliminated until the irritation subsides,” says Dr. Goldfaden. “That includes makeup, which shouldn’t be worn while the area is inflamed.”

Frequently asked questions

Is it okay to put Vaseline on eyelids?

Vaseline might seem like a great option for sensitive eyelid care, but it’s not the best cream for dry eyelids. While Dr. Goldfaden says both Vaseline and Aquaphor are competent moisture barriers, they contain petroleum and other ingredients that aren't recommended for use near the eyes and could harm your ocular health. “If you do use either, be very careful not to get any ointment in the eye, as it may cause irritation,” he says. For a safer option, dry skin around eyes and eyelids can be treated with gentle creams and lotions.

Should you put lotion on dry eyelids?

A common dry eyelids home remedy is utilizing creams and lotions. But there are some rules to keep in mind when looking for moisturizing remedies that won’t harm your ocular health. “Stay clear of artificial dyes, fragrances, acids, retinol, and essential oils,” says Dr. Goldfaden. Basically, you want to utilize the most gentle option you can get your hands on to treat dry, flaky eyelids, as the eye area is incredibly sensitive.

What cream is good for dry eyelids?

If you’re not sure what’s causing the problem, Dr. Goldfaden’s medical advice for dry, flaky eyelids is to first see a dermatologist. “The issue can be caused by several different factors, which may require different treatments,” he says. But a good cream for dry eyelids that's hard to beat is anything formulated for eczema, he says, which will be gentle enough for eyelid care.

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