Lots of us will know the important role a healthy skin barrier plays in keeping our complexions free from redness and irritation, but did you know that your eyes also have barriers that require just as much care and protection? So, if you’re suffering from sensitivity, dryness, redness or heavy-feeling lids, you should be treating irritated eyes in the same way that flare-ups are treated on the skin: with gentle care and special attention.
Here’s where to start…
Take regular screen breaks
Working in front of a computer screen every day means you’ll blink, on average, around eight times less than you should. To keep your eyes moist, make sure to take regular screen breaks every 30-60 minutes to consciously blink several times.
Turn to heat for lighter feeling lids
You may not see them but you have oil-secreting glands in your upper and lower eyelids that coat the eye surface and keep tears from evaporating. “Think of these glands like toothpaste tubes; they get blocked easily because of things like blinking less and not removing make-up properly. When these glands are blocked, eyes can appear smaller and less youthful, as well as feeling gritty and heavy,” says Nicola Cross-Alexander, optometrist and founder of eyecare brand Peep Club.
So solve this issue, use a hot compress or a warming eye treatment nightly, recommends Nicola. We love Beauty Pro Warming Eye Mask, which features in our OK! Beauty Box Good Times Edit along with four other star products. The contents of the box are worth a whopping £130 but new subscribers can shop it from just £7.50 here.
The mask itself cleverly gently warms up once it’s out of its packaging, creating a soothing, cocooning sensation. It’s ideal for bedtimes or travelling.
Improve your tear quality
Tears are like skincare for your eyes; without them your eyes will become dry and feel sore. “The tear film (a thin fluid layer that covers the outer surface of the eye) should be quite thick, but those suffering from persistent dryness will find theirs is much thinner than it should be – and the tears are lower quality,” explains Nicola.
You can improve your tear quality by consistently using good eye drops. Though they’re slightly more expensive, Nicola recommends shopping a preservative-free formula as many people find additives irritate their eyes.
Avoid common eye irritants
There are a few things that many of us use daily that could be to blame for making our eyes appear red and irritated. Loose powder, for example, zaps up oils on your skin. It does the same with moisture when it gets into your eyes. Another culprit is retinol. Use this too close to your peepers and, as new research suggests, it can have a drying effect on the glands around your eyes.
Finally, make sure you aren’t using out of date makeup. It seems obvious but many of us forget to check the expiration dates on our makeup, and an out of date eyeliner or mascara could easily cause irritation and even infection.