Sunny days are here and summer is in full swing, so it’s time to break out your best accessories and up your eye game. Of all your summer must-haves, we’d argue that sunscreen is probably the most important item you own, but closely behind it are your shades. Yes, those fashionable frames do a lot more than just look cool and keep you from squinting all day. They also protect your eyes and the skin around your eyes from harmful UV rays. And as a bonus for keeping your eyes safe, you also get to express your unique style and have a little fun with your summer fashion.
When you’re choosing sunglasses, a few key things matter. Style, of course comes into play. So does the shape of your face, your personal vibe and your price point. But you also have to consider the kinds of sunglasses you are going to wear and what level of UV protection they offer. And if you’re not lucky enough to have perfect 20/20 vision, then you might also want to consider prescription lenses to help you (literally) navigate your summer adventures.
Why UV Protection Matters With Your Sunglasses
It’s common knowledge that the sun can do a lot of damage to your skin, and while we love a bronzed glow and summer beach days, SPF is essential to keeping your skin safe during your time outside. We know that sunscreen can prevent the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation (both UVA and UVB rays) from reaching the skin, and that protection from SPF can reduce the risk of sunburns, skin damage and ultimately skin cancer. But even the most health-conscious and safety-focused people can overlook the potential damage that the sun can do to your eyes.
Yes, your eyeballs, and the skin around your eyes, including the eyelids and the underage area are all extremely vulnerable to the sun.
According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, “the sun’s rays can seriously damage the eyes and surrounding skin, leading to vision loss and conditions from cataracts and macular degeneration to eye and eyelid cancers.” And because we are exposing our eyes to the sun on an almost daily basis without even realizing it, we’re constantly putting ourselves at risk. Clearly you can’t put SPF in your eyes. As anyone who has ever had sunscreen run into her eyes during a pool day knows, it can sting and it is seriously unpleasant (to put it nicely). But what’s even less pleasant is irreversible eye damage, which is why sunglasses are crucial.
Sunglasses should block 99-100 percent of the sun’s UV rays, according to the Mayo Clinic. You also need to make sure that they screen out 75% to 90% of visible light. This information should be confirmed on the tag or packaging, and if you’re not sure, check with the sales clerk, ophthalmologist or optometrist you are working with.
For added protection, wraparound frames provide the most coverage, and the more glasses and lenses cover your eyes, the more they can block out the sun’s rays. Luckily for you, large frames are always in style, but more on that below. And lastly, even on an overcast day, the sun’s rays can still get through the clouds, so have your glasses handy any time you are going to be outside, especially during the hours when the sun’s rays are most potent, from 10am – 2pm.
Sunglasses Trends To Try for 2019
This summer there are several styles to choose from, many of which are classics and some of which are on-trend and very fashion-forward. You have lots of options and lots of freedom to find a look that is chic and right for you.
Oversized and Transparent
Large translucent lenses are very in this season, and they come in virtually every shape and color you can imagine. From bright blue to nude to yellow, these sunglasses are the perfect pop of brightness to give your wardrobe a bit of oomph, without going overboard on color. If you tend to keep your clothes simple, then these glasses are a fun way to experiment with different hues, and they add an instant dose of chic. We love these bright blue shades from Free People, these pink hexagon shaped shades from Chloe and these bright yellow beauties from Maison Margiela.
Visor Sport Glasses
You’ve probably seen people rocking these statement sunglasses — they’re all about full coverage and are reminiscent of funky 80s fashion, but they’re cooler and more modern than most visors or goggles. They’re a bit futuristic and a bit sporty, and they definitely make an impression. We love them because they cover a lot more of your face, so while they look cool, they’re also better for your eyes and your skin. Try these visor shades from Oakley or these futuristic frameless sunglasses from Acne Studios.
Retro Inspired Frames
Bigger, bolder frames and more playful shapes are coming back into style with these retro sunglasses. From oversized square frames to elaborate and colorful cat-eye lenses, these glasses are throwbacks in the best way. These fun cat eye glasses from Illesteva are funky but not weird and these square acetate sunglasses from Loewe just make you feel like you’re traveling back in time to the 70s.
This season Wayfarers are out and rectangular frames are very in. If you prefer a more angular shape that is classic and flattering, try out a pair of rectangular sunglasses that are a perfect blend of sleek but wearable. They’re understated but also on-trend, and come in a wide range of colors and sizes. We love these Baxter shades from Illesteva and these classic cool sunglasses from Gucci.
Aviators have always been synonymous with cool, from the Tom Cruise in Top Gun days to today. And this year they’re getting a modern twist thanks to colorful lenses, slightly updated shapes and more. These polished gold aviators from Warby Parker are a bit more round and these Rag and Bone shades have cool blue lenses that pop.
To Polarize or not to Polarize
If you’re confused about what it means for lenses to be polarized, you’re not alone. Basically, sunglasses with polarized lenses reduce glare from bright light reflecting off flat surfaces. Lenses that have an anti-reflective coating also reduce glare by preventing light from reflecting off the back surface of your sunglasses. And mirror-coated lenses limit the amount of light entering your eyes, providing increased protection.
Another thing to consider is whether or not you need any sort of prescription sunglasses. If you typically wear special lenses for reading or for seeing far away, then you might want to invest in prescription sunglasses so that you can see as clearly as possible without ever having to remove your shades.
The Right Frame Shape for Your Face
One of the most important aspects of selecting sunglasses, from a fashion perspective, is picking the right shape to frame your face. You need to first assess the shape of your face (round, oval, square, or heart-shaped) and then you can find the most flattering shades for a chic summer style. If you have an oval face (the most common and neutral face shape) then most sunglass styles will look great on you. Consider yourself very lucky.
If your face is squarer then a frame with rounded corners to complement the sharp angles of your face often works best. It’s all about balance — softer lines of glasses will work well to balance the square jawline. A heart-shaped face (think wide forehead and cheekbones but narrow chin) usually looks good with a cat-eye or round frame, but stay away from overly embellished or busy styles. If you have a fuller face (such as a round or oblong face) then stick to slimming styles, such as wide, oversized or wraparound frames; avoid any frames that are too narrow for your face as they’ll just accentuate your fuller shape.