Why Football Players Put Black Under Their Eyes

By Alex Mercer

January 24, 2019

Football players are often seen wearing a black substance under their eyes. Players wear eye black, grease, or a strip placed under the eyes. Why do football players put black under their eyes?

The black is a grease substance placed under athletes’ eyes to help deflect the sun from their eyes, allowing the players to see clearly without squinting.

This article will show you why football players wear black paint under their eyes.

What Is The Black Paint Football Players Wear?

Eye black comes in two forms: stick-on strips and roll-on substances. There is no one better than the other; it’s all player preference. There are several options available to put eye paint on your face.

Roll On Eye Black

This is the most popular form of eye black. It comes in a rollup tube, similar to chapstick, which can be applied by pressing it onto the skin.

eye black roll on substance

The application is a black form of grease applied directly to the skin. The black grease on the skin reflects the light, which would usually be absorbed into the skin.

Eye Black Sticky Strips

As advertised, they have a sticky adhesive on the back that sticks directly onto the skin. Custom eye strips were made famous by Tim Tebow and have Bible verses written on them.

The NCAA soon outlawed custom wording eye black. However, the eye black stickers are still legal to wear.

Stick-on strips suit players who don’t want to apply the grease substance straight to their faces. Of course, the downfalls are the strips falling off or not sticking because of the sweat.

It’s essential to ensure the eye black stickers stay on your face while playing. We recommend wearing these stick-on eye black pieces in practice first before wearing them in a game.

Poorly made eye stickers will often fall off if they’re not put on correctly or if the player sweats too much on their face.

If you’re looking for eye black stickers that are reliable, we recommend checking out these stickers.

Why Do Football Players Wear Eye Paint?

Deflect The Sun

As mentioned, the science behind wearing the eye black is to deflect the sun. Here is a great visual from eyeblack.com of how it works:

Eye black deflecting sun

Another excerpt from their website detailing the science of eyeblack:

All light, whether natural or artificial, can be reflected off of a surface to create glare.   What surprises many people is the fact that one of the strongest reflectors of light is one’s own skin, particularly the area under the eye.

With the human eye lodged underneath a cheekbone covered by reflective skin, we are naturally trained to ignore the extended cheek during normal daily vision.  However, if a direct light source hits the cheek, a distracting glare is created by the reflection of the light into the eye, causing us to squint.  Squinting reduces both one’s field of vision and clarity of sight. In a hyper-competitive sporting event, this unwanted glare can mean the difference between victory and defeat. This is why football players put black under their eyes to reduce the glare


Players often wear slick eye black as a style cosmetic. Players have been known to put crosses, X’s, and even numbers below their eyes.

More eye black on the face doesn’t necessarily mean better protection against the sun. Players have also painted their faces completely black with their eye black. It’s simply a tactic for players to try to intimidate their opponents.

Often, college or high school players will use stripe marks or paint their faces with what seems like “war paint.” This also does not help absorb the sun but rather is an intimidation tactic.

See Our Complete List Of Helpful Football Articles Here


If you’re a football player who plays with bright lights or the sun consistently shining, eye black will be your best option to absorb the sun.

Athletes that don’t use eye black will be more prone to squint when they’re trying to either catch the ball, throw the ball or get a signal from a coach.

The roll-on eye black and the stick-on eye black will work the same as the sun will be absorbed into the skin and allow for nearly full vision during a bright day or night.

Where Can I Buy Eye Black?

We recommend Eye Black’s makers above as the product to buy.

They’ve solidified their place as the top eye black manufacturer. Their product also lasts the entire game without melting or running down your face. You may also find eye black at your nearest sports retailer.

What Are Eye Black Stickers For?

Eye black stickers are used to repel sunlight and ensure no glare caused by the sun. They’re best used on sunny days or at night with bright lights.

Players will also wear these if they don’t want to paint the eye black on their faces directly. This could be for skin reasons or if they don’t want the eye black to run.

Players who consistently wipe their faces with towels will often smear their eyes black if they decide to wipe them with a towel. The eye black, similar to make-up, will run if the player starts to sweat profusely. If you’re someone who sweats frequently, the eye black may hinder your play.

Where Do You Apply The Eye Black?

Eye black should be applied 1-2 inches below the eye and 1-2 inches outside the nose. It’s important not to get the grease directly in your eyes, as it may cause blurriness and irritation.

How Do I Get Eye Black Stains Out Of Clothes?

Eye black is grease. Use soap or any time of grease remover to remove the black stain from the clothes.

About the author

Hey There! My Name is Alex and I run Get Hyped Sports. I created this platform to help people find their love for sports and gaming.

Our work has been featured on platforms like Mashable.com, SVG.com, and XXL.com.

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