cheap pink sunglasses
pink sunglasses for sale
cheap pink sunglasses bulk
cheap pink aviator sunglasses
cheap pink ray ban sunglasses
The Best Cheap Sunglasses
UPDATED JUNE 26, 2019
- We now recommend more types of sunglasses that work on more faces—with 11 picks in five styles—and we have added some information about sunglasses for people with a large or wide head.
- Justin Krajeski
After testing dozens of pairs of cheap sunglasses with thirteen people, we found 11 pairs of affordable, UV-protected, polarized sunglasses across a variety of styles that’ll match any look and will work just as well on the beach as in your Tinder profile.
We found good and affordable aviators, round sunglasses, cat eye sunglasses, and wayfarer-style sunglasses, and if Kylie Jenner’s ever looking for an inexpensive pair of tiny sunglasses that she can wear on her next Instagram Live, we have a pair that should work for her, too.
- Our favorite aviators: J+S Premium
- Also consider: Kent Wang Aviator
- Our favorite round sunglasses: Sungait Vintage Round
- Also consider: Kent Wang Sunglasses Keyhole
- Our favorite cat eye sunglasses: EyeBuyDirect Cartel
- Also consider: EyeBuyDirect Lulu
- Our favorite wayfarer-style sunglasses: Goodr The OGs A Ginger’s Soul
- Also consider: Sunglass Warehouse Cove
- Also consider: Sunski Headland
- Our favorite tiny sunglasses: Thomas James LA Furious
- Also consider: Vivienfang 48 mm 90s Vintage Sunglasses
- Why you should trust us
- About UV protection
- How we picked
- How we tested
- The competition
Our favorite aviators: J+S Premium
The J+S Premium aviators are UV-protected and polarized, and they feel nice to wear on your face for long periods of time. Plus, they have a sturdy metal build.$17* from Amazon
*At the time of publishing, the price was $0.
Why they’re great: Of all the different types of sunglasses we tested, aviators were the toughest to differentiate because they’re so similar aesthetically. Still, our panelists liked the $17 J+S Premium sunglasses because they were comfortable, fit most testers well, and offer UV protection and polarization at a low price. They have a one-year warranty.
The J+S Premiums rest comfortably on the nose and ears; senior staff writer Nick Guy and editor Marguerite Preston both said they were the most comfortable aviators that they tested. They’re light, provide lots of coverage, and have nosepads that can be adjusted to better fit your face. Social strategy manager Sasha VanHoven said they had “the best balance of average shape and not-trash feeling.” The only aviators our panelists liked more than the J+S premiums were the Kent Wang sunglasses, which cost three times as much.
The J+S sunglasses’ metal build is sturdy, and their spring hinges allow for a satisfying clicking feeling when you open and close their arms. They feel well-made; we never worried during our use that they might fall apart. That’s a good sign, especially when you’ve spent less than $20 on a pair of sunglasses.
The J+S Premium sunglasses have a classic aviator shape, and although the ones we brought in for testing were black frames with black lenses, you can choose from a variety of colorway options from black-on-black to silver/pink-on-gold. They come with a case as well as a cloth for cleaning your lenses.
If you have a wider head, the large version of the J+S aviators has lenses measuring 62 mm wide and an overall frame width of 152 mm, the widest of any sunglasses we tested. Those widths, combined with the flexible metal arms, make these sunglasses well suited for people who have trouble finding a pair that’s large enough. However, the arms aren’t as long as on the BFG variant of the Goodr OGs, which may work better for some people.
The J+S Premium sunglasses come with a one-year warranty on its frame and lenses and a 30-day money-back guarantee, too.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Some of our testers felt that the lenses on the J+S Premium were too big for their face—the glasses come with 58 mm (small) or 62 mm (large) lenses. You may be able to compare that size to a pair of sunglasses you already like by looking for a string of three numbers on the inside arm—the first number is the width of the lens in millimeters. And though we didn’t encounter any issues during testing, Amazon reviews mention a wide variety of problems—crookedness, breaking after a short period of time, and lenses falling out within the first couple of weeks. The J+S Premium have a one-year warranty on their frame and lenses if you happen to run into any issues, and you have 30 days to return them if you’re not happy with your purchase. Most people who bought these frames on Amazon and opted to return them within the first month described the process as smooth and quick.
Warranty: one year
Return policy: within 30 days
Also consider: Kent Wang Aviator
Kent Wang’s Aviator sunglasses are expensive (for cheap sunglasses), but they’re UV-protected, polarized, especially comfortable to wear, and more compact than other lenses in this category. But they have only a 30-day return period, with no warranty we could find.$55 from Kent Wang
Why they’re great: Although they cost $55 at the time of writing, a fair chunk more than the J+S Premium, Kent Wang’s Aviator sunglasses stand out from the other aviators we tested thanks to their smaller, more rectangular steel frames and the quality of their construction.
The Kent Wang aviators are smaller and less droopy in their lower corners, as noted by senior staff writer Joanne Chen. “I liked how the lenses were kind of small, but they didn’t feel tight,” said updates editor Michael Kennelly.
The Kent Wang’s steel frame feels noticeably sturdy compared to the “metallic alloy” of the J+S Premium—the Kent Wangs are stronger and more resilient—and our experience with more than a year of wearing other Kent Wang sunglasses makes us confident they’ll last longer.
Kent Wang offers three different frame colors to choose from—gold, gunmetal, and silver—and their lenses are the same dark shade.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The only real issue we have with Kent Wang is with their return policy and lack of warranty. 30 days is shorter than we’d like—ideally you’d have more time to test them on your own before the return window closes. But we’ve found that they offer notably good customer service (we’ve even spotted them on platforms like Reddit, helping customers in need).
Warranty: no warranty
Return policy: within 30 days
Our favorite round sunglasses: Sungait Vintage Round
The Sungait offered the best combination of UV protection, polarization, comfort, and sturdiness of any round sunglasses we tested. Plus, they come with a lifetime warranty and money-back guarantee.$16 from Amazon
Why they’re great: The Sungait Vintage Round sunglasses are fully UV-protective and polarized. They’re more comfortable and sturdier than the rest of the similarly-priced round pairs we tested. Plus, we found during panel testing that they look good on lots of people’s faces; they evoke the appearance of the Ray-Ban Erika for a fraction of the cost. They also come with a lifetime breakage warranty and money-back guarantee, which is nice to see at this price.
The Sungait were the most comfortable pair of round sunglasses that we tested with our panel at this price; their only competition in comfort was the Kent Wang Sunglasses Keyhole, which cost about three times as much. While we dismissed other sunglasses for being too tight on some testers or awkward placement on our faces, the Sungaits fit the majority of our panel best—wearers on our panel even noted that their keyhole nose bridge and welcoming fit made them more comfortable than similarly-priced round sunglasses.
The Sungait’s plastic temple-tips and frames are reinforced by sturdy metal arms. Testers on our panel noted that the metal arms felt strong, and no one worried about the build quality, unlike the delicate-feeling Thomas James LA Fame. Sungait provides a mini-screwdriver in case you need to adjust the hinges, a welcome surprise for a pair of sunglasses that cost less than $20.
The Sungait look and feel classic and nostalgic at once. They are logo-free and unisex (although they appear to be marketed towards women on Amazon). We recommend buying them in black, with gray lenses—Dr. Ellen Koo, one of the opthamologists we spoke to, told us that gray lenses offer better overall protection, especially from light reflected off of water and pavement. They come with a glasses bag, and a cloth for cleaning your lenses, too.
The Sungait Vintage Round sunglasses have a lifetime warranty, which is a great perk for a pair of sub-$20 sunglasses.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: We had no complaints about the Sungait during testing. Comments on Amazon indicated that some users may have found issues with their quality—the Sungait broke within their first day of use, the lenses were too dark for them to see through, or their lenses began to bubble. In all scenarios, though, it seems Sungait has replied to Amazon comments and offered to replace the sunglasses. We appreciate Sungait’s willingness to extend customer support to these buyers, and we encourage anyone who buys from them to use their lifetime warranty and money-back guarantee.
Only some of the Sungait variants on Amazon are polarized, so double-check if you’re going with a different lens color.
Polarized: yes (Amazon sells other Sungait colorways that aren’t polarized, so be sure to read the description for the lens color you’re buying first)
Warranty: lifetime warranty
Return policy: lifetime money-back guarantee
Also consider: Kent Wang Sunglasses Keyhole
The Kent Wang Keyhole sunglasses are made out of cellulose acetate for more comfort and durability than the Sungaits; they look as good as luxury pairs twice their price.$55 from Kent Wang
Why they’re great: Though more than three times the price of the Sungait, Kent Wang’s Sunglasses Keyhole are the most comfortable round sunglasses we tested, with a lightweight but solid build and replaceable lenses. If you don’t mind spending more money, they offer a more distinctive, stylish look, and they’re 100 percent UV-protective and polarized, like the Sungaits. We’ve been recommending Kent Wang’s Sunglasses Keyhole since late 2017—and I’ve been wearing my pair for as long—and we haven’t found any issues with them.
While the Sungait Vintage Round sunglasses are plastic frames with metal arms, the Keyholes are made from cellulose acetate, which is both lightweight and flexible. Despite being thicker than the Sungait, the Kent Wangs weigh about the same, and are especially light for this bulkier style of round sunglasses.
We sampled the sunglasses in black and tortoiseshell acetate; the Keyhole comes in various shades of acetate or horn (although horn costs much more). Both the acetate and the horn frames are distinct and striking. Acetate, in particular, does a great job displaying vibrant colors. The glasses garnered compliments from friends and acquaintances, as well as questions about where we had gotten them. The frame has no external branding, but it does have a small, gold-foil Kent Wang logo on the inside of the left arm; it’s tasteful and attractive, and it’s impossible to see while you’re using this pair.
The Kent Wang Keyhole fit all of our panelists comfortably, and they were the sunglasses I kept reaching for, even after testing finished. They’re also solidly constructed, with flexible spring hinges that provide a satisfying click when you fold and unfold the arms. The spring hinges on the Keyhole sunglasses allow a wider range of movement in its arms compared to the screw-bolt hinges on the Sungaits, which are less resilient. While our panelists found the Sungaits to be comfortable, too, the Keyhole’s acetate body make them easy to wear for even longer periods of time.
These glasses didn’t scratch or break in our testing, and while they’re better built than other, cheaper sunglasses, you’ll probably want to baby them a bit due to their price. If you do scratch the lenses, Kent Wang sunglasses have replaceable lenses, although it may be easier for your peace of mind to buy a new pair of cheap sunglasses instead.
This pair doesn’t come with a storage pouch, and if you want to return them, you only have 30 days. This model also isn’t as widely available as our other picks—you’ll find it sold only through the Kent Wang website.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Since the acetate on the glasses was so smooth, during hot days, we found that sweat built up between the plastic and our skin—but never excessively or enough to make us uncomfortable.
The only issue with the Keyholes is their 30-day return policy and lack of warranty. 30 days is shorter than we’d like; ideally you’d have more time to test them on your own before the window for returns closes. We wish they had a warranty backing them, too, but we haven’t run into any issues with the Keyholes since we started wearing them in 2017.
Warranty: no warranty
Return policy: within 30 days
Our favorite cat eye sunglasses: EyeBuyDirect Cartel
The EyeBuyDirect Cartel offer UV protection and polarization, and they were a standout in terms of comfort and fit. Their cat eye shape isn’t too large for most faces, and we appreciated the tortoiseshell touch.$22 from EyeBuyDirect
Why they’re great: Out of the five cat eye sunglasses that we tested, the EyeBuyDirect Cartel were more comfortable than other cat eye options that we tested. They fit all of our panelists well, and many of them mentioned that the shape was nice without being too big on their face (as some cat eye sunglasses tend to be). They’re also UV protected, and you can buy them with polarization for around $50.
Most of our panelists found the plastic on the Cartel comfortable, and the build quality sturdy enough for everyday wear. Social strategy manager Sasha VanHoven, a panelist who proved very selective in her cat-eye sunglasses testing, blessed these shades with the highest of compliments: “they actually look nice,” compared to some of the other similarly-priced options. “The Cartel don’t feel cheap at all,” she said.
“The EyeBuyDirect Cartel have a pretty, classic shape, and they weren’t overwhelmingly large,” said updates writer Dorie Chevlen. Noting the Cartel’s mod influence, Chevlen added, “The tortoiseshell pattern is cute and I like how reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn these are.” Many of our panelists positively mentioned the tortoiseshell frames in their responses, and I have to agree—the patterned design isn’t as flashy as some other tortoiseshell options, but that works for the Cartels rather than against them.
If tortoiseshell isn’t your thing, EyeBuyDirect offers the Cartel frames in clear brown and clear navy, too; they manage to be both subtle and unique.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Our biggest issue with the EyeBuyDirect sunglasses, although they were our favorites in testing, was the price. The Cartel would be decently priced for their base cost of $22; unfortunately, that doesn’t cover polarization, which is $30 on top of that. (All prices are of the time of writing.) For around $50, the EyeBuyDirect Cartels are more expensive than we’d like, but EyeBuyDirect was the only sunglasses manufacturer to make cat eye sunglasses that everyone on the panel rated highly.
EyeBuyDirect offers a short, 14-day return policy for fit and style but thankfully adds a year-long warranty for any unexpected issues you find with materials or workmanship.
Warranty: a year-long warranty that covers defects in materials and workmanship
Return policy: within 14 days
Also consider: EyeBuyDirect Lulu
The EyeBuyDirect Lulu offer UV protection, polarization, comfort, good build quality, and a distinctive gold band that connects above your nose.$30 from EyeBuyDirect
Why they’re great: If the EyeBuyDirect Cartel aren’t what you’re looking for—maybe you don’t like the tortoiseshell pattern or the clear frames—the EyeBuyDirect Lulu are a good pair of cat eye sunglasses that all of our panelists liked. They’re UV-protected, like the Cartel, but they typically cost around $10 more. (With polarization, they come in at around $60 total; a higher price tag is an issue with the Cartel, too.) Everyone found the Lulu comfortable to wear and the build quality to be tough and long-lasting. The Lulus are attractive, with a distinctive gold-colored band that is lowkey and striking all at once. Updates writer Haley Sprankle said, “I like the gold accent above the nose and the simple, dainty shape of the Lulu frame.”
Most of our panelists noted how comfortable the Lulus were. For a pair of cat eye sunglasses (which are generally regarded as feminine), the Lulu sunglasses rated highly among the men on our panel for comfort, although they wouldn’t wear them regularly.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Like the Cartel, EyeBuyDirect offers a short, 14-day warranty for fit and style for the Lulu sunglasses and adds a year-long warranty for any unexpected issues you find with materials or workmanship.
Warranty: a yearlong warranty that covers defects in materials and workmanship
Return policy: within 14 days
Our favorite wayfarer-style sunglasses: Goodr The OGs A Ginger’s Soul
These wayfarer knockoffs looked good on just about all our panelists, they were comfortable, and they have sturdy hinges.$25 from Goodr
Why they’re great: Goodr’s The OGs are versatile, unisex sunglasses that work on almost any face regardless of size or shape. They’re a riff on the classic design of the Ray-Ban Wayfarer and were the most widely liked of all the sunglasses we tested in this style. They’re UV-protected and polarized, they’re comfortable, and they feel durable. For $25, Goodr offers a solid value in a simple shape that feels built to last. Goodr only offers a 30-day return window, but they have a year-long warranty.
Lots of panelists commented on the pleasant feel of the Goodr sunglasses. Both editor Marguerite Preston and updates writer Dorie Chevlen told us the Goodrs were the most comfortable wayfarer-style sunglasses they tried. The Goodrs slip onto your ears softly and stay put, even as you’re running around—Goodr markets their sunglasses for running and working out in, which translates to the sunglasses staying in place better for non-sweaty activities, too.
Some of our panelists said the Goodr OGs felt well-made for their price, with sturdy, solid hinges that make opening and closing the arms easy. We had no issues with their design, although there is a small “goodr” written in white on the sides of the sunglasses’ arms. Chevlen added that the very dark look is classic and goes with just about anything.
All the frames Goodr sells as “the OGs” are the same wayfarer-style, just in different frame and lens color combinations, and should be as good. The OGs come in a pouch, which doubles as a microfiber cleaning cloth.
If you have difficulty finding sunglasses that are big enough, Goodr sells a variant of the OGs called the BFGs. Per Goodr, these glasses have “wider frames, longer arms, and bigger lenses than our OGs,” with an overall frame width of 146 mm and a temple length of 155 mm, notably longer than anything else we saw. Although we didn’t test this version of the OGs, we still think it would be a good option for someone with a larger head looking for a wayfarer-style pair of sunglasses.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The only issues we had with the Goodrs were the short return window and the dreadful naming scheme—the matte black colorway we tested is called “A Ginger’s Soul,” which is a bad and unnecessary dig.
Warranty: one year
Return policy: within 30 days
Also consider: Sunglass Warehouse Cove
The black Sunglass Warehouse Cove look remarkably similar to Ray-Ban Wayfarers, and they are well-built and comfortable.$14 from Sunglass Warehouse
25% off sitewide w/code TWC25
Why they’re great: The Sunglass Warehouse Cove are classic wayfarer-style size and shape, and their glossy frames are closer to the original than the matte black Goodr OGs. Because of their more traditional style—with larger lenses than the Goodr and reflective silver-tone rivets at the corners—the Cove look almost exactly like a pair of original Ray-Ban Wayfarers, but you only have to pay about a tenth of that $150 price tag. The Cove are UV-protected, polarized, and comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
The Cove sunglasses are available with black or tortoise frames. They aren’t sold with a case, although Sunglass Warehouse sells cases separately.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Two of our testers felt that the Cove lenses were too plasticky and cheap-feeling. Some comments on the Sunglass Warehouse website call them too flimsy, and one commenter complained that the tiny screws in the sunglasses’ arms worked their way out of the sunglasses after they bought them. Although we didn’t experience this during testing, we encourage you to use Sunglass Warehouse’s one-year return policy, though it’s unclear if the policy covers defects, since it stipulates glasses must be returned in original condition.
Warranty: no warranty
Return policy: within one year
Also consider: Sunski Headland
The Headland are as comfortable and good-looking as the Goodr OGs, but they come with a generous lifetime warranty.$50 from Sunski
Why they’re great: Our panelists enjoyed wearing Sunski’s Headland sunglasses, and for around $50, they offer something that no other cheap wayfarer-style sunglasses we found do: a lifetime warranty that includes breakages. What this means is that if you experience any manufacturer’s defects, or if the sunglasses break under normal use, Sunski will repair or replace them for you. (Sunski even says that although this warranty doesn’t cover lost frames, reach out to them and “maybe we can get you a deal,” which would seem like a pretty generous, human policy.)
The Headlands were comfortable in our use, fit pleasantly on our heads—especially around the temples and ears—and felt sturdily constructed. They look like classic wayfarers, and they come in a few different colors. As with the Kent Wang Keyhole sunglasses, we received numerous compliments from acquaintances and friends while we were wearing this Sunski pair during testing—the frame had an unusual, translucent design that was minimal and fun. Sunski also packages their sunglasses with a microfiber cleaning pouch.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The Sunski Headlands are more expensive than the other wayfarers we tested, but we think that they make up for that in their lifetime warranty. We tested the Grey Sky frames, bright blue lenses in a translucent gray casing, and testers noted that the lenses were brighter than the other sunglasses. If you’re looking for a less colorful pair of lenses to wear on a regular basis, we recommend the Grey Black lenses.
Return policy: 30 days
Our favorite tiny sunglasses: Thomas James LA Furious
The Furious are UV-protected, polarized, and it was the one that most of our testers hated least. But it’s not as tiny as the Vivienfang.$55* from Thomas James LA
*At the time of publishing, the price was $20.
Why they’re great: Though none of our panelists enjoyed testing tiny sunglasses, Thomas James LA’s Furious sunglasses were the least hated model we tested. They’re UV-protected and polarized, so they can technically protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays; although to achieve this statement lewk a la Bella Hadid, you should expect to wear the Furious frames on the tip of your nose, an inch or so below eye level, nullifying any sun protection these shades set out to cover.
The Thomas James LA Furious sunglasses perched comfortably on our faces—not at the tip of the nose—during testing. Although they still qualify as tiny—the lenses measured a short 34 mm height, and 58 mm length—they were the least small of the tiny sunglasses we tested; most of our panel noticed that and rated the shades higher than the competition for it. “They have a nice, sturdy feel, and the hinges won’t fall apart,” said updates writer Jordan Bowman.
The Furious glasses have a heptagonal (seven-sided) shape, but the golden-colored frames look a little cheap. It was better than the alternatives we tested, though, and the Thomas James logo on the side of its left arm is small and thin enough to be ignored. Each pair of Thomas James LA sunglasses comes with a printed palm case for storage.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Most of our panelists didn’t like how these—or any tiny sunglasses—looked on their faces. “The Thomas James LA Furious are the least offensive of the bunch that we’ve tested, but I’d still never wear them,” said Wirecutter editor Marguerite Preston.
I think we will regret this tiny sunglasses look
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) May 14, 2018
The Thomas James LA sunglasses also suffer from a disappointing 21-day return policy. Although this gives you enough time to try them on and wear for a week or two, this kind of warranty means that you have to return them quickly if you think they might break.
Return policy: within 21 days
Also consider: Vivienfang 48 mm 90s Vintage Sunglasses
These shades offer UV protection, but no polarization. Only some of our panelists liked their geometric shape, but they were comfortable to wear. If you’re looking to achieve the maximum tiny sunglasses look, these may be the best pick.Buy from Amazon
*At the time of publishing, the price was $27.
Why they’re great: If the hexagonal shape—or the golden frame—of the Thomas James sunglasses isn’t for you, Vivienfang’s 48 mm 90s Vintage Sunglasses are a nice pair of tiny sunglasses with striking yellow lenses. They offer UV protection, which is what’s really important, but no polarization. At around $26, the Vivienfang cost a little more than the Thomas James Famous. They are comfortable, and the build quality is solid.
Staff writer Kaitlyn Wells said, “I’m surprised by how much I love these geometric shapes—I would prefer a color other than yellow, but it’s my favorite design overall.” Updates editor Michael Kennelly asked, “Can you get them without the yellow lens? I’d like these without the yellow lenses.” (The only other option is pink.)
The Vivienfang sunglasses come with cleaning cloth and case, and you have 30 days to return it.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Unlike other tiny sunglasses we tested, a few of our panelists took issue with the shape of the Vivienfang sunglasses; the lenses are mostly oval, but the bottom of each lens points downwards. “I hate the shape of the eye on these,” Wirecutter updates writer Jordan Bowman remarked. And as we noted above, not everyone loved the yellow color of the Vivienfang’s shades.
Like the Thomas James LA sunglasses, the Vivienfang sunglasses suffer from a short warranty period. For around $30, we think you should be able to live with your sunglasses for more than a few weeks before you have to decide whether you’re going to need them returned or repaired.
Warranty: within 30 days
Why you should trust us
To find out how people should be protecting their eyes, we interviewed several experts in 2017, including three ophthalmologists: Ravi D. Goel, MD, a clinical instructor at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia and spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology; Suzann Pershing, MD, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at Stanford University School of Medicine, who also serves as chief of ophthalmology for the VA Palo Alto Health Care System; and Ellen Koo, MD, an ophthalmologist and faculty member of the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami, who specializes in corneal and external diseases and LASIK.
About UV protection
Ultraviolet rays are short rays (or wavelengths) of light that aren’t visible to the human eye. “There are three types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC,” Pershing told us. Goel explained that although UVA rays accounted for about 95 percent of UV radiation, UVB rays were more likely to penetrate your eyes on an overcast day, at higher altitudes, or near highly reflective surfaces such as snow and ice. The atmosphere filters out UVC rays, so people don’t have to worry about those.
It’s important to protect against UV rays because they can cause and accelerate “many eye diseases associated with aging, including cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and solar damage to the eye surface,” Pershing said. “You’re also at risk for eye cancer and more immediate structural damage to the retina at the back of the eye.”
Goel told us that the level of UV radiation entering the eye in the early morning (between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.) and the late afternoon (2 p.m. to 4 p.m.) was nearly double that of midday, and that UV rays generally increased between the months of April and October throughout the continental United States, although the overall level of solar radiation depends on your location.
If you want to check how strong the solar radiation is in your particular area at any given time, you can do that using online resources such as AccuWeather’s UV Index Forecast. The site provides a rating for your area from 0 to 10: the higher the number, the more dangerous the sun’s UV emissions are, and the more precautions you should take to protect your eyes.
How we picked
We focused on affordable sunglasses with full UV protection and polarization for people who need a protective, comfortable pair of shades that they can use and abuse without feeling guilty about it. After researching more than 120 affordable pairs of sunglasses from trusted retailers, as well as popular pairs of sunglasses on Amazon, we found 37 models that we wanted to test from suppliers like Hawkers, Sunglass Warehouse, Sunski, Knockaround, Kent Wang, ZeroUV, Goodr, Foster Grant, Thomas James LA, among others. Our criteria for consideration were:
- UV protection: As Dr. Ravi D. Goel told us, with lenses without UV protection, you end up allow more damaging UV rays to enter your eyes than if you had no sunglasses at all, leaving your eyes vulnerable to a slew of nasty ailments (more on that in the UV protection section). When you shop for sunglasses, always make sure to choose lenses with 99 or 100 percent UV protection or UV400 labeling (“UV400” means that the glasses will block all light rays with wavelengths shorter than 400 nanometers, which is the cutoff for UV light).
- Price and value: After speaking to people who tend to break or lose their sunglasses, we decided that a good pair of cheap sunglasses should meet all other criteria for less than $30. For those who took good care of their shades and were willing to pay more for style, excellent build quality, or other bonuses, we raised our price cap to $60.
- Comfort: Although comfort is hard to evaluate because peoples’ faces and glasses tolerance vary widely, we sought frames that were lightweight and pleasant to wear for long periods of time on a variety of face shapes and sizes.
- Build quality: Cheap sunglasses should feel solidly constructed and should be able to withstand your throwing them into a backpack or onto the backseat of your car. In our testing, full-metal hinges helped —the hinges made their arms easier to fold and unfold—but we considered those models with plastic hinges, too.
- Design: An unsightly logo or brand name emblazoned on your sunglasses can ruin an otherwise great pair of shades (paging the previous design of the Gamma Ray Cheaters, which Gamma Ray has since corrected), so we looked for a minimal design. Models that offered a variety of color combinations to suit more people’s preferences were great, but we didn’t eliminate glasses that lacked options.
- Lenses: Although the lens color is primarily a matter of style and preference, Dr. Ellen Koo told us, “Different color tints can serve different types of advantages. Gray-tinted lenses offer better overall protection and help reduce glare, especially off water and pavement surfaces. Amber or brown lenses improve contrast and enhance depth perception. Green lenses transmit all color evenly, meaning color perception is even. These also offer good contrast in dim or low-light conditions.”
- Polarization: Polarized sunglasses offer adequate UV protection, no glare, and increase in contrast, as well as a decrease in eyestrain. You may have trouble looking at certain LCD screens through polarized glasses, however.
For prescription sunglasses
- The Best Places to Buy Glasses OnlineAfter testing comparable frames and lenses from seven online retailers, we recommend starting your search for prescription eyeglasses at EyeBuyDirect.
How we tested
I inspected and tested 37 pairs of sunglasses (across five categories) over the course of a week, walking around Manhattan, reading outside coffee shops, taking the subway, and napping in Prospect Park. I also tested the sunglasses’ durability and scratch resistance by throwing them into my backpack as I headed into work and to the gym. This cut our list of contenders by a third to 25 pairs. I then set up a testing panel and constructed a survey at The New York Times. Eight women and five men came to sit down, try on, and answer questions about which pairs they liked in each category of sunglasses, and which pairs they didn’t; although the majority of our panel is Caucasian, two of our testers identify as Asian American, and two are African American. We gathered their responses and used their input to recommend a couple of pairs of sunglasses per category.
We tested the polarization of the sunglasses by lining up two pairs of each model of sunglasses, turning one gradually at a 90-degree angle to the other, and seeing if the overlapped portion of the lenses became opaque. You can see just how we did it—and how to try it yourself on your sunglasses—in the animation below.
Foster Grant’s Air Boss have two ugly, thick bars that connect the two lenses, which create a more severe and distinct look. While this may work for some people, they didn’t work among our panel. They’re also shorter and wider than we would’ve liked.
Hawkers’ Dark Lacma were fine in most respects, and some of our panel appreciated their size. Updates writer James Austin said, “The lenses were a good size, and they felt like they’d actually stay on my face, which wasn’t true for many of these.” We ultimately dismissed them because other aviators scored better on our testing panel as a whole, and I personally didn’t like that the Hawkers’ frame was black at the top, and turned gray towards the bottom. Keep your ombré designs away from my sunglasses, thanks.
The Kirkland Signature M40 have a boxier, more severe cut than the rest of the aviators we tested, and the bar that bridges the top half of the sunglasses is thick, which makes them distracting to look at.
Everyone who tested the Knockaround Mile Highs said their lenses drooped too low and made you look like you’re trying to cover bags underneath your eyes. Another panelist noted that the arms felt loose. Although I personally liked the look (because I am constantly trying to hide the bags underneath my eyes), we agreed that for most people, the J+S Premium or the Kent Wang Aviators offer a better look and better construction.
Of all the sunglasses we tested, the polarized Luenx Aviator Sunglasses felt the cheapest (while actually being on the pricier side of our test pool), and we worried about breaking them after just a bit of light use. They come with a number of accessories, though: a fat, soft-shell case, plus a cleaning cloth and a storage pouch.
For the most part, the Sunglass Warehouse Vista look like every other aviator we tested. But the reviewers on Sunglass Warehouse’s site comment that the shades scratch easily—something that we noticed during testing, too—and I’m sorry, but that all-caps “POLARIZED” text over the right shade is truly hideous.
Thomas James LA’s Cruise sunglasses were a little too big on my face—and I have a big face—and they felt easily breakable. Although their color pattern is interesting (black and darker black on the lenses, and a silver coating on the frame) that wasn’t enough of a reason for it to be a pick.
Cat eye sunglasses
Goodr’s Breakfast Run to Tiffany sunglasses were a little too large, and the accents were a little too loud, for most panelists.
The Thomas James LA Tart and Thomas James LA JJ sunglasses felt smooth against our ears, and they seemed properly constructed. But their thick frames were much more pronounced than our cat eye sunglasses picks, and we think they’re over all less appealing than the EyeBuyDirect Cartel or the Lulu.
The XOXO Pacifica sunglasses, which we tested but were out of stock at time of publication, were a more subtle take on the cat eye sunglasses category, but the glasses only come in one color—floral—that felt limiting compared to our favorite cat eye sunglasses, which come in a variety of colors.
The ZeroUV C822 and ZeroUV C828-01 cat eye sunglasses are a good buy for the price; they were pretty comfortable, and they seemed well-made. Even so, the design on both was a little outlandish for most of our panel testers, who shuddered at the sight of them.
The Hawkers Black Gradient Moma were a little small for our faces, so while they may be protecting your eyes from the sun, you’ll look like a beetle in the process.
The Knockarounds Mai Tais scored perfectly average marks in our panel testing. Senior staff writer Nick Guy said that they were “nice and light, with an attractive shape and good plastic quality. The tapering makes them look like cat eye sunglasses—which I wouldn’t wear—although they’re not quite there.” When choosing to spend $16 or $25, we ultimately decided that the Sungait were a better buy for anyone who wants round sunglasses.
The Sunglass Warehouse Phillips were a fine pair of UV-protected, polarized sunglasses, but they didn’t look as good on our faces as other options. The metal bridge that comes across the nose has a few distinctive ridges on it that draw attention away from the shades; we preferred the Sungait and the Kent Wang frames, instead.
Like the Phillips, the Sunglass Warehouse Potrero were acceptable, but we didn’t like how glossy the frames are.
The gold frame on the Thomas James LA Fame sunglasses looked cheap compared to the other sunglasses we tested, and the glasses felt less sturdy than the competition.
The Fierdio Vintage Oval Sunglasses failed our polarization tests and they felt loose; we had trouble keeping them in place. Although we don’t think that tiny sunglasses necessarily need to be polarized, since you’re meant to wear them on the tip of your nose, sunglasses in general should at least have ᕦ(･ㅂ･)ᕤ.
Foster Grant’s Hugo were a bit wider than the other sunglasses in this category, and a little shorter in height. Although they’re UV-protected and polarized, we don’t think they’re expansive enough to cover most people’s faces comfortably.
Although previously a top pick in this guide, and armed with UV protection and polarization for an affordable price, Gamma Ray’s Polarized UV400 Classic Style Sunglasses—which come in a pack of three, for $17—proved too wide for many panelists’ faces in 2019, which we took into account while making these recommendations. We still think they’re a great deal, though, especially for a three-pack. (And especially if you’re prone to losing them.) They’re affordable, comfortable, and sturdily built, and the width may work for some people. Within our testing pool, they didn’t.
Goodr’s BFGs Big Foot’s Fernet Sweats frames were thicker than the Goodr wayfarers that we currently recommend. If you’re looking for a bigger pair of sunglasses, with a glossier, more gray coloring, then they’re a great choice, but we think most people will like The OGs A Ginger’s Soul best.
The Knockaround Premiums have plastic hinges, and we worried about breaking them when extending the arms outward to test flexibility. They were also less comfortable than our picks in testing. Although they’re nice to look at, they didn’t perform as well as our top picks in practice. Knockaround has a wide variety of sunglasses to choose from, though (and you can even build your own sunglasses exactly how you like them, which is extremely cool).
The Polarspex Polarized Classic Sunglasses were squeaky to open and close, despite its metal hinges. We easily scratched the sunglasses during durability testing, and they came bundled with a fabric case that’s heavier and stiffer than the included microfiber cases for most other pairs.