Adjusting the lighting in your bathroom can have a dramatic effect on how well you apply your makeup.
With the right balance, temperature, and amount of illumination, you’ll get a much better end result—but what are the keys to achieving the best bathroom lighting for applying makeup?
In this article, I share basic tips to achieve the best bathroom lighting for your makeup. Then I’ll show you the specific lighting products you can get to help you do the job.
The Best Bathroom Lighting for Makeup – 6 Tips
Here are tips that cosmetologists for celebrities use when applying makeup for their famous clients, who get snapped by the paparazzi on their way to the pharmacy by day and walk the red carpet by night.
1. Use Artificial Daylight or Natural Lighting
Experts agree that natural light is the most flattering light source for makeup application.
Unfortunately, most bathrooms don’t have many windows to allow in natural sunlight—and, even if you’re lucky enough to have a window, or a bathroom skylight, the position of the sunlight also matters.
Avoid sitting with your back to a window, as this darkens the face, making it more challenging to apply detailed makeup. It will require you to have additional light sources to balance everything out.
Use Warm Natural Light for Makeup
Artificial “warm natural light” is the next best thing when sunlight isn’t available or it casts shadows on your face.
When choosing artificial lighting for makeup, opt for around 4800-5000 Kelvins (a measurement for color temperature). This provides a white light that’s not too warm and not too cool, getting very close to daylight temperature.
However, if you’re attempting to photograph your makeup, you may want to opt for 2700-3000K for a softer, warmer light that creates a healthy glow.
2. Light Your Mirror from the Front
Unless you have a perfectly lit mirror with light at the ideal angle relative to your face, chances are, you’ll have to utilize multiple light sources to achieve the best lighting for makeup.
Aside from using integrated mirror bulbs, the best way to achieve even, natural lighting for makeup is to place two lights on the left and right side and slightly in front of you—but who has the bathroom vanity counter space for that?
The reality is that most of us don’t have the room to spare. Besides, unless you have a big mirror, placing two light fixtures on the bathroom countertop can block the view of the mirror.
The intricacies of applying eyeshadow, blending your blush, and getting that perfect winged eyeliner call for excellent lighting. To allow for better up-close detailed work, keep the bathroom light source as close to the face as possible without making your skin look washed out.
3. Attach Lights Directly Onto the Bathroom Mirror
The more layers of light you have in the bathroom, the easier it will be to see details in your makeup application.
Even if you have a source of light hitting the mirror from the front, you may also opt to install lights directly onto the bathroom mirror.
Mirror lights are excellent at increasing the light output in an otherwise poorly lit bathroom. Many of these are made from LED strip lights, which have become increasingly popular thanks to their ease of installation, brightness, and the fact that the strips occupy very little space.
4. Use LED Light Bars on Either Side of the Mirror
Light bars on either side of the bathroom mirror are for the best makeup application. They remove shadows that can fall on your face from a window that’s not in an ideal place or an overhead light.
So if you’re remodeling a bathroom, rather than placing a sconce above the mirror, opt for two on either side instead.
5. Invest in an Anti-Fog Mirror
It’s hard to get a great makeup application if your bathroom mirror is fogged over. Even if you wipe it with a towel, if the bathroom isn’t steam-free, it’s likely to refog while you’re working on your makeup.
Fortunately, there’s a great solution and it’s called a steam-free mirror (or anti-fog mirror). These mirrors work by adding a heating panel behind the mirror’s surface. This prevents the formation of condensation on the glass.
Many of these anti-fog mirrors also provide LED lighting with adjustable color temperature.
6. Choose the Right Type of Bulbs
If you are using artificial light to apply makeup, make sure that you choose the right light bulbs.
Today, there are many different types of light bulbs available, including:
Finding the right type of bulbs is key to getting the best lighting for your makeup. Let’s compare the main features of incandescent, fluorescent, and LED bulbs:
|Type of Bulb||Dimmable||Adjustable Hues||Flattering||Cool Touch||Good for Makeup|
As you can see, LED bulbs check every box, whereas fluorescents tend to fall short. Incandescents are acceptable, but they offer little functionality compared to LEDs.
Now, let’s explore each bulb and its features a little more in-depth:
These warm-hued bulbs provide flattering light suitable for makeup application, but there are many drawbacks.
One major downside is that incandescents emit heat Which means they could cause you to sweat off your makeup, especially when using this lighting near the face. Also, you can’t adjust the brightness or hue.
Let’s just say that there are far better lighting options on the market that won’t melt your foundation!
Most makeup lovers know that fluorescent lights are horrifically unflattering, yet they’re common in most retail and grocery stores.
Even famed musician Mariah Carey refuses to go grocery shopping because of the poor lighting.
Fluorescent light bulbs hide your best features, enhance your worst, and they contain mercury! It’s best to just avoid these bulbs altogether.
LEDs have become increasingly popular for several reasons, including energy efficiency and the ability to dim. Additionally, some models—referred to as smart bulbs—even offer adjustable hues.
LED bulbs provide far more functionality than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs and allow you to save money and adjust the brightness based on your needs.
7 Best Bathroom Lighting Products for Makeup Application
As you browse my product recommendations below, keep in mind that the best bathroom lighting comes from a variety of sources and that a warm natural color temperature is best for makeup application.
To bring the light closer to your face, utilize a portable lighted makeup mirror. There are hundreds of portable cosmetic mirrors on the market. Some even offer magnifying settings to help you get up close with your makeup application.
The Rechargeable Trifold Vanity Mirror features 60 LED bead lights and three different lighting modes: natural white, white, and warm white.
It closes up for easy storage and should fit nicely in a bathroom cabinet or at the corner of your countertop.
You can find ring lights in multiple sizes and forms, including tall stands, clips for attaching to laptops, and even phone-mounted lights. However, for your bathroom, you’ll want something like this UBeesize Selfie Ring Light, available on Amazon.com.
This light easily sits on a bathroom vanity and adjusts for the perfect balanced light. It offers three light settings, including warm white, cool white, and daylight.
Try this vanity lamp that features two mounted lights with adjustable heads
The NexiGo Dual Selfie Ring Light features two 3.5-inch (8.9 cm) ring lights with highly adjustable necks, so you can adjust them to sit on either side of your face as you apply your makeup.
The ring light also includes a phone mount so that you can take better pictures of your makeup.
For semi-permanent lights, consider the LPHUMEX LED Vanity Mirror Lights, available on Amazon.com. The lights are dimmable and waterproof. The price is reasonable, and installation is easy and stress-free.
You don’t have to drill in the walls or have any knowledge of electrical wiring. They securely stick to the frame, but if desired, you can remove them using an adhesive remover.
You could also go for these Portable LED Mirror Lights which can be placed on the mirror and taken off with ease using the included suction cups and clips.
It comes with two dimmable lights capable of three different levels of brightness. These are an excellent choice for renters since you can remove the lights easily without damaging the bathroom vanity mirror.
The gold bathroom light is made of metal brass finish and cylindrical frosted acrylic lampshade. The modern and simple style provides the perfect light for makeup application with 4,000 Kelvins of warm light. (Note: it is not dimmable.)
Many of these anti-fog mirrors also provide LED lighting with adjustable color temperature. For example, the Hauschen Home Anti-Fog Mirror allows you to adjust the temperature from warm light to daylight. Perfect!
Best Bathroom Lighting for Makeup FAQs
In this section, we’ll address some frequently asked questions regarding makeup application and lighting.
How Can I Make My Bathroom Light Better for Makeup?
The quickest and easiest way to make your bathroom light better for makeup is to switch out fluorescent and incandescent bulbs with adjustable LED lights with a natural white light or daylight setting. In addition, you can add vanity lights around the mirror or invest in a backlit LED mirror.
For those unable to renovate their bathroom, you can keep a portable lighted mirror handy for up-close detailed makeup application.
Are Lighted Mirrors Good for Makeup?
Mirrors with lights are good for makeup if natural light isn’t available. As long as you use LED lighting in a natural hue, such as natural white or daylight, you should be able to complete very detailed makeup work with no issues.
What you see in the mirror is what you’re most likely to look like out in the sunlight. The reason lighted mirrors work best is because the light sits directly in front of you, evenly lighting the entire face.
Opt for lighted mirrors that utilize LED beads with adjustable temperature and brightness. Or, better yet, get permanent bulb sockets installed and pick up some high-quality LED light bulbs.
Avoid yellow or rose-colored lights, as these can prevent you from seeing your face in a realistic way. They can make the skin appear sallow or irritated, causing you to apply more makeup than needed to “cover up” what’s not even really there.
Additionally, you could accidentally choose a foundation that doesn’t match your skin’s natural hue.
What Bulbs Are Best for Makeup?
LED bulbs are the best option for makeup application. Many of these bulbs have dimming options and adjustable color temperatures, allowing you to play with a range of brightness and temperature settings. You can optimize the lighting based on your specific needs.
For example, if it’s dark outside, you might need to utilize a brighter setting.
Messing around the adjustable color temperatures can give you a good idea of what the makeup looks like in different light settings. It’s a great way to learn more about makeup application and how lighting affects perception.
So What’s the Best Bathroom Lighting for Makeup?
The best bathroom lighting for makeup is even natural light. However, if that’s not available, use fixtures positioned as closely as possible to the face without casting shadows. Light from multiple sources (referred to as “layered lighting”) is preferable.
And bulbs matter. Use LED bulbs with warm color temperatures.
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