Top: no lenses, Bottom: with 15.00mm circle lenses
No kawaii (translation: cute in Japanese!) look is complete without the big-eye effect of colored circle lenses. The contact lenses, made popular by japanese street fashion trendsetters as well as K Pop singers, have been making a splash abroad for a few years now. Unlike your average colored lenses, these korean-manufactured contacts boast a slightly larger diameter as well as a black circle along the outer rim of the contact, which highlights the size of the lens and enlarges the appearance of the iris. The effect is a manga-esque, doll-like look that, with make up, can be augmented to appear demure or extreme.
Today this look is is worn by both women and men, sometimes on a daily basis. Fashionable folk in western countries have adopted the trend, too—you can see people on the runway, in clubs, not to mention in the drag community. Want to try out circle lenses for yourself? Our tips for buying and wearing are below.
The most daunting part about shopping for this lens style is selecting what’s right for you with the amount of options available. Popular circle lens websites (usually based in Asia) boast thousands of designs in different colors and patterns. If your eyes are lightly colored, any contact choice will alter the shade of your eyes significantly. Those with darker eye colors should take care to pick darker lens shades or research styles that tend to be more opaque. If you wish to color match to your eye, pick a gradient style, as opposed to lenses that have a hard circle of color around your pupil.
While standard color contact lenses are often sized under 14.0mm in diameter, circle lenses start at 14 and go up to 15.0mm with several sizes in between. 15.0mm is the most popular size, as it gives the strongest effect. Though the idea of putting a larger lens into the eye can be scary for first-time lens wearers, the 1mm difference in standard circle lenses is barely noticeable as far as application and comfort are concerned.
Circle lenses arrive in individual glass vials with rubber stoppers and metal seals. They are also equipped with expiration dates, which are important to check upon receiving, or purchasing if you are buying in person.
New lenses can be opened by lining up the arrows on the lid and rim and lifting the lid using a bit of force to crack the metal seal—you can use the side of a tabletop to flip the lid off if it’s too difficult to do with your hands. Pull the lid to remove the metal seal from the rim of the vial, and use fingers or tweezers to jimmy off the rubber stopper. The best way to remove lenses from their vials is with a pair of soft-tip tweezers made for handling contact lenses.
New lenses should be left to soak in fresh lens solution in a clean contact lens case for 8 hours before wearing, so plan ahead!
There’s no hygienic difference between wearing circle lenses and regular soft contact lenses. Be sure to rinse your lenses in solution before and after wear, and make sure the case stays clean. If the lens feels uncomfortable or scratchy when worn, remove it immediately and examine for warping, or debris that may have transferred from your finger. Always use clean hands when inserting lenses and never share lenses with anyone.
Lenses have a lifespan of 6 months to a year, and can become a bacteria hotspot if kept longer. Improperly stored lenses can dry out or stick to the sides of the case causing the lenses to warp and cause irritation when worn. Be sure to always close the lid of your lens case (whether or not lenses are inside, you don’t want contaminants from the air to settle into an open lid). Also be sure to close the cap on your saline solution. If your lenses warp, it’s time to toss them out and buy a new pair. Always store lens cases upright, and never reuse solution.