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How To Pick The Right Sunglasses

Sunglasses are right up there with sunscreen and swimsuits for beach-bag essentials during sunny summer months, but there are even more benefits to wearing a pair of shades than meets the eye. Yes, sunglasses protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays, allow for squint-free days in the sun (whether you’re lounging in the sand or sledding down a hill covered in fresh, sparkling snow), and look great in the process-but they also offer varying amounts of protection, last longer when properly maintained, and will look best when the frame complements your face shape. We’ve rounded up tips to help you identify different sunglass options and pick out your perfect pair.

aviator and cat eye sunglasses

Polarized Sunglasses Reduce Annoying Glare

women wearing sunglasses in floral dress

Glare on roads, water, or shiny objects can be annoying, dangerous, and downright frustrating. This glare can actually be reduced by wearing polarized sunglasses for increased safety and decreased headache-inducing squinting. These filtered sunglasses, invented in 1936, include an added layer of protection that blocks reflections by filtering the light rays coming from them. This means you see things with less glare and more clarity.

The polarizer filter does not adequately protect against potentially harmful ultraviolet A (UVA) ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, however. Before buying sunglasses, make sure they protect against 99-100 percent of both of these rays. If you’re unsure what level of protection your sunglasses offer, take them to a local opthamologist office where they will likely be able to quickly test them and verify their quality of protection.

Prescription Sunglasses Support Your Vision And Your Eye Health

red purse with aviator sunglasses

If you wear glasses, you may know the struggle of needing sunglasses on a sunny day but not being able to take your glasses off to swap. If this memory makes you cringe as much as us, prescription sunglasses may be your new sunny-day bff. They have tinted lenses that are equipped with UVA- and UVB-blocking filters as well as an eyeglass prescription. This means they allow for prescription-grade corrected vision without the need to wear your glasses layered underneath, and they have you covered on days you don’t want to put your contacts in. With various companies now offering prescription sunglasses, it’s easy to find a style that both looks good on you and accommodates your unique eyeglass prescription.

If having two pairs of glasses isn’t for you, there is also the option of going with transition lenses (also called photochromic lenses), which appear clear in low-light but darken and provide protection when exposed to UV rays.

Online Shopping Is Easier Than Ever

woman in pink tulle dress holding brown cat eye sunglasses

With online glasses retailers like Warby Parker and Zennies offering sunglasses, you can easily buy a new pair right from your home or favorite coffee shop. Some of the retailers, like Warby Parker, allow you to try on a variety of sunglasses then ship them back free of charge before you make a decision and order your own pair. These sites often offer prescription sunglasses as well.

When buying sunglasses online, it’s helpful to identify your face shape prior to shopping. Different sunglass frames and sizes look best on certain face shapes. Wayfarer styles, for example, generally look great on heart-shaped faces, while shapes like rectangles and squares are more suited for oval-shaped faces. How do you figure out your face shape? There are a few ways to go about it, but one easy way is to start by putting your hair up so you can see your face clearly, then examine your jawline. If it looks round like the bottom of a circle and your face looks tall, then your face shape is most likely an oval. If your jawline is round but your face resembles more of a circle, then you probably have a circle shape. If your jawline looks strong and similar to a square, then your face shape is most likely a square. If your chin narrows toward the bottom and your forehead is slightly wider, you may have a heart shaped face. Looking at your reflection in the mirror and comparing it to face diagrams online can help finalize your decision-or ask a friend or family member for assistance.

Brands Are Making Sunglasses Worth Your Money

woman wearing white dress and sunglasses

Popular brands like Ray-Ban and Oakley offer sunglasses that are wildly popular. These brands, and others like Maui Jim and Quay, specialize in glasses and sunglasses and offer frames catered to your exact needs. Whether you need a sporty pair to keep up with an active lifestyle or a fashionable pair that perfectly accessorizes any outfit-there’s a perfect pair out there for you.

Designer brands like Gucci, Tom Ford, and Prada have also added highly successful sunglass lines to their existing product lineups. From aviators to shields to wayfarer styles, designer brands are proving high style can also mean high function.