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Searching for the best women's sunglasses available today? We hunted through hundreds to find and test the top 12 currently available. We paddled lakes, played in parks, drove long distances, and went for hikes and runs in various weather and conditions. We wore them midday in high mountain towns, walking directly into the sun at dusk, and on snow and water adventures. We checked their fit on different face sizes, their ability to stay put and keep us protected, and gauged their likeability and style across preferences. No matter your personal fashion or face shape, we've lined up some of the best sunglasses for your lifestyle and budget.
Fit: Standard | Protection: Not Polarized, 100% UV, Category 3
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
Not polarized (though polarized versions are available)
A touch loose on the top of the head
The Ray-Ban Erika provide excellent quality and great style. Their lenses are crisp and clear, offering protection in bright light while still maintaining their functionality in medium to low lighting. Though many pairs we tested have gradients, the Erika sets the bar for what a gradient should be. They're dark and protective on top, without being too dark for lower light, and they transition smoothly to a lighter shade on the bottom without totally losing their protection. The glossy fronts and flexible metal bows feel comfortable, familiar, and secure on the head. They're fairly lightweight at 22 grams, even though their medium-large lenses and width offer above-average coverage and a style our entire panel of testers loved.
Though the particular Grey Gradient lenses we tested aren't polarized, the Erika come in a wide variety of colors — in both lenses and frames — many of which are polarized. The flexible metal arms are comfortable on the face but are a tad bit loose for securely wearing on the top of your head. The grey lenses appeared more of a purple hue, though we found ourselves enjoying the extra style and contrast they provide. Though a bit pricey, these shades delivered a top-notch performance across the board for less than many others
Fit: Medium | Protection: Polarized, 100% UV, 12% VLT
REASONS TO BUY
Comfortable to wear
Cool wooden bows
REASONS TO AVOID
May slip when sweaty
Wayfarer style gives less coverage
Though they may seem at first to be "just another" pair of wayfarers, we found a lot to like about the Camp Eyewear Trail — including their modest price. As one of the pairs of shades we tested that look good on all genders, our whole team of testers found themselves fighting to wear these sunglasses. They offer solid, all-around performance with quality lenses and comfortable frames. Their glossy finish and wooden bows make for a great look and a fit that works well on a wide range of head sizes and face shapes.
Of course, this glossy finish can be a detriment if you're hot and sweaty, as they may slide down during movement. Additionally, as wayfarers, the Trail have the standard coverage pitfalls of this shape of sunglasses. Medium lenses and relatively flat curvature allows sunlight to sneak in around the edges of the glasses. But despite these minor flaws, we love a lot about these unique, lower-cost glasses.
Fit: Medium | Protection: Polarized, 100% UV, 15% VLT
REASONS TO BUY
Exceptionally protective lenses
REASONS TO AVOID
A little tight on some
Mirror lenses smudge easily
Bag case isn't a good cleaner
The Smith Caper ChromaPop is an admirable pair of sunglasses in both performance and style. They fit very securely on the face, with snug bows, rubber nose pads, and a head-hugging form. This level of stability makes them a reliable set of shades for life on the go — whether that's hiking up a mountain or peering over the edge of a canoe. The ChromaPop lenses we tested add just a hint of increased contrast without distorting colors. The higher VLT (Visible Light Transmission) of 15% make them easy to wear without obscuring your view in lower light situations. The polarization and mirror coating both cut out distracting glare from other surfaces, making these a great choice for super bright days.
The snug fit of the Caper was a bit too snug for some of our testers. This seemed to be less based on head size than skull shape and where the bows happen to hit above the ears. Some of our widest-faced testers loved wearing them all day, while some with slender faces found them to squeeze after a few hours. Their mirror lenses show smudges easily. And the simple microfiber bag case these sunnies come with is too shiny, making it almost stick to the lenses without really cleaning anything off of them. A regular microfiber cloth does the trick, but you'll have to provide your own. At the end of the day, these shades' fit, protection, and stylish fashion make them our favorite for both grabbing brunch in the morning and hitting the trails in the afternoon.
For those with slender and smaller faces, the Costa del Mar Fernandina are the shades for you. Many of our testers have wanted to find a pair of aviators that look awesome without being too large or not quite right for their faces. Enter the Fernandina, with their versatile and appealing shape. The dark, polarized lenses and mirror coating provide superb protection from the sun. While nose pads are notorious for getting caught in the hair, the intensely squishy pads on these easily bend and are even made to pop out (and then easily back in again) under pressure. These shades fit firmly and securely on even our smallest-headed tester, with a sturdy build that can keep up with steady wear.
The only area in which the Fernandina fell a bit short is when heading directly into a low sun. At this angle, the rays of light seem to reflect around inside the Green Mirror 580P lenses we tested, creating an illuminated layer in the lens that made it difficult to see with clarity. Those with wider faces lamented the narrow build of these small frames, while those with slender faces found them unicorns among women's sunglasses. For most of our testers, though, any time we wanted to feel bold, fashionable, and downright cool, we put on the Fernandina.
Fit: Medium | Protection: Not Polarized, 100% UV, 15% VLT
REASONS TO BUY
Versatile, classic style
Look cool on pretty much everyone
Sturdy and robust
REASONS TO AVOID
Extreme slant leaves the top open
The Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer Classic has been in style for decades, looking as fly today as they did when they were first released in 1952. Across the board, these shades look good on everyone who tried them and with every fashion, from dresses to board shorts and ripped jeans to three-piece suits. They're built to last, with a whopping seven barrels on each hinge and some serious heft to their robust frames.
However, the cost of all this sturdiness is that the Original Wayfarer is one of the heaviest pairs of sunglasses we tested, at a staggering 45 grams. If you can get over just how heavy these are on your face, they are quite comfortable to wear. As the OG wayfarer shades, they have an exaggerated forward slant to their lenses which contributes to their style but also leaves an oversized gap at the top of the lenses. These things aside, if you've been coveting this look, we think you'll be happy with the performance of these classic shades.
Why You Should Trust Us
We spent hours researching the most promising pairs on the market before choosing these top contenders for head-to-head testing. Over the past several years, we've taken test pairs all over the world to every kind of environment, from the equator to the North Pole. We've driven across the country and back, gone out to brunch, paddled across lakes, napped on beaches, and hiked up peaks, all to help hone in on the best sunglasses for your lifestyle and budget.
Our testing of women's sunglasses is divided across five different metrics:
Lens Quality (30% of overall score weighting)
Comfort (25% weighting)
Style and Versatility (20% weighting)
Frame Quality (15% weighting)
Coverage (10% weighting)
Lead testers Maggie Nichols has been wearing glasses since she was 4 years old and knows what constitutes the right fit and look for a pair of frames. She's obsessed with protecting her eyes, as she's been working in sunny outdoor environments for over 20 years, from being a kayak guide in the Caribbean and leading students snorkeling along the equator to backpacking the sunny Sierra Nevadas and researching wildlife on the African savannah. Maggie has been our lead sunglasses tester — from running and paddling to summer vacations and gardening — since 2018.
Analysis and Test Results
To thoroughly analyze contenders, we divided our assessments into five separate metrics. By combining the outcomes of tests in each metric, every pair of women's sunglasses ends up with an overall score that makes them easily comparable. Here we tease apart each metric and discuss the top contenders in specific areas.
Finding a great pair of women's sunglasses doesn't have to cost a fortune. While, in general, clearer, more protective, and better-contrasting lenses cost a little more, there are plenty of high-performing shades that buck this trend.
The Camp Eyewear Trail have excellent lenses in quality frames that provide outstanding comfort without sacrificing fashion — all while costing less than most. The Native Eyewear Acadia also offers great value. Their more stylish shape, quality lenses, and secure fit make them a great choice for functional fashion. While the Ray-Ban Erika are a bit pricier, they still come cheaper than many others, were our favorite to wear, and have scored the highest in our tests for multiple years now. The Tens Classic are another solid, classic-looking contender at a decent price point. We've also tested a group of top-ranked cheap sunglasses to find other budget-friendly options.
Lens quality is the single most important aspect of any pair of glasses. To test this, we considered a wide range of attributes. We compared our lineup of sunglasses side-by-side in bright and harsh lighting, noting clarity, contrast, and color distortions. We also checked each pair for back reflections, that annoying phenomenon of seeing your face reflected back at you.
The Maui Jim Honi have some of the most protective and pleasant lenses to look through. The version we tested is a great shade of brown with just a hint of color and contrast enhancement. We also love the lenses of the Maui Jim Lighthouse, which are part of Maui Jim's more recent line of non-glass lenses that still maintain the top-notch quality of the rest of their lineup. The Vuarnet Legend 03 lenses are another favorite. Though they're not polarized, they're a superb shade with excellent mirroring and a dual gradient (darker on top and bottom for sun and glare), making them protective and comfortable. The Ray-Ban Erika is another pair with excellent lenses. Their Grey Gradient lenses that we tested also aren't polarized but are a clear, contrasting shade of blueish grey with precisely the top-down gradient transition that feels good to our eyes.
The Smith Caper also has lenses we love, with color-enhancing shades of brown and protection that's comfortable and clear to wear. Not far behind are the Smith Lowdown 2, with a slightly darker tint and a touch less "pop" to their ChromaPop. The Tens Classic lenses are designed by photographers and are a very pleasing shade to look through. Their subtle gradient helps cut down glare, while their overall darker hue makes them an excellent choice for very bright days, despite not being polarized. The Native Acadia is also notable for above-average lenses with crystal clarity, 100% polarization, 94% protection from blue light, up to 40% infrared blockage, and a middle-ground amber color that increases contrast without making things look strange.
Our entire panel of testers evaluated every pair of sunglasses in our lineup to assess comfort. We noted where each pair touched the face and if it was distracting. We checked which are adjustable and how well that adjustability lets each wearer dial in their unique comfort needs. We also considered rubber cushioning and special nose pads and wore every pair for hours to see if they squeezed or fell off.
Topping the list for comfort is the Ray-Ban Erika. The lightweight nylon frame rests comfortably on the face, and their metal bows are flexible enough to offer security and a versatile fit. These are truly a pleasure to wear, and our entire team of testers loved the feel of these sunnies. The Maui Jim Honi frames have perfectly placed embedded nose pads, flexible hinges to accommodate a variety of sizes of heads, and a shape that's easy to forget you're wearing. The Smith Caper ChromaPop are also impressively comfortable, with a more snug fit and fully rubber nose pads to keep them securely in place.
The Tens Classic are comfortable in the way of the best wayfarers we've tested, with the added bonus of a silky matte finish that feels oh-so-good on your face. It's also hard not to love the featherweight feel of the almost absurdly light Maui Jim Lighthouse. Even without any adjustability of their nose pads or bows, these hyper-flexible shades seem to fit everyone. The Persol PO3108S also fit very well (on small-medium width heads), with adjustable nose pads and three lines of added "Meflecto" flexibility to each of the bows. The Costa Fernandina are surprisingly comfortable and secure, especially for a pair of aviators, though they also fit narrower heads best.
Style and Versatility
While there's no true test for what's "stylish," we asked our panel of testers which sunglasses they preferred. We noted trends — where they existed — of pairs that were well-loved or those that weren't. We assessed which were best for certain face sizes and which were just great all-around glasses. We also considered versatility across different activities, checking to see if each pair stayed put when sweaty or if they just became annoying.
Though the majority of our panel of testers have never been big "aviator people," all of us adored the Costa Fernandina. They have slightly thicker bows than average aviators, with a splash of funky patterning and shorter lenses with a shape we found attractive. The Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer also falls into this category of making the wearer feel as though their whole look just went up two style points. Wearing either of these shades made us feel significantly cooler and more stylish than we would otherwise. The Persol PO3108S are also impressively stylish, though not quite as universally loved as the Fernandina and Original Wayfarer. The Persol look is bold without being "too much" and works just as well with cut-offs as it does with a cocktail dress.
The Ray-Ban Erika and Camp Eyewear Trail are well-loved styles by all who tried them on. Though they're two different vibes, both of these shades look good on a wide variety of face sizes and shapes. The Maui Jim Honi adds fashion to function, though their smaller size relegates them to work best on smaller and narrower faces. We found it hard to hate the Tens Classic on pretty much any face or gender. Though they lack the flair of the Camp Trail wooden bows, the Tens Classic look is still a step above your "average" wayfarer and is a great size that most people find appealing. Even the Smith Caper, though slightly sportier in their appearance, was a crowd favorite, with enough security of fit to back up their use even across active endeavors.
A good pair of frames goes a long way toward making your sunglasses last. We poked, prodded, and pulled every part of these glasses, checking screws and wiggly bows. We examined them for scratches and assessed their flexibility. We also turned to the vast sea of testimonials online to see if we noticed any of the many reported issues.
Tied for the top spot, the Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer Classic have some of the sturdiest, beefiest frames we tested. Their construction may not be literally bombproof, but they're the closest feeling pair we've found. The Ray-Ban Erika also have excellent quality frames that offer just the right level of flexibility and solidity. They feel good and easily stood up to all our testing without any harm. The Vuarnet Legend 03 aren't far behind, with solid construction that stays tight throughout use with just the right amount of flex. The Tens Classic and Camp Eyewear Trail once again stand out as above-average wayfarers that perform consistently on many faces, in bags, on top of heads, and chucked on the passenger seat of the car.
The Smith Caper ChromaPop and Native Acadia are also both solidly built, with plastic frames that flex, rubber pads to improve grip, and well-attached sections. The Smith Lowdown 2 lack the rubber nose pads, but are similar in construction to the Caper. Though we don't expect it from glasses with such thin wires, the Costa Fernandina are also impressively durable. They're reinforced in typical aviator weak points, like the bows and hinges. They also have unique nose pads that are extremely flexible and made to pop in and out of the frames easily, so they never get seriously tangled in your hair.
A few pairs that we tested have some minor but potentially large flaws that we feel are worth mentioning. The Maui Jim Lighthouse has extremely lightweight, flexible frames that we greatly enjoyed wearing, but we worry about their longevity. We found many other user testimonies of these breaking where the bridge connects the two lenses, and their intensely pliable frames make us fear that we'll accidentally crush them. And while we love the quality of the Maui Jim Honi frames, they lose some points due to the tendency of the translucent frames to create a blinding glare below the lens in certain angles of light.
To evaluate coverage, we looked into the base curve of each pair of glasses to see how well they hug the face or if they leave large gaps. We considered lens size and effectiveness. And we asked people with different face shapes to note where the sun could sneak around the edges and creep inside.
We found the best coverage in glasses with large lenses and curved frames that sit close to the face. Both the Native Acadia and the Vuarnet Legend 03 fit this profile. If coverage is your number one concern, these are the best in our lineup. The Maui Jim Honi combines more reasonably sized lenses with a close-fitting face-hugging curve, helping to keep the eyes decently covered. Though they're not as curved as the others we've mentioned, the Ray-Ban Erika have larger lenses than many others that provide extra coverage — just not from the sides, as they're both flatter and have very narrow bows that do little to block side light.
Though they're a little flatter and with slightly smaller lenses, the Smith Caper ChromaPop provide a shape and fit that gives decent coverage. Many of the wayfarer styles we tested are the next best regarding coverage, including the Tens Classic, Smith Lowdown 2, and Camp Eyewear Trail. These three have similar lens sizes and shapes, as well as similar fits that offer solid coverage, but have the same downfalls as one another — open sides and a high potential for gaps on the top and bottom (depending on how you prefer to wear them).
There seems to be an endless sea of sunglasses out there to choose from, and it can be challenging to evaluate the style and effectiveness just by scrolling through websites. Sunglasses can be a tough purchase depending on your face shape, style preferences, and lens needs. We did our best to put every one of the frames in this review to the test to bring you an accurate and thorough picture of which pairs perform the best and which will look best on your face.
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