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If you’re thinking about buying colored contact lenses online, you probably already know how important it is to be careful where you buy from.

Retailers that follow Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines for the sale of decorative or costume contact lenses typically sell those that have been proven to be safe and are backed by a big-name optical brand.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out that it’s illegal for retailers in the United States to sell contact lenses — even decorative or costume contact lenses — without a prescription.

Some Halloween shops and beauty supply stores may sell inexpensive colored contact lenses without a prescription, though they’re likely doing so against the law.

It’s wise to avoid these. Wearing poorly fitted lenses with questionable materials can increase your risk of an eye infection as well as other serious complications.

We’ll go over the basics of buying colored contacts online and give you options for purchasing these products safely so that you can buy with peace of mind.

Colored contacts are disposable lenses designed to temporarily change the appearance of your eyes.

Can I get colored contacts with my prescription?

Yes. Colored contacts can be made with your prescription. They correct your vision while also switching up your look.

I don’t need vision correction. Can I get colored contacts without any prescription?

Yes. Contacts can also be made without vision correction and used simply as a cosmetic device to modify your eye color. Without a prescription, colored contacts may also be called decorative or costume contacts.

Currently, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends that you get input from an eye care professional before opting for a pair of colored contacts, even if you don’t have a prescription for vision correction.

You can ask an eye care professional to examine your eyes and give you a prescription for colored contacts with 0.0 power.

Pros

  • Colored contacts are a fun way to temporarily accentuate the natural color of your eyes or try a completely new eye color.
  • Like regular prescription contact lenses, prescription contact lenses that have a color element help you see clearly.
  • You can switch up your look with different color options every time you order a new box of disposable contacts.

Cons

  • Not every type of colored contact lenses on the market is safe to use.
  • Some of the more dramatic options for colored contacts, such as black sclera contacts, can irritate your eyes and obstruct your vision.
  • If colored contacts aren’t fitted correctly to you, you risk eye conditions, such as corneal abrasions, corneal ulcers, and bacterial infections in your eyes.
  • Colored contacts might be thicker or scratchier than regular contacts, according to some online reviews.

There are several brands of colored contacts on the market, but only the highest quality products landed on our list of top picks. After carefully researching over 10 popular types, we settled on five that met our standards.

  • FDA approval. We checked the online FDA database to verify that each of our top picks was, in fact, approved by the FDA.
  • Prescription required. Contacts cannot be legally sold without a prescription. That’s why we made sure that each of these products asks for a prescription prior to purchase.
  • Largely positive unpaid customer reviews. Some heavily promoted colored contacts brands receive rave reviews in sponsored posts, but these can be biased. To get a more accurate sense of user experience, we focused on the feedback given on customer review sites and marketplaces instead.
  • Selection. We also looked to highlight brands that carry a wide array of options for different prescription needs and color preferences.

Pricing guide

Prices vary based on where you purchase your lenses, as well as if you have a coupon code or a manufacturer rebate. We tried to touch on several different prices in this guide.

Pricing is based on the cost of a 30-day supply of contact lenses and assumes that you can use the same box of contacts for both of your eyes.

  • $ = under $30
  • $$ = $30–$40
  • $$$ = over $40

Best dailies

1-Day Acuvue Define

Price: $$

These contacts accentuate the natural look of your eye color while providing ultraviolet protection. They’re meant to be disposed of daily, keeping your eye care routine hygienic and easy.

You do need a prescription to order these lenses, but you can get them with 0.0 power if you don’t need vision correction.

These contacts are meant to be subtle and not change your look dramatically. Some reviewers say they don’t change your eye color enough to be worth paying more for than regular contacts.

Pros

  • The lenses add a subtle accentuation to your eyes.
  • They feature built-in UV protection.

Cons

  • These contacts don’t create a huge change in your look, so some reviewers don’t think they’re worthwhile.
  • They’re only meant to be worn for 1 day.

Best monthly

Alcon Air Optix Colors

Price: $$$

These lenses are meant to be disposed of monthly, which means that a box of six might last you 3 months if you have the same prescription in both eyes.

They have a wide array of colors to choose from — including dramatic colors or more subtle accentuation — so you can select a new look every time you run out of contacts.

Alcon Air Optix Colors are available by prescription with or without vision correction. Most reviewers say they’re incredibly comfortable to wear.

Pros

  • These contacts can be worn repeatedly for a month.
  • They’re long-lasting, and users say that they’re still breathable and comfortable.
  • There are lots of colors to choose from, depending on your preference.

Cons

  • There’s a higher up-front cost than many other options.

Best for astigmatism

TORIColors

Price: $$$

These monthly disposables are specifically made for people with astigmatism.

While these are pricier, they may be the only FDA-approved option currently available for people with astigmatism. TORIColors can accentuate your eyes with blue, gray, green, or amber tones.

Pros

  • These contacts are approved for safe use for people with astigmatism, which is a rarity for colored contact lenses.
  • They’re prescribed for 1 month of use per lens, which could save you money in the long run.

Cons

  • There are only a few color options, and all are for subtle accentuation.
  • They’re pricier than some other colored lens options, with a bigger investment up-front when you make your purchase.

Best biweekly

Alcon FreshLook Colorblends

Price: $$

These contacts are meant to be used for 1 to 2 weeks before disposing of them. The Alcon FreshLook Colorblends line offers colors that are more dramatic, such as Brilliant Blue or Gemstone Green, as well as more subtle, classic eye accentuation options.

You can wear these contacts every day for vision correction or get them without the vision correction option. Either way, you’ll need a prescription. Some reviewers note that the contacts left their eyes dry, so keep that in mind if you’re prone to chronic dry eye.

Pros

  • Some options for this product do provide that dramatic, decorative, costume effect.
  • They’re safe for everyday use, even if you’re just wearing them for cosmetic reasons.

Cons

  • These aren’t a good choice if you’re prone to dry eye.
  • Since some choices are more subtle than others and it’s hard to tell the difference online, you might end up trying a few color options before you decide which one you like best.

Most natural-looking

Alcon Dailies Colors

Price: $

These daily disposable contacts can be purchased with vision correction or without.

Available in four colors, these contacts will also make your eyes look brighter, according to the company.

While most reviewers claim that the lenses are comfortable (and well-priced, depending on where you buy them), note that the color accentuation may be more subtle than you were hoping for. You can visit the Alcon try-on widget to take a look at how different colors might look on you before you purchase.

Pros

  • The company says the color accentuation qualities of the lenses are natural but noticeable.
  • The contacts are thin and breathable since they only need to last 1 day.
  • They’re available at a lower price than our other daily top pick.

Cons

  • They won’t change your appearance dramatically.
  • Only four color options are available.

ProductPriceTypeGood for astigmatism?Subtle or dramatic?
1-Day Acuvue Define$$DailiesNoSubtle
Alcon Air Optix Colors$$$MonthlyNoBoth
TORIColors$$$MonthlyYesSubtle
Alcon FreshLook Colorblends$$1-2 weeksNoBoth
Alcon Dailies Colors$DailiesNo
Subtle

In general, you shouldn’t purchase colored contacts without first talking with and getting a prescription from your eye doctor. They can give you input as to whether colored contacts are right for you.

If you know you’re prone to pink eye (conjunctivitis), eye infections, or corneal abrasions because you’ve had them in the past, be mindful of where you get your colored contacts. Avoid retailers that don’t seem legitimate.

What prescriptions are colored contacts available in?

Colored contacts are manufactured for people with a prescription for nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), as well as astigmatism, and multifocal prescriptions. They’re also available with 0.0 power.

When you’re buying colored contacts online, remember these tips:

  • Get a prescription. Contacts that offer color accentuation typically still require a prescription. An eye doctor can give you a prescription that doesn’t have a spherical power, but that still allows the contacts to be fitted to your eyes. Contacts are a medical device, so any reputable eyewear retailer will require some form of a prescription before you’re able to buy them.
  • Research the product. If you’re looking for a dramatic change to your eye color, make sure to look up each product by name and read the reviews. You’ll see that results vary by brand.
  • Remember the color wheel. If you’re trying to accentuate your naturally green eyes with an amethyst-colored contact lens, chances are that you might end up with unnatural-looking brown eyes tinted a slight gray (or some other combination that isn’t what you were going for). Try accentuating your natural color first (for example, try a bright blue if your eyes are already blue-gray) and play around with different colors from there.

Contact lenses aren’t meant to be a novelty product. Wearing contacts incorrectly can result in scratching the surface of your eye, restricting blood flow into your eye, or an eye infection. Following best practices on how to wear contact lenses will help you use these products safely.

Make sure to:

  • Never wash your contact lenses with water. Always use sterilized saline solution.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before putting contacts in, taking them out, and anytime you touch your eyes.
  • Avoid using damaged or torn lenses.
  • Avoid trying to stretch lenses past their recommended use. That is, avoid using dailies for more than 1 day, don’t use weeklies for 2 weeks, and so forth.
  • Store contacts overnight in disinfecting solution.

If you see any signs of an infection, stop using the product immediately and head to your eye doctor. You should also see a doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • watery eyes
  • discharge coming from your eye
  • blurry vision
  • redness
  • swelling
  • sensitivity to light

Are colored contacts safe?

FDA-approved colored contacts that you get with a prescription can generally be considered safe. Colored contacts that you buy from retailers that don’t require a prescription, however, might not be. They could be the wrong fit for your eye and they could be made with lower-quality materials.

What is a good brand of colored contacts?

Good brands of colored contacts are FDA-approved brands produced by major manufacturers. These include Alcon, Acuvue, and TORIColors.

How long can you wear colored contacts each day?

You can wear colored contacts for 8 to 16 hours a day, just like regular contact lenses. If you’re prone to symptoms of dry eye, you should opt to wear your contacts for shorter durations. You should carefully follow the instructions that come along with any contact lenses or eyewear that you buy and ask your eye doctor if you’re not sure.

Which colored contacts are the most comfortable?

The most comfortable colored contacts for you will depend on how the product fits your eye. Generally, though, 1-Day Acuvue Define seems to get some of the most positive reviews for comfort.

Buying decorative contact lenses from online retailers who don’t require a prescription isn’t typically a good idea.

Contact lenses that aren’t medical-grade can scratch your eyes, damage your cornea, and even lead to infections. There are plenty of reputable brands that offer color-changing and eye-color accentuation products with a prescription.

If you’re interested in trying colored contacts but haven’t been to the eye doctor for a prescription, now might be a good time for a visit. You might even get some free sample contacts or tips on buying.