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What is an Eye Cleanser?

By Amanda Barnhart
Updated May 17, 2024
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An eye cleanser is a product designed to wash away makeup, dirt, and debris from the eyelids and surrounding skin. Some cleansers are designed to remove makeup which can be difficult to wash off, especially if it is a waterproof formula. Other eye cleansers are formulated to help treat and prevent inflammation and infections. Some cleanser formulas are designed to protect the eyes from harmful chemicals in industrial and other hazardous work environments.

Skin around the eye area and on the lids is thinner and often more sensitive than skin on other areas of the face and body, making regular facial cleanser and many other skin cleansers too harsh for the eyes. Makeup removing eye cleanser comes in liquid and lotion formulas that help wash away cosmetics without requiring the user to scrub the eyelids, which can lead to irritation. Many makeup removing cleansers contain astringents and toning ingredients to hydrate the skin and soften the eyelid area.

Keeping the eyelids clean can help treat and prevent blepharitis, a condition that causes inflammation and swelling of the eyelids and the surrounding skin. Bacteria can accumulate on the eyelids and lead to blepharitis and other infections. An eye cleanser that washes the area to remove harmful bacteria can help eliminate these problems, and patients who must undergo eye surgery are often advised by their doctors to use a special eye cleanser for several days prior to surgery.

The eyelids can be washed with gentle soaps or diluted baby shampoos, and specially formulated cleansers to help keep the area clean and hydrated are also available. Many eye cleansers contain linalool, an ingredient that kills many bacteria found in the eye area. Other soaps and cleansers often dilute bacteria rather than kill it completely, making a cleanser specially formulated for the eyes particularly important for people who have been diagnosed with, or are predisposed to, eye problems.

People who work in environments where they are exposed to dangerous chemicals or debris that could get into their eyes should have an eye wash station near their work station to cleanse the area in case of emergency. Eye cleansers in occupational and laboratory settings are specially designed to neutralize or wash away the chemicals people are most likely to be exposed to while working. Some cleansers work by diluting the chemicals in and around the eyes to a safe level. Others have a warming or cooling effect to counteract the change in temperature that some chemicals cause when they get into the eyes.

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