“I had no idea what a difference it would make!”
That’s a common reaction the first time women do their makeup in front of a lighted vanity mirror. The reason is simple. Ambient lighting doesn’t give you a realistic picture of what your makeup really looks like. And the size of most vanity mirrors compounds the problem.
Even small vanity mirrors you can tuck into your purse will be more helpful if they’re lighted models. However, handheld and travel mirrors are only able large enough to accommodate tiny LED lights. A vanity mirror for your bedroom, bathroom or makeup table will be large enough to accommodate the best light source for a mirror: bulbs.
A vanity mirror with LED or halogen light bulbs is preferable to one with integral LED lights because larger bulbs produce more light, evenly distributed from more angles. And it’s better than a model with built-in fluorescent lighting; cool, unflattering fluorescent light is so bright that it washes out color, leading women to put on way too much makeup. (Incandescent lighting is an energy-hog, and won’t mimic the lighting in some environments.)
There’s a downside, though. A vanity mirror with light bulbs is larger and harder to find than one with built-in LED or fluorescent lighting, so you’ll probably have to pay more for it.
Most of these mirrors are rectangular in size, but you can choose between vertical or horizontal orientations. Since they have to hold between six and twelve light bulbs, they aren’t small. Expect them to be around two feet by 1½ feet in size, or even larger. The bulbs will normally be mounted in vertical columns on either side of the mirror, although sometimes these mirrors have bulbs along the top as well.
A diligent search will turn up a few round or oval vanity mirrors with light bulbs, but they’re few and far between. If you’re willing to buy a wall-mounted mirror instead of a vanity, the choice is much larger. Almost all of the mirrors we’ve discussed will come with LED bulbs installed, and they don’t need to be changed often.
You’ll usually find a vanity mirror with light bulbs mounted on a stand or built to be self-supporting, with an attractive chrome or white frame. All have a dimming function for adjustable light levels, and many also feature USB ports and power outlets for convenience and a wall mounting kit. Some even have built-in extras like Bluetooth speakers or clocks.