As summer rolls around, sunglasses become a daily essential for protecting our eyes and skin from the harsh rays of the sun. However, for many people, sunglasses lead to an unavoidable skincare woe: tan lines! Those pesky reversed farmer’s tans in the shape of your sunglass frames can be annoying once you’ve worked hard on achieving an all-over summer glow.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything related to sunglass tan lines in detail including:
- What causes sunglass tan lines and how they form
- Why do you get a tan in the specific sunglass outline pattern
- Tips to prevent pronounced raccoon mask tan lines
- Techniques to fade or camouflage existing sunglass tan
- Differences between sunglass tans and goggle tans
- Recommended sunglass styles and sun protection habits
With some smart preventive steps and sunglass savvy, you can sport your shades all season long without walking away with awkward darkened panda eyes and obvious tan lines.
Table of Contents
What Are Sunglass Tan Lines Exactly?
Sunglass tan lines refer to darker tanned skin visible in the distinct outline pattern of a person’s sunglasses, usually seen prominently across the forehead, temples, and sides of the face.
This reversed farmer’s tan forms when your sunglass frames prevent UV rays from reaching and tanning the skin they cover. Over repeated sun exposure, the areas not shielded by the glasses soak up UV rays and darken to a tan, while the covered areas remain pale and untanned in contrast.
The mismatch between the lighter skin under the frames and darker tanned skin surrounding it creates a noticeable crisscross or reversed raccoon mask pattern precisely matching where your sunglasses sit on your face.
The main culprits behind dark sunglass tan lines are large frames and narrowly spaced lenses that allow sunlight to hit the cheeks, nose, and forehead. Thin metal frames often cause the most conspicuous outlines. The contrast shows up most on lighter skin tones without much existing base tan.
How Do Sunglass Tan Lines Develop?
Wondering exactly how you wind up with embarrassing panda eyes every summer? Here’s how sunglass tans form:
- The plastic or metal frames, colored lenses, nose pads, and arms of sunglasses physically block about 98% of UV radiation from reaching the skin underneath them.
- Meanwhile, the areas not covered by the glasses receive direct exposure to UV rays from sunlight.
- Over repeated time spent tanning and relaxing outdoors, the exposed areas of your face soak up UV rays which darkens and tans the skin.
- However, the skin areas blocked by the sunglass frames are shielded from UV exposure, preventing them from getting tanned.
- With daily sun exposure, the contrast between the untanned skin hiding under the frames and the surrounding tanned skin becomes more and more pronounced.
- Eventually, this forms distinctive tan lines matching the crisscrossing or circular shapes of your sunglass frames.
The minimal skin coverage and tight fit of low-profile narrow sunglasses allow tanning UV rays to sneak through, especially on the cheeks and nose. The result: embarrassing raccoon eyes and awkward forehead stripes you’ll be trying to even out all season!
Why Do Sunglasses Lead To Tan Lines?
Wondering why sunglasses cause light and dark patches on your skin? It all comes down to the UV-blocking effect of your lenses:
- The main function of sunglasses is to protect your eyes and skin by absorbing over 98% of harmful ultraviolet UVA and UVB rays.
- This blocking effect prevents any UV exposure from reaching the areas of the skin directly underneath and adjacent to the sunglass frames.
- With the skin under the frames shielded from UV rays, only the exposed areas of your face get the UV ray exposure that causes tanning.
- Without direct sun exposure, the frames block the skin underneath them from getting any UV rays that would tan the skin.
- The result is uneven tanning with pale untanned sections crisscrossing your face exactly where your sunglasses sit.
The key takeaway is that the UV-blocking protective property of quality sunglass lenses leads to a visible contrast between the paler untanned skin under the frames compared to the exposed sections with direct sun exposure.
This leaves you with embarrassing panda eyes, a striped forehead, and awkward patches on your cheeks!
Clever Tips to Avoid Sunglass Tan Lines
Before resigning yourself to rocking raccoon eyes for summer, try these tips to prevent awkward sunglass tans:
Apply Sunscreen Under Your Frames
- Generously apply broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen all over your face before putting on sunglasses when going outside. This allows more even facial tanning.
- Pay extra attention to thoroughly applying sunscreen on areas that will be covered by the sunglass frames to prevent pale patches.
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours if staying in the sun to maintain protection.
Wear Wraparound Shades
- Opt for larger wraparound sunglass styles that provide more facial skin coverage beyond the immediate eye region. This minimizes tan line contrast.
- Look for wide frames with arms that curve around the temples for broader UV protection.
- Or combine regular sunglasses with a wide-brim hat to shade more of the forehead and upper cheeks.
Change Up Your Shades
- Rotate regularly between a few different pairs of sunglasses with different frame sizes and shapes if you tan frequently.
- Varying the points of facial coverage prevents the same outline pattern from being repeated over and over.
- Try round, cat eye, aviator, and shield-style sunglasses for variety.
Embrace Prescription Shades
- Order custom prescription sunglasses with UV filtering lenses to protect your vision while eliminating awkward raccoon eye tan lines.
- Prescription lenses provide full facial UV protection without dark facial outlines.
- Add anti-reflective coating to reduce lens glare and eye strain.
With diligent use of facial sunscreen underneath the frames and rotating your shades, you can minimize awkward raccoon mask tan lines this summer.
Clever Tricks To Remove Sunglass Tan Lines
If it’s too late and you’re already sporting a pronounced sunglass tan, try these techniques to reduce their appearance:
Exfoliate With Scrubs
- Use a gentle facial exfoliating scrub with round soft beads 1-2 times a week to remove the topmost darker tanned skin cells.
- Focus on lightly scrubbing the darker tanned areas like your forehead, temples, and cheeks.
- Avoid harsh scrubs with jagged granules that could irritate your skin.
- Exfoliating evens out your facial tone by blending the pale protected skin with the tanned areas.
- Dab a facial self-tanner lotion just on the paler sections of skin shaded by your sunglasses to blend with your existing tan.
- Build up gradually over a few applications for a natural look.
- Use a tinted facial mousse for quick color while self-tanners develop fully.
- Ensure the tones match to prevent the orange face from mismatched self-tanners!
Fade With Lemon Juice
- Use fresh lemon juice as a natural bleaching agent to lighten and gradually fade the darker-tanned areas not blocked by your sunglasses.
- Dip a cotton pad in the juice and dab it onto the cheeks, nose, forehead, and temples.
- Do not apply lemon juice before sun exposure as this can blister the skin.
- Reapply daily as needed to naturally fade the tan over time for a more even tone.
Get Professional Treatments
- Visit an esthetician for a professional deep exfoliating facial treatment such as a PCA peel, microneedling, or laser resurfacing.
- These remove the outermost tan layers of skin to reveal fresh new skin and blend your overall facial tone and texture.
- Some spas also offer sun spot corrective facials to specifically target tan removal.
Conceal With Makeup
- Use color-correcting makeup like green-tinted primer and foundation to cancel out reddish skin discoloration revealing a more even tone.
- Try a CC cream with broad-spectrum SPF protection to conceal and prevent worsening tan lines.
- Dust a fluffy makeup brush with translucent setting powder to mute the look of tan line boundaries.
- Consider getting a light airbrush spray tan to blend the tones across your entire face.
With consistent exfoliation to continually remove excess tan, strategic use of self-tanners, and makeup tricks, you can minimize the awkward look of sunglass tan lines.
Sunglass Tans vs. Goggle Tans – What’s the Difference?
Besides sunglass-related tans, another common cosmetic woe is raccoon eyes from wearing protective tanning goggles. But what distinguishes goggle tans versus sunglass tan lines?
- Tan location – Sunglass tans follow the frame outlines across your cheeks, nose, forehead, and temples. Goggle tans just affect the eye region.
- Tan shape – Sunglass tans reflect the shape of the frames. Goggle tans follow the precise outline of the goggles.
- Cause of light area – Sunglass frames block UV rays. Goggle straps press into the skin blocking UV exposure.
- Prevention – Apply sunscreen underframes. Lighter goggle pressure reduces indents.
- Removal – Exfoliation evens skin tone. Concealers temporarily mask the look.
So in summary, goggle tans cause raccoon eyes due to pressure indentations while sunglass tans are lighter patches from UV ray blocking. With proper sun precautions, you can avoid both types marring your summer tan!
Picking the Best Sunglasses To Prevent Tan Lines
Certain sunglass styles and materials can lead to pronounced tan lines. Follow these tips when shopping for shades:
- Larger lenses – Broad lenses with less frame space in between provide fuller facial UV coverage with fewer peek-through gaps.
- Wraparound arms – Curved arms that loop around temples prevent tan lines and give broader protection.
- Bold frames – Thick, chunky frames cast more of a shadow over your skin blocking UV rays for fewer uncovered patches.
- Nose pads – Cushioned adjustable nose pads allow a closer fit minimizing tan lines across the nose bridge.
- Close fit – Avoid oversized loose styles that shift around and let in sunlight between the frame edges and face.
- Lightweight materials –Frames made of thin nylon, polycarbonate, or metallic alloys cause less pressure marks.
With the right sunglass design, materials, and proactive sunscreen under frames, you can lie out feeling confident rather than worrying about intense panda eyes!
The Bottom Line on Preventing Sunglass Tans
While annoying, those dreaded reverse raccoon mask tan lines are simply an inevitable tradeoff for responsibly protecting your eyes from damaging UV exposure in the sun. By applying sunscreen thoroughly under your frames before sun exposure, mixing up your sunglass styles regularly, and properly exfoliating your skin, you can minimize the appearance of awkward light and dark patches.
Vigilance about adequate facial sun protection underneath your sunglasses along with the right eyewear is key for keeping your summer tan smooth, even, and free of pesky tan lines. With smart sunglass habits, you can stay stylishly shaded all season long with clear skin