Not too long ago, theatrical contact lenses were very expensive and only available to very devoted or professional cosplayers or actors on movie sets. These days, anyone can choose from a wide variety of contact lenses that allow them to add impact to any sort of costume- be it for a Halloween party or a full-blown anime convention.
I’ll walk you through the basics of browsing for, choosing, and using cosmetic contact lenses for cosplay (and other) purposes- from pricing to safety to style, you’ll find everything you need to know here!
The Styles Available
There are several styles you can go for when purchasing cosmetic contact lenses for cosplaying purposes:
- Contacts that make your eyes look bigger (circle lenses)
- Contacts that change the color of your eyes
General unnatural styles
- Contacts that make your eyes all black or all white
- Contacts that give your irises strange colors – e.g. red, yellow, etc…
- Contacts that have spirals, stripes, cat-like slits, or other styles that are common amongst several types of fictional characters
Character specific styles (contacts online that are designed to replicate the eyes of specific characters)
- Twilight contacts (can be found at Lensource)
- Sailor Moon contacts (1-Save-On-Lens)
- Naruto contacts (1-Save-On-Lens)
If you’re curious about how various types of contact lenses will look on you, you can always try out the FX Eyes Try on Tool. Their web design is scary, but hey… your eyes might be scary too, right?
Where to Shop
The best place to start when purchasing contact lenses is with your eye doctor. You’ll have to do so at any rate if you do not already have a prescription, and he or she can also point you toward local sellers of cosmetic contact lenses that can be trusted- or sell you some directly.
If you’re buying cosmetic contact lenses online, only buy from a store that offers prescription contact lenses. It is illegal to sell any sort of contact lens in the US without a prescription, so this is kind of a deal breaker.
Some resources for contact lenses that I’ve found are below:
Lenscircle sells lenses that are good if you’re just going for that big anime eye look – they also offer free little cutsey lens kits and have Twilight contacts, so if you’re looking to do some Twilight cosplay, or just look like a doe-eyed darling, this is the spot.
Custom Color Contacts offers something more at the high end of contact lenses for cosplaying purposes; if you cannot find your character’s eyes in contact form online, you can have these folks design them FOR you. The price is probably steep (it varies depending on the type of lens you buy), but you’re getting something utterly unique, so… I guess it’s worth it!
WildEyes by CIBA Vision (though note, these are positioned as “Halloween” contacts, and the site plays on Flash only, and has annoying background music)
The price of cosplaying contact lenses that you buy will vary depending on the type of lens. Depending on design, prices can range from $40 to $100 or even higher.
Typically, lenses that tend toward typical cosmetic contact lenses- those that simply add color to your eyes, or are designed to make your eyes look bigger, are less expensive, and lenses that are specially designed to resemble a specific characters’ eyes or are extremely intricate in design are more expensive.
Always follow the care directions for your contacts and do not buy or use them without a prescription. Here are some of the most basic guidelines:
- Clean your contact lenses according to the guidelines – do not use homemade saline solution- and DEFINITELY don’t use your spit (which is FULL of bacteria)
- Do not sleep in your contacts – some contact lenses significantly reduce the amount of oxygen your cornea is exposed to – keeping it covered could lead to corneal ulcers, which could lead to a whole NEW set of problems
- Do not borrow contacts – you should only wear contacts that are prescribed to you
- Do not share your contacts with others
Contact Lens Care and Maintenance
Again, it is key to clean and maintain your contact lenses according to package instructions. Don’t use your cosmetic contacts for periods longer than recommended – both in terms of short term wear (how long you’d be wearing it in a day) and long-term wear (when you’d need to throw them away).
Cleaning and maintenance of your contact lenses will vary depending on what type of lens you purchase. If you want to buy something that will last you a long time and that you can re-wear, carefully check product specifications before you make your purchase.