Setting up a makeup vanity: lights, camera, action!

4 October, 2019

Some have a gaming battle station. Others may have a different type altogether: a beauty station. You can personalize your makeup vanity, using only the very best mirrors, chairs, storage solutions, and — perhaps most importantly — vanity lights to create a truly unique space in your home.

When you are dealing with makeup vanity lights, you are often dealing with multiple light bulbs built directly into a mirror or a vanity table with multiple fixtures. This makes it more important to choose not only which bulbs, but how to set them up.

Using a mirror with built-in light bulbs

If you want to use a Hollywood mirror — those large square or round mirrors with a series of light bulbs around the border — or a vanity mirror with just one row of bulbs at the top, it is important that you make sure you are using the right light bulbs.

There are four areas to consider when choosing the type of vanity light bulb:

Heat: With so many bulbs, you will want to minimize the heat output of the light bulb to avoid melting makeup and sweaty face.

Brightness: A too-bright bulb may be worse than a dim one. You are looking directly into the direction of the light source, so it should be bright enough to see without hurting your eyes.

Color: Soft white light, just at the start of turning cool, is ideal for makeup. Since natural daylight is truly the best type of light, a bulb that matches this color is best choice.

Energy efficiency: Though these vanities are generally not on for long periods of time, a large vanity mirror with built-in bulbs will, obviously, use more energy than a single lamp.

Bathroom with dimmed lighting and installed spotlights above mirror

The best light bulbs for a makeup vanity are dimmable LED bulbs that provide warm white light, as other bulbs tend to overheat or provide either too warm or too cool and bright light.

The even better choice are smart LED bulbs — especially ones that offer dimmability and the full spectrum of warm to cool white light, such as Philips Hue White ambiance. The ability to precisely adjust the color and brightness of the light bulbs (individually or as a group) allows you to use the right light for your vanity and your skin tone.
Bright idea: Save time on installing all those light bulbs and instead use the Adore vanity mirror, which eliminates the need for a bulb and instead provides a seamless ring of warm to cool white light.

Bathroom with Hue Adore mirror above kitchen sink

Using individual makeup light fixtures

If you are relying on lamps, the type of light you choose depends on the space you have your vanity on or alongside it. The light source should be ideally at face level, as you will get shadows if placed above or below.

A lamp set on the table is the ideal choice if your mirror does not have integrated bulbs. One with an adjustable head, such as the Ascend table lamp, allows you to point the light directly where you need it and eliminate any shadows. If using a standard lamp, consider placing two instead of just one, with one each in front and at either side of you to cast a more even light across your face. If you do not have space for lamps on your vanity, a floor lamp whose light source is nearly at face level is also a good choice.