What Is the True Color of a Mirror?

A mirror is a miraculous object that shows us how we look, which ables us to self-criticize. If you raise your right hand, you will see it as if the other person in the mirror has raised their left hand. You would like to touch that reflection. However, that is not possible. When you look at a mirror, the reflection looks right back at you. If you place two mirrors facing each other, you will observe infinite reflections. By changing the angle of a mirror, you can see yourself too big or too small, and it manipulates your perceptions. That’s why mirrors have been considered as one of the most mysterious items in the world

How Mirrors Are Made?

It is possible to call everything that shows a reflection a mirror. In ancient ages, people first had been used puddles and later shiny rocks as mirrors. They had been used polished rocks such as volcanic glass called obsidian around BC 6000. The oldest obsidian stone has been found in the Anatolian region that also encompasses Turkey.


Nowadays most mirrors have been produced from silver or aluminum metal coating glasses since they have high reflection properties. Glass is chosen frequently since its smooth and tough. Because of this when a mirror breaks, the glass that forms the mirror also breaks and small glass particles spread around.

What color is the mirror?

Let’s focus on our main question. Everything we see around us has a color, and we see these objects through the reflection of light from them. However, when we look at a mirror instead of seeing color, we see our reflection. So, is it right to say that mirror doesn’t have a color? Or should we call it a “silver color” since mirrors have been coated with silver?

Silver color of mirror

Before answering the question let’s try to explain how we perceive colors. When we look at a red apple, we might say oh what a beautiful crimson because an apple absorbs every color but red. Now let’s think about ourselves as an apple. We are absorbing every color and don’t want to reflect them. But we are not getting along well with red; therefore, we are reflecting it. Thus, only the light we have been reflecting is reaching our eyes and we are perceiving the color red.

The problem is regardless of the color of our clothes, when we look in a mirror, we can see each and every single color. Hence, a mirror must be reflecting all colors. Thus, a mirror should be a such color that it must be able to reflect every color that shines on it.

A white mirror? Hold on a second…

The Mother Earth of the all colors is white. Every color is produced from white which can reflect every color. Hence, in theory, saying mirrors are white is a reasonable prediction. However, when we use analytical instruments, the results that are shown are confusing.

Color of mirror

If we consider the working principle of a mirror as the same as other objects, yes, the color of the mirror should be white. But in this specific case, something different comes into play. The apple reflects red light back in all directions at once, no matter which direction it comes from. This behavior is known as diffuse reflection. However, a mirror reflects light as a specular reflection. This reflection is a direct retroreflection depending on the angle that the light is coming. In this way, the mirror creates a copy of the light source and reflects that source directly. You can find a clarifying image shown below.

Specular and Diffuse Reflection
Image Resource: EVIDENT

The True Color of Mirror: Pale Green!

Let’s make things a little more interesting. Research conducted in 2003 shows the real color of mirrors. When the spectrum of the mirror is checked, it is understood that the wavelength it reflects the most is around 510 nm.

Green Color of the Mirror
Lee, R. L., & Hernández-Andrés, J. (2004)

When we convert this wavelength into daily language it means ‘’pale green’’. In other words, the true color of the mirror is technically pale green. You might have realized this color before since when you look at the corners of a mirror, you can detect the greenish color.

Green Mirror

To understand this situation better, you can examine the mirror tunnels shown above.

References and Further Readings

Lee, R. L., & Hernández-Andrés, J. (2004). Virtual tunnels and green glass: The colors of common mirrors. American Journal of Physics, 72(1), 53–59.

MacDonald, F. (n.d.). Watch: What colour is a mirror? ScienceAlert. Retrieved July 11, 2022, from

Puiu, T. (2022, March 4). What color is a mirror? it’s not a trick question. ZME Science. Retrieved July 11, 2022, from

Specular and diffuse reflection. Specular and Diffuse Reflection – Java Tutorial | Olympus LS. (n.d.). Retrieved August 17, 2022, from

Vsauce. (2012, August 3). What color is a mirror? YouTube. Retrieved July 11, 2022, from

Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, June 15). Mirror. Wikipedia. Retrieved July 11, 2022, from

The proofreading has been done by Özge Arslan and Mete Esencan.

Would you like to support us? 

  • If you wish, you can support us by making a monthly or one-time donation via our Patreon account.

I Would Like To Support You!

  • For more detailed information, you can check our “Support Us!” page!

Mete Esencan

Hello everyone! I'm Mete Esencan. I am a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry at METU. I was planning to establish a platform by combining the research knowledge I gained during my basic science education and the management experience I gained in the METU Chemistry Society, which I was in charge of for three years. For this purpose, in February of 2021, I took the first step and established the OkButWhy, a platform where we can write articles as if to chat about science, art and philosophy. I wish everyone a pleasant reading!

Related Articles

Back to top button