Do eye drops work on acne? Optometrist and dermatologist weigh in
In a recent TikTok video, optometrist Carly Rose, OD, explains why using eye drops (originally posted by content creator Bree Martin) can also help with inflamed acne.
The viral recipe is pretty simple: you squeeze a few eye drops onto a cotton ball, apply it to the pimple (don’t rub it or it can cause irritation) and watch the redness go away. Both creators use Lumify Redness Reliever Eye Drops, which I personally swear by.
“Of course it will work—brimonidine [an active ingredient in eye drops] is a vasoconstrictor,” says Rose, meaning it helps narrow blood vessels; this, in turn, will reduce redness.
“Pimples tend to have more relaxed blood vessels and inflammation, which makes them look red,” Schweiger Dermatology Group board-certified dermatologist Nava Greenfield, MD, FAAD, tells mbg. By narrowing the blood vessels, you can effectively reduce this inflammation.
However, Greenfield points out that this hack actually works treat the pimple itself “It may temporarily improve the appearance of the pimple, but it doesn’t actually help the pimple go away,” she notes.
Also, it’s not something you have to do every day, otherwise the effects may wear off over time. “It is theoretically possible to develop tachyphylaxis after the active ingredient wears off, and the lesion may appear redder,” Greenfield says. (This means your skin may get used to the active after a few rounds.)
All of which is to say, if you’ve got a super red pimple right before a big event, these eye drops will help reduce redness instantly. Keep eye drops with you in case the redness comes back, but don’t make it a regular step in your skin care routine.
Finally, focus on treating acne with tried-and-true methods like salicylic acid spot treatments—here are some of our favorite acne treatments to get you started.