There are a few things to consider when choosing a pair of glasses. Not only do you need to decide on a shape and colour, but there’s also the material to think about. So what’s the difference between acetate and plastic glasses? We investigate.

When it comes to buying your frames, you can choose from a wide range of great materials. From metal and titanium to plastic and even wood (yes wood!), these days you’re spoilt for choice. In today’s post, we’re breaking down the difference between two popular materials, acetate and plastic, to help you pick the next time you’re looking for a new pair of glasses.

London Retro Catherine


Let’s start with acetate, an industry favourite that’s changed the eyewear game. Acetate is known for its hypoallergenic qualities. This means you’re less likely to suffer from any adverse reaction to your new frames when they touch your face.

Acetate is also known to hold its shape and colour a lot better than your standard plastic frames. So if you’re looking for something bright and playful, we suggest sticking to acetate for longer lasting wear. If you play sports then acetate is a great choice because of its flexibility and durability which is what you need from a frame when you’re active. For more on playing sports with glasses, check out our previous post here.

Cool fact: acetate frames are carved out of blocks of plastics – which explain the marbled-effect look some frames have – and are classed as nylon-based plastics. They’re also really affordable.


Similar to acetate, your standard plastic frames are lightweight and comfortable enough for everyday wear – which is perfect if you wear your glasses for long periods of time. Plastic also tends to be more affordable compared to some metal and wooden styles.

However, whereas acetate frames are carved out of blocks of plastic, plastic frames are injected into a mould.

London Retro Charlie

Are they different?

So now the question is: are they really all that different. Well, as you can see there are some differences between the two that set them apart. But that shouldn’t stop you from picking either as materials for your next pair.

Shop some of our favourite plastic and acetate styles.

Top image: Jon Moore