Your image in the bathroom mirror is the first reflection you see in the morning and the last one at night. So why would you not want this to be the best you? All the old Hollywood stars knew exactly how lighting altered their faces.
Shadows can make you look like the walking dead! Whether you are shaving or doing your makeup, you want a flattering light that illuminates in a natural, shadow free way. Vanity lighting is a term you will also hear to describe lighting the bathroom mirror.
AVOID LIGHTS ABOVE THE MIRROR
If you only have lights at the top of the mirror, they will only properly light the top of your head! They also cast unattractive shadows below your cheekbones and nose unless they are paired with side lighting. Extra eye bags anyone?
CROSS ILLUMINATION IS KEY
Vertical sconces or fixtures mounted on the wall on either side of the mirror will create cross illumination and cast the most even light. They should ideally be mounted at eye level and about 28” apart. If two people sharing a mirror are different heights, a good solution is a long vertical design. If you have two basins, use three light fixtures – one in the center and one either side of the mirror stations.
AVOID ASYMMETRICAL LIGHTING
If you put lighting on only one side of the mirror, you will get uneven illumination and odd shadows creating a very lopsided effect.
IF OVERHEAD IS THE ONLY OPTION
If your bathroom doesn’t allow for wall-mounted lights, then choose a long shaped light fixture for above the mirror that is at least 24” long, with a minimum 150 watt bulb. This will help the light wash more evenly over your face.
LIGHT BULBS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
The choice of light bulbs makes a huge difference. The old incandescent bulbs had a warm glow and produced a flattering natural light but since they are now being phased out around the world, halogen incandescent bulbs are a good replacement, and preferable to compact LEDs for this task. Make sure you choose a warm white light.
A HIGH COLOR RENDERING INDEX
The CRI (Color Rendering Index) number on the light bulb packaging tells you how close the bulb is to providing true and natural light. Look for a bulb with a CRI of at least 90 or higher.
INSTALL A DIMMER
I love dimmers and suggest installing one even for task lighting so your eyes can adjust first thing in the morning and relax at the end of your day. Vanity dimmers will also allow you to see you what your make-up – or beard – will look like in various lighting settings.