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When it comes to beauty for the eyes, we think of a slew of face-changing products: mascara, eyeshadow, false lashes, and eyeliner to name a few. But what happens when these very products cause our eyes irritation?
From redness to dryness, our eyes can go through the wringer—and with these new concerns come a plethora of recommendations. The first thing you’ll reach for is eye drops. And while it may seem simple enough—just run into the drugstore and grab one, right?—there’s actually more to those tiny, liquid-filled vials that are meant to soothe your eyes. Whether it’s a gel-like texture or the ability to cool your eyes instantly, there is an ideal eye drop formula for you.
Here, the best eye drops for dry eyes to give your eyes the relief they need.
Best Overall: Systane Lubricant Eye Gel Drops
A favorite of Drew Barrymore (on Instagram, she called them her favorite eye drops!), this lubricant drop feels as natural as your own tears. If you suffer from severe dryness, a gel consistency works best to deliver long-lasting moisture without having to constantly to reapply. While the texture is on the thicker side, it doesn’t feel jarring when dropped into the eye—a huge plus in our book.
Best for Mild Dryness: Blink Lubricating Eye Drops
Have you ever felt a “gritty” feeling underneath your eyelids? No, you aren’t imagining things. Unfortunately, that uncomfortable sensation can follow dryness, making for a very rough experience. This particular formula eradicates that feeling—the second you put it on, it gets to work, and continues to work for hours.
Best for Moderate Dryness: TheraTears Eye Drops for Dry Eyes
Created by an ophthalmologist after nearly two decades of research, these lubricant eye drops deliver much-needed relief for dry eyes. The unique electrolyte-balanced formula is equal parts gentle and active thanks to its preservative-free solution, a perk that reviewers who are allergic to preservatives especially appreciate.
Best for Severe Dryness: GenTeal Tears Lubricant Eye Gel
For the times when dryness actually starts to hurt, a heavy-duty formula like this one is needed. Because the texture is denser, it fully lubricates the entire eye. These drops are also ideal for overnight—simply add a drop or two to each eye before bed and the formula will do its magic all through the night.
Best for Irritation: Rohto Cool Max Eye Drops
Nothing beats the intense cooling sensation that these drops provide—a cooling sensation that instantly soothes as soon as it touches your pupils. The micro-emulsion formula targets all three layers of the natural tear film to successfully lubricate your eyes for up to eight hours.
Best for Itchiness: Clear Eyes Maximum Itchy Eye Relief Eye Drops
While dryness and redness are definitely an annoyance, itchiness is truly next level. To combat that, add this maximum relief eye drop to your arsenal. One user raves that her itching disappeared in the first few minutes after application. As an added benefit, it also soothes burning and irritated eyes.
Best for Redness: Lumify Redness Reliever Eye Drops
Ready for your eyes to sparkle? This redness reliever works in under 60 seconds to whiten and brighten the whites of your eyes. Active ingredient brimonidine specifically reduces the appearance of redness so that your eyes literally radiate. Plus, the reviews speak for themselves—one user notes that this is the only product that’s helped to battle her chronic red eyes.
Best Budget: Visine Original Redness Relief Eye Drops
This iconic formula flushes the redness out of your eyes for a clearer look. With 60 years of expertise, Visine is pretty much everyone’s go-to when it comes to eye irritation—and with good reason. The formula acts almost immediately—within 60 seconds—to constrict the small blood vessels in your eyes, which quells the redness.
Best Drugstore: Refresh Tears Lubricant Eye Drops
Major hydration meets a gentle formula in these eye drops. One reviewer, who suffers from extremely dry eyes, notes that she prefers these eye drops due to its consistency to keep her eyes moisturized throughout the day. Plus, we love that these drops don’t sting or irritate the eyes when applied.
Best Multitasker: Similasan Complete Eye Relief Eye Drops
If you tend to experience several types of eye irritation then this complete, all-in-one formula is exactly what you need. It relieves everything from redness, excessive watering, dryness, burning, and grittiness. And instead of harsh chemicals, the formula is packed with natural active ingredients, like homeopathic wildflower Eyebright. Holy grail, much?
Best for Allergies: Bausch & Lomb Opcon-A Eye Drops
Suffer from allergies? Whether it’s due to pollen, pet hair and dander, or even grass, this formula boasts ingredients like an antihistamine to help with flare-ups. A reviewer loved that it not only calmed her itching but also whitened the whites of her eyes quickly and efficiently.
Best for Contact Wearers: Bausch & Lomb Sensitive Eyes Rewetting Drops
Taking all the eye conditions we’ve talked about so far—dryness, redness, itchiness, and grittiness—there’s one that can make these concerns even more difficult to treat. Contacts. Enter: A mild formula that works to keep your contacts and your eyes hydrated without causing irritation. Meant to “rewet” your lenses, reviewers note that these drops are ideal for everyday use and wear.