The Best Way To Light A Make Up Mirror

Learn what type of lighting works best for applying makeup, and what aspects to consider when planning your own makeup mirror's lighting design.

Appropriate lighting is arguably the most fundamental part of a beautiful makeup application.We have all had terrible experiences crammed into a bathroom with other women, or leaning awkwardly over a sink at a friend's house, squinting to put on your mascara under bright blue fluorescent lights, or struggling to put on your lip liner in a dim bedroom.To avoid these nightmares in your own home, consider the importance of lighting when you design your own makeup mirror.Here are some tips to get you started.

The Basics of Lighting

A good rule of thumb is that, ideally, makeup should be applied under natural light.But since none of us have access to conveniently placed natural light 24 hours a day, we need to use lights that best simulate that.To best replicate natural light, try using colored or coated bulbs, which throw off a light that is soft and warm.Also, avoid fluorescent lighting at all costs, which washes out the skin, gives everything a bluish-green tone, and seems to bring out blemishes and skin imperfections in the face.Think, dressing rooms of department stores: not a flattering light.

Another point to consider when planning the lighting around your makeup mirror is shadow.When applying your makeup, the lighting should be evenly thrown on your face so that none of your features (under your eyes, around your nose) are in shadow.To avoid shadows, try to have your makeup mirror in a place in your house that is not beneath a large, hanging light fixture, or even near a bright halogen or table lamp.Canned lights or recessed lighting also tend to cast heavy shadows, and those are fixtures that you would want to avoid using around your makeup mirror.For daytime application, ideally, the room should be evenly lit - i.e. not one small window on one side of the room, but windows spread on more than one wall.To avoid these shadows, the best place for your lights are directly in front, surrounding the mirror, at eye level.

Another important point of lighting is versatility.You want to be able to see your face in a variety of different lighting schemes - very bright, dim, and a medium amount of lighting.When shopping for lighting options, consider purchasing lights that dim.Different types of lighting (day versus night) may require different styles of makeup, and it is important to have a lighting design that allows you to account for this.The dimming will allow you to see your makeup in very bright light, which is helpful when doing careful application around the eyes or lips, and also a good tool when considering the lighting that your makeup will be seen in.Alternatively, to get a better overall view of your makeup, especially if want to see how it will look in a low-light restaurant, under candlelight, at a nighttime event, etc., having the dimmer available to see your face in low, soft light is very helpful.

Implementing a Design

There are a few guidelines to follow in terms of selecting your fixtures.Your lighting should be (1) as close to the mirror as possible, (2) along the sides of your mirror and (3) at eye level.There are several ways to achieve this effect, one of them being with wall sconces.Sconces are a great option because they vary widely in price, anywhere from around $50 to well over $200, and can fit, stylistically, very easily with any design concept, whether your bathroom is very traditional, or more contemporary.Make sure that the sconces are shielded so that the light stays soft.Again, the key part of this installation is to keep the lighting at eye level, and on each side of the mirror.

Another less expensive, though a little less sophisticated, option for lighting would be strip lighting - the sort of lighting you would see in professional dressing rooms in a theater, which essentially consist of a row of naked bulbs - one for each side of your mirror, and possibly one along the top, as well.These are not always as attractive to the eye, but low wattage, coated bulbs throw a soft light that works perfectly well.

If you remember the basic rules of lighting, use a little bit of common sense, and recall your own makeup-application horrors, then choosing and executing a lighting plan for your makeup mirror will be easy and fun.

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