It’s a movie moment: close up on a player getting ready to face the competition. He marks his cheeks with eye black and stamps his feet, growing determined to win.
This stuff isn’t just for show, though. The pros also wear it, because of what it’s long-held performance benefits.
WHY WEAR IT?
Although wearing eye black may look intimidating and help to get you and your team fired up, there’s also another benefit you may already know about. According to Peter Zana, an associate at Black Lab Sports, eye black “reduces the amount of light reflecting off the cheek, reducing perceived glare in the sky.” Glare can muck up your vision and loses you valuable decision time during intense game moments.
Zana also tells a story about Andrew Farkas, the first player in the NFL to be credited with wearing eye black back in 1942. He says that Farkas would rub ash under his eyes, swearing that not only did it reduce glare, it increased contrast recognition, making it easier to track the ball.
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Newer models of eye black are made of organic materials and come in multiple colors. So, beyond the standard play-focused reason to wear eye black, Zana says many people use these colorful options to show off their team pride, on the field or in the stands.
STICK VS. STICKERS
There are two main options of eye black from which to choose: a stick that you rub on your cheeks, or prefabricated stickers that you apply under your eyes.
HOW TO APPLY & REMOVE EYE BLACK STICKS
Think of the eye black as lip balm for your cheeks. It’s just as easy to apply.
Pop off the cap and start at the outside of one cheekbone, right below the edge of the eye cavity. Draw a line across your cheek ending close to the bridge of your nose. Your resulting line should be between one and two inches in length. Repeat on the other side. Try to keep both sides even.
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You may need to go back and forth a few times to get a solid line of black.
Removing this eye black can take some time. In general, an alcohol wipe or a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol will get it off your skin after some scrubbing, but follow the directions provided on the box of your specific product.
HOW TO APPLY & REMOVE EYE BLACK STICKERS
After taking the stickers out of the package, peel the strips from their sheet and adhere them to your cheek, about half an inch below your eye and centered so that the middle aligns with your pupil.
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Repeat this on the other side. Make sure the stickers are level with one another.
Removing these stickers are much easier than the eye black stick. Simply peel them off of your cheek and you’re done.
Follow these tips to help guide you to make the most of this football accessory. When it comes time for your movie moment, help yourself avoid the effects of glare by using eye black and reach for the stars.