Do it yourself

I have a 2001 mercury cougar, the headlights are stock with a reflective backing. I want the back to be white like my car. Should I just sand the reflective surface off and paint it white?

You might want to double check the laws in your state. Your headlights may become illegal with such a modification.

No, its a functional part of the light.

So this is all I would have to do for painted headlights is sand the reflective surface … I glad it’s that easy. What paint do you recommend? Do you know how to get the lens off of the headlight?

As long as you don’t touch any part of the focusing reflectors, you should be legal. You don’t have to sand the reflective material OFF, just rough it enough to hold paint. Make sure you prep properly, and that the paint you choose can stand up to the heat inside a headlight enclosure. Automotive paint is more complicated than you might think.

What are the focusing reflectors you are referring to? Do you recommend a paint? Sorry I seem stupid, I’m just new to this, but really want to get into customizing and doing my own work, sorry if I seem ignorant.

No, you should not. It is a bad idea. The reflective part is shaped like a parabola to reflect the light to where it is needed. In fact, on most new headlights, the bulb and element are not exposed and only reflected light comes out of the lens. You would be better off just painting the lenses white (also not recommnended).

Find something else on the car to customize, like the wheels, the license plate frame, trim, or a body kit.

Just Do It! (Yourself) Buy Covers And Paint Them

I’m sure there are other online stores that sell them for your car. I found this one on my first try. You will need to paint them.
Click this:

If you paint the rounded part surrounding the bulb (the reflector), the headlights will no longer function properly. They depend on the smooth, silvery surface to reflect light in front of the car. Paint, even glossy paint, will reflect far less light ahead of the car and more in all other directions. You woun’t be able to see as far ahead.

I looked at photos of 2001 Cougars and the headlights are using this new molding option in the modules where the back of the edges are flashed with chrome (or chrome-like) material to appear as chrome trim behind the polycrylic. I suspect what the OP is alluding to is removing that chrome trim and painting it to match his car. I don’t think he’s talking about painting over the functional reflective surfaces. I like the idea. I never did like that faux chrome trim.

Unfortunately, I suspect the headlight module is a two (or more) piece molded and bonded unit, probably ultrasonically welded, and not disassembly friendly. The OP’s idea would work if he could get to the flashing, but I don’t think that’s possible. The surface is, I believe, molded into the module.

Yes you are 100% correct about my plan. I think the lens is glued to the module, I have been told the glue is very strong but if you heat it up with a hair drier you can take it apart. Also I heard the glue is designed to be reheated to attach back to the lens after seperation

I’d try to find a boneyard light module and experiment on that first.