A Complete Guide To Bathroom Mirrors
July 31, 2009 by Answer Provider
Central to the mythology of mirrors is Narcissus a Boeotian hero, who disliked those who loved him for his own natural beauty. He famously gazed into a pool of water and was so fascinated with the reflection, that he was unable to bring himself to leave the image. Not realising that the image he could see was of his own natural beauty, he couldn’t bring himself to leave the image, and he perished.
The concept of how the mirror works is quite simple. It stems simply from the reflective surface of still water and therefore nature plays its part. When you look down into a puddle or a dark pool of water, the smooth water reflects the light straight back into your eyes.
Mirrors work in a similar way, in that a mirror is made up of a coated glass surface which when a polished metal surface or metal film is applied behind the glass, light cannot shine through and so reflects the image back. Young children especially, are always fascinated when they look into a mirror for the first time and see their own reflection staring back at them. Anyone who has young children will remember the vision of their young daughter kissing their image on a mirror.My eight year old daughter loves sitting in front of her mirror doing her hair nearly as much as my fifteen year old daughter!
Where would we be today without mirrors? Mirrors are generally used for personal grooming or interior decoration and have developed from a luxury item into a necessity. There is an enormous variety of mirror shapes and sizes and over the years, mirrors have gradually evolved to meet many different requirements. Today there is a large selection of mirrors , ranging from small mirrors to large mirrors, framed, unframed and includes bathroom mirrors, decorative mirrors, illuminated mirrors, LED mirrors, shaving mirrors, compact mirrors and demister mirrors.
Away from personal use, mirrors are also used as part of scientific apparatus such as cameras, lasers, telescopes and periscopes, to reflect light and used as tools in dentistry and medical care.Not to mention the beauty and hair salon industries.
History of Mirrors
The history of mirrors as far as we can see dates back over 8,000 years. The earliest known mirrors were made from pieces of polished stone such as obsidian, a naturally occurring glass from cooled volcanic lava flows. In Anatolia in Turkey, examples of obsidian mirrors dated at around 6000 BC have been found. In south and central America, polished stone mirrors from around 2000 BC on wards have also been found. From around 3000 BC mirrors of polished copper are known to have been crafted in ancient Egypt. In China bronze mirrors were manufactured from around 2000 BC.
The first metal coated glass mirrors are thought to have been made in the first century AD, in Sidon, known today as Lebanon. The Roman author Pliny makes reference to glass mirrors backed with gold leaf in his Naturalis Historia, one of the largest reference books to have survived from the Roman Empire, which focused on natural and man-made objects and was written in around 77 AD.
In the 10th Century Arabian Physicists, considered different types of mirrors, reflecting mirrors and parabolic mirrors and another discussed concave and convex mirrors in both cylindrical and spherical geometries. In undertaking various experiments with mirrors, finding the point on a convex mirror at which a ray of light coming from one point is reflected to another point was solved.
During the period of the 14th to 17th Centuries, across Europe a method of coating glass with a tin-mercury amalgam was perfected by manufacturers. Venice was recognised for its glass making expertise and soon became a centre of mirror production using this new technique. Glass mirrors from this period were extremely expensive luxuries. Manufacturers also evolved in London, France and Germany.
The particular process of silvering to produce the first silvered-glass mirror is credited to German chemist Justus von Liebig in 1835. He developed a process to apply a thin layer of metallic silver onto glass through the chemical reduction of silver nitrate. The process was adapted for mass production and led to the greater availability of affordable mirrors and formed the basis of what we now consider the normal way to produce a mirror today.
The evolution of the mirror over the years is quite interesting, if like me you love mirrors! It has developed from a luxury item to an item which is now taken for granted in daily use. Today, walk into any DIY store to look at mirrors and the selection is vast, with many technology features now finding there way into mirrors, to give added simplicity, luxury and decoration.
Back lit mirrors, LED lights and demister pads are fast becoming affordable items, you can also make your bathroom unique and give it that extra special luxury feel with new ranges of bathroom lighting.
How are Mirrors Made?
The manufacture of mirrors includes the application to a suitable material of a reflective coating. Glass is the most commonly used material, due to its ability to take a smooth finish and its rigidity. Glass is also more scratch resistant than many other materials previously used for making mirrors.
Early mirrors were made of solid metal, bronze or silver and they were far too expensive for most to be able to afford. Metal is also prone to corrosion and because of polished metal’s low emissivity, antique mirrors were less suitable for indoor use. With indoor lighting at the time supplied by candles or lanterns, the metal mirrors reflected a much darker picturecompared to modern glass mirrors.
In modern times ‘float glass’ is used in the manufacture of mirrors, which is a flat ribbon of glass which is run out of a furnace and along the surface of a bath of molten tin. The temperature of both the glass and molten tin is controlled to enable both surfaces to be made perfectly flat. There are now three common types of mirrors: plain – which has a flat surface, and the two spherical types of mirrors: the convex and the concave. The concave and convex mirrors can be used in an entertaining way, when used at fairgrounds or amusement parks to distort peoples figures reflected in them through bloating, stretching and shrinking, the person or object in front of them.
In some applications, a mirror isn’t a mirror at all. For example, when used in public conveniences, especially in public or factory toilets, where for reasons of cost and the need for greater durability, a single polished metal sheet is often installed as a form of mirror.
Different Types of Mirror
Throughout the ages, mirrors have been employed as symbols of truth, deception and vanity. Mention a mirror and you instantly know that if you look into one, you will see your own reflection staring back at you. The image you see will resemble your own appearance. In optical principles, the reflections in mirrors do not totally match the objects in front of them. When looking into the mirror, trace the contour of the reflection of your head in a mirror. The reflection may correspond in proportion, but will generally be half in actual size.
With such a variety and huge range of mirrors now available, much has been made of the amount of money spent in purchasing mirrors especially by women, although in this day and age with an increase in men purchasing cosmetics, some men will also be vain enough to carry a mirror. I wonder if in another decade or two, me calling men vain for carrying a mirror will be thought of as ridiculous!
The vain Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs famously asked her special mirror, “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” Mirrors are synonymous with truth.
Mirrors are frequently used in interior decoration to create an illusion of space, and to decorate and amplify the apparent size of a room. They will be used around the home, the office, a pub, club or restaurant to good effect. They work particularly well in night clubs, reflecting the many images of light in the club or room to create a feeling of a much bigger space.
Infinity Mirrors provide an effect of never reaching an end, known as ‘infinity breaking’ and are particularly effective when used in a dark environment. I remember experiencing this phenomenon for the first time as a child in a large department store lift, where mirrors where on all sides of the elevator car. For those who are not good in lifts I should think this effect probably does nothing to calm them, perhaps that’s why you don’t see lifts like this anymore Or is it just because I’m getting old and that was a particular style popular in the 70′s!
My next favourite kind of mirror after the infinity mirror is the heated mirror, these mirrors have a heating element or what is called a demister pad mounted on the back. The reason a mirror steams up when you have a shower is because the surface temperature of the mirror is colder than the air temperature and causes the water vapour in the air to condense on the mirror. Some bright spark realised long ago that it if you heated the mirror this would avoid it steaming up, brilliant!
For many years heated mirrors have only featured in very expensive bathrooms usually costing thousands, and quality hotels have used heated mirrors as a neat differentiator from the increasingly popular budget hotels and motels. Of course it is not until you step out of the hotel shower and see yourself in the mirror that you realise it is there! Whilst at the back of your mind you realise this is one of the reasons why this room is more expensive than the other hotel across the street.
Last week I heard the BBC Radio 2 DJ Ken Bruce state that the best shave you ever had will have been in a hotel, to which he attributed the benefit of the heated bathroom mirror as the main reason. I have to agree, and every time I stay in (nice) hotel I always have a really good look at the bathroom with a view to reproducing the best of its features in my own home.
A stylish heated shaving mirror might not be as expensive as you think it is, as with many mass produced items, prices have come down quite a lot over the last ten years with new mass production techniques.
In 1980, ska group The Beat had a UK top ten hit with ‘Mirror in the Bathroom’ and the bathroom is probably the location where we tend to study ourselves the most in mirrors. Many will say that it is not wise to look at yourself in the mirror first thing in the morning, but the bathroom is often the first port of call in the morning. Many bathrooms feature a main bathroom mirror positioned on a wall and a bathroom cabinet with mirror doors. Other than the “oh my god” do I really look like that expression, the uses of a mirror or mirrors in a bathroom will generally be to aid the application of make up, hair styling or shaving.
One of the major problems with bathroom mirrors is that after showering or bathing, the mirror is steamed up. A recent addition in the manufacture of heated mirrors is the inclusion of a demister pad which clears the mirror for use in mere seconds. Imagine never having to again wait for the steam of the bathroom to disappear from the mirror, or having to open the window, before using the mirror to shave or apply make up. The bathroom mirror demister or steam free bathroom mirror is a great invention. Some manufacturers refer to these products as fog free bathroom mirrors and there is now a huge range available, again some with back lights, LED lighting and built in shaver sockets.
Demister mirrors and steam free bathroom mirrors are not the only recent developments on mirrors. As suggested above another reasonably new product is the illuminated bathroom mirror. Illuminated mirrors maintain the features of a simple mirror, but will enhance any environment in which they are used with the addition of lighting. As with all mirrors, the range of illuminated mirrors is extensive, with a variety of sizes and shapes available. An Illuminated mirror with shaving point can also be purchased. Illuminated bathroom cabinets with or without shaver sockets are also available.
Mirrors with illuminated LED lights will enhance any bathroom or environment in which they are installed. Being of low energy consumption LED, or light emitting diode, are more environmentally friendly than traditional bulbs. They are designed to withstand the moisture of the bathroom environment. So water vapour mist will not cause a problem. As a real luxury mirror, illuminated bathroom mirrors and bathroom mirrors with LED lighting can also include a demister pad, to demist the mirror in just a few seconds and an on/off sensor to activate the lights as soon as motion is detected in front of the mirror.
As a bathroom accessory the mirror should come high on the list, in fact can you really have a finished bathroom without a mirror? The enormous selection of styles, types, shapes and sizes means that there must be a mirror to match anyone’s budget. Although some of the latest technological versions such as illuminated, back lit and LED mirrors could be considered to be luxury items, some are not as expensive as you may have thought.
A top of the range LED mirror features a demister pad and shaver socket, great for shaving straight out of the shower, or if like me, you always get the second go in the bathroom after someone else has just had a shower!
Mirrors, Superstition and Auspicious Energy Flow
I have always loved mirrors, probably why I have ended up in the mirrors business! When I was at school I did a project on them, this was before the internet was invented mind so I trawled through piles and piles of reference books in both the school and local library for months. These days of course it would only take a couple of hours on Google, kids these days don’t know how easy they’ve got it!
Once you get immersed in mirrors as I did all those years ago, or ‘mirros’ as I frequently misspelled it, and start researching them, you find that they play a major part in all aspects of life. Mirrors also feature in superstitions. One of the most commonly known superstitions is that someone who breaks a mirror will receive seven years bad luck. A popular belief for this superstition is that mirrors are a reflection of the soul and if a mirror is broken, then part of the soul is broken. Added to this, some believe that the soul regenerates every seven years in an unbroken condition, hence the seven years of bad luck. I bet you’ve always wondered why that was so I’m glad to share that with you!
It is also said that the mirror does not lie. A mirror can show only the truth. It is a very bad omen indeed to see something in a mirror which should not be there, a technique regularly used in scary movies! Some cultures also have a custom that a newborn child should not look into a mirror until its first birthday because its soul is still forming.
In the southern United States, it used to be customary to cover the mirrors in a house where the wake of a deceased person was being held. If a mirror was left uncovered or exposed, people believed that the deceased person’s soul would become trapped in any uncovered mirror.
Another superstition claims it is bad luck to have two mirrors facing each other. In the ancient art of Feng Shui mirror placement is considered very important. There is a lot of information available about this, and it is a subject that can’t be covered in a mere paragraph or two here. But Chi energy flow can be influenced by mirrors so where the energy needs to be reflected, mirrors can be used for this to great effect. Personally I don’t really follow these rules, although my mum has mirrors strategically placed all over her house to redirect in-auspicious energy! One of the principles I do follow though is to make sure I don’t have any mirrors facing my bed, or the kids beds, as this is said to reflect your dreams back onto you whilst you are sleeping, which is not a good thing if it’s a nightmare!
A mirror is defined as a coated glass surface for reflecting images. There is a huge range of mirrors for scientific use, and available in many shapes and sizes. The most commonly seen uses of mirrors are for personal grooming and interior decoration. As a race we are thoroughly addicted to mirrors. Who can honestly say that they can walk past a mirror without taking a look at themselves?
Over time, mirrors have evolved from a luxury item to an item of necessity and many particularly women will always carry a mirror in their hand bags. However, today with technological advancements, some mirrors will be seen as a luxury, particularly those which include illumination, LED or demisting devices. As individuals we spend many hours of our life in a bathroom, so why not treat yourself to one of life’s little luxuries and indulge in a stylish bathroom mirror? After all, let’s be honest, who can really live without looking in a mirror at least once a day?