How to Pick Bathroom Vanity Lights

If you’re remodeling your bathroom, it may be time to think about new vanity lights. Poor lighting is a common problem in bathrooms and it can make it challenging to get ready in the morning. Well, to get ready and actually look presentable.

Bathroom vanity with lights beside mirror

Have you ever walked into your bathroom, turned on the lights and felt disappointed with the way you looked in the mirror? Or have you left your home after getting ready only to realize your hair, makeup or clothing don’t look nearly as good as you thought in the bathroom?

Bad lighting can also cause you to cut yourself while shaving your face, which is the last thing you need on a busy morning. 

The good news is that this is fixable. You probably just need new, better lights above your bathroom mirror. There’s a reason they call it a vanity mirror, after all. It’s supposed to help you look your best!

Why You Need Good Lighting in Your Bathroom

When it comes to designing your bathroom, lighting should be a top priority. A well-lit bathroom can improve your mood and give you the confidence to be sure what you’re seeing in the mirror is accurate.

Good also creates a welcoming environment that can make your bathroom feel like a refuge. It’s great for helping  you relax and unwind after a long day.

Proper lighting is critical for various tasks performed in the bathroom, including shaving, applying makeup, brushing teeth, etc. Without adequate lighting, these tasks become difficult or even impossible to perform effectively.

Insufficient light can also cause eyestrain and headaches due to squinting or straining to see clearly which is harmful to health.

How Much Light Do You Need?

When you’re choosing lights for your bathroom mirrors, there are several factors to keep in mind. The first and most essential factor is the amount of light you need.

If you’ve got a window and plenty of natural light coming through, you may not need a lot of artificial light. But if your bathroom is windowless, your need to choose bathroom lights that are powerful and actually mimic natural light.

Where Will You Put Lights?

Builders usually put lights above the mirror and vanity. If you’re replacing those lights, you will probably want to put a new fixture in the same location.

But this is not necessarily the best location to avoid having shadows on your face in the mirror. It tends to produce shadows on your face.

A better option is to install lights on either side of the mirror rather than above it. This placement will usually give you even lighting across the face.

Choose Bathroom Light Bulbs with Daylight Color Temperatures

One of my top tips is to make sure whatever fixture you install can take bulbs marketed as “daylight,”  “cool white” or “bright white. These are the types that give you light that looks like sunlight, so you can know what you’re going to look like in actual daylight while getting ready.

Bulbs for Vanity Light Fixtures

When it comes to lighting your bathroom mirror, there are several types of bulbs to choose from. Each type has its own unique properties that can impact the overall look and feel of your bathroom. 

When picking fixtures for the lights, also consider their energy efficiency ratings. Lights that are energy-efficient can help you save money on electricity bills while still providing adequate lighting levels.

1. LED Lights

LED lights are popular due to their energy-efficiency and long lifespan. These lights produce a bright light that is great for tasks like applying makeup or shaving, and they come in a variety of colors to match your bathroom decor.

2. Halogen Lights

Halogen lights provide bright, white light that closely resembles natural daylight. They are often used in professional makeup studios because they provide accurate color reproduction, making them a great choice for those who want their makeup to look just right.

3. Fluorescent Lights

Fluorescent lights are commonly used in commercial bathrooms because they are efficient and last a long time. They produce a cool, white light that is great for task lighting. They are less energy efficient than LED, and may be less available in your area.

How to Choose the Best Bathroom Vanity Lighting

Now that you have a good understanding of the different types of lights available for your bathroom mirrors, it’s time to make a decision. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the best lights for your bathroom mirrors:

Brightness: The brightness level of your lighting is crucial in determining how well you can see yourself in the mirror. You don’t want lighting that’s too bright or too dim. Look for bulbs with 800-1100 Lumens output.

Lighting Placement: Ideally, you should have lights placed on either side of the mirror at about eye level. This will eliminate shadows and give you an even distribution of light on your face.

Budget: The cost of bathroom mirror lights can vary greatly depending on their type, brand, and quality. Determine what your budget is before deciding on which lights to buy.

Size: If you have a small bathroom, bright light is a great way to make it feel bigger and brighter. But make sure the fixtures you’re choosing will fit in the space where you plan to install them.

If you take these factors into consideration when picking out your bathroom mirror lights, you’ll be sure to find ones that provide ample illumination and enhance the overall look and feel of your space.

Bathroom Lighting Ideas over Mirrors

Moving existing lighting can be a pain, since wiring could need to be replaced or relocated, and then you end up needing to patch walls (which the electrician won’t do for you – trust me).

If you want better lighting but don’t want to move it to the sides of the mirror, there are still good options for lighting above your mirror.

  • Bar or tube lighting, or strips of exposed bulbs, provide the least shadowy light when placed above the mirror.
  • If you have room to place sconces a foot or so above your mirror, they can provide very nice ambient lighting. If they’re too close to top of the mirror, they can cast shadows. You may need high ceilings for this to work.
  • Recessed lighting can be fantastic above vanities. It could be worth getting an estimate from a pro about the cost of moving it (and patching ceilings and walls and all that fun stuff).
  • Lighted mirrors can enhance task lighting. For me, personally, I find they make it harder for me to see what I’m doing. Everyone’s eyesight is different.

See Types of Lighting in Person

It can be worth it to make trips to stores to see lighting in person. While it won’t be exactly like it would look in your bathroom, it can give you an idea what kind of lighting is easy on your eyes.

Also take note of the types of lighting in public restrooms, hotels or homes you visit. You might even want to keep some notes on which forms of lighting do or don’t work for you.

Choose the Right Style: Sconces, Bars, Pendants, Task Lighting?

Since bathroom mirrors come in all shapes and sizes, it’s important to choose lighting that complements or enhances its design. Look for light fixtures that match your bathroom decor and style while providing adequate light.

Note that shaded pendant lights, while beautiful, often limit the light distribution around the bathroom. Sconces can be more effective, but any light with a shade will likely limit your light.

Bars provide the most light. They may look boring, but they get the job done. Pendant lights without shades can also provide lots of unshadowed light.

Chandeliers are another option, if you have the room. Not only can they provide great lighting, but they can make your bathroom look stunning.

This is Not a DIY Job

When it comes to installing lights for your bathroom mirrors, you have the option of doing it yourself or hiring a professional. While DIY installation may seem like a cost-effective solution, electrical work can be dangerous and messy, and a mistake can end up costing you a whole lot more.

Pros are not cheap, but if you get a few bids, you can usually find someone who will do it for an affordable amount. Check with neighbors and read online reviews to get ideas which local electricians do good work at a good price in the time frame they promised.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Picking Lights for Bathroom Mirrors

Choosing the wrong lights for your bathroom mirror can be a costly mistake. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Buying lights that are too big or too small: The size of the lights you choose should be proportionate to the size of your bathroom mirror. If they’re too big, they can be overwhelming, while if they’re too small, they won’t provide adequate illumination.
  • Forgetting about color temperature: Different light bulbs have different color temperatures, ranging from cool to warm tones. Go for “daylight” or “cool white” bulbs with temps between about 3000k and 5000k.
  • Misplacing the lights: Placing lights above or below your mirror can create unflattering shadows on your face – not ideal when trying to apply makeup or shave. Instead, opt for placing them on either side of your mirror at eye level.
  • Neglecting style: While practicality is essential when it comes to bathroom lighting, don’t forget about style. The lighting fixtures you pick should complement the rest of your decor and aesthetic.

Avoiding these mistakes will ensure that you select bathroom mirror lights that are both functional and stylish!

Additional Bathroom Lighting Tips and Ideas

Aside from the lights for your bathroom mirrors, there are other lighting options that you can consider to enhance the overall ambiance of your bathroom. One option is installing a dimmer switch, which allows you to adjust the brightness of your lights according to your preference and mood. This is especially helpful if you want a more relaxing atmosphere while taking a bath or unwinding after a long day.

Another idea is to use accent lighting strategically in certain areas of your bathroom, such as near plants or artwork, to draw attention and add interest. This can also help create a more spa-like environment in your bathroom. Additionally, adding under-cabinet lighting can help illuminate countertops and provide additional task lighting for activities like shaving or applying makeup.

Choosing Lighting that Works For You

Only you can choose the right lights for your bathroom mirrors. There’s no one right or wrong answer.

Remember to think about the size and shape of your mirror, the style of your bathroom decor, and the amount of light you need for your daily grooming routine. Whether you’re opting for LED strip lights or fancy sconces, make sure to choose high-quality fixtures that will stand the test of time. With proper maintenance and care, your bathroom mirror lights will provide you with optimal lighting for many years to come.