How to Pick a Mirror That Will Be Perfect

What To Consider When Buying a Mirror for Your Bathroom

To pick the perfect magnifying mirror or large vanity mirror for your bathroom takes a bit more consideration than most people realize.  Most people don’t think much about their bathroom mirror, and that’s how it should be!  If you make the best decision when you are buying your mirror, then all you’ll worry about when you look at the mirror is how great your hair looks!  Let us help you with the details that you should consider….

Step 1 When You Pick A Mirror – Consider the Type of Mirror You Want

Large vanity mirror, magnifying mirror, mirrors with lights….there are a lot of options to choose from!  When you are making decisions about your bathroom design, remember to focus on function over form.  Both are important but begin with function.

  • When you put on makeup or do skin care, do you need some additional magnification and the additional information that comes with it?
  • How about additional light?
  • Do you live in a place where it would be difficult or expensive to install a hardwired lighted mirror….maybe an apartment or an older home with limited electrical wiring?
  • Are you approaching….or past (gasp!)…. that magical 40th birthday when everyone’s eyes seem to get a bit more dim?
  • Have you ever thought it would be great to have a frame of light around your face to better see how you look?

These questions are all about function – how you will use your mirror and how it will work in the space you have chosen as your home.

That said….while function is very important, it’s no excuse to not pay attention to form as well.  Just because something is functional is no excuse for it to be ugly!  We’ll discuss the elements of form a bit later in this article.  For now, let’s keep exploring function.

 Magnifying Mirrors – how will you use this mirror?  It can be an important tool in your grooming process and help ensure that you will go out into the world confident that you look great…and isn’t that a wonderful feeling?

  • Wall mounted or freestanding? The space where you will use the mirror really determines this.  If you have limited wall space, a freestanding mirror gives you the most flexibility.  However, if you have very limited counter space, or like a clean, bare look, putting the mirror on the wall makes the most sense.
  • Lighted or non-lighted?  Obviously, lighted magnified mirrors help illuminate your face to help with your grooming or makeup application.  That said, if your bathroom or grooming space is already well lighted, you may not need to spend the additional money to get a lighted magnified makeup mirror.  Not all rooms need them – not all budgets do either.
  • How much magnification do you want?……need? Most magnifying mirror users get all of the information that they want with either a 3x or 5x magnified lens.  While there are mirrors with up to 20x magnification (Yikes!!) read our explanation below before you invest in one of those mirrors.
  • Double-sided or Single-sided? Do you want a mirror that has a magnified side AND a regular (1x) side?  This question is tricky.  If the mirror you are in love with is a minimalist style, it will only have a single-side….because it is minimalist.  Or…you may want to only have a magnified mirror since this mirror will likely be placed somewhere really close to a non-magnified mirror.  In that case, having the regular magnification on the opposite side may seem excessive….or a bonus mirror.  Regardless, be sure to consider this when making your choice.

Lighted Vanity Mirror  Does your bathroom have enough light?  Does it surround your face or is it an overhead light bar or side sconces that inevitably cast shadows on your face?  Most of us start our day in our bathrooms.  Make sure that you pick a mirror that functions so you go into the world confident that you look and feel your best.

  • Shape and size? You certainly can choose a rectangular mirror with a band of lighting around the edge.  You’ll have many options to choose from… you have many options when buying vanilla ice cream.  We love vanilla ice cream.  Who doesn’t?  But aren’t you glad that Ben & Jerry’s invented so many other flavors of ice cream?  As with ice cream, be sure that you’ve looked at all of the options so you make the best choice for what you need.
  • Light color options Once you’ve chosen the mirror shape and size that best fits your bathroom, the next really important decision is about light color.  We talk more about light color below but you can decide what will work best for your needs – warm white light (3,500k), cool white light (5,500k) or a mirror that allows you to “tune” your light, adjusting smoothly from warm white light to cool white and everything along that light color spectrum.

Next…Consider the Light Color of the Mirror You Will Pick   

Since LED lighting has become the new standard for lighting, we’ve all been able to take advantage of the options of different light colors that are offered.  Again…..we recommend that you focus on function first when you decide which light color to choose for your bathroom mirror.  LED lights are available in a rainbow of colors, but for grooming it’s best to stay away from red or purple and stick to these options…..

  • Warm white light color (3,500k). This is sometimes also called “natural” white light.  If you are going to spend your day inside and want to see how you will look in that light, this is the light color that you want to use for your grooming.
  • Cool white light color (5,500k). This is the same light color that you get on a bright sunny day.  If you are going to spend your day outside, this is the light color you want to use.

Do you have to pick one or the other?  Sometimes.  And sometimes mirrors come with a type of “hybrid” lighting where you would have multiple options of light colors.  For example:

  • Tunable light allows you to adjust the light color, typically at the on/off switch. This option is typically found in the large, lighted vanity mirrors.  If you hold the switch, the light color will smoothly along the range running from very warm (2,700k) to very cool (5,800k)  Like a radio dial, the adjustment is smooth and can be easily controlled by the person doing the “tuning.”  That way you get the exact light color that you want.
  • Switchable light color is a feature on the mirror where you can get either warm white light OR cool white light. The on/off switch is a toggle switch and push it one direction for warm white light and the opposite direction for cool white light.  This option is typically found in the magnified makeup mirrors.

Pick the Mirror Magnification That Works Best For You 

A quick review of the magnified mirrors offered in the market will give you a dizzying array of options ranging from 2x magnification to 20x+ magnification (as if you needed “+” with a 20x magnified lens!)  Let us share some information that will help you make the best choice for your grooming practices.

It is a fact that the higher the magnification of the mirror, the closer you have to be to be in focus.  Obviously, there will be some differences between users, depending on their eyesight however, the following are good guidelines.

  • If the mirror is magnified 3x, you will be in focus about 12” away from it
  • If the mirror has a 5x magnification, you will be in focus 5” – 8” away from the lens
  • If the mirror has a 7x lens, you will be able to see yourself clearly when you are about 3” away from the lens
  • If the mirror is 10x, you need to be so close to the lens that it will, in fact, be difficult to do much grooming. This lens is best for people who have severe vision problems.

“But there are so many mirrors offered that have a much higher magnification” you say.  And we respond….”yes, but that is what is currently referred to as ‘Fake News’ and it simply isn’t true.”  There are no guidelines on the level of magnification, outside of a 7th grade science class, so mirror purveyors can tell you what they think you want to hear.  Since your mirror is a tool that will help you look and feel better, we think you should pick the mirror that best meets your needs.

Consider the Finish You Want on Your Mirror 

Remember above when we talked about form and function and promised to say a few words about form?  Here they are.  Mirrors don’t just make you look fantastic….they also provide a perfect finishing touch to your beautiful bathroom.  We think of the mirrors in a bathroom as the “room jewelry.”  The same way that a beautiful necklace can complete the look of a fabulous outfit, you can put the perfect finishing touch on a beautiful bathroom when you pick your mirror.  You’ve probably spent hours picking out the various fixtures and elements in your new bathroom.  When you pick the accessories…..

  • Do you want the uniform look of matching accessories? Well, that’s easy then.  Match the finish on the mirror to the finish on the faucets and hardware.
  • Do you want to highlight various parts of the bathroom with a pop of color or contrast? There are some great ways to do that with a finish on the mirror that will contrast with the other elements in the bathroom.

Whether your mix or match the finishes, you’ll be able to use the mirror finish as a way to add some “room jewelry” and complete the look you’ve been dreaming of.


There are a number of factors and features to consider when you pick the perfect magnifying mirror or large vanity mirror.  If you take the time and consider the way you will use the mirror – the function – and then consider how you want the mirror to accentuate your décor – the form – you will choose a mirror that is best for your needs.  Then all you have to think about is how great you look when you go out into the world.