I may earn a commission from links in this post. Thank you!
Five reasons to add lighting to a mirror
One of the basic principles of makeup lighting is to avoid a single light source which casts deep shadows. The solution is to have multiple diffused small lights from all directions – hence ring lights, circle mirrors, Hollywood lighting etc. A cheap string of fairy lights can transform your blending and foundation results.
What is the best stick on lighting for makeup?
There are lots of funky multicolored lights available … which are useless for makeup application. Here’s what to look for instead (see my article on makeup lighting for more details):
How to attach LED light strips to a mirror
The easiest type of DIY lighting to install is LED light strips.
- Decide how many edges of the mirror you’re using. All 4 gives the best lighting, although top only, top and bottom, or left and right sides work too.
- Decide whether to attach directly to the glass, or to the mirror frame if present, and how far in from the edge.
- Using a tape measure carefully work out the dimensions. Check your measurements twice!
- Choose and order the LED strip in the right length.
- Plug in and test the lights before fixing.
- Clean the mirror with rubbing alcohol and a microfibre cloth. The surface must be grease free.
- Decide the location of the power cord.
- Peel off the backing tape and firmly press the strip into place, unrolling it from one end. Use a straight edge such as a ruler or timber batten to keep your lights parallel with the mirror edge.
- At corners, depending on the exact type of light, either bend or fold the strip. If you prefer to cut the strip, you may need to buy and fit seperate connectors – it’s way easier than it sounds! (see video for tips).
Best LED light strips
These are my 2 recommendations for LED strip lights. They both have LED bulbs at 6000K, are very bright but also dimmable, and are UL safety rated. The first one is also IP65 water-resistant, so can be safely used in the bathroom.
Add Hollywood lights around your vanity
You simply can’t beat Hollywood lights for feel-good glam. You can add these string lights around any makeup mirror, and they look especially stunning on a large vanity or full length mirror.
This lighting kit ticks all the boxes. I especially like the winding mechanism at the base of each bulb, meaning no loose cabling. You can even use it to shorten the distance between individual bulbs.
There are 1000’s of positive reviews on Amazon, including longterm. The few negative ones are mainly complaints about the light bulbs becoming unstuck, and also the switch/power failing after a few months.
Add a light bar
There are 2 types: cheaper ones you stick directly to mirrors; and more expensive ones you fix to the wall, often needing hardwiring. You are more likely to consider the second type when you’re doing a bathroom renovation, so I haven’t covered them here.
Here’s the most suitable bar light I can find:
This option has some positive features, especially the bright light at the best color temperature (daylight equivalent), and which has 4 brightness levels. I suggest buying two, one for each of the left and right edge of your mirror. Another plus is that it is rechargeable, so you don’t have to worry about unsightly wires. It is easily attached with 2 suction cups, and is very lightweight (you could even take it on vacation as portable lighting).
The main downside is that the charge doesn’t hold very long, and the brightness fades quite quickly with the charge. I suggest recharging it most days. Check the instructions for the right way to charge the light for the first time – it’s not very intuitive.
Bar lights look good, but mostly they’re not particularly designed for makeup and beauty routines. I believe you will be happier with add-on strip lights or Hollywood lights instead.