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The best kids’ sunglasses that protect little eyes from harmful rays

The best kids’ sunglasses that protect little eyes from harmful rays
Protect their peepers with the best kids’ sunglasses from Vision Express, Suneez, Ray-Ban, JoJo Maman Bebe and more

Nothing quite screams summer like investing in a new pair of sunglasses. But it’s not just adults who need to consider their eyewear. Before your children go running out the door, make sure they’re armed with a pair of sunglasses.

While we want to encourage children to embrace the great outdoors, akin to the importance of sun cream, eye safety is paramount. “Even on cloudy days, our children’s eyes can be exposed to UV radiation,” explains Giles Edmonds, Specsavers clinical services director. UVA rays can pass through the eye’s cornea and reach the lens and retina, and while UVB rays can’t pass through glass or plastic, they can still cause eye damage. And sunglasses are here to help with lenses absorbing the visible light aimed at the eyes offering protection.

Without getting deeply technical, sunglasses protection levels vary, so are divided up into so-called filter categories. Category three lenses provide UV protection of up to the 400-nanometre wavelength, the top end of the UV spectrum. So when purchasing a pair of sunglasses for your child look out for category 3 or UV400 markings.

“For the best protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, a relatively large yet close-fitting frame is the best design for children’s sunglasses,” suggests Edmonds. “Make sure they cover a good portion of the eyes and look for durable features such as flexible hinges.”

Fortunately, style doesn’t have to be compromised. There’s a whole range of shades that not only protect young peepers, but are the perfect accessory to summer attire.

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How we tested

With the British weather playing ball and an enthusiastic trio of children (a three, six and 12-year-old) to help put a range of sunglasses through the mill, we headed out in to the great outdoors to chase the sun.

All of the sunglasses we tested comply with UV400 protection, but comfort was key. It can be difficult to keep sunglasses on little faces because their noses aren’t fully formed yet and don’t have bridges, so we took a close look at the shape of the sunglasses and how flexible the frames were to suit different face sizes.

We also considered the lenses. While ordinary lenses darken the view, polarizing ones block irritating glares so this feature scored highly, but we also wanted the sunglasses to appeal to the kids wearing them, so style was highly regarded too. These are the ones that shone brightest.

The best kids’ sunglasses for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Roald Dahl Charlie and the Chocolate Factory children’s sunglasses: £20, Visionexpress.com
  • Best for flexibility –Bora: £25, Suneez.com
  • Best for luxury – Ray-Ban juniors RJ 9064S (152/13) children’s sunglasses: £77, Visionexpress.com
  • Best for guarantee –Babiators original keyhole sunglasses – black ops black: £24, Naturalbabyshower.co.uk
  • Best for toddlers –IZIPIZI sunglasses kids – lemonade: £26.95, Scandiborn.co.uk
  • Best for retro style –Koko Blossom kids sunglasses: £12.50, Kokoblossom.co.uk
  • Best for added extras – The Scout kids sunglasses: £30, Littlehotdogwatson.com
  • Best for fun print –Konges sløjd print sunglasses: £18, Kidly.co.uk
  • Best for unisex – Polarn O. Pyret kids UV polarized sunglasses: £20, Polarnopyret.co.uk
  • Best for fashion – Myleene Klass clear preppy sunglasses: £9, Next.co.uk
  • Best for budget buy – Black & Milks polarized sunglasses: £6, Bladeandrose.co.uk
  • Best for a secure fit – JoJo Maman Bebe kids’ flexible sunglasses with straps: £16, Jojomamanbebe.co.uk

Roald Dahl Charlie and the Chocolate Factory RD 016 (C1) children’s sunglasses

Best: Overall

Rating: 9/10

These Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sunglasses have all the necessary ingredients for a wonderful pair of shades. Large eye coverage? Check. Flexible hinges? Check. Eye protection? 100 per cent UV protection. The frames are even made from acetate rather than plastic, meaning they’re lighter on the planet and should last longer.

We love Quentin Blake’s illustrations on the arms, and the style and earthy green colourway means these are suited to either sex. This pair doesn’t come with a suggested age recommendation but they fit both our six-year-old and 12-year-old testers comfortably.  And naturally, a pair of Charlie and the Chocolate sunglasses come with a Golden Ticket designed cleaning cloth, and a super protective hard-shell case, complete with illustration of Roald Dahl’s most-loved characters.

Bora

Best: For flexibility

Rating: 9/10

Fed up of replacing broken sunglasses? Suneez might just be the answer. Designed with fully flexible frames, these sunglasses are certainly up for the challenge; they won’t snap when bent, the lenses won’t fall out when dropped and they can even handle being sat on – and our four-year-old tester definitely put her pair through its paces.

Robustness is equally matched with protection, with all the same all sun-blocking properties of a pair of quality adult sunglasses, Suneez offer 100 per cent protection against UVA/UVB rays including UV400, while the polarised lenses also reduce glare. You’ll also get a handy silicone strap, which is useful for younger ones whose sunglasses constantly fall off their face and a microfibre carry pouch for when they’re not needed.

Available in six colourways, the contrasting arm colour and wayfarer shape make them a stylish choice that kids actually want to wear. We can certainly see them getting years of use as they’ve been designed with a long shelf life in mind, recommended for three to eight-years-old.

Ray-Ban juniors RJ 9064S (152/13) children’s sunglasses

Best: For luxury

Rating: 9/10

To say our 12-year-old tester smiled ear to ear when she got her hands on these is no exaggeration. And we weren’t surprised, luxury eyewear giant Ray-Ban produce the crème de la crème of sunglasses and the same goes for its junior eyewear.

Our young tester felt very grown up donning these tortoise shell sunnies with brown lenses. The frame is made from acetate, a plant-based material derived from wood pulp and cotton, it’s known to be a stronger, more durable and more flexible than the plastic alternative. And there were no complaints here (although our tester did guard them with her life). Offering 100 per cent UV protection, they also come with a drawstring case and cleaning cloth.

Babiators original keyhole sunglasses – black ops black

Best: For guarantee

Rating: 9/10

You know a brand has to be pretty confident in its product when it guarantees that if you lose or break them within the first year, it will replace them for free. But after testing out the Babiators Original Keyhole Sunglasses we’d be pretty stunned if you broke them.

The flexible rubber frame with impact and shatter-resistant lenses, means that you can bend, twist, or step on them and they won’t break. Protection is well covered too, with UV400 lenses that offer 100 per cent UVA and UVB protection. We also can’t deny how utterly adorable they look on our three-year-old tester. They also offer a secure fit, as they’re lightweight and comfortable with no pinching points. Coming in an array of colours, there’s a pair to suit everyone and you’ll get a free drawstring bag to keep them clean and tidy.

IZIPIZI sunglasses kids – lemonade

Best: For toddlers

Rating: 9/10

For Parisian eyewear brand Izipizi, sunglasses are so much more than a summertime accessory. Dealing exclusively in eyewear, it knows a thing or two about producing superior shades and this is well demonstrated in its Sun Kids sunglasses. Designed for fashionistas aged 12-months to three years, these are a wonderful introduction into wearing sunglasses for babies and toddlers.

Falling under the filter category three, which offers UV400 protection, they’re also super flexible, yet sturdy. The arms are straight to follow a child’s growth, which we know is colossal at this young age. The adjustable silicone headband avoids any trips to lost property, and we like that it’s a split headband to welcome children wearing their hair up. Equally suited to all sexes, we love the brightness of the yellow, while the handy storage pouch will keep them safe.

Koko Blossom kids sunglasses

Best: For retro style

Rating: 8/10

Cheshire-born brand Koko Blossom, is all about a relaxed travel style, and what better sign that a summer holiday is on the cards than a new pair of shades. Boasting a cool retro style, the kids’ sunglasses come in eight delicious pastel shades. Our six-year-old tester has a penchant for pink and was very happy to wear her “blush” pair. But style is matched with substance as the sturdy frames have scratch-resistant polarised lenses, giving UV400 protection.

The Scout kids sunglasses

Best: For added extras

Rating: 8/10

Cult accessory brand Little Hot Dog Watson is known for its high-quality kids’ hats. Adding another string to its bow, you can now get an equally cool pair of shades to match your hat. Boasting the brand’s signature panda pop print, they come with UV 400 sun protection, anti-scratch coated lenses which also feature anti-glare technology. The arms also have a good level of flex, yet still feel strong to withstand daily challenges.

They come in two sizes; one-three years and three-five years. We tested the bigger size but found that they were large enough to even fit our 12-year-old tester comfortably – probably worth bearing in mind if your young child has a smaller head as they were too big for our three-year-old tester. While they are on the more expensive side, you also get a hard case, soft case, cleaning cloth and green cord necktie too, and we can’t fault the quality.

Konges sløjd print sunglasses

Best: For fun print

Rating: 8/10

Copenhagen is known for its laidback interiors, cool fashion and being the happiest city in the world, and these sunglasses from Danish brand Konges Sløjd certainly put a smile on our six-year-old tester’s face. Enjoy polarized lenses and 100 per cent UV protection. The bendy hinges offer flexibility, while the large lenses protect a bigger area of the face and eyes. These sunnies feel sturdy too, but of course the highlight has to be the ditsy floral print – fresh as a summer’s day! They also come with a handy felt storage pouch.

Polarn O. Pyret kids UV polarized sunglasses

Best: For unisex

Rating: 8/10

Swedish childrenswear brand Polarn O. Pyret have been keeping our kids looking cool since 1976, and now it’s time to complete the look with these lightweight sunglasses, designed for two to six-year-olds. With UV400 protection and harmful rays, this pair of sunnies also possess glare-free vision thanks to the polarised lenses which meet filter category three requirements. They’re a comfortable fit and feel durable enough to take on daily adventures, and we like that you can keep them clean and safe with the included drawstring bag. The understated unisex design, with the simple Polarn O. Pyret logo on the arms, means they’ll never tire either.

Myleene Klass clear preppy sunglasses

Best: For fashion

Rating: 8/10

Myleene Klass’ cool and casual kidswear collection – available exclusively at Next – will ensure mini fashionistas look stylish this summer. From playsuits to swimsuits, and everything in between, holiday wardrobes have never looked so good.

We love the blue mirror effect shades combined with clear preppy-style frame. They didn’t feel quite as robust or flexible as the others we’d tested, but our six-year-old tester showed no complaints as she turned the beach into a catwalk, plus you’ll get change from a tenner. Eye safety isn’t compromised, protecting against UVA and UVB rays, these shades are filter category three which offers UV400 protection. And you’ll also get a handy leopard print sleeve.

Black & Milks polarized sunglasses

Best: For budget buy

Rating: 8/10

Designed for those aged six-10-years-old, these sunglasses from Blade & Rose tick all the boxes and come at a purse-friendly price. We were delighted to learn they have polarized lenses, which give a clearer view, keeping squinty eyes and eye strain at bay, while simultaneously offering UV400 protection. We approve of the casual unisex design, with monochrome styling. You’ll also get a handy magnetic-closing case.

JoJo Maman Bebe kids’ flexible sunglasses with straps

Best: For a secure fit

Rating: 8/10

Available in four colours (yellow, duck egg, navy and fuschia), these sunglasses have a stretchy detachable strap which can be adjusted for the snuggest of fits. Comfortable and secure, there’s plenty of flex in the arms for durability, and they are closely positioned to the eyes for safety. Protecting against UVA and UVB rays, these shades are filter category three which offers UV400 protection. They come in two sizes, zero-two-years and three-six-years.

The verdict: Kids’ sunglasses

The Roald Dahl Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sunglasses are strong all-rounders; ultimate protection, a comfortable fit with flexible hinges, plus we love the illustrations, and at £20, we think they’re a steal.

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While they’re having fun in the sun, make sure your child’s sensitive skin is protected with the best kids’ sunscreens