The Best Sunscreens That Won't Burn Your Eyes

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Chief among those sunscreen complaints that are often used as an excuse to skip it entirely are the telltale smell or the white cast it leaves behind. But there's also the uncomfortable (and unfortunately, all too common) sensation of stinging and watering eyes. Whether you notice it upon initial application, or it only really starts bothering you once the sweat beads start rolling down your face, the discomfort is enough to deter many people from wearing sunscreen altogether. But there are sunscreens that don't burn your eyes out there; you just can't pick any old formula you see on the shelf. Ahead, a handy guide to the best non-irritating sunscreens on the market, which are all non-greasy and unlikely to sting your eyes.

Why does sunscreen burn your eyes?

Like any form of irritation caused by topical products, everyone is different, and there are dozens of ingredients that could be causing your skin and eyes to react. However, there are some common culprits in sunscreen that contribute to burning and watering eyes that you can avoid, such as fragrance and chemical filters (stick to mineral sun blockers, like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, if chemical actives tend to aggravate your eyes or skin).

What are the best sunscreens for sensitive eyes?

Another simple way to ensure your sunscreen doesn't burn your eyes is to look for labeling like "tear-free" on the packaging. If you notice eye irritation only when you sweat or swim, choosing a water-resistant formula is an easy fix for preventing sunscreen from burning your eyes, too. And formulas that are created for babies and kids (or note that they're suitable for sensitive skin) are also safe bets when it comes to being tear-free and sting-free, as they tend to include fewer irritants. You can also try sunscreen serums, which — just like regular serums — absorb into your skin more effectively than lotions and creams, making the risk of them dripping down your face and into your eyes practically nonexistent.

To help avoid any tearful trips to the beach, here are some of the best sunscreens that won't burn your eyes.

The Overall Best Sunscreen That Doesn't Burn Eyes

This mineral sunscreen uses zinc oxide for a gentle form of sun protection that doesn't cause irritation or stinging. Kōkua Sun Care's Hawaiian Natural Zinc Sunscreen SPF 50 is full of natural ingredients that protect and nourish skin, like coconut oil, apricot fruit extract, and Hawaiian noni honey. The formula is also a favorite because the water-resistant lotion goes on clear and doesn't leave skin feeling greasy or sticky; feel free to put it on your body and face. Kōkua Sun Care is also dedicated to the environment, with its 100 percent recyclable packaging, coral reef-safe zinc formula, and its commitment to supporting local Hawaiian businesses, agriculture, and nonprofit organizations.

Relevant review: “This is by far my favorite sunscreen, and I have tried them all. We are an active family in and out of the ocean. So many sunscreens run into the eyes and sting, but not this one. My son has very fair skin so his eyelids burn. This sunscreen can be applied to his eyelids without stinging. It is also reef safe so we can jump in the ocean without worries.”

Best Face-Specific Sunscreen That Doesn't Burn Eyes

If you can feel your pores clogging just at the thought of rubbing a thick cream over your face, Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen's lightweight water-gel formula is for you. With a mix of mineral and chemical filters that protects skin from UVA and UVB rays, Blue Lizard takes skin care into consideration with nourishing and protecting ingredients like hyaluronic acid, green tea, caffeine, and vitamin E. The SPF is also paraben-free and fragrance-free, and comes highly recommended from Amazon shoppers.

Relevant review: “I have extremely sensitive skin so I try to look for products that are more natural. Many sunscreens burn my eyes, too, but this one doesn’t! It feels really nice on the skin and has prevented me from burning since I’ve been wearing it. I have a small farm so I spend a lot of time outside in the sun. Super glad to have come across this! I’m a fan for life!”

Best Tear-Free Sunscreen For Babies

Aveeno is already known for being gentle on skin, and the Aveeno Kids Zinc Oxide Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 has sensitive skin covered whether you're using it on a child or yourself. The broad spectrum sunscreen uses 100 percent naturally sourced zinc oxide to keep skin protected from the sun in a tear-free, sweat-resistant formula that's fragrance-free, paraben-free, and phthalate-free. The sunscreen provides up to 80 minutes of water-resistant coverage, and it's formulated with colloidal oatmeal to soothe and moisturize skin.

Relevant review: “Best sunscreen I have found for sports/exercising. It doesn’t burn your eyes when you sweat!!”

Best Stick Sunscreen That Doesn't Burn Eyes

Stick formulas tend to be free of common irritating ingredients because they are often specifically designed to be used on the face. CeraVe Sunscreen Stick SPF 50 uses mineral filters to offer broad spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays, and it was also developed with dermatologists to be non-irritating. Not only is the on-the-go stick fragrance-free and water-resistant, but it's also oil-free and noncomedogenic, so it won't clog your pores and cause breakouts. The stick formula lets you swipe the sunscreen directly under your eyes and across your lids without worrying about burning or stinging. It even contains ceramides to help keep your skin moisturized and help restore its natural barrier for protection against environmental aggressors, in addition to the sun.

Relevant review: “Didn’t know it was so tiny but it’s perfect to throw in a bag and take with you. DOESNT BURN WHEN I SWEAT! Everything else burns my eyes when I sweat so I can’t ever use sunscreen on my face. This works without burning eyes!”

Editor’s Pick: A Sunscreen Serum That Also Offers Blue Light Protection

“This is a great everyday sunscreen that absorbs quickly, so you can move on to applying other makeup. I haven't had any issues with any eye irritation. An added bonus: It even offers protection from blue light, and since I'm on a computer most days instead of at the beach, that's a win." Kate Miller, Elite Daily editor

Editor’s Pick: This Refreshing Sunscreen Gel That Feels Light As Water

This ISNTREE sunscreen is a staple in my morning routine and one of the best sunscreens I’ve ever used. The lightweight texture absorbs easily, leaving my face hydrated but not greasy, and I love the way it doesn’t leave a film or heaviness on my skin. I haven’t had any issues with it running or stinging my eyes (and I haven’t gotten any sunburns while using it, either).”Kori Perten, Elite Daily editor

Editor’s Pick: A Sunscreen Serum Made With Nutrient-Rich Superfoods

“Chemical sunscreens tend to break me out, but not Everyday Humans’s sunscreen. It’s relatively light, moisturizing, and creates a soft-focus finish that doesn’t look oily. It hasn’t burned by eyes when I’ve sweat either.” Jen Fiegel, Elite Daily editor

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