• Detour Auto

What sandpaper grit should I use to restore my headlights?

Sandpaper Overview

With so many different types of sandpapers available on the market today, it can be difficult to narrow down the right one for the job.

Despite its name, sandpaper nowadays actually contains no sand. Sand was replaced by far more effective abrasive materials such as aluminum oxide, garnet, ceramic, flint and silicon carbide. Sandpaper also comes in varying grits such as 60, 220, 600 and up to 3000+. The higher the grit, the smaller the grains are and the finer the sandpaper is.

Types of Sandpaper and Abrasives

Aluminum Oxide

Aluminum oxide sandpaper which is typically a light tan/grey colour works great for wood and metals. Fresh edges of grit are constantly being produced due to its brittle surface structure, thus making it last longer.


Ceramic sandpaper which usually comes in a reddish-brown colour is ideal for rough sanding jobs on wood. They are typically used with power sanders to level uneven materials or rough out shapes. Ceramic sandpaper is extremely tough and durable, making it several times more expensive than other types of sandpaper.

Silicon Carbide

Silicon carbide sandpaper is also tough; however, it loses its grit fairly quickly just like aluminum oxide sandpaper. Silicon carbide sandpaper is often found on water-resistant backing paper which makes it ideal for wet applications such as sanding polycarbonate headlight lenses or other plastics.

How to sand your headlights

Sanding headlights can be a long process involving multiple steps and stages to get down to the base layer of polycarbonate. It is good practice to not use sandpaper that is lower than 400 grit as it will create scratches that are difficult to buff out later on.

We recommend starting with 600 grit silicon carbide sandpaper, then moving up to 1000 grit and lastly 3000 grit. During each stage of sanding, make sure to use plenty of water as a lubricant between the sandpaper and lenses. The goal should be to get the surface as smooth as possible with an even haze across both headlights.

How to restore headlights without sanding them

Restoring headlights this way has been a common method ever since polycarbonate lenses were introduced, however, there has been recent innovations that let you skip this long and grueling step.

LensBoost Headlight Restoration Wipes are a 2-in-1 solution that eliminates the need to sand with one step. Not only do they restore the lenses but they also protect them from future UV damage, the cause of oxidation in the first place.

Simply wash both headlights with a surface cleaner, then wipe both headlights with the LensBoost applicator pad and let air dry.