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Cosplay Contacts 101 (As In Lenses)

Cosplay Contacts 101 (As In Lenses)

Contact lenses can complete the look of any cosplay, and let’s face it, nobody has bubblegum pink or swirly eyes. So if you’re a cosplayer, but you’ve never worn contact lenses before, there are some important things that you need to know.

Fit and Prescription

If you think you can just click and buy the costume lenses you want online, think again. Lenses come in different diameters, base curves, and powers. Most medical lenses are around the 14.00-14.50mm diameter size, but costume lenses range from 14.00mm to 16.00mm. The larger lenses will make your eyes look bigger and more doll like, but it’s important to make sure that they sit comfortably on your eyes. Base curves generally range from 8.3-8.7. Only your optometrist can get you properly fitted. I find that if the base curve is the same, then you can get away with a higher diameter for short-term wear.

prescription_labelThen there’s power. If you have 20/20 vision and don’t need correction, then you’ll be just fine with plano lenses that have a -0.00 correction. If you need vision correction, then you’ll need to know your prescription. If you already wear lenses for daily use, then you can select your current prescription. However, if you only wear glasses, then your optometrist will have to determine what strength you need because it won’t be the same as your glasses.

Wearing your lenses

Putting your contacts in can be nerve wracking to newcomers. Your eyes will naturally want to blink and close to defend them from foreign objects. This is normal and will take you quite a bit of practice to relax. My technique is to place the lens on my right index finger, then pull the lower lid down with my right middle finger and hold the top lid up with the side of my left index finger. I place my lenses directly onto my pupil, but some people prefer to look up, place the lens below the pupil, then carefully close the eye and blink to slide the lens into proper alignment. You should also seriously consider having someone more experienced place the lens in for you. To remove, apply pressure to the lens and slide it either to the inner eye or under the pupil to shift it off the eye. Check out this video for a visual demonstration on inserting and removing lenses.

Technically, you could put your lenses in for the first time and wear them all day. If you want to be miserably rubbing at your eye for hours, go right ahead. Or, you can heed my advice. New lens wearers need about a month of regular wear just to get used to the sensation of having foreign objects in the eyes. Even when they’re in properly, you’re still going to notice them.

Veteran contact users will feel a difference between costume and corrective lenses right away. Mainly because costume lenses don’t allow as much oxygen to permeate. You will find that you need to lubricate your lenses with contact rewetting drops (NOT solution or regular eye drops) pretty regularly. Even if you wear lenses daily, make sure to put your costume lenses in about an hour before you go out. This will give your eyes time to adjust to the difference.

You can wear costume lenses for several hours, but you really should limit your wear to just the time when you need them. Once you’re done, remove, clean, and store them. Don’t ever sleep in lenses.

Prep, Cleaning, and Storage


Correct shape

There are three things you want to check for before you put a lens in your eye: dirt, tears, and orientation. Before you put your lenses in, you should rinse them with saline solution or a multipurpose solution. Do not use tap water. You can clean them with a daily cleaner, but do not, for the the love of all that is holy and good, put the lens in your eye after using a cleaner. It will burn like Keyleth’s fire hands. You need to rinse them again with saline or multipurpose solution. Aren’t sure what you have? Read the box.

Next, check the edges for tears. Unfortunately, if your lens has a tear, you’ll have to toss it. Even small tears in lenses can be extremely painful. Finally, check to make sure the lens is right side out. If you aren’t sure, flip it both ways and set it on your finger tip. If it looks like a perfectly curved bowl, that’s correct. If it appear to be a bowl with a lip, they’re inside out. When it comes to costume lenses, you can usually tell by which side of the lens has the coloring.

Dried out lenses

Dried out lenses

When you take out the lenses, you should rinse and rub them with cleaning or multipurpose solution to remove any debris. Fill your lens case with fresh solution, and place the lens inside, facing down. Make sure the lens is fully submerged or else it can dry out and be completely ruined.

If you don’t wear your lenses regularly, I also suggest checking them once in a while to make sure there is still solution in the container keeping them hydrated. Sadly, you can’t keep your lenses forever. Most places say you can make them last for up to a year, but that depends on usage, care, and buildup.

Now that you have some of the basics, share your costume lens tips with others in the comments!

Image credits:,,, Courtney Kraft
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