Polarized vs. Mirrored Sunglasses: How To Choose

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Sunglasses are an important accessory that protects your eyes from damage on an everyday basis. But there are many types of sunglasses, so what is the difference between polarized and mirrored lenses?

Polarized lenses filter the sunlight, allowing the user to still see colors and to look beneath the surface of the water. Mirrored lenses, on the other hand, reflect light away from the user’s eyes, making it more difficult to distinguish between colors, but work better in situations like skiing. 

Are you wondering which pair of sunglasses you should choose? Let’s look at the differences between each type of sunglasses and which situations would require either type. 

What Are Polarized Sunglasses?

Summer aviator sunglasses with mirrored color lenses made of glass in a metal frame of gold color with a black leather case on

Polarized sunglasses are sunglasses that are designed to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. They have anti-glare properties that filter UV rays out, only allowing certain types of light to reach your eyes. 

Polarized sunglasses allow you to see colors better than almost any other type of sunglasses, and they are typically the most expensive type to purchase. This is because they allow you to have the best vision possible while still protecting your eyes. 

Because lens polarization is a specialized process, these glasses don’t come in as many colors and styles as other types of sunglasses, like mirrored sunglasses. Polarized sunglasses are great for any outdoor activities (especially those where you need to see beneath water) and can help someone who is sensitive to bright light or experiencing eye strain. 

While polarized glasses are generally considered superior to other types, there are certain situations that make them difficult to use. The most difficult are those activities that require you to look at screens or distinguish between ice and snow. 

What Are Mirrored Sunglasses?

Mirrored sunglasses are sunglasses that have a special coating on the lens. The glass in these lenses reflects light away from your eyes, making them look like a mirror to others while you are wearing them. 

While mirror sunglasses aren’t literally made of mirrors, they do direct light away from your eyes and allow you to see well in a variety of situations, like skiing and boating. Mirrored sunglasses come in many different colors and ratings, all of which protect your eyes from UV rays. 

Mirrored sunglasses are typically less expensive than polarized lenses, but they are easier to damage. Mirrored sunglasses need to be protected from situations where they might get scratched, removing the mirrored coating from the surface. 

Can Sunglasses Be Both Polarized and Mirrored?

It is possible for sunglasses to be both polarized and mirrored, but when this is done, it is typically only done for style purposes, as using both diminishes the individual qualities that make each type attractive to the wearer. 

Remember, the point of polarized lenses is to allow the viewer to be able to see colors more clearly while still protecting their eyes from the sun. Adding a mirrored layer to sunglasses, unfortunately, lessens the wearer’s ability to distinguish color, even if it is just a light layer. 

Therefore combining them is only for those who wish to have a mirrored look to their polarized sunglasses while, in name, being called polarized sunglasses because there is no true way to reap the benefits of both types of sunglasses. 

Additionally, the process to polarize sunglasses is very expensive. So if you find a pair that is both polarized and mirrored, it will likely be quite pricey–which is a bit of a waste because both polarized and mirrored sunglasses will protect your eyes on their own, and there isn’t really a way to reap both benefits at once. 

Which Are More Expensive?

Polarized lenses are the most expensive type of sunglasses. This is because the polarizing process, which allows the sunglasses to only block out certain parts of the sun’s rays, is an expensive process.

Not to mention that if you want something colored and fun looking, you’ll have to pay an even higher premium than you would need to pay for mirrored or standard sunglasses in the same color. 

How to Choose 

Choosing the right sunglasses for you will depend on several different factors. We’ve broken them down for you into the following categories.


What do you plan to do while wearing your sunglasses? If you plan to do activities where you will need to distinguish colors, then it is probably better to purchase polarized lenses that will allow you to know what colors you are looking at. 

But if you want sunglasses that match your favorite suit for a day out at the beach, then it is probably better to grab a less expensive pair of mirrored sunglasses. Or if you are heading skiing, then mirrored sunglasses are considered to be a better choice as they will allow you to distinguish between ice and snow while polarized lenses will not. 


Polarized lenses can be expensive. If you are known to lose your pairs quite easily, then it is probably better to grab a less expensive pair of mirrored sunglasses.

For those that have a larger budget for sunglasses, you can choose either polarized or mirrored lenses. Just remember that mirrored sunglasses are easier to damage, so you should also consider purchasing a case for them. 

Eye Sensitivity

Eye sensitivity can be debilitating, especially if you spend a significant amount of time outdoors. If you suffer from eye sensitivity, then polarized lenses will help protect them from the light better and will be a worthwhile investment for you. 


When you are looking for sunglasses that fit your style and face shape, or numerous pairs to add to your wardrobe, it’s probably better to grab a few mirrored pairs which will still protect your eyes but come in all the colors and designs you want to have on hand. 

Final Thoughts on Polarized vs. Mirrored Sunglasses

Aviator polarized sunglasses

Overall, polarized and mirrored sunglasses both protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Which type is better for you will depend on your budget and what you plan to do while wearing your sunglasses. Those engaging in water sports will generally do better with polarized lenses, while those using them for snowy conditions will benefit from mirrored lenses. 

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