The most important factors in choosing sunglasses aren't what you might think

Hanna Williams, CNN Underscored
Thu July 25, 2019

Story highlights

  • Your face shape is "only a small part of the story that determines a perfect fit"
  • We sat down with Ella Kim to learn what's important in picking out sunglasses

"If the beauty industry can be more inclusive, other industries that address the face should as well."

That's a quote from Ella Kim, the founder of Cloak Supply, a sunglasses brand created to help you buy sunglasses that actually fit your face.

For years, Kim struggled to find a pair of sunglasses that fit right. "I had always felt like something was wrong with my face," Kim told CNN Underscored. This is because the current sunglasses market caters to an average fit -- despite the fact that most of us aren't average. As Kim puts it, imagine "selling shoes with no sizes in them."

While you've probably picked out shades based on whether your face is heart-shaped, oval, square, or round, the truth is that's "only a small part of the story that determines a perfect fit."

We sat down with Kim to learn the most important factors in picking out a pair of sunglasses -- and they might not be what you think.

Face dimensions

The biggest consideration, according to Kim, is whether your face is wide, long or petite. And when you're choosing glasses, those dimensions are more important than whether your face is round or square.

Oversized glasses, whether rectangular or wayfarer styles, are good for those with long or wide faces. Petite faces should seek out smaller pairs, with lenses falling around 52mm.

Bridge height

Next thing to keep in mind is the bridge of your nose. If the frames annoyingly rest on your cheekbones, or your eyelashes brush against the lenses every time you blink, then you probably have a low nose bridge. If sunglasses rest too high on your nose, or tend to feel uncomfortable up there, then you have a high nose bridge.

Folks with a low nose bridge should look for sunglasses with shorter, wider frames that are less curved. Adjustable nose pads are an added plus for those in this category. Have a high nose bridge? Sunglasses with nose pads can help them to sit lower on your nose, but also keep an eye out for pairs with narrow nose bridge measurements.

Cheekbones

Lastly, it's important to consider the height of your cheekbones. If you have high cheekbones, then the widest portion of your face is the section under your eyes.

Comfort is the most important factor when it comes to your cheekbones. If your cheekbones are high, then oversized shapes will rest on your cheeks, which can be uncomfortable and can even leave marks. (Not to mention the marks your cheeks might leave on the sunglasses, from makeup or sunscreen.) Thus, smaller lenses may be the solution. If you have low cheekbones, then larger lenses that fit the size of your face are still fair game.

So, now that you've determined your face shape and the height of your nose bridge and cheekbones, let's talk products. Here are our favorites to shop:

Best sunglasses for wide faces:

The Prince 57mm Aviator Sunglasses ($89; nordstrom.com)

For Art's Sake Virgo Round Frame Sunglasses ($260; net-a-porter.com)

Sunday Somewhere Harper Sunglasses ($270; sundaysomewhere.com)

Best sunglasses for long faces:

Le Specs Half Moon Magic Sunglasses ($59; shopbop.com)

Karen Walker The Harvest Sunglasses ($250; shopbop.com)

Sunday Somewhere Elizabeth Sunglasses ($340; sundaysomewhere.com)

Best sunglasses for petite faces:

Le Specs Enchantress Sunglasses ($87; revolve.com)

Retrosuperfuture The Iconic Sunglasses ($114, originally 190; farfetch.com)

Kaleos Borden Sunglasses ($227; farfetch.com)

Best sunglasses for a low nose bridge:

Yesway 60mm Sunglasses ($340; nordstrom.com)

Sunday Somewhere Ruben Gold ($270; sundaysomewhere.com)

Vedi Vero Aviator Sunglasses ($340; nordstrom.com)

Best sunglasses for a high nose bridge:

Thierry Lasry Gambly 708 Sunglasses ($375; modaoperandi.com)

Retrosuperfuture Lucia Sunglasses ($165, originally $275; farfetch.com)

Sunday Somewhere Transparent Grey ($270; sundaysomewhere.com)

Best sunglasses for high cheekbones:

For Art's Sake Artist Cat Eye Sunglasses ($215; saksfifthavenue.com)

Le Specs Love Train ($69; zappos.com)

Chloe Eyewear Rosie Flower Sunglasses ($326, originally $351; farfetch.com)

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed prices at the time of publication.