Pala Eyewear founder, John Pritchard, shares his top tips on the science of finding the perfect pair of sunglasses.
A pair of sunglasses will likely be your most-worn summer accessory now that the sun is finally making more regular appearances, but finding a pair that suits your style and your face shape can be a challenge if you’re not sure where to start and your goal is to find the perfect pair to last a lifetime.
Did you know different frames are better suited to different face shapes and that even your hairstyle can make a difference? No, neither did we. That’s why we asked Pala Eyewear founder, John Pritchard, to answer our most pressing questions and share his expertise on the science of choosing sunglasses that can be worn for many summers to come.
Help! Why can’t I find a pair of sunglasses that suit me?
“The biggest challenge is simply understanding how a frame will work on your face,” says John. “How often do we find ourselves going through endless racks of sunglasses, pretty much working on a trial and error to find the shape that best suits us? It doesn’t have to be this way. There is a science finding a frame for your face; this is where you can save yourself time and effort by narrowing down your choices. This is particularly important if you are shopping online and want to ensure the frame you are buying is right for you without the hassle of having to return them in disappointment.
“So, the science. For the vast majority of us it’s all about bringing ‘balance’ to the face rather than accentuating your face shape. For example, if you have a round face then you look at a frame with angles to break the ‘roundness’ of the shape. Likewise, if you have a square face then you want a round frame to soften those lines. Once you’ve hit upon the shape(s) that work for you, you’ll know that any choices within those parameters will work. It’s then all down to personality and colour choices. Blend in with blacks and tortoiseshell colours or stand out a little more with crystal pinks and blues.”
Does my hairstyle make a difference?
“Hairstyle does play a surprisingly important role in the overall aesthetic that sunglasses bring to your style, and is an important part of your decision making. For example, long wavy hair will already be helping to soften your features, which may well suggest you could go for a more angular frame, while on the flip-side, short hairstyles will tend to lead you in the direction of frames that soften and therefore counter-balance your more defined features.”
OK, so what are the main things we look out for when hunting for the perfect pair of sunglasses?
“There are several elements to a good pair of sunglasses. You should be looking at quality and therefore should focus on an acetate or, better still, a bio-acetate frame. Normal acetate is a polymer made out of wood pulp and cotton, which is biodegradable already, but when plasticisers are added to the manufacturing process this no longer becomes the case. Bio-acetate uses bio-degradable plasticisers, so ultimately better for the future of our planet overall. I would recommend avoiding using any injection moulded frames, which you’ll find at the bottom end of the market. Sadly it’s cheap plastic that will be more likely to break or bend.”
FACE SHAPE SCIENCE
“Apply the science behind your face shape (see the short guide below) to narrow down your choice. Pay attention to details about the frame. When you buy a frame online you will often be given a set of numbers that describe specification of that frame. For example – our popular Meria frame reads 51-18-140. This tells you quite a bit. ‘51’ states the width of the lens, ‘18’ the width between lens and ‘140’ the length of the temple arm.
“Standard temple arm lengths are between 130mm to 150mm, and many frames you’ll find play to the average of 140mm. So if you see anything significantly below or above you are looking at a frame designed possibly for a smaller or larger head size.
“Likewise, standard bridge measurements range from 14mm to 24mm, the smaller width working for faces that have eyes closer together (yes we all differ there too!) and vice-versa. The width of the lenses range from 40mm to 62mm in standard eyeglass sizes. Similar to the detailing on the temples, if you are seeing widths of 40mm then invariably this will be a frame for a small face, likewise 62mm will be for a larger face. Anything between 48mm-55mm will often work for a ‘normal size’ face shape. Right, I think that’s enough numbers! Once you know your numbers, whether you are choosing online or in a shop, you’ll always be getting something close to your best fit.”
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DIFFERENT FACE SHAPES
There are lots of different colour options, which should I choose?
“The colour is very much a personal preference depending on how you like to view the world. The most common lenses are a brown or smoke, either solid or graduated as they synchronise best with the dark and tortoiseshell frames. The G-15 is another popular lens, with a dark green tint – you’ll often find this in more of the classic styles out there in the market. However, some people may prefer a pink, blue or yellow hue on their world and we certainly wouldn’t step in their way.
“The most important thing is that they provide your eyes 100% UVA protection and always check that with whoever you are buying from. There is also the FC (filer category) factor which ranges from 0-4. FCO is for lenses that have just a very light tint and used most often for normal spectacles, whilst FC4 is used for high level of protection – these lenses will allow less than 10% of light to transmit through the lens and only used in specialist situations. For the likes of you and me, FC3 is the most common, providing a good level of UV protection and a high level of sun glare reduction. You’ll still be okay with FC2, found in more fashion forward ‘lighter’ styles, which provide a medium level of sun glare reduction and good UV protection.
“Finally? A quick reference to polarised lenses. These have a special filter that blocks this type of intense reflected light, reducing glare and discomfort. So think snowy mountains and sparkly seas – if you find yourselves frequently exposed to these conditions, then perhaps a polarised lens should be an additional consideration.”