The Ultimate Guide to Different Coatings on Sports Sunglasses and Helmet Visors

When we do sports like cycling and running, we wear sunglasses with lenses. And when we buy a motorcycle helmet, a ski helmet, or a football helmet, it usually comes with a visor. So among the major types of lenses / visors we see on the rack, how do we know which one is the best one for us to choose from? 

Polycarbonate is probably the most popular lens material in use today. It excels as a high impact resistant, lightweight, rugged lens. It also tends to be shatterproof and scratch resistant. So for the choice of lens materials, there should be no doubt. And that leaves us the choice of coating, which mostly depends on the application, including the spectral range of interest, the optical quality desired, and the cost limitations. This blog is about the four types of coatings that we usually see on sunglasses lenses or helmet visors: clear, solid color / smoke coating, mirror coating, and REVO coating. Each has its own pros and cons.

Clear Lenses / Visors

clear football visor
Clear helmet visor, or lens, is the basic and the most common type. It means it is transparent and there is no extra coating on it except anti-fog and scratch resistant coating which is applied to ensure clarity and durability. However, no visor is 100% scratch proof. It is mostly used in indoor activities as it provides no protection from sunlight so we could barely see them being used in cycling or running sunglasses. Having said that, some offer minor protection from UV rays, eliminates glare, and is impact resistant.


  • The feature of transparency makes it the most visible and clear for its user, allowing maximum light to pass through and offer the highest visibility even in the darkest situation.
  • When it comes to regulations by NFL or college games, clear visor is most likely to be approved for going out on court .


  • Allowing maximum amount of light to pass through means that it provides no protection from the harsh sunlight and may stress your eyes out.
  • Not cool aesthetically.

Solid Color / Smoked Visor

solid color smoked football visor

Solid color means one-color coating without the effect of mirror or REVO.  

Solid color visors are smoked and colored visors, mostly black and are translucent in nature. For sports like football, the colored visors can also be in red, brown, or other colors.  Being translucent, smoked visors provides protection from the sunlight as well as better visibility than the mirrored visor at night. When using a smoked visor, the view would be covered in that color to some extent.


  • Provides better protection than clear visor from the sunlight. 
  • Provides better visibility than mirrored visor at night.
  • Smoked visor might not look as good as mirrored visor but definitely looks better than a clear visor.


  • Looks not as cool as a mirrored / REVO visor
  • Can be dangerous to use in dark environment and only safe to use in well-lit conditions like inside the city. 

Mirror Coating

visor with mirror coating

Mirrored visor got its name from the mirror type surface finish on it which is  processed through vacuum coating. It can increase the reflectivity throughout the visible region and effectively reduce the light intensity under strong light. Mirror coating usually goes hand in hand with color coating, which makes it look more attractive than mere mirror coating. 

With mirror coating, someone who’s looking at you wouldn’t be able to see your eyes and instead they would see a reflection of themselves. A lot of people like this coating for how it makes them look. However, be careful that you don’t annoy those around you by flashing light in their eyes. It is also important to note that these lenses are very prone to scratching.


  • Having a mirror type surface finish that reflects the maximum amount of light, allowing only a small fraction of light to pass through it, thus it is a boon during sunny days as it provides maximum protection from the sunlight and prevents your eyes from stressing out.
  • Can block glare and provide UV rays protection
  • Stylish to wear
  • Good for hiding eyes and for sports
  • Durable and versatile


  • Can be a curse when used after the sun goes down, dark in low light conditions, making the running / ride dangerous
  • Prone to scratches

REVO Coating

revo blue coating football visor

Have you ever seen those multi-colored sunglass lenses that have a color gradient? Chances are that was a REVO coating. There’s debate about whether or not REVO coatings actually provide any benefits. However, it can’t be denied that there is certainly a “cool” factor to them. They are more prone to scratching so you will need to take really good care of them.

A REVO coatings is actually several layers of very fine powder (paint) which is baked onto the lens. The process is delicate but straightforward and “old tech”. It is made layer by layer, so it gets the color rich and saturated.  There can be up to 9-11 layers in total.

There is saying that REVO coatings were developed with NASA technology to provide high-contrast viewing for the lenses of the visors for their space suits. However, there is no independent verification that we could find to prove that it  was developed by NASA.


  • Sports sunglasses with REVO coatings have very colorful lenses and are top sellers.
  • They stand out and look great, and they can be tailored to match your helmet, bike, sportswear or just be your favorite color. 


  • Pricey compared to other types of coating
  • Not to last as long as normal smoke or dark lenses. The coatings will scratch more easily so protect them more carefully. 


Outdoors / Daytime / Well-lit Environment:

For sports that are played outdoors especially in daytime, like football, cycling, or skiing, mirror coating and REVO coating are more recommended due to their ability to block UV light, eliminate annoying glare, and control light intensity. Unless it is forbiddened by association of the games, visors/lenses with these two coatings are the most welcomed by amateurs as well as by professional players.

Indoors / Night / Dark Conditions:

Clear and smoke coatings are ideal for sports that are played indoors, like ice hockey. It is also a better choice when you like to do running, cycling or motorcycling at night.


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