Choosing a Make-up Mirror 101.
A brief guide to the things you should consider when selecting a personal grooming mirror.
The first things to consider when choosing a make-up or shaving mirror include:
1) Will it be mounted on the wall or be on the countertop?
2) Will it be lighted?
3) How much magnification?
Then you need to consider:
4) If it’s wall mounted, will it be straight ahead of you or at your side?
5) If it’s on the countertop, will you be sitting or standing up?
6) If it’s lighted, how much light and which kind of lighting do you want?
7) Do you need a mirror with a magnifier on one side and a plain mirror on the other?
After answering these questions, the next step is to look at the various mirrors that are available and consider these six important features that will help you choose the one that’s right for you.
• Is the overall style compatible with the rest of your decor?
• Does the finish match your plumbing fixtures or otherwise blend with the other fittings in the room?
• Is the overall construction sturdy?
• What is the mirror made of – brass is considered preferable in damp areas like a bathroom but steel is also acceptable if the finish is high quality and corrosion resistant. Some plastic is also satisfactory for frames and other non-moving parts.
• Other than obvious scratches and similar flaws it is hard to tell the quality of the finishes – until they fail. The best indicator of finish quality is the reputation on of the manufacturer.
• Is there a warrantee and, if so, read it to see what’s covered and for how long.
• Most users will find a 3X mirror acceptable and a 5X mirror a little better. If your eyesight is poor a 7X mirror may be advisable. While a 10X or higher mirror is okay in a small diameter compact or hand mirror as the diameter gets beyond about 6” you will begin to see some distortion around the outer parts of the reflection.
• No matter what the magnification, check your reflection to see if there is any waviness or other distortion.
• Most bathroom lighting is inadequate for close work like applying make-up or shaving. So the choice of lighting is probably your most important decision when selecting a make-up or shaving mirror. The two essential qualities to consider are the type of lighting and the amount of light. There are generally three kinds of lighting – incandescent, fluorescent or LED. Each has its own features, advantages and disadvantages.
A) Incandescent lighting comes from the familiar Edison style light bulb. Typically in make-up and shaving mirrors they range from 15 watts to 40 watts. The color of the light is soft and warm but they also generate a fair amount of heat. Lamp life is shorter than either fluorescent or LED lighting so you will have to replace the lamps more often.
B) Fluorescent lighting comes from smaller versions of the fluorescent lamps you see in commercial areas and some more modern shapes that that are seen in Compact Fluorescent Lamps. These lamps are available in a range of colors but the light tends to be bluer than incandescent lamps. However, they produce more light and less heat, use less energy and last longer than incandescent lamps.
C) LED lighting is the newest and most technological light source. Depending on the electronics, chemistry and manufacturing processes colors can be virtually anywhere in the visible spectrum and brightness can run from barely visible to blindingly bright. Energy use will be much less than incandescent or fluorescent lamps and lamp life will be significantly longer. So the utility and quality of LED lighting in a make-up and shaving mirror depends on the manufacturer’s choices of what to build into the product. You can get some information from the technical specifications for color (CCT), light output (Lumens) and Quality of light (CRI) but the best way to judge whether the particular color and output are right for you is to actually look at yourself in the mirror.
• Almost all incandescent and fluorescent mirrors are built to operate on the power supply in the country where they’re sold – in the US and neighboring countries 120 Volts at 60 Hertz, in Europe and much of the rest of the world 250 volts at 50 Hertz. So you should only need to verify that the mirror was built for your market.
• Many but not all LED mirrors are built to operate on universal voltage – thus anywhere in the world. So again, only a quick check of the specifications is all that should be necessary.
• What’s more important is whether the mirror will connect to your power supply without problems. For a wall mirror, will it mount on your outlet box properly? Will the wall plate fit the available space? And will it cover the outlet box opening in the wall? For a portable mirror, will the plug fit into the wall outlet properly?
• Most mirrors have a self-contained on/off switch but check to be sure that you will not need to add a switch to your electrical system.
• Even the highest wattage incandescent mirrors do not have large power requirements so your existing electrical lighting circuit should have enough open capacity to handle a mirror. However, mirrors with a convenience outlet should only be installed on a circuit rated for power outlets which has a grounding conductor and preferably a Ground Fault Current Interrupter.
• Mirrors run the gamut of prices from very low to astonishingly high. In general the old saying “you get what you pay for” applies; especially as regards quality, performance, durability and satisfaction. Most of us wouldn’t mind owning a Rolls Royce but few of us need or can afford one so we choose the car that best fits our needs and budget. Similarly the proper choice for a mirror is to select the one that meets your needs and is within your budget.
• A lesser mirror may be fine for a few years but then it has to be replaced, while a top of the line mirror can provide a lifetime of service.
• Remember also that you are buying this mirror for the specific purpose of applying make-up or shaving. Choose one that allows you to accomplish that in comfort, with the right power of magnification, the right amount and quality of light and a clear, undistorted reflection.
• On top of that, you will want a mirror that is attractive, trouble-free, low maintenance and energy efficient.
You might also want to consider how many mirrors you need. Even if you don’t install them now you might want to consider provisions for adding them later.
• Many modern bathrooms have a wide vanity with dual sinks – one for her and one for him. Adding a grooming mirror at each sink is a nice feature that adds convenience and efficiency for both of you.
• A make-up mirror in the guest bathroom will be appreciated and will make your guests feel valued and pampered.
• A good make-up and shaving mirror in every bathroom will add to the value of your home. Besides the kitchen, the bathrooms are one of the most considered features when buying a home.