Best women’s sunglasses to buy in 2021

20 May 2021

woman wearing sunglasses

Sun's out, glasses on! Protect your eyes with a stylish pair of sunglasses. We round up the best options for the beach, the car and everything in between.

Whether you’re kicking back on a sun lounger, setting off on a road trip or heading out for a run, you’ll want to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and glare with some quality sunglasses. And a chic pair of sunnies can instantly transform a summer outfit, as well as hiding tired or hayfevery eyes to boot!

You don’t need to spend a fortune on a designer pair to get a decent level of protection. There are plenty of budget options that feature lenses with full UVA and UVB protection but it’s well worth checking for a CE mark to ensure they meet EU safety standards as per guidance from the NHS and Moorfields Eye Hospital.

We’ve scanned the Mumsnet forums for recommendations to suit all sorts of face shapes and budgets and have put together a stylish selection of the best sunglasses to add to your summer wardrobe.

Here are the best women’s sunglasses to buy in 2021.

1. Best overall sunglasses for women: Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer Classic Sunglasses

Price: £131 | Buy now from Amazon

“Ray-Bans will NEVER go out of style” – slipperyeel
“Ray-Bans – I love them. Have had them for several years and still going strong” – IwantedtobeEmmaPeel
“I love my Rayban wayfarers. Go with everything, very flattering, can look cool, or sophisticated. Soft lines, go with my wavy hair” – shitpark

1. Best overall sunglasses for women: Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer Classic Sunglasses

Originally designed in the 1950s, Ray-Ban's Wayfarer Classics are truly iconic and if you pick up a pair, you'll likely be wearing them year after year. The classic style suits most face shapes and there are a range of colour options to choose from; we're big fans of the stylish tortoise designs. The basic G-15 lenses come as standard but you can choose polarised lenses to eliminate glare.

Key specs:

  • Case included: Yes
  • Polarised: Not as standard
Buy now from Ray-Ban

2. Best cheap sunglasses for women: Carfia Retro Polarised Sunglasses

Price: £21 | Buy now from Amazon

2. Best cheap sunglasses for women: Carfia Retro Polarised Sunglasses

If you're apprehensive about spending big on a pair of sunnies and prefer to change up your style on a regular basis, this CE-certified pair is hard to beat. For just £21 you can enjoy all the main features you'd look for in a pair of sunglasses including polarised lenses, UV400 protection and lightweight acetate frames. We like the classic tortoiseshell design but there are loads of options to choose from and for the price, you could justify getting a few pairs to go with different outfits.

Key specs

  • Case included: Yes
  • Polarised: Yes
Buy now from Amazon

3. Best long-lasting sunglasses for women: Serengeti Mara Sunglasses

Price: £130 | Buy now from Amazon

“I've been on a mission to find the perfect sunglasses for decades and I think I've finally found them (and they're polarised too which is also better)” – StCharlotte

3. Best long-lasting sunglasses for women: Serengeti Mara Sunglasses

It's likely that you've dropped, sat on or scratched at least one pair of sunnies in your lifetime. If you're accident prone (or constantly run around with kids), it's well worth investing in some robust sunglasses to see you through the summer season. This sleek pair is made from super-strong thermoplastic that's designed to bend under pressure and the borosilicate mineral glass lenses are both thin and lightweight. The Serengeti brand is popular with drivers and pilots thanks to the polarising technology used in each design which is really effective at suppressing glare.

Key specs

  • Case included: Yes
  • Polarised: Yes
Buy now from Amazon

4. Best polarised sunglasses: Maui Jim Honi Sunglasses

Price: £218 | Buy now from Amazon

“I love my Maui Jim polarised sunglasses and would recommend them to anyone” – RomaineCalm
“I have a pair of Maui Jims and they’re the best lenses I’ve ever had” – Mixingitall

4. Best polarised sunglasses: Maui Jim Honi Sunglasses

Mumsnetters wax lyrical about this Hawaiian sunglasses brand, praising both the quality of the lenses and the range of styles on offer. We love this Honi pair with its flattering cat-eye design and cool sunset-inspired colour effect. The polarised Maui Rose lenses are good for a variety of conditions from full sun to overcast days and offer a subtle rose tint. This pair has been designed with fast moving sports in mind, so it's perfect for active types that don't want to sacrifice on style, and the sturdy-but-thin glass is built to last with its scratch- and solvent-resistant finish.

Key specs

  • Case included: Yes
  • Polarised: Yes
Buy now from Amazon

5. Best recycled sunglasses for women: BioSunnies Biodegradable Sunglasses

Price: £25 | Buy now from Amazon

5. Best recycled sunglasses for women: BioSunnies Biodegradable Sunglasses

Looking for sustainable sunnies? This pair has some pretty strong eco credentials. Made from wheat straw – a waste product from harvested wheat grains – and coloured using plant-based dyes, the frames are biodegradable and the lenses can be recycled too! Available in a choice of three colours (mustard yellow, lilac and blue), the classic style should suit most face shapes and the polarised lenses provide UVA and UVB protection. For added eco bragging rights, the sunglasses come in a protective case made from recyclable kraft paper.

Key specs

  • Case included: Yes
  • Polarised: Yes
Buy now from Amazon

6. Best sunglasses for running: dhb UltraLite Sunglasses

Price: £25 | Buy now from Wiggle

“The wiggle ones are good and very comfortable” – welshweasel

6. Best sunglasses for running: dhb UltraLite Sunglasses

Regardless of how often you run, it's well worth investing in a pair of specialist sunnies to protect your eyes on scorching hot days and in low winter sun. Squinting can cause tightness in your neck and shoulder area which is best avoided when pounding the streets. This lightweight pair offers full UVA and UVB protection and the frames feature rubber grips to ensure they don't budge when you're on the go. There are three lenses to choose from depending on the conditions you tend to run in and the Hydrophobic coating helps to repel sweat and water. Considering the high-tech features this pair offers, they’re very reasonably priced.

Key specs

  • Case included: No
  • Polarised: No
Buy now from Wiggle

7. Best black sunglasses: Oakley Cohort Sunglasses

Price: £137 | Buy now from Amazon

“I have a pair of Oakley sunglasses that were £140, I've had them about 10 years now. Cost per wear probably works out the same as the cheapo glasses that you only get a few weeks or months (if you're lucky) out of” – WhoNickedMyName
“I love love love my oakleys. I have 3 pairs” – BubblesBubblesBubbles

7. Best black sunglasses: Oakley Cohort Sunglasses

They may be pricey, but Oakleys have a strong reputation when it comes to eyewear, especially among active types. It’s the go-to brand for athletes, and celebs including Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian. They’re built to last as the frames are tested under extreme conditions and the Prizm Grey Gradient lenses block out 85% of light and are designed to enhance colour and contrast. A lot of the designs have a sporty look but we love this Chort pair for something a little more stylish with all the durability and high tech features you’d expect from the brand.

Key specs

  • Case included: Yes
  • Polarised: No
Buy now from Amazon

8. Best designer sunglasses: Tom Ford Anoushka Sunglasses

Price: £166 | Buy now from Amazon

“I wear Tom Fords and I bloody love them” – MabelMoo23
“I've found Tom Ford glasses to be pretty indestructible (live in a hot place and wear them for hours daily)” – Flushedwithsomething

8. Best designer sunglasses: Tom Ford Anoushka Sunglasses

If you’re splurging on a pair of designer sunglasses, why not go big and go glam? This Anoushka pair from Tom Ford, definitely fits the bill. The oversized cat-eye frames are super chic and the subtle gold ‘T’ branding on the arms shows that you’ve spent money without appearing too flashy. The grey gradient lenses are good for driving as they’re tinted from the top down and they offer full UV protection. Mumsnet users rave about this brand when adding recommendations to threads about quality designer sunglasses.

Key specs

  • Case included: Yes
  • Polarised: No
Buy now from Amazon

9. Best women's sunglasses for driving: Ray-Ban Clubmaster Sunglasses

Price: £122 | Buy now from Amazon

“I have Ray-Ban Clubmasters with Polarised lenses and I adore them!” – CognitiveDissonance
“I got a pair of Clubmaster ones for my birthday… They're quality lenses and feel so much better than my usual £20 pair. Especially noticeable for me when driving” – BeeBawBabbity

9. Best women's sunglasses for driving: Ray-Ban Clubmaster Sunglasses

Enhance your vision and style behind the wheel with a pair of Ray-Ban Clubmaster sunglasses. The 50s-style frame in classic tortoiseshell will look cool whether you're driving along the Amalfi Coast or around the Asda car park. The polarised lenses are designed to minimise glare and are said to block 99% of reflected light, perfect for when you're driving on bright days. They're also engineered to increase clarity and reduce eye strain to boot so they're a safe bet to keep in your bag or glove compartment for when you hit the road.

Key specs

  • Case included: Yes
  • Polarised: Yes
Buy now from Amazon

10. Best mid-range women's sunglasses: Havaianas Noronha Sunglasses

Price: £40 | Buy now from Amazon

10. Best mid-range women's sunglasses: Havaianas Noronha Sunglasses

If you prefer a lighter frame and lens combo, this Noronha style could be right up your street. With a peachy frame and salmon-coloured lenses, things will look bright and sunny even on the drizzliest of days. For added fun, the arms feature textured detail and a discreet logo. And Havaianas knows a thing or two about cool and colourful summer accessories – its eponymous flip flops are worn up and down beaches throughout the world.

Key specs

  • Case included: Yes
  • Polarised: No
Buy now from Amazon

How to buy the best sunglasses

Scrimp or splurge? That is the question. And while the answer should lie firmly in your bank balance, it largely boils down to your desire for designer branding.

The main features to consider when buying a pair of sunglasses are the frames, the lenses and the overall style. It’s worth thinking about where you’ll be wearing and storing your sunglasses, how often you’ll be wearing them, how active your lifestyle is and whether you have kids. If you spend a lot of time outdoors with your family and constantly pop glasses on and off your head, it’s a good idea to opt for a robust frame made from something like thermoplastic paired with scratch-resistant lenses. You may want to stock up on a few styles to wear with different outfits however, in which case, you might want to experiment with some cheap styles.

There are plenty of very affordable sunglasses that feature sturdy frames, polarised lenses and full UV protection but you’ll pay considerably more for designer branding on the lens and/or arm. However it’s hard to beat the thrill of wearing designer gear and it’s likely to be significantly cheaper than buying a handbag or piece of jewellery from the same brand. Brands like Ray-Ban, Oakley and Maui Jims may have high price tags but they spend huge amounts on research and development to fine tune their eyewear engineering.

As mentioned in our intro, it’s wise to look for a CE mark to ensure the sunglasses you’re buying meet European standards or the British Standard number BS EN ISO 12312-1:2013.

What are polarised lenses?

Polarised lenses are designed to limit the amount of reflecting light that hits the eye as well as unwanted glare. They can also help improve clarity in bright conditions and can significantly reduce the need to squint. As polarised lenses focus on reducing glare from flat surfaces like roads, they can be particularly useful to wear when driving.

Do you need different sunglasses for different activities?

When slipping on a pair of sunnies, the most important thing to ensure is that the lenses offer a decent level of UV protection, regardless of the activity. But you might want to consider lightweight frames with rubber gripping if you’re planning to wear them for sports or strenuous outdoor activities. And it’s well worth investing in polarised lenses to wear when driving. Coloured lenses are best avoided when you’re behind the wheel as they can distort the colours of signs and traffic lights.

What are the best women's sunglasses to buy?

You can’t move for Ray-Ban recommendations on the Mumsnet forums. Mumsnetters rave about the brand’s quality and style and it’s hard to beat the Wayfarer Classics, an iconic design that will suit most face shapes and a frame and lens combo that is built to last. It’s a pricey pair but a solid investment for the summer season.

How we chose our recommendations

Because we know that there’s nothing like a real recommendation from a real parent, we first headed to the Mumsnet forums to find out which styles and brands of shapewear discerning Mumsnet users had bought. We compiled a list of the best shapewear they recommended for being comfortable and giving results.

We then did some research across the wider web, looking at which shapewear brands had won accolades or been featured in ‘best buy’ lists across websites and print media, and what customer reviews said about them.

Having collated all that information, we picked the best shapewear we thought would make the best buys.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.
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