Although they're referred to as makeup mirrors, you could just as easily call them shaving mirrors; don't be scared off, guys.
What one beauty routine accessory can you absolutely NOT live without? Your blush brush? Your cleanser? Maybe your tweezers? How about your mirror? We often forget about the mirror we're using when creating our look and beautifying ourselves every morning, but it truly is an essential part of the entire process. As anyone who's ever used one of those stick-up locker mirrors between classes or after a gym session can attest, a poor-quality mirror can make the difference between a flawless foundation and one that is streaky, patchy, or crinkly around the edges.
And let's face it - everyone wants to look their best, whether you're preparing for a night out, have a big job interview, or you're just going through your everyday routine. You've taken care to perfect your unique style, and many women spend about $100 per month on cosmetics, skincare, and hair products. Finding the right mirror - one that lets you actually see what you're applying and where - can help you look your best every day. And not only that: it's key in determining if your makeup and hair products are offering the benefits you're seeking or are the right fit. You don't want to let your time and money go to waste for lack of a good mirror.
Whether you're investing in an upgrade or trying to find an elegant gift, there are a few things to keep in mind when searching for the perfect new makeup mirror. Obviously, the clarity of the reflected image is most important, but lighting and placement also play a huge part, as does magnification. So where do you start?
Location & Mounting Style
To make your life easier and help narrow down your options, the first thing you'll need to figure out is where the mirror is going and if it needs to be installed. There's no point in falling in love with a mirror that simply won't work in your space or that will be uncomfortable to use.
Makeup mirrors are usually offered in either wall-mounted or tabletop designs. Think about how you're going to use the mirror, and where it would be the most effective: If bathrooms are crowded in the mornings, it may be a good idea to have a mirror in the bedroom; if counter space in the bathroom is at a premium, a wall-mounted model could be a perfect fit; if kids or clumsy/rushing adults frequent the bathroom, wall-mounted mirrors are a lot harder to break than tabletop models.
Since you're probably using your mirror every day (and often multiple times a day) for more than just a passing glance, comfort is key. Consider the height of bathroom counters, vanities, dressers, or wherever you intend to put the mirror. Will it be comfortable to use? Will heads and necks need to twist into awkward angles to effectively use it? It's easy to move a tabletop mirror around until you find the right spot, but what about a wall-mounted unit?
As always, measurements are key. How far is it from the wall to the edge of the counter? At what height will the user's face be - will they be standing, or sitting? Compare these measurements to the mirrors you're looking at, and keep in mind the radius of the swinging arm - will anything keep it from getting to where it needs to be, or will the arm be an obstruction to something else? While this may sound tedious, it's better than re-installation and a wall full of drill holes!
- Wall-mounted mirrors should extend to the edge of the counter or vanity, to keep the person using it from having to lean in too much; nobody should have to strain their neck to look good!
- If you're looking to mount on the wall behind a counter or vanity, you'll likely need a mirror with a double extension arm that can reach out far enough to prevent discomfort. Single-arm mirrors are usually sufficient for mounting on a side wall.
- Hard-wired, or plug-in? The latter is easy and convenient, yes, but who likes to see wires these days? Having said that, unless you're an electrician, the installation of a hard-wired unit will cost time and money.
Once you've figured out your location and mounting, lighting is the next major concern. Generally, natural daylight light is best, but that is a luxury few of us have when applying makeup or doing our hair. Most bathrooms don't have windows that will let adequate light in the room, or your routine may start at 4am when it's still dark. But don't stress - many stylists recommend using more than one light source for best results anyway.
Which brings us to the lighted mirror. If there's any weird coloration going on from lackluster lighting (or unsightly shadows being produced) a lighted mirror could be a simple solution. Here, too, there are options and considerations. Though many new designs are using LED lighting (which is quickly becoming the gold standard), there are still plenty that use incandescent and fluorescent bulbs.
Personal taste can play into this decision to some degree, but the general consensus is that incandescent bulbs are too forgiving and too "warm" to be effective in makeup application (they're great for shaving, though). Natural light is the ideal, and the whiter light of LED and fluorescent come closest to it (the latter being on the "cool" side).
Some mirrors have variable lighting - usually using a fluorescent bulb - that can be switched between warmer and cooler light settings to replicate different settings (e.g. the office, outdoors/daytime, evening) helping to ensure a perfect look in any light.
Now that you've decided on where the mirror will go and whether you need a lighted option or not, let's talk about magnification. When eyeglasses get in the way of eye makeup, magnifying mirrors are just the ticket! And even for those with perfect vision, magnification allows for exacting application of lip liner or eyeliner, subtle blending of colors, flawless tweezing, and crisp shaving.
These mirrors use convex glass to distort and magnify, and need the user to be close to give a focused image. If you're planning on a magnifying mirror, be sure the person using it will be able to get close enough to see clearly, and still be comfortable. The degree of magnification is usually a matter of personal preference, with 3x-5x magnification being most common and generally sufficient for those with normal vision. Many mirrors are available with two sides - one non-magnified and one magnified - so you have the option whenever you need it.
Those with extra poor vision may need something more powerful, which is why mirrors are available at 10x or even 15x magnification. You should know though, that these 10x or 15x magnifying mirrors can sometimes be much stronger than you might think and that you'll need to be very close to the mirror to avoid distortion - possibly affecting your mounting or lighting choices.
However, remember that not all mirrors are created equal. While budget, desired application, and magnification will greatly influence your decision, be aware that some mirrors are simply better than others. Due to the nature of glass, distortion can sometimes be a problem. Higher quality mirrors are made using specialized processes that help to produce little to no distortion during normal use and provide you with an accurate, comfortable magnification instead of one that makes you feel like you're looking at yourself through a fish bowl.
Additionally, some higher end magnified mirrors use "optical quality" glass. These lenses are essentially an optician's lens that has been silvered and hand ground to further enhance its magnification quality. This results in a distortion-free image of unparalleled sharpness and clarity. If you have the budget, an optical quality mirror is definitely the way to go.
For some, a mirror is just a mirror: as long as you can see a reflection, it works. For others, they're much more than a piece of glass. From budget-friendly models to offerings from world-renowned brands like Baci and Miroir Brot (the crème de la crème, straight out of Paris), we have you covered wherever your taste and budget may fall.