So, you’re tired of squinting to do your makeup in your bathroom mirror and want some professional options. Good choice! Doing your makeup in the bathroom leads to sweatiness, downcast lighting, and product spoilage — none of which are conducive to your best looks! However, once you start looking for a high-quality makeup mirror, you may find yourself overwhelmed by options.
You’re not alone. Choosing the best makeup mirror for your vanity is tricky. Here’s our definitive guide to makeup mirrors with lights, magnification, and all the features you need to do your best makeup design.
Mirror Styles and Designs
Makeup mirrors have been around for decades. Perhaps your mother had one of the classic trifold mirrors with multiple light settings and magnification panels. Those are now just one of many options you have for a lighted makeup mirror! Here are the main types of makeup mirror designs:
Wall-Mounted Extending Mirror: Attach this mirror to your glam room’s wall and zoom in for the perfect look. These mirrors come with hinged arms or accordion-style expanding mounts so you can pull them to where you need them.
Tabletop Mirrors: Available in both classic trifold and round designs, these tabletop lighted mirrors are ideal for setting up a mobile glam room in a dressing room, hotel room, or wherever life takes you.
Hollywood Mirror: Named for its resemblance to the dressing-room-style mirrors used by celebrities, the Hollywood Mirror is a large, crisp mirror surrounded by lightbulbs for even illumination across your face. This is the perfect way to do full-face makeup without any light distortion. (See Lumina Pro’s Hollywood Mirror here.)
Crystal Vanity Mirror: Like the Hollywood Mirror, the Crystal Vanity Mirror is a large, fully illuminated mirror. However, you can adjust the colour temperature, just as you could with your mother’s tabletop mirror — but now, you get a full-face view! Lumina Pro’s Crystal Vanity Mirror can be wall-mounted or tabletop.
Lighting and Magnification
To choose your best makeup mirror, you need to understand what type of lighting and magnification you need. As you probably noticed, the standard bathroom mirror offers above-head lighting and no magnification. This means you overcompensate for shadows on your face and may struggle to see details as you do your eyeliner, lipliner, etc.
Many makeup mirrors offer magnification and built-in lighting to make application easier. But what style do you need? Follow these rules of thumb:
For basic makeup looks, opt for 2x-3x magnification. This allows you to better see what you’re doing without neck or eye strain.
If you’re sight-impaired or your mirror needs to be a distance away from you, opt for 5x-10x magnification. You can see sufficient detail to expertly apply your makeup.
For detailed character, fantasy, or fashion makeup in which you need to see details, opt for 15x. You typically won’t be able to see your full face, but you can “zoom in” on your makeup design.
You almost always need side illumination, in which the light source falls evenly in each side of your face. This prevents excessive undereye/under-cheek shadow (as with above-head bathroom lighting) and the scary-story look you get with below-head lighting.
In general, light that approximates full-spectrum daylight (1000 to 1400 lumens, 4800 and 5000 kelvins) is best for applying makeup. You can see all colors honestly, so you can create an ideal mix of hues. However, if you know your makeup will appear in a certain colour temperature (e.g. dim, ambient light at a nightclub or harsh fluorescent office light), it’s a good idea to go ahead and do your makeup in that light. Some lighted makeup mirrors come with multiple color settings, such as warm vs. cool or even pre-programmed settings e.g. indoor, outdoor, office, and evening.
Size and Mounting
Finally, determine the size of makeup mirror you need and whether you will mount it or place it on a tabletop.
Obviously, traveling MUAs and anyone who needs to do makeup on-location or at gigs will need a mobile makeup mirror with lights. There are many options, from old-school trifold mirrors to freestanding selfie lights with mirrors included. Mobile mirrors can be either plug-in or battery powered. In any case, evaluate your needs to see if a freestanding mirror is right for you. Most have multiple magnification options, so if that’s important to you, look for a tabletop mirror such as Lumina Pro’s Professional Ring Light, which comes with a detachable mirror.
If you’re setting up your at-home vanity or glam room, you have more permanent options — but you may sacrifice versatility. Most wall-mounted mirrors do need to be plugged into an outlet, so keep that in mind. Permanently affixed makeup mirrors often have multiple light options if not magnification. (However, many wall-mounted extending mirrors have both magnified and non-magnified sides.) In general, permanent mirrors are significantly larger, so if you want full-face reflection as you do your makeup, choose a Hollywood Mirror or get multiple colour-temperature options with a Crystal Vanity Mirror.
As a final consideration, remember that you get what you pay for! Cheap mirrors are more likely to break, stop lighting up, or look blurry as you try to do your makeup. Your lighted makeup mirror is an investment in your artistry and your self-care, so weigh your options carefully to choose the best makeup mirror for your vanity!