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Let’s face it: we all spend quite a bit of time in front of the mirror. The bathroom mirror does the trick for most tasks, but when it comes to grooming that requires a little more detail work, a dedicated mirror that lets you get up close and personal is what you need.
A vanity mirror allows you to see your face clearly and hands-free, so you can wield a makeup brush, pair of tweezers, or razor with ease. Some are freestanding tabletop models, while others are mounted to a wall. But with so many vanity mirrors on the market, how do you pick the best one for you?
Just ask us. Here at BestReviews, we buy our own products like you do, which means our reviews are honest and unbiased. We conduct field and expert research, including testing products in our labs, and we poll real-life owners, too. Our goal: to give you all the info you need to make the most informed shopping decisions.
Ready to shop for a vanity mirror? Check out the matrix above to see our top five picks.
If you need to know more before you buy – like what style, lighting option, and magnification are best for you – just keep reading.
A vanity mirror is most handy if you regularly put on makeup.
You can see what you’re doing clearly. With a vanity mirror, you can make sure your foundation is fully blended and apply your eyeliner precisely – and you might get your face done faster, too!
If you don’t wear makeup, a vanity mirror can help you get a closer look when tweezing or shaving facial hair.
It can also be a lifesaver if you get something in your eye or need a close view when taking out your contacts.
Some vanity mirrors can be used either as tabletop mirrors or wall-mounted mirrors. You can decide which style works best for you once you get it home.
Wall-mounted vanity mirrors come with hardware to fix the mirror to the wall behind your vanity table, countertop, or dresser. They vary in size but are usually fairly large.
Because they’re mounted to a wall, they aren’t portable. However, some models are adjustable; they’re attached to an arm that can bring the mirror close and tilt it.
A tabletop vanity mirror is a mirror with a base or stand that allows you to set it on a vanity table, countertop, dresser top, or any flat surface.
Tabletop models vary in size, but they’re usually small, which makes them fairly portable. They’re often adjustable, too, so you can tilt the mirror to get the best angle.
Vanity mirrors are often adjustable, which allows you to get the best possible angle or move the mirror in very close.
The first decision you’ll have to make is whether you prefer a tabletop or wall-mounted style.
These mirrors are versatile because you can easily move them around a room. Many are lightweight enough to travel with. They tend to be less expensive.
These work best if you plan to always use the mirror in the same location. They tend to be larger than tabletop mirrors and are more costly.
If you’re not sure whether you want the option of moving the mirror or not, it’s best to choose a style that can work either as a tabletop or wall-mounted mirror.
Vanity mirror frames are typically made of either plastic or metal.
Plastic mirrors are lightweight and easy to wipe clean. However, unless you choose a frame made with very thick plastic, they may not be durable. Plastic frames are available in a wide range of colors.
Metal mirrors are typically very durable and heavier than plastic mirrors. They aren’t as easy to clean, though. Metal frames come in different finishes, such as brushed nickel, polished chrome, brass, or oiled bronze.
For the most versatility, choose a vanity mirror that you can adjust. If you can tilt the mirror, you can change the angle to make certain tasks, such as applying eyeliner or false lashes, easier. Almost all tabletop vanity mirrors are adjustable, but many wall-mounted styles are not. However, mirrors mounted to the wall via an arm allow you to adjust not only the angle of the mirror but how close it is to your face.
If you travel frequently and want a vanity mirror you can take with you, choose a tabletop model. Look for a lightweight plastic model that won’t be heavy in your suitcase.
For travel, look for a vanity mirror with a thick plastic frame that’s lightweight but still durable.
When you’re doing detail work, such as tweezing hairs or lining your eyes or lips, it helps to have a mirror that magnifies for a close-up view of the area. Magnification that’s too high can distort images, though.
It’s best to stick to mirrors with no more than 10x magnification.
For the most versatility, opt for a double-sided vanity mirror – one side of the mirror reflects at normal size, while the other side has a magnified reflection.
If you’re not close enough to a magnification mirror, your reflection may appear upside down. That’s because the mirror is curved inward slightly, so it can flip the image.
Many vanity mirrors have lights, which let you see more easily when applying makeup or shaving. For the most natural lighting, opt for a mirror with LED or fluorescent bulbs. Mirrors that use incandescent bulbs tend to soften the reflection, which won’t be entirely accurate.
Some mirrors have a single light setting, while others have several modes that allow you to adjust the lighting. At a minimum, opt for a mirror with a dimming feature, though you may also want settings that simulate daylight, evening, and interior lighting.
In most cases, the mirror must be plugged into a wall outlet to power the lights. However, you can find mirrors that use battery-operated lights, which are charged via a USB cable.
When it comes to lighting that best approximates how you’ll look in daylight, LED or fluorescent light bulbs are the best option for vanity mirrors.
Some vanity mirrors are equipped with an automatic turn-on for the lights. As soon as you sit down in front of the mirror, the lights come on. This can be a handy option if you’re often in a rush in the morning.
If you plan to keep your vanity mirror in the bathroom, you may want to choose one that’s designed to resist fogging. These mirrors are equipped with a heating pad that keeps steam from a hot shower from condensing on the mirror’s surface.
A vanity mirror equipped with additional outlets can come in handy if you often use a blow dryer or curling iron in front of your mirror. You can plug in your styling tool without worrying about finding a free wall outlet.
Additional features on a vanity mirror may drive up its price, but these can be very useful for those who use vanity mirrors extensively.
The higher a vanity mirror’s magnification, the closer you have to get for a detailed image. If you’re too far away, your image will be distorted.
Glasses wearers will especially benefit from a vanity mirror with magnification. Look for one with 12x magnification for the best results.
If you’re applying liquid eyeliner, you’ll have an easier time if you angle your vanity mirror so you can look down into it. That will leave your entire lid exposed with no folds or creases, so there won’t be any skips in your liner.
If you are storing or traveling with your vanity mirror, wrap it in bubble wrap, a towel, or a blanket to cushion it from sharp items or in case it’s dropped.
To clean a vanity mirror, use a streak-free glass cleaner and a soft cloth to avoid scratching the surface.
Vanity mirrors are available at a variety of price points. Typically, expect to pay between $15 and $400, depending on the mirror’s size and its special features.
For a small tabletop vanity mirror, a good price is $15 to $25. For a tabletop style that lights up, pay between $25 and $40.
A light-up wall-mounted vanity mirror retails from $75 to $400. For a large model with extra features, such as automatic turn-on and a high-definition surface, you’ll usually pay between $200 and $400.
Q. What type of mirror works best to travel with?
A. Vanity mirrors with metal frames tend to be heavy, so they aren’t as convenient for taking on the road. Look for a model with a lightweight, durable plastic frame.
Q. What type of mirror lighting gives the best illumination for makeup application?
A. LED or fluorescent light bulbs are the best option for vanity mirrors. They provide white light rather than the yellowish light that incandescent bulbs offer, which tends to soften your reflection and won’t give you an accurate view.
Q. What magnification should a vanity mirror have?
A. Typically, vanity mirrors offer between 3x and 10x magnification of a normal reflection. In most cases, magnification greater than 10x tends to distort your image. However, for those who need glasses and for others with impaired vision, a higher magnification can make detailed work, such as tweezing the brows or applying eyeliner, much easier.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.