What can you do when sunscreen stings your eyes?

“What the heck is wrong with you, Gio?”

It was a hot summer day. Clear blue skies. A light breeze in the air. Warm sunshine kissing your skin. It’s the kind of day you don’t often get in London. So when it comes, you have to make the most of it.

I was walking along Regent’s Canal with a friend, catching up with each other’s lives and making plans for the future. When, all of a sudden, I stopped dead in my tracks.

Ouch! My eye! It stung like hell. It was so painful, I started crying and rubbing my eyes to ease the pain. But it only made things worse.

My friend caught my face in his hands, keeping it still so he could take a better look at my eyes. Maybe something had accidentally slipped in?

Nothing. There was nothing in my eye. What the heck was going on?!

That’s when it hit me. The day was so hot despite the gentle breeze, my sunscreen had trickled down my forehead and into my eye.


My friend had a bottle of water with him – thankfully! – so we managed to clean up my eye. Eventually. But it got me thinking, how can you prevent sunscreen from stinging your eyes in the first place?

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Mineral Sunscreens Are Less Likely To Irritate Eyes

You know how I always say that I prefer mineral sunscreens? It’s true. If I have a choice, that’s what I use.

But as a skincare blogger, I sometimes get sent stuff I wouldn’t pick off the shelves of SpaceNK. In a way, it’s good – I get to try new products that didn’t catch my eye but turned out to be holy grails.

Other times… That day at Regent’s Canal was one of those other times. I was testing a chemical sunscreen with synthetic UV filters. When they got into my eyes… Ouch!

Mineral UV filters – that’s titanium dioxide and zinc oxide – are gentler so when they get into your eyes, they don’t sting as much. If I’m going for a long walk or know I will sweat, it’s a mineral sunscreen I put on.

FYI, that doesn’t mean that mineral sunscreens don’t sting at all. They tend to be gentler, which alone reduces the chances of irritations. But there’s always the chance there’s another irritant lurking in the product.

My point: check those sunscreen labels carefully – and always bring a bottle of water with you when you go out in the summer. You never know when you may need it!

Does your sunscreen irritate your eyes? Share your experience in the comments below.