How Do You Get Sunscreen Out Of Your Eyes?

mother putting sunscreen on child

How do you get sunscreen out of your eyes? If you’ve ever come across this unpleasant occurrence you understand the chaos that can follow. Getting sunscreen in your eyes is sure to put an abrupt halt to a day at the beach.

With the rise of aerosol sunscreens over the years it’s not uncommon for sunscreen to accidently land in places it isn’t welcome. For those who have experienced getting sunscreen in their eyes, they know just how painful it can be. 

Burning can last for hours, especially if you aren’t in an environment with optimal resources to flush it out. Rest assured, sunscreen won’t cause any permanent eye damage—however the chemicals can easily irritate the surface of your cornea, so it’s critical to know exactly what to do when this happens. 

What Do You Do If You Get Sunscreen In Your Eyes?

You’ve just lathered yourself in sunscreen to take precautions against the sun’s UV rays. As you proceed to lay down and soak up some Vitamin D your eye begins to itch. Without realizing you still had some product leftover on your fingertips, you’ve just rubbed sunscreen in your eye. 

So, now what? Stinging, burning or piercing pains are most likely to follow. You may begin to panic, however it’s imperative to stay calm. While it’s unlikely to ease the irritation, flushing your eyes out immediately with any steady stream of water will help rid the eye of sunscreen.

It is important to note, if you wear contacts, take them out beforehand. A shower is ideal, however if you’re at the beach this option is unlikely. Ideally you want to flush your eye for around 15 minutes. If you’re at the beach with no sink or bathroom, a water bottle will suffice.

As you flush your eye with water, blink regularly in order to assist your eye in flushing out these toxins naturally. A cold compress such as an ice pack from your cooler may provide some form of pain relief following the flushing process. 

While the stinging most likely will stick around for a few hours afterwards, this is likely due to the irritation caused by the harsh chemicals, mixed with constant flushing. However, if your eyes continue to burn for longer than 6 hours, it is recommended to contact an optometrist for a second opinion. 

How Do You Prevent Sunscreen From Getting In Your Eyes?

Avoiding this painful situation altogether can keep you from having to pack up and leave the pool as soon as you arrive. Watery eyes, stinging and burning sensations aren’t fun for anyone and can be prevented.

Maybe you’re a parent and you’ve just rubbed sunscreen in your child’s eyes, causing a giant meltdown that has ruined your family fun day. Rest assured, there are a few tips to keep in mind in order to proactively dodge this uncomfortable bullet. 

Avoid Spraying Sunscreen Directly On The Face

If you’re a parent of multiples, you know just how convenient those aerosol cans of sunscreen are. However, when it comes to the face it can be too risky to use a spray form. Keep a small bottle in your beach bag specifically for the face to avoid tiny droplets from getting into small, sensitive crevices. 

Do Not Let Children Apply Sunscreen Themselves

Not only do kids tend to over apply virtually any product you give them, they’re far less likely to apply sunscreen carefully. Even if you’re a parent of multiple children and it seems as though it’s easier for them to apply it themselves, remember: it’s always fun and games until someone gets hurt.

Rub Sunscreen In Thoroughly

One of the best ways to avoid excess product landing in your eyes, is to ensure you’re rubbing it in completely. Mineral sunscreens are even healthier, as they utilize zinc oxide—a mineral that sits on top of the skin, rather than becoming absorbed into the body.

Avoid The Eye Area Completely

As with many products, stay away from the eye area as best you can in order to avoid excess product infiltrating your eyes, via sweat or your hands. Wearing large sunglasses, and a wide brimmed hat to protect your eyes is a better option, as it provides a shield without needing any risky chemicals near your eyes. 

What Is The Ingredient In Sunscreen That Burns Your Eyes?

Avobenzone—ever heard of it? This is the pesky chemical that causes irritation when it comes in contact with the surface of your eyes. Avobenzone is a UV light blocker, however, it degrades when exposed to the sun.

When the chemicals in avobenzone break down, it exposes harmful chemicals to run free in the body. Sunscreens that contain avobenzone have been linked to nervous system dysfunction, hormonal disruption and cancers. 

Mineral sunscreens that contain minimal ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are less likely to cause an adverse reaction, as they don’t contain any levels of avobenzone. 

Can Sunscreen Permanently Damage Your Eyes?

If you’re the unlucky one who has accidentally applied sunscreen into your eyes, you may find that it continues to burn for hours after. You may begin to wonder if your eyes are going to suffer any permanent damage because of this.

Don’t fret, sunscreen very rarely causes any permanent damage to your eye, however, you may sustain a chemical surface burn that can be uncomfortable for several days afterward.

Is It Safe To Put Sunscreen On Your Eyelids?

While our eyelids are a particularly sensitive, vulnerable area on our face prone to sunburn, it’s always risky to apply anything that close to your inner eyes. However, using a mineral-based sunscreen is your best option.

It is chemical-free and won’t sting or burn if it accidentally comes in contact with the surface of your eye. Sunglasses and a wide-brimmed sun hat are always the best option to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. 

Getting Sunscreen Out Of Your Eyes: Final Thoughts

Your typical Banana Boat or Aveeno sunscreen most likely contains chemicals that will severely irritate your eyes if contact occurs. If you find yourself in this situation, stay calm and remember that sunscreen very rarely causes permanent eye damage. 

Find the nearest source of steady water and flush, flush, flush. After you’ve flushed for 15-20 minutes, find a cold compress such as an ice pack to help the redness and swelling that may have occurred. 

If you want to take a more proactive approach this summer, invest in mineral based sunscreens with as few ingredients as possible. Mineral based sunscreens don’t contain any harsh or toxic chemicals, making your trip to the beach as smooth as possible. 

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By Emma Eliason

Emma Eliason is a beauty writer at Kintegra Research. She has a passion for makeup and both skin and haircare. She is also a mom to a little girl whom shares the same love for beauty as Emma does. Emma is regularly trying out new products and always looking for the best!