Protecting our eyes from the sun is essential year-round — but summer is, of course, the cue to kick SPF coverage into high gear. “The skin around the eyes is among the most sensitive on the body,” says Joshua Zeichner, a board-certified dermatologist and the director of cosmetic and clinical research department of dermatology at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “It often goes unprotected from the sun because people are not applying sunscreen as close to the eyes as they should.”
Delicate eye-area skin is more prone to sun damage, burning, fine lines, and wrinkles than other parts of the skin, which is why this area of the face requires special care. Similar to the way we swap out a daytime moisturizer with SPF for a richer night cream before bed, it’s beneficial to do the same with two different eye creams. Look for one to protect skin during the day and another to soothe and replenish at night.
Choosing the right eye cream with SPF can be tricky, particularly if you have sensitive skin. “Eyelid skin is thinner than the surrounding facial skin, so can be more prone to sensitivity and irritation than the skin on the rest of the body,” says Rhode Island-based board-certified dermatologist, Tiffany Jow Libby. “As a Mohs surgeon, I see many patients come in with skin cancer on the eyelids and around the eyes, so if you have sensitive skin, stick with mineral SPFs in this area.” Libby says that sunglasses and hats are also a great option for UV protection around the eyes.
Much like shopping for traditional sunscreen, look for broad-spectrum coverage and products that can multitask so that it is not only protecting from the sun but moisturizing and nourishing as well. “Multitasking products are always a favorite in my skin-care regimen — SPF eye creams with added benefits like humectants to keep the skin barrier hydrated and peptides are a win-win,” says Libby.
If you’re wondering whether or not you need a separate sunscreen for your eye area, New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Morgan Rabach says that most sunscreens are made for the entire face, including around the eye. She notes that if you have especially sensitive skin and have experienced any bit of a burning sensation around the eye when using a traditional face SPF, it’s best to stick with a formula made especially for the eye area. These tend to have gentler ingredients. “There are great sunscreen formulations made for just for around the eye using ingredients that are more gentle as well as undereye concealers and tinted powders with sunscreen in them,” says Rabach.
Even with this intel, picking a safe and effective eye cream with SPF requires a bit more attention to detail than choosing other skin-care products. If you’re unsure, or if you have really sensitive skin, check in with your dermatologist before experimenting.
Consider these UV-protecting eye creams and concealers the skin-care equivalent of enormous polarized sunglasses, only they’re a touch less noticeable. Used in tandem with your daily sunscreen, these picks help protect the delicate skin around your eyes from sun damage—and the crow’s-feet and dark spots it can cause.
To help sort out which eye creams with SPF work best for every skin type, we sought out recommendations from several dermatologists. Keep scrolling to find out which formulas they love for protecting your precious eyes.