What’s the Difference Between Backlit and Lighted Mirrors?


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As we checked out various mirrors online, we got curious about what makes backlit mirrors different from lighted mirrors. We did some in-depth probing and found something interesting.
What’s the difference between backlit and lighted mirrors? Backlit and lighted mirrors are technically the same in that they’re both equipped with lights, but they differ primarily in terms of where these lights are placed on the mirror. Backlit mirrors have light bulbs behind the mirror, whereas lighted mirrors have the bulbs on top of or just underneath the glass surface.
But this isn’t the only difference between these two types of illuminated mirrors. To better understand these differences, we first need to take a look at their similarities. We will also discuss which type of illuminated mirror would be better than the other, so keep reading!
How Are Backlit and Lighted Mirrors the Same?
Backlit and lighted mirrors are the same in that they are both fitted out with lights that run on electricity. They also have the same lighting effect, features, as well as practical and decorative functions. Here’s a closer look at these similarities.
Use of Lights
Backlit and lighted mirrors are both installed with light-emitting diodes or LEDs. These LED bulbs are what make these mirrors light up. This is why backlit and lighted mirrors both fall in the category of illuminated mirrors.
Need for Electrical Energy
The lights that are installed in backlit and lighted mirrors require electricity to function. This means that both types of illuminated mirrors need to be connected to a power supply in order for the lights to work.
However, it should be noted that both mirror types can also be used even if they are not connected to a source of electrical energy. In this instance, they would simply be like regular mirrors.
Lighting Effect
Backlit and lighted mirrors both illuminate the face with a diffuse, even light and provide ample lighting for grooming tasks. The soft glow from these mirrors is subtle yet sufficient. It’s bright enough for a well-lit reflection but not too bright that it casts harsh shadows on the face.
Different types of LED mirrors may share similar features. These include a demisting or defogging function, dimmable lights, motion or touch sensors, color temperature adjustment settings, and even Bluetooth connectivity!
Practical Functions
Mirrors with LED lights serve the same practical functions, foremost of which is lighting the front of your face evenly as you look into the mirror. Backlit and lighted mirrors provide a soft and balanced front lighting that’s necessary for a successful grooming routine.
Another practical use for these mirrors is as a light source. LED mirrors can provide the primary lighting for small bathrooms, additional lighting for larger areas, and mood lighting for bedrooms.
Decorative Purposes
Backlit and lighted mirrors are also decorative and can add a modern, sophisticated feel to any space. The stylish look of illuminated mirrors makes them an absolute must-have in every bathroom or vanity corner that is in need of a little design upgrade. Both mirrors also help give the illusion of a bigger and brighter area, making them ideal for small spaces.
How Are Backlit and Lighted Mirrors Different?
The main difference between backlit and lighted mirrors has to do with where their LED lights are placed. Because of this, they may also differ in terms of design and appearance. This primary difference also allows for one type of illuminated mirror to be more portable and versatile than the other. Let’s discuss this further.
Placement of Lights
Backlit mirrors have their lights placed behind them. The strip of LED lights is mounted around a base that also serves to keep the mirror glass a few inches away from the wall. In a technical sense, a backlit mirror is a type of lighted mirror.
However, the term “lighted” mirror usually refers to an illuminated mirror where the LED lights project light from the front of the mirror, as opposed to from the back. This is the primary difference between these two illuminated mirrors.
Design and Appearance
Because of the difference in LED placement, there is also a difference in the design and appearance of backlit and lighted mirrors. In backlit mirrors, you will be able to see the glow of light coming from behind the mirror. Backlit mirrors are always mounted onto a wall to achieve the full backlit effect.
Some backlit mirrors are also designed in such a way that a portion of the top, bottom, left, and right edges are etched or stripped of the reflective coating and instead frosted over. This leaves a well-defined border around the edges of the mirror. When the LEDs are turned on, the light from behind the mirror passes through the frosted border of the mirror. This gives the mirror a front-lit effect in addition to the backlighting.
Lighted mirrors, on the other hand, are always front-lit. Some lighted mirror models have their lights mounted within the base of the mirror. We say within, not around, as with backlit models. In these lighted mirrors where the lights are installed within the base, the mirror surfaces also feature etchings that allow the light to pass through.
Other lighted models have their lights installed directly around the borders of the mirror surface, effectively framing the mirror from the front and projecting light straight onto your face.
Portability and Versatility
Because backlit mirrors need to be attached to a wall for the backlit effect to work, they are not portable. In contrast, lighted mirrors don’t always have to be placed on a wall. While lighted mirrors do look fantastic on a wall, they have also been designed to be smaller, more compact, and work on their own without being mounted onto a wall.
There are several lighted mirror models that are portable and run on batteries. These are often referred to as vanity mirrors as they’re meant to be placed on your vanity and help you make putting makeup easier and more convenient. Some portable LED mirrors are rechargeable and can even be folded, making them perfect for travel.
Which Is Better, a Backlit Mirror, or a Lighted Mirror?
The similarities and differences between a backlit mirror and a lighted mirror give them qualities that make one type more ideal in certain situations than the other. Let’s consider those situations now.
When a Backlit Mirror Is Better
Backlit mirrors, because of where their lights are placed, have that stunning and sophisticated look. The glow from behind these mirrors frames them wonderfully, providing a classy atmosphere and elegant appeal. Backlit mirrors also appear as if they’re floating away from the wall behind them, and this is an effect that front-lighted mirrors can’t achieve.
Therefore, a backlit mirror is better if you want to have this effect in your bathroom, bedroom, or any part of your home that would benefit from an illuminated mirror.
What is a Backlit Mirror?
The bulbs of the backlit mirrors are mounted at the back. Then same light shines through the carefully etched shapes in the glass. The backlit design of these mirrors can incorporate a wider range of lighting shapes as compared to other types of mirrors. This allows unique designs and styles that can make your bathroom stand out. Backlit mirrors that use LEDs provide a subtle and warm glow that will create a relaxing ambiance into any bathroom. It is the perfect source of lighting when it comes to shaving or putting on make-up. You can also check out this buying guide that we have shared that discusses the best LED backlit vanity mirrors. We have shared a review of the best products that you can choose from.
When a Lighted Mirror Is Better
If you want to have a makeup mirror you can put on your desk or bring with you on your travels, then a smaller mirror with a front-lighted build is better. Portable lighted makeup mirrors can also function as a desk lamp, night light, and ring light for selfies, vlogs, and video calls, making them extremely versatile.
Both types of mirrors can vastly improve the experience of applying makeup or simply admiring your reflection. We believe that different types of illuminated mirrors exist because people have different needs and preferences. This is why we encourage you to explore all the myriad options to see which models would be ideal for you. You can also check out this article titled, which is better, backlit, or edge-lit? We have shared an in-depth discussion about the topic to help you find the right mirror for your home.
What is a Lighted Mirror?
Lighted mirrors combine lighting and mirror in one for a contemporary look. They come in a wide array of designs which makes them perfect for any bathroom. Lighted mirrors do not only add aesthetic value to your bathroom but make it functional and convenient as well. You can find lighted mirrors with various features which include Bluetooth speakers, dimmable lights, and even built-in televisions. These kinds of mirrors are functional, convenient, stylish, and ideal for all types of bathrooms.
Why Should You Have a Backlit Mirror?

Backlit mirrors have many benefits. Aside from providing aesthetic design into the room, backlit mirrors also set the mood. They are a good source of light especially when it comes to putting on makeup. Backlit mirrors are also efficient and easy to install. The subtle lights that come from the outline of the mirror make it stand out and come off the wall. This creates a layer of depth that makes the bathroom more dramatic and interesting. Backlit mirrors are also powered by LED lights which use less energy and can last longer as compared to ordinary light bulbs.

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