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All You Need to Know About Hypoallergenic Glasses Frames
by Michelle Cheung

For people with sensitive skin, or people who tend to have allergic reactions when metal comes into contact with skin, it is important to consider choosing hypoallergenic glasses frames instead of the harsher metals. There are many different materials that hypoallergenic glasses frames can be made of and depending on who you are, finding the right one is essential as glasses are generally something you will be wearing everyday or using often. When finding the right pair of glasses, the frame material must be something to consider as sometimes, all it takes is the right type of frame to determine your style as well.

The most common material that glasses are made of out of is metal, and in particular, a metal called monel. This is a mixture of different types of metals and it’s beneficial because of its malleability and resistance to corrosion. Unfortunately, though monel sometimes fits into the hypoallergenic glasses frames category, when it comes into any direct contact with the skin on your face, it can cause irritation and an allergic reaction. Another type of metal that is not hypoallergenic is Beryllium. Though they are good for people who have high acidity in their skin, they tend to cause allergic reactions as well for people with sensitive skin. If you want to choose a metal frame and notice that you are having allergic reactions, the reason will probably trace to having nickel alloy in the frames. If you want to find metal hypoallergenic glasses frames, your most likely bet will be stainless, titanium, gold and silver. Though metal frames are more common, a more comfortable, affordable, hypoallergenic and lighter option is plastic frames.

Cellulose Acetate Hypoallergenic Glasses Frames
Another material that is commonly used for frames and that also tends to be more useful for hypoallergenic glasses frames are plastic frames. These often have more flexibility in terms of colors, cost-effectiveness, creativity, and weight of the frames. Cellulose acetate is a plastic material that first came up in the 1940s in regards to the use of glasses and has many benefits in comparison to other frames. Because it is a plant-based material and non-petroleum based, its elements are more natural and are easier on the skin. In particular it comes from cotton liners and wood pulp and can be nylon based, which also means it’s renewable or biodegradable and essentially less harmful to the environment. This natural base helps to give the frames a more flexible frame. While other plastics can have problems with brittleness, cellulose acetate is known especially for its flexibility, its lightweight feeling, and its strong durability. In terms of style, it also has the most options and variety in being available for a wide range of colors and transparencies and can also help have a more attractive gloss finish. These hypoallergenic glasses frames are the perfect choice if one of your criteria is to have glasses frames that are lighter. Their flexibility also makes it easier for your optician to adjust your hypoallergenic glasses frames so that it is comfortable and fits exactly to your face. This is especially useful if you’re the type that needs to wear glasses all day. Glasses frames that are made from cellulose acetate are considered to be the highest quality material in the category of plastics frames.

Cellulose Acetate Hypoallergenic Glasses Frames vs. Injection Molded Frames
Cellulose acetate frames, being essentially plastic, start as a significant sized block of plastic. This block is usually 3 feet long and 0.33 inches thick, which is in other words, a long, narrow sheet that makes it easier for frames to be cut out of, as this measurement is only slightly wider than eyeglasses frames. Layers are formed from the block of acetate, and then slicing different parts of the block eventually make up every part of the hypoallergenic glasses frames. Then the hand polishing of each part of the frame comes into play before it is all put together for the final product. The renewable quality of the hypoallergenic glasses frames allows the plastic waste to be collected and recycled for the next use. The nature of how they are made allow for a greater attention to detail as well, which leaves less of a possibility for bad quality or defective glasses. Acetate frames are also popular with manufacturers that want to experiment with different colors, as they are known to be able to include and accommodate for all the colors of the rainbow. Thus, hundreds of different colors can be produced and used on cellulose acetate frames. These hypoallergenic glasses frames makes it easier for designers to add and subtract colors and the different pieces of the frames in whatever style they see fit. Although they are slightly more expensive than injection molded frames, their flexibility and hypoallergenic qualities are both things to consider as an investment.

Injection molded frames are also made from a petroleum based plastic, but is manufactured in a completely different way and most do not produce hypoallergenic glasses frames. Instead of being cut from a block, like cellulose acetate, it actually involves melting or liquefying plastic into a mold. The mold that is usually made from stainless steel or aluminum, then cools down until it settles into the shape of the frame. The colors or additional styling touches to the frames are made through spray painting and are coated with other layers. These frames tend to be more flexible than celluslose acetate frames and can endure more bending or harsher conditions, but also use cheaper parts, which means they could break down easier. They are also a little cheaper than the acetate frames because of their cheaper material and create less waste as the plastic fits exactly into the mold. However, they are more agitating for sensitive skinned people as the coating can cause allergic reactions for some. They mostly do not fall in the hypoallergenic glasses frames category, depending on what they are coated with as well. Injection molded frames also have a less appealing aesthetic and cheaper feel to them and the way they are made leaves room for mistakes or defects in the process.

Other Hypoallergenic Glasses Frames
Some other options that are offered for hypoallergenic glasses frames include titanium, nylon, beryllium, stainless steel, flexon, gold, and sterling silver.

Titanium is a popular material for hypoallergenic glasses frames because it is lightweight and strong and has an exceptional corrosion-resistant quality. They are produced in a variety of colors and styles as well and offer a modern aesthetic appeal. However, if you do have an allergic reaction to nickel, it is important to be cautious, as most titanium frames are not made from 100% titanium material, which would cost a lot more. A more affordable option to titanium is beryllium, however, sensitive skinned people should avoid beryllium as it is not hypoallergenic. Stainless steel is another low toxicity material that also avoids the use of nickel, which is a good option for those who need hypoallergenic glasses frames that are reasonably priced and are lightweight. If you are interested in the lightest material available, flexon would be a good material to opt for as it is titanium based. Its exceptional lightness and flexibility allows for the glasses to retain or go back to its shape if it is somehow bent out of proportion. It also claims to be 25% lighter than other metals, which is a good thing to consider for children, as they tend to be more active and have a higher risk of damaging their eyeglasses. They would also be able to adjust more to the glasses because of the material’s lightness in weight.

Nylon is another option for hypoallergenic glasses frames and this material, similar to cellulose acetate, is known for its lightweight feel and strength. It is a good frame material to have, especially if you are extremely active in sports and activities because they display a solid resistance to extreme weathers and are stiff, yet flexible at the same time. The more easygoing material also allows more variety for frame shape and is used for frames that are more difficult to shape or have more unique frames. A good example of this is the wraparound style. Plastic frames are popular because of the possibilities for style and variety that they offer, however, they are easier to break than metal frames and their strength can decrease slightly overtime if exposed to sunlight or harsh conditions. However, if they are taken care of, they offer the highest quality of comfort and give you an affordable choice of hypoallergenic glasses frames.

For especially sensitive skinned people, the option of sterling silver or gold is also available for hypoallergenic glasses frames, however they do tend to be a lot less common. It is rare for glasses to be made completely of these materials because they are very costly and prove to be quite uncomfortable and stiff. However, they are used as accents to some glasses and can also be used as plating.