Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Cosplay 101: Guide to Circle Lenses

Cosplay 101: Guide to Circle Lenses
(Left and bottom right photo: Aperture Ashley)

My favorite part of cosplay is definitely the transformative aspect. I love looking totally different from my usual self! Other than makeup and wearing a wig, contact lenses are another way to change your look. Contact lenses are totally optional when it comes to cosplay, but they can be lots of fun!

Circle lenses are slightly different from normal cosmetic contact lenses - they cover about the same area of the eyeball or slightly more, but the design extends further, making your eyes appear larger. For cosplay, this means that your eyes stand out more -- perfect for cartoony or anime looks. Circle lenses also tend to be more dramatic rather than natural-looking. All of this results in a great effect when used in cosplay!

Now, I'm not an expert at circle lenses just yet, but I have done a fair amount of research for my first few pairs, so I'd love to share what I know with you. As a disclaimer, please go to an eye doctor and get your prescription ahead of time, and if you are concerned, ask your doctor for guidance! Only wear the lenses for up to 8 hours (or whatever the packaging says), and if you feel discomfort, remove them immediately. Your eyesight is important - more important than matching the eye color of a certain character.

We're going to the Game of Thrones #SurviveTheRealm!  #SDCC #SDCC2014
I wore purple lenses for my Daenerys costume, a tribute to her eyes in the books.

Tips for Buying Circle Lenses

Circle lenses have to ship from overseas, so plan accordingly. Shipping might take quite a while, so be sure to order any lenses you need early - especially since the color might end up being incorrect.

Find photos of people with a natural eye color like yours. As someone with naturally light eyes, circle lens designs can look very different on me versus someone with dark eyes. Most circle lenses also seem to be designed for darker eyes. I try to only purchase a specific pair of contacts when I can find a light-eyed person who has taken photos with them in, in order to avoid buying something that doesn't look right on me. Most contact lens sites will have reviews and photos, but if not, a simple search will do the trick.

Circle lenses DO come in prescription and astigmatism-friendly options. The caveat is that these additions may be more expensive. But the good news is there is likely an option for your particular needs.

Getting ready for the cosplay G+ hangout! Info on my blog. This is how I get into cosplay...  1) I always put my hair into maiden braids to get it out of my face. It also helps my wig sit evenly on my head - no weird lumps!  2) Circle lenses, if I'm using
If you look carefully, you can see a rim of green in the center of my eyes - that's my natural eye color.

Wearing Contact Lenses

Wearing contact lenses might seem scary, but it's actually pretty simple! After washing your hands and rinsing your lenses (more on that later), I use my index finger to hold the lens, then look to the side while pulling my lower eyelid down. I try to put the lens on the whites of my eye - then I don't have that instinct to blink since it's not aimed at my iris. Once it's made contact with my eyeball, I blink a few times to get it situated, and then you're done!

If you feel like something is in your eye, there may be a tear, scratch, or lint on the lens, so remove it and inspect before continuing. Throughout the day, if I feel my eyes get a little dry, I use some rewetting drops to ease the discomfort. For the most part, though, I find wearing circle lenses to be totally comfortable - to me, they are softer than regular contact lenses.

Taiga today!
Brown lenses for Taiga's big anime eyes.

Contact Lens Storage and Care

The most crucial note whenever working with contact lenses is cleanliness - wash your hands before you touch your lenses or your eyes. When you first open your lenses, you usually are instructed to soak them in contact lens solution for at least 8 hours. No matter how excited you are to wear the lenses, it's very important to follow this step!

Use a contact lens solution for rinsing and cleaning contact lenses before you put them on, and before you store them. I use Opti-Free because it's easy to find and comes in a few different sizes - I like getting a small bottle to take with me to conventions.

Finally, store your lenses in a case meant for contact lenses. Most online shops will send a free case with each pair you order, but there are tons of cute contact lens cases online too. It is best to replace the cases every 3 months, and the lenses themselves will usually have an expiration date of one year after removing them from the container.

Cosmetic Contacts Suppliers

Have you ever worn circle lenses?

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