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Mythbusters: Eye Black – Fashion Or Function?

Mikey Powell lacrosse red eye black LXM
Fashion, Function or both?

A while back we did a little version of Lacrosse Mythbusters where we looked at the myth that traditional pockets are heavier than mesh pockets.  We showed that this is not always the case, and that traditional pockets can actually be lighter than mesh pockets in some instances.  So that myth was BUSTED.  And while we have a couple more lacrosse mythbusting posts up our sleeve, we also came across some research done by the REAL mythbusters, from television, and we’re curious to hear what you guys think!  The question is: Does eye black actually work?

The Mythbusters crew went with the assumption that eye black actually reduces glare by absorbing more reflected light than skin.  And they showed that when a player is wearing a hat, the eye black does actually reduce glare by the slightest amounts.

The idea that eye black would reflect less light than skin is an interesting assumption, but I’m not actually sure that is the goal of eye black.  I always thought eye black was used to keep sweat from accumulating under your eyes.  Evidently, someone on the Discovery Channel forums agreed with me. The idea being that beads of sweat would reflect more light than dry human skin.  And by putting on eye black, the sweat would roll off the cheeks more easily.  But maybe I’m wrong there, so feel free to correct me!

So our first question is, what is the point of eye black?  Is supposed to reduce glare?  Or is it supposed to keep sweat off your face?

And our second question is, why do you wear it?  Does it actually help you play better?  Or do you just thinkit helps you?  Or do you only wear it because you want to look like Mikey Powell?  And would eye red work just as well?

Mikey Powell lacrosse red eye black LXM

Fashion, Function or both?

We clearly still have a lot of work to do on this one.  Man, why can’t science be easy?  There is more Lacrosse Mythbusters on the way, but if you have a lax myth you wanted tested, send it in to us at info@lacrosseallstars.com!

Photo courtesy 24SevenLax’s KILLER LXM Pro Facebook Album.

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About the author

Connor Wilson

Connor is the Publisher of LacrosseAllStars.com. He lives in Brooklyn with his better half, continues to play and coach both box and field lacrosse in NYC as much as possible, and covers the great game that is lacrosse full-time. He spends his spare time stringing sticks and watching Futurama.

10 Comments

  • As a child growing up in the 70s, I was always told it was because black absorbed he light and cut down on glare.  

    Except I could see that it was mostly football linemen who wore it, players who never had to see much further than 2 or 3 feet in front of them – as opposed to receivers or kickers, or batters for that matter. I quickly realized that people but the black on because it reminds us, subconsciously, of warriors painting their faces before battle. 

  • A lot of guys do the MP eye black with a lot of helmet tilt because it can hide your eyes from the defense- almost like a tinted visor. Works best for the short, quick, shifty types.

  • Eye black is form and function.  Eye black reduces light reflecting into the eyes.  It’s not so much as “under the eyes” as it is at the top of your cheek bones where light will reflect.  Check out military face camo.  Any place on the face that reflects light will be darkened, and any dark areas of the face will be lightened.  That’s the function.  Form?  Two words, war-paint.

  • The benefits of eyeblack come only from a very small space just below the eyelid. Rocking the traditional single strip in BLACK and on a extremely sunny day is the only acceptable way to do so, anything outside of the exact situation and you are just wearing makeup. If you want to put on multi-colored paint in “fun” shapes over your face, get a barbie.

    • “…the only acceptable way to do so…”

      Rarely is anything black and white. I can’t deny the placebo effect (AKA acceptable way #2, or the other side of this discussion) as both a player and as a coach.

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