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What The Lens Tint Categories Actually Mean

Don’t make the common mistake of assuming the lens tints in sunglasses are for nothing more than style. The lens tint actually says a lot about that particular pair of sunglasses and the level of protection you receive while wearing them then you may have realized. In fact, some may argue that the tint of a pair of sunglasses is the most essential feature.

However, it can be difficult knowing which tint you need just by looking at the various shades available.  Fortunately, we’ve created this crash course on lens tint categories to help you understand what you can expect from the different tints of sunglasses. Take a look! 


Lens Colour vs. Lens Tint

It’s important not to mix up lens tint with lens color. Yes, the color of the lenses is an important feature of your sunglasses as they determine the type of visual comfort you’ll receive. However, when it comes to protecting your eyes from the harmful light, it’s all about the tint of the sunglass lenses. 

To put it into perspective, the lens color of your sunglasses can accentuate contrast, increase visual clarity, highlight relief, etc. whereas the lens tint of your sunglasses determines how much light passes through the lens.


The Lens Tint Categories Explained

As you’ve likely seen before, sunglass lenses come in various shades. From clear to lightly tinted, from dark to so dark you can’t see someone’s eyes, and some sunglass tints can even change the level of tint depending on the environment. What may surprise you though is that the tint of your sunglasses says a lot more about the experience you’ll have while wearing them than you may have realized. In fact, the tint of lenses determines the quantity of light that passes through the lens. Take a look at the amount of light each lens allows:

  • Category 0 Sunglasses: 80-100% of light passes through the lens
  • Category 1 Sunglasses: 43-80% of the light passes through the lens
  • Category 2 Sunglasses: 18-43% of the light passes through the lens
  • Category 3 Sunglasses: 8-18% of light passes through the lens
  • Category 4 Sunglasses: 3-8% of light passes through the lens

To break this down even further, the lower the category level, the lighter the lens tint, and the higher quantity of light that is passed through the lens. In other words, category 4 sunglasses are ideal for extremely bright environments, such as being on the water or at the top of an 8,000 m peak where the sun glares off of the alps. Category 2 and 3 are for average light situations that aren’t too bright or too dark, such as taking a daily stroll through the neighborhood on a sunny day, category 1 sunglasses are ideal for a darker environment such as taking a walk through a lush forest with minimal sunlight shining through, and category 0 lenses are completely clear.

However, choosing one category for everyday sunglasses can be difficult because the light changes from day to day, and from situation to situation. And if you’re struggling to make up your mind or don’t want to have various pairs of sunglasses for different environments, photochromic lenses may be the best option for you.


Photochromic Lenses that Adapt to the Environment

Julbo uses NXT technology for technical sunglasses that automatically adapt to the lighting surrounding you. It’s the highest optical quality available, offering higher crispness than any other transitional technology available. The treatment also lasts a lifetime and won’t distort over time as our revolutionary system takes 20 hours to curate the transitional lens to avoid the use of high temperature which is known to damage the transitional technology over time.

Choosing Photochromic Lens Categories

Since photochromic sunglasses are transitional, the next step is to determine the range of tint you need. Some photochromic lenses may transition from a category 0 to a category 3, whereas others may transition between a category 2 and category 4. It all comes down to the type of activities you’ll do while wearing your sunglasses.

If you play a lot of outdoor sports or live high in the mountaintops, you’ll likely want a pair of sunglasses that range from a dark tint to a darker tint to ensure optimal protection. However, if you live in a gloomy area that rarely sees bright and sunny days, choosing a photochromic lens that transitions from category 2 to 3 may suffice.

Think about the environment you frequent and the activities you regularly do, and let that guide you towards the right range of tint.


Which Collections to Shop for Different Tints?

Who knew sunglasses could be so complicated? At Julbo, we want to make the process of providing your eyes with optimal protection as easy as possible. So, we have separated our different styles of sunglasses (and tints) into different categories that can help you navigate through the best options for your specific situation. For example, in our “mountain sunglasses” or category, expect to see darker tints due to the high light levels and glares found at such high altitudes. The same can be said about our “nautical sunglasses” due to the glare from the water. If you know you require dark-tinted sunglasses, these can be great collections to shop.

On the other hand, if you need lower tint levels for everyday use, browsing the “travel sunglasses” section can make the entire shopping process easier.


If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to our customer service team. We are always here to help you find the best pair of sunglasses that’ll offer you optimal protection, visual clarity, and comfort. 

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