Don't it make your brown eyes blue...
June 18, 2009 10:39 AM   Subscribe

Do colored contacts on brown-eyed people look just as fakey now as they did 20 years ago?

I have dark brown eyes, and about 20 years ago I had green colored contact lenses. In retrospect, they looked totally weird and fake. They just didn't have the depth to them that real irises have. Has colored contact technology moved forward any in the last two decades? Are there any colored contacts out there for brown-eyed folks that look convincingly like the real thing?
posted by amro to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Pardon the subject, but Paris Hilton, born brown eyed, wears blue contacts.

They aren't totally aquamarine like contacts used to be, but they still look fake to me.
posted by jerseygirl at 10:56 AM on June 18, 2009

A filipino friend of mine wears blue-grey contacts occasionally (with natural dark brown eyes). I sorta screamed in terror the first time I saw them. I never got used to seeing him in them, and I believe I would have had the same reaction if I didn't know him before.

I was surprised at how much the contacts looked like natural light blue irises. Lots of different colors, and a natural pattern, but they were a bit more opaque, less depth-- light didn't reflect from behind like real eyes.

If you shoot for more of a hazel brown/green, instead of pale blue, it might look more natural.
posted by fontophilic at 11:11 AM on June 18, 2009

While it's possible that the quality of colored contacts may have improved over the years, I can always tell. Maybe not in a photograph, but most definitely in person. It's like with tanning - no amount of technology can replicate the ways light hits the natural iris, the ways irises change - as you age, with light, with temperature, with weather, shadowing, with clothing, etc. With tanning and colored contacts, the produced colors simply do not exist in nature; because the "colors" they are trying to copy are not just a pinpointed color in a spectrum.

If you want to wear colored contacts to go for a change, cool. But trying to pass them off as the real thing will just not work. Like you said - irises have a depth to them. Technology can never reproduce the depth of being 'lived in.'
posted by raztaj at 11:15 AM on June 18, 2009

My sister (brown eyes) wears green contacts, and they don't look fake at all. 20 years ago, coloured contacts had just one colour on them. Now, they design them to have variations in tones/colours on each contact, so they look more real.

I also think that picking a colour that exists in nature is they key - choose green contacts that are the colour of green eyes, not the colour of your favourite sweater, or the ocean, or you favourite crayon.
posted by Kololo at 11:16 AM on June 18, 2009

They're better but they still have that same problem, there's no depth to it, and people have a natural tenancy to notice anything wrong with eyes.

The less they try to do the more believable they are. Ones that go for a lighter or darker version of your own color, or change the pattern on the iris might not be noticed by casual contact. Good color contacts stay close to your color and only tint the part closest to the pupil and let your natural color show through elsewhere and look decent. However these have to be somewhere close to your own eye color. Going from brown to green or hazel is possible (if they're not too dark brown to start) but going to blue will scream 'fake'.
posted by Ookseer at 11:37 AM on June 18, 2009

Best answer: I just picked some up in January.

You decide: self flickr linky:

Me with blue contacts
Mw without

They look pretty real unless you're about 6 inches away.
posted by zerokey at 11:40 AM on June 18, 2009

Best answer: Forgot to add: They're Ciba Freshlook Colors. I tried green, but they just didn't work for me at all, so ymmv.
posted by zerokey at 11:42 AM on June 18, 2009

A Filipina coworker of mine wears blue lenses, and it's terrifying.
posted by happy scrappy at 12:10 PM on June 18, 2009

Response by poster: I should clarify first that I am interested in whether the colors intended to look natural do look natural nowadays. I am aware that bright color contacts of any sort don't look convincing on anyone.

Also - I am not of an ethnic background for which it would be unusal to see different colors of eyes. I understand that blue eyes on a Filipina are probably less common (and therefore more likely to be scrutinized) than blue eyes on someone of Ukrainian descent, like me.
posted by amro at 12:15 PM on June 18, 2009

Go to your local optometrist and get some samples and try them yourself. Last time my SO was at costco she got a whole bunch of sets free.
posted by wongcorgi at 1:17 PM on June 18, 2009

I find they're convincing enough for everyday, casual use, in that I have been told that someone was wearing contacts when I commented on their eye colour. Historically, I have been fooled by certain shades of green and purple for people with brown eyes, and never by blue contacts on people with brown eyes. I have no knowledge of people with blue eyes who wear coloured contacts. I also am not talking about people I have any sort of intense conversation with, where I would notice.
posted by jeather at 1:55 PM on June 18, 2009

I think it depends a lot on the natural coloring of the person. I've seen lots of people with brown-type coloring that have gotten lighter browns or hazel colored lenses, and it looks great. But kelly green or sky blue? Not so much. Probably some kind of natural dominant versus recessive trait recognition thing.
posted by gjc at 5:30 PM on June 18, 2009

Best answer: raztaj writes "While it's possible that the quality of colored contacts may have improved over the years, I can always tell. Maybe not in a photograph, but most definitely in person."

There's potentially a strong selection bias at work here; anyone with coloured contacts, unless they volunteered they were wearing them, that you couldn't tell were wearing coloured contacts wouldn't be part of your sample set.
posted by Mitheral at 7:52 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, I wear blue contacts. I'm a fairly light-skinned Latina. Most people tend to remark on the color and will ask, at which point I will cop to them being plastic. I find they look pretty real.

It all relates to what gjc and Kololo have said. While the colors on the lenses themselves have come to incorporate more hues than one (thus giving them more depth), it also depends on whether the person chooses a shade that suits them. Lord knows that green and violet did NOT look good at all on me when I tried them.

Here's me, for context.
posted by arishaun at 10:10 PM on June 18, 2009

When I first met my SO (something like 12 years ago now) she wore blue colored contacts. They weren't painfully obvious or anything until I found myself staring at them for a while and gradually noticed they were in fact colored.

Given my near certainty that the technology has improved in the last 12 years I can say with confidence that they won't stand out, although I'm sure it can still be discerned by anybody who cares to look closely enough.
posted by wierdo at 10:22 PM on June 18, 2009

I know a handful of people - that I know of - who wear colored contact lenses and no one can tell. Presumably, there are people all around us wearing colored contact lenses and only their eye doctor knows for sure.

Once upon a time, my doc was out of non-colored samples and gave me what I would have through were creepy turquoise lenses to wear for a week. In that week, a completely different set of people complimented my eyes. Then I went back to non-colored and the usual people said nice things about my eyes. I really should repeat this experiment and take better notes. It was a more dramatic difference than seeing who is attentive when you are wearing 400 pounds of makeup and a bridesmaid dress with a push-up bra vs. tank top and yoga pants - especially since a lot of the people, esp. a couple of queeny gay men, who have long maintained that I have beautiful eyes did not notice the contacts. A few woman asked me if I had changed my eye makeup or had my eyebrows done, so they noticed something had changed.

P.S. arishaun, where are you? How can I get there? And shouldn't there be a dog in that picture?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 12:59 PM on June 20, 2009

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