How to Tell if Sunglasses Are Polarized [3 Easy Tricks]


Polarized sunglasses are an excellent investment if you want to deal with less glare and light reflecting off various surfaces. The trouble is, it can sometimes be tricky to tell if your sunglasses are polarized or not.

The simplest way to tell if a pair of sunglasses are polarized is to test them out with a reflective surface. With the inevitable glare that comes from a reflective surface such as a mirror, you should almost instantly know whether or not you’re wearing polarized sunglasses. 

Testing sunglasses out on a reflective surface is just one way to see if they are polarized, but you can use a couple of other methods to make sure. 

Depending on what you have available to you at home, you might want to try any one of the three methods to get a definitive answer one way or the other.

Method #1: Use a Mirror

The easiest way to tell if a pair of sunglasses are polarized is to use a mirror.

To make sure that you’ll get a clear answer, it’s a good idea to shine a light directly onto the reflective surface you’ve chosen and see if you are met with glare. A flashlight is an excellent option for doing this, so you can use a mobile device easily enough. 

Step 1: Shine the Flashlight at the Mirror

If you are able to see glare (light bouncing off the surface), then that’s a good sign since the purpose of polarized sunglasses is to mitigate this glare.

To be extra sure, shine the light on the mirror from at least 2 feet away, as you want to test the sunglasses from a distance away for accurate results.

Step 2: Look Through the Lenses

The next step is to grab the shades in question and put them on but hold them just a few inches in front of your eyes. 

The reason for this is you want to be able to look between both lenses for an accurate reading. 

If they pass this test, meaning you don’t see any glare coming off the mirror, then proceed to this next step. If not, you’re most likely dealing with non-polarized lenses.

Step 3: Test From Different Angles

Now we’re going to test your lenses at different angles. 

To do so, hold them in your hand with the lenses facing you and tilt them upwards until one of the lenses is above the other like a see-saw. Play around with them in this position, moving them around to test the lenses’ glare-reducing capabilities.

Step 4: Test vs Your Eyesight

The last thing you can do to test a pair of sunglasses with a reflective surface is to test your eyesight against them. 

To do this, you should take the sunglasses with the lenses facing you and place them directly in front of the reflective surface. 

Now take a look at the lens with the mirror behind it, and then take a look at it with your naked eye. 

Compare the difference; if you notice that the sunglasses reduce the amount of glare compared to your naked eye, then you can be confident that they are indeed polarized.

Method #2: Use a Device with an LCD or LED Display

If you have a mobile phone, tablet, or computer handy, then you can use any one of them to tell if you’re working with a pair of polarized sunglasses. The best choice is a computer screen, though, since it’s a much larger surface and will make the testing process more straightforward.

The only condition here is that it has to be a white screen, which means the computer will need to be turned on. You should also turn the brightness up for the best results.

Now, make sure that nobody else is around as you’re going to put your sunglasses on indoors while looking at your computer. Once you’re sure the coast is clear, adjust your position so that the screen is directly in front of you at eye level.

While looking at the screen with your sunglasses on, conduct a series of tests by tilting your head left and right and trying out different angles.

You’ll know that the sunglasses are polarized with some degree of certainty if your screen appears to be black. This will happen with authentic polarized lenses because LCD and LED screens will have anti-glare properties, so in theory, the two will cancel each other out.

This means if you still see the white screen to some degree, your sunglasses aren’t fitted with polarized lenses.

Method #3: Use a Pair of Polarized Sunglasses

Perhaps the most obvious solution of the three is to compare your sunglasses to a pair of polarized sunglasses. 

This isn’t the top tip because not everyone will have some polarized sunglasses lying around the house. If you don’t have any, you can always go to the nearest sunglass store and test yours out against some they have in store.

When you have a pair of polarized sunglasses handy, then you can do this simple test.

Wherever you do this test, you’ll want to be sure that you have a good light source – natural or artificial. If you’re at home, your best bet is to use a room with a window and do the experiment during the daytime when there’s natural light pouring in. Failing that, a desk lamp will suffice.

Step 1: First, place the sunglasses that you know have polarized lenses on a flat surface, with the lenses facing up. 

Step 2: Now hold out the other pair of sunglasses so that they are in between you and the polarized pair, with around 1-2 inches of distance between them. Then pick up both pairs of sunglasses, being careful not to have the lenses touch as this can cause scratches.

Step 3: Rotate the sunglasses you want to test by about 60 degrees until they are diagonal with the polarized sunglasses in front of them. 

How to Make a Determination

Now comes the crucial testing period, which will tell you whether you’re dealing with polarized lenses or not. 

Looking at both the pairs of shades that you’re holding in front of you, notice if the overlapping lenses are dark when you look directly at them. 

If they are, that’s a great sign as it means you have two pairs of polarized sunglasses in your hands. If there isn’t much difference in color from looking at them separately, then, unfortunately, the lenses aren’t polarized.

Common Misconceptions

Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions out there surrounding polarized sunglasses, making it much harder to identify them correctly.

In this section, we’ll briefly dispel the most common myths concerning polarized lenses so you know what information to disregard during testing.

Misconception #1: The first misconception or myth is that polarized lenses are reserved for certain styles of shades. This isn’t true, as you can find these lenses in aviators, retro shades, or wraparounds.

Misconception #2: The second misconception – and this is a big one – is that polarized lenses are always some shade of blue. While blue is a very popular color for polarized lenses, it isn’t the color they can be. In fact, you can find polarized lenses in just about any color, from orange to green, so the color alone of the lenses won’t tell you everything you need to know.

Misconception #3: Finally, there seems to be a popular belief that polarized sunglasses are expensive. If you believe this, then you’ve probably been spending a premium on polarized sunglasses when you can spend a lot less to get similar results. These days, it isn’t uncommon to find a good pair of polarized sunglasses for as little as $20, so keep your eye out for a budget pair if you don’t want to spend a fortune.

Free Checklist: 10 Must-have Clothing Items for the Modern Man 🕶️

Frequently Asked Questions About Polarized Sunglasses

Can regular sunglasses be polarized?

Yes, you can polarize regular sunglasses if you wish to do so.

There’s a coating that can be added to a pair of standard lenses that will polarize them, so you can better cope with reflected light and glare.

So even if you don’t want to invest in a pair of polarized sunglasses, you can still benefit from the technology with your regular sunglasses.

What does it mean if your sunglasses are polarized?

Polarized sunglasses have special lenses which have been designed to limit the amount of glare you see while wearing them.

This is useful for certain professions like fishermen who need to be able to look at the water even when sunlight is reflecting off it, but it’s also good for everyday use.

These sunglasses will also effectively protect your eyes from the harmful UV rays produced by the sun.

What are the disadvantages of polarized sunglasses?

While wearing polarized sunglasses, you’ll have a much harder time seeing your mobile device’s LCD screen.

This might be an issue when you’re out and about and want to check your phone, but more significantly, it represents a bigger issue which is that these sunglasses distort your view of the world due to the filtering process.

As a result of this filtering, you might struggle to differentiate various shades of white in the landscape and objects around you.

A Final Word From The Trending Man

Now that you’re aware of these common misconceptions, it should be much easier for you to tell if sunglasses are polarized or not. This way, you shouldn’t need to blindly invest in sunglasses in the hope that they really are polarized since you’ll have the tools to make a thorough assessment for yourself.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.
Article by:

The Trending Man

Our detailed review has been contributed to by multiple members of The Trending Man Review Team to ensure the best research and highest standard of quality. Have a good or a bad experience with one of the products? Please let us know, we love the feedback!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Table of Contents

Ready To Start Your Quest?

Now it’s your turn to step up, make a commitment and ramp up your style.

To help you get started, we created a free video training that will give you all the tools and tactics you will need to get started even if you don’t have any prior experience.

Click the button below to join the training and we’ll show you our model for minimalist fashion.

Scroll to Top