Polarized lenses are incredibly beneficial when you want to keep your eyes free of harmful glare and UV rays, but that’s not all.
According to the Eye Care Center of Ocala, “Polarized sunglasses are just about as necessary as the shoes on your feet, especially for those living in sunny states like Florida and California.
Polarized lenses greatly reduce harsh glare (i.e. from other cars or even off the top of water) and offer UV protection.
We all know the damage that can be done from UV on our skin; the same goes for our eyes!
While sunglasses are fun and can add a certain aspect to our outfits, they are also great for the health of our eyes!”
Here we delve deep into why you might want to switch to polarized sunglasses below with our complete guide to what you should know, followed by detailed reviews of our top picks!
Polarized Sunglasses Buying Guide – What You Need to Know
While many people shop for polarized sunglasses based on style the most, and how they look on your face, you should know that there are many finicky little details that you should examine closely to determine if that great style you are buying into is going to last in the long term, or fall apart quickly.
Therefore, we’ll teach you how to judge the quality of a pair of polarized sunglasses, not only to find out which one would fit you the best, but also what what you should avoid.
This guide looks at the following:
- [ps2id url=’#1′ offset=” class=”]Choosing the right pair of sunglasses for your face shape[/ps2id]
- [ps2id url=’#2′ offset=” class=”]Sunglasses UV Protection % Tips[/ps2id]
- [ps2id url=’#3′ offset=” class=”]The significance of different lens colours[/ps2id]
- [ps2id url=’#4′ offset=” class=”]Finding the right balance between comfort and style[/ps2id]
- [ps2id url=’#45′ offset=” class=”]Durability / Impact Resistance[/ps2id]
- [ps2id url=’#5′ offset=” class=”]Ways to reduce and / or avoid glare[/ps2id]
- [ps2id url=’#6′ offset=” class=”]How much you should be spending on a new pair of polarized shades[/ps2id]
- [ps2id url=’#7′ offset=” class=”]Our Top Picks for Best Men’s Polarized Sunglasses[/ps2id]
Let’s dig in!
Choosing the right pair of sunglasses for your face shape
The first thing people do when they see a pair of stylish sunglasses is they try them on, naturally.
You probably know that if just because one pair of sunglasses looks good on your friend or even your nearly-identical twin brother, it might not work for you necessarily, so you need to check yourself in the mirror to ensure that things are looking good.
But what you should also do, in the long run, is determine the shape of your face. In other words, what type of face do you have?
Determining the basic shape of your face will not only help you choose the shape of your sunglasses, but it’s fairly standard procedure for anyone who sells glasses to look at your face shape before selling you regular reading glasses, as well.
Keeping these shapes in mind, eyeglasses and sunglasses aren’t exactly made to look the same way. Eyeglasses, for instance, are usually a lot more reserved in terms of the shape of the frames as compared to sunglasses.
That said, here’s a chart for sunglasses and face shape that we picked up over at Real Men, Real Style.
So, this list isn’t just about figuring out what would look good on you, but what would look bad on you. Of course, this chart is still merely a suggestion. If you strongly disagree with one of these matches or mismatches, that’s your call. These are just general guidelines to think about.
We spoke to Bill Palmer at Taylor Creek Optical in Ft. Pierce Florida, and we asked him about sunglasses, when it comes to face shape.
The Taylor Creek Optical website has tons of eyewear info, so check that out sometime!
Bill says: “When buying eyeglasses or sunglasses, your face shape can (and should) help with selection of frame shape.
The basic idea is to finish with an oval shape combination. What this means is if you have a wide jawline and a narrower brow you would opt for a wider frame to make the complete shape more oval.
If you have a round face stay away from round glasses. On the contrary if you have a wide brow line and a narrow chin you would select a frame that is more angular and wider at the bottom. This will still achieve the desired oval shape.
Most important thing is, do not choose a pair of sunglasses that is too small and lets too much light in.
After all, that is the main purpose to protect yourself from the dangerous rays of the sun.
You also want to allow airflow between your face and the glasses so this is critical. Close fitting enough to keep the sun out but not touching the face. This will cause the glasses to fog from your body heat.”
Overall, the goal here is accurately assess the actual shape of your face and work with what you got.
You don’t want to misjudge your own face shape, and a lot of people, when they look in the mirror, frankly cannot assess their own face shape, for one reason or another.
This sort of dysmorphic view themselves that some people have is not good, because it means you won’t know what looks good on you…and you need to know!
So if you can’t judge your own face / head shape, ask someone who will help you figure it out. Maybe your mom!
There’s a great video here by Alpha M. that talks about what looks good, and what doesn’t for a man’s face shape.
The face shapes, and sunglasses that look good on them, according to this video, are:
- Round face – pointed sunglasses, aviators, wayfarers, narrow bridge sunglasses
- Oval face – glasses with smooth line frames, aviators, cat’s eyes sunglasses
- Square face – large sunglasses, coloured frames, frameless sunglasses, aviators, cat’s eyes sunglasses
- Rectangular face – large-framed sunglasses, aviators, round-framed sunglasses
- Heard-shaped face – round sunglasses, small frames with a narrow bridge, aviators, wayfarers, frameless sunglasses
- Triangular face – round sunglasses, aviators, cat’s eyes sunglasses, frameless sunglasses
The trend here is not to buy sunglasses that are the same as the shape of your head. Round head? Square sunglasses. Square head? Round sunglasses. Got it? Good!
Now, how about size? Don’t conflate size and shape, because they’re two different things.
You may have found the right shape, but then you might fail on the size match. Here’s a great video showing how to assess sunglasses so that they fit best.
This guy makes a lot of good points. There’s a lot to consider with sunglasses, from the fit around the temple, to the size of the lens, to the size of the bridge. The type of frames contribute to the look as well.
Tip: If you’re trying sunglasses on at the mall or in a store, try getting more than one opinion on how they look on you. I’ve sometimes gotten the most frank assessment from some other shopper.[ps2id id=’2′ target=”/]
Up next, we get into the topic of UV protection and how much is enough.
Sunglasses UV Protection % Tips
We reached out to West Coast Sunglasses in Clearwater, Florida, to get their take on UV-protective lenses.
“Let’s start by saying that polarization is an added layer on your lens.
Premium Polarized lenses such as the Hawaiian Island Creation Premium Polarized Eyewear is designed with multiple layers such as anti scratch protecting film, Hydro coating, TAC or PC coating, hard coating film for added durability and PVA glare eliminating polarized film.”
Shop for great brands here at Beach Time Sunglasses
“To better understand the benefits of premium polarized eyewear we will need to understand the reflection of light from plain smooth surfaces.
When light falls on a flat surface the reflected light is directed in the horizontal planes instead of dispersing of scattering in all directions.
What we experience is the annoying and harmful flashes of white that is known as glare.
A prolong exposure to high intensity glare may results in temporary blindness.”
Here’s a fatal traffic crash expert, talking about deadly sun glare. Not a fun topic, but well worth watching.
West Coast Sunglasses continues on the topic of polarized lenses, “The PVA film, known as Polarized film, aids in eliminating such glare. In technical terms, the PVA filter allows the passing of only a portion of light wavelength that are not aligned with the particle of the filter.
PVA film consists of tiny molecules that align in parallel with respect to one another. Premium polarize film is coated uniformly on the lens, the molecules absorb the entry of all light intensities that matches their alignment.
Polarized sunglasses are designed in such a way that allows passing of only vertical polarized light. The texture and shape of objects become clearer, irrespective of the glare. This way, polarized lens reduce the glare effect.”
So, if you’re getting sunglasses with polycarbonate lenses, you shouldn’t worry about the percentage of UV protection since you’ll be 100% protected against ultraviolet radiation.
But if you’re purchasing sunglasses with plastic lenses (which make about 80% of sunglasses out there), you will notice that these types of sunglasses show the exact % of UV protection provided.
We highly recommend settling only for 100% UV protection sunglasses, and definitely avoid cheaper sunglasses which claim to block UV.
We recently spoke to fashion and accessories guru, and Dynamikos founder/CEO, Dayna Lee Cornelius.
We asked her about polarized sunglasses UV tips she might be squirrelling away, and she graciously allowed us to reprint this section of her related blog post:
“When you’re searching for a quality pair of sunglasses you need to make sure that they’re UVA and UVB protected. There’s also polarized options out there that are a great winter choice.
However, not all polarized glasses are also UVA & UVB. So make sure what you’re purchasing are not just polarized but also provide the proper protection you need.
Winter is a perfect time for finding sunglasses that can cater to all of your outdoor activites.
All of our DYNAMIKOS frames come with the option of polarization.
Polarized glasses are the perfect choice for outdoor enthusiast, providing anti-reflective coatings that prevent glare from windshields, snow and water.
So, whether your out for a drive or hitting the slopes, we have something to suit your needs.”
Thanks Dayna![ps2id id=’3′ target=”/]
We also spoke with Arielle Faeldan with IVI Vision out of Santa Ana, California. We asked her about her thoughts on polarization, and not to pull any punches.
She responded thusly,
“Polarized lenses are helpful but not necessary unless you are specifically trying to reduce the glare caused by sunlight reflecting off of surfaces such as water, snow and glass windshields.
When wearing sunglasses without polarization, the lenses only reduce the amount of light that is transmitted through the lens both horizontally and vertically.
If you choose polarized lenses, the glasses absorb horizontal light waves, while still allowing vertical waves to pass through.
Basically light only travels in one direction through polarized lenses which then eliminates glare. You can thank us for making your road trips and boating experience better.”
Arielle continues, “There are so many sunglasses out there that claim they offer the best protection for your peepers, however, our Carl Zeiss Sunglasses Lens set will render you speechless.
These ultra-premium, impact-resistant, and optically pure lenses provide unmatched protection while still granting perfect clarity.
We offer polarized and non-polarized options with UVA, UVB and Blue Light protection to best suit your needs.”
Bottom line, when it comes to UV protection, specifically UVA and UVB, you need to make sure that that’s what you’re getting!
The significance of different lens colours
If you’re online browsing, or out and about looking at a huge rack of sunglasses, you’ve most likely noticed that there is a wide variety of lens colours to choose from.
Especially these days do we have such a variety of colours and tints, as even the lesser known (and potentially not good) companies have figured out how to make sunglasses look really cool, even if they are kind of cheaply made.
And then there’s companies like Prada who deliver some fancy lens colours with stunning results. Like these:
But it’s good to know the different between Prada, and, say, these:
So, the question arises. Are these tinted lenses just for show, or do they perform some important function for the glasses?
According to Kevin Dees of beachfitters.com, “Coloured or tinted lenses are mostly for aesthetic effect when it comes to polarized glasses, except for the fishing lenses.
Oakley offer both Shallow and Deep water Prizm Polarized. They maximize the lens tint and polarization for each fishing environment.”
He continues, “Deep water Prizm Polarized is for fishing in deep water and filters the various colors to maximize the blues.
Prizm Shallow polarized is more for rivers, lakes, and streams. Filters out a lot of copper and reds to see below the surface. Each is specific to the environment for that sport.
All the other polarized lenses are mostly aesthetic.
Most of the Oakley Prizm lenses are non polarized and are catered to a specific sport.”
When it comes to brands like Oakley, who have a huge budget to actually connect lens colour to certain pragmatic attributes, ie. colours that match the function you’ll be using the shades for.
Check out this chart right here, borrowed from their really great buyers guide to their own Oakley shades.
Lens color also affects the lens darkness, and your ability to see. Depending on your location and the type of weather you get – you would want to ensure the lens color matches your needs.
For instance, if you’re somewhere that’s sunny nearly all the time, you want maximum protection, which lends itself to darker shades.
However, if you live somewhere where summers are mostly cloudy, you would want a brighter lens that will still do well in both clouds and sun.
If the temperature is cold, and you’re looking at a lot of snowy landscapes, here again this will require another adjustment on the lens colour, not just for style, but for function of the kinds of light it reflects.[ps2id id=’4′ target=”/]
Up next, we have to strike a balance…
Finding The Right Balance Between Comfort and Style
No matter how nice a pair of sunglasses look, if they’re not comfortable – would you wear them? Probably not.
Finding the right pair can be a challenge sometimes, considering what we’ve mentioned thus far about knowing what kind of head shape you have, then considering the size and shape of the sunglasses in relation to your head.
Also, there’s the colour of the lenses, and how that looks with your skin tone, and then how powerful the UV protection is.
On top of that, there’s fit to still really consider, especially around the bridge and the eyepiece.
Some sunglasses have little pads around the nose, and you have to be weary of those as well, since some of them will cut into your face a bit, while others rest easy on the bridge of your nose.
And then there’s the ears to think about. What if the sunglasses look good on the front of your face, but back by the ears, they’re pinching.
Don’t make the common mistake of buying sunglasses that hurt a bit to wear, but look really cool. You’re only going to have to take them off at some point, because some part of those glasses are going to be bothering you in terms of the fit being off.
To be momentarily dramatic, it’s like wearing a small corset on your head, that’s pinching and squeezing your skin and hurting your skull. Also, have you ever had a headache from wearing too-tight sunglasses for too long. Trust me, that’s not a fun day if you realize that your sunglasses were the cause.
You’re looking for something that looks good in the mirror, to you, and then just feels right as well. You should probably also wait a minute or two after you try them on.
Some guys want to go to the store and get out as fast as possible, but you really should give it a minute before you throw down $500 just because the clerk says you look cute.
Overall, when it comes to comfort vs. style, it’s a tough thing to navigate, we admit. Sometimes you’re in a hurry, and you just want to buy some shades and be done with it. Maybe you don’t like the mall, you don’t like the people at the kiosk, and you just don’t want to bother… and yet you want some cool ass shades, pronto.
There’s always shopping on line, but in such cases where you’re going to buy online (we have some selections below, in fact), make sure that all the information you need is on the website you’re buying from. What exactly are you getting? Can you return them if you hate them?
Basically, picking up a pair online is all well and good, but we feel that you do need some experience in knowing what has worked for you before, because then it’s like buying pants. You know your waist size, you know your leg length, just order them online, it’s all good.[ps2id id=’45’ target=”/]
But if you have no idea what you’re doing, you should probably wander into a store some time with some goals in mind, and carry those out. This way, you’re being systematic, and that will lead to the best pair of shades possible.
Durability / Impact Resistance
One factor that must also be considered when it comes to sunglasses, or glasses in general, is durability.
If you have ever accidentally sat on your glasses, especially a brand new pair, you know the pain and shame that can be associated with destroying something you just paid hundreds of dollars for and were in love with.
When it comes to toughness, it’s as simple as using materials like steel or titanium to reinforce the frames, and reinforced lenses, to avoid your glasses getting bent, crushed, or scratched.
One brand we reached out to, SeaSpecs, are known for their impact resistant lenses, which is something we always look for and recommend to anyone looking for a good pair.
Christina got back to me and said: “SeaSpecs high-quality, impact resistant lens are Polarized to block harmful glare and provide 100% UVA/B protection from the sun’s intensive rays.”
This is all very necessary, since SeaSpecs customers are very active, performing a variety of vigorous activities, many of which involve sand and dirt flying around everywhere, making short work of lesser lenses.
Christina continues, “SeaSpecs offers sport specific sunglasses that provide protection from the wind and the sun’s harmful rays.
Our secure strap system keeps the light-weight glasses comfortably on your head where they belong to protect you while you’re in the water.
And SeaSpecs float in the ocean so you may never have to lose your sunglasses again!
SeaSpecs offers different tint levels so you can get the best vision possible regardless of the environmental conditions.
For example, on bright, sunny days the grey lens model would be your best bet and SeaSpecs offers 6 frame color options with the grey lens.[ps2id id=’5′ target=”/]
During the early morning and late afternoon periods – dawn and dusk, the Sunset Specs and the Tortuga Specs (brown lens models) provide perfect protection without compromising your vision.”
How to Reduce or Avoid Glare?
Glare is an interesting (and by that we mean annoying) phenomenon that can happen even if you’re wearing sunglasses.
Most of the people rely on sunglasses when driving, but if you happen to get a glare inside your sunglasses, this can put you in a really dangerous position.
One might think, “My sunglasses were hella expensive. How can glare affect me? Isn’t that the point of sunglasses?!” But sometimes, my friend, the price of a pair of sunglasses can go towards making you look cool more than it can go towards reducing glare, sadly.
Now, polarized sunglasses offers you a much better glare protection, and usually come with a special filter on the side to completely eliminate glare.
This filter blocks the reflected light that sometimes can be found bouncing around, and gets inside some less protective eyewear. This is another reason polarized lenses are great, is because they are typically synonymous with glare reduction / elimination.[ps2id id=’6′ target=”/]
If you’re trying to reduce glare on your sunglasses with the non-polarized lens, with no protection from the side, then you can try to adjust them as best you can, however their protection may only be temporary or extremely limited.
How much you should be spending on a new pair of polarized shades
A pair of sunglasses can be pricy nowadays, that’s for sure. What with so many famous people looking so good in shades, everyone knows how a pair of shades can actually make you look like the coolest (and maybe wealthiest) guy in the room.
People know what’s what when it comes to sunglasses (especially women, with their vast knowledge of brands and how much things cost), so there’s no point in trying to fool anyone. If you want to rock a pair of pricy shades, do just that.
But how much should you expect to pay, as a guy, for a great pair of shades?
We asked the fine folks over at I-Sea, who are famous for making some of the hottest shades for both men and women. One of their reps, Joey, got back to us with the following:
“That is a great question. From our perspective people generally pay more then they need to for proper eye protection when talking polarization.
A man should expect to spend between $48-$229.00. This is a huge range in price, however, there are obviously many differences in polarized lens options.
The higher priced ($179.-$229) are typically for glass polarized lenses – which have a greater chance of shattering over a PC polarized lens.
To answer the specific question, a man can get a great polarized sunglass for under $50.00.
Our PC Polarized lenses are the top polarized lenses available from our suppliers. The I-SEA Polarized lenses have Scratch and Oil Resistant Hydrophobic Sea coatings that pass a 48-hour hot sea-water immersion test.”
Overall, it’s not worth risking your eyes to a pair of non-quality sunglasses. Instead, trying to find a sweet spot between the cheap and expensive sunglasses is your best bet if you’re on a budget.
We can’t always assume who’s reading this, or how much money you have, but there’s also a certain seasonality when it comes to sunglasses that you can ponder before buying, ie. if you know you’re going snowmobiling this winter and you’re usually half blind, set your sights on a November date to buy, and by the time you are out in the powder, things will be good.[ps2id id=’7′ target=”/]
Now, on to our top picks for best polarized sunglasses for men!