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I agree makeup mirrors might not be the most exciting item in the world to shop for, but they’re an indispensable part of our daily beauty routines. Remember, a good mirror can last a lifetime, so it’s worth getting it right the first time.
Today, we’re going to help take some of the guesswork out of shopping to select the best handheld mirror for your vanity.
Handheld Mirror Buying Guide
Let’s take a closer look at the different factors you’ll want to consider before deciding on a mirror. Although if you’ve already worked it out for yourself, jump straight to my best ideas:
What is a Handheld Mirror?
A handheld mirror is an essential tool for your beauty routine. The design is as simple as you can get; a mirrored glass surface mounted to a handle. The small size and light weight of a handheld mirror makes it easy to position wherever you need.
I use it mainly for styling my hair, but also when applying makeup, and for checking accessories from different angles. It can also double as an emergency travel mirror (although specifically designed travel mirrors are better – see my reviews). They’re popular with hairdressers and makeup artists too.
Difference Between Handheld and Travel Mirrors
Handheld mirrors typically have a fixed handle, and they’re usually left on top of the vanity, or hung from their handle. Most handheld mirrors are compact enough that they’re easy to travel with, but they have no protection for the face of the mirror, which is the most delicate part.
While all travel mirrors are handheld mirrors, not all handheld mirrors are intended for travel. I learned that the hard way after breaking my favorite handheld mirror into a million pieces on a vacation last year.
With a travel mirror, the handle is usually foldable, or there’s a clamshell-style case that keeps the mirror protected against damage during travel. These compact mirrors are smaller and more portable than traditional handheld mirrors, so they’re ideal for stowing away in a backpack or purse. (My review of the best compact makeup mirrors is here).
Factors to Consider
Sure, mirrors are simple, but there are some things you’ll need to consider that will help you choose the best handheld mirror for yourself.
Size of Reflective Surface
One thing that’s often overlooked when shopping for a mirror is the size of the mirror itself. Keep in mind that the measurements of a mirror aren’t necessarily indicative of the mirror’s size. Some mirrors may be 12” wide, but only have 3” worth of viewing surface, with the rest occupied by ornate details.
A 5” diameter mirror is considered a medium size for a handheld mirror. Still, larger mirrors are helpful for makeup artists, hair stylists, and anyone trying to get a fuller view of their face.
Weight and Balance
Sure, a handheld mirror isn’t very heavy. But once you’ve been holding it for a few minutes while doing your hairstyle and makeup, you quickly learn that a heavy mirror is for the birds. Equally as important as the weight of a mirror is it’s balance, as a well-balanced mirror will feel less heavy in your hand so you can use it longer with less fatigue.
Believe it or not, the quality of the mirrored surface of a mirror can vary greatly. Cheaper mirrors use poorer quality surfaces, and the result is a mirrored image that isn’t as clear or crisp as it should be.
Quality mirrors, like our top choices below, feature a crystal-clear mirrored surface that will provide you with sharp and distortion-free reflection.
Another crucial factor is whether or not the mirror is magnified. Magnified mirrors produce a zoomed-in reflection, so you can be more precise when working in tight areas. I keep a magnified mirror handy for when I’m tweezing my eyebrows, applying eyeliner, or handling any other jobs that require precision and a steady hand.
But, hand held magnifying mirrors aren’t particularly useful for other applications where you need to see your full face or the back of your head. In these situations, a non-magnified mirror is preferable.
Single vs. Double Sided?
Many manufacturers make two-sided mirrors where one side is magnified, which is the best of both worlds. One side will offer a regular 1x surface while the opposite side is a magnified mirror. Typically the magnified side provides 3x, 5x, or 7x magnification.
If you aren’t sure whether you need a standard or magnified mirror, try and find one that offers both.
Materials and Aesthetic
Mirrors are available in a variety of materials, including plastic, wood, and metal. Some mirrors, particularly classic designs that harken back to the Victorian era, also feature decorative details around the frame and handle of the mirror for added beauty.
While the materials or looks don’t contribute to a mirror’s performance, few things make you feel more feminine than a beautifully designed and pretty mirror.
How well a mirror is built will typically determine how long it will last. Cheaper mirrors are usually made from flimsy plastic, with a thin mirrored surface that is prone to breakage if it’s dropped, even from short distances. If you want a mirror that’s going to stand the test of time, opt for one that’s built well and features a thick glass mirror for added durability.
The last factor you’ll want to consider is the price of the mirror. While mirrors were once very expensive and reserved for nobles and aristocrats, today, you can find cheap hand mirrors for a dollar or two. Of course, the quality will be rubbish.
Fortunately you won’t need to pay too much more; reasonable quality handheld mirrors can be found for under $20. If you want an especially fancy or well-made mirror, you can expect to spend double or triple that amount.
Top Six Best Handheld Mirrors
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at six of the best handheld mirrors available today.
This one ticks all the boxes; a handheld double-sided magnification mirror … with a stand. An ideal blend of style, value, and features, this is an excellent choice for anyone searching for the best handheld magnifying mirror around.
One of my favorite features of this Gotofine magnification mirror is the included multi-functional stand. The stand can be used three different ways to hold the stand at the perfect angle for whatever you’re doing at the moment. I do feel everyone should have a separate freestanding lighted makeup mirror, but if you’re truly on a budget, you could get away with this one as the only mirror you own.
This sleek mirror measures 5” around, so it’s large enough to handle all of your beauty needs, but still small enough that you can easily pack it for a weekend getaway. I think a 5in diameter is the best balance of weight, maneuverability and reflection size.
The chic rounded frame is transparent so it will match your style regardless of how you have your bathroom decorated.
I’m struggling to find anything negative to say about this mirror. Perhaps some people might find the weight (12oz) a little too much? You’ll probably want to use it mounted on its stand for a long makeup session, although the excellent balance means it’s easily held for checking your hair.
Sometimes, you just need a big mirror that’s going to provide you with a large viewing surface to take care of your hair, makeup, or whatever else you’re working on. If this sounds like you, then this large handheld mirror from Mirrorvana may be the best handheld mirror for you.
The first thing you’ll notice about this mirror is its premium finish, which is a beautiful matte silver color. The mirror itself is a generous 9×8”, plenty large enough to check out your entire face. It’s especially useful for hair styling.
While this mirror is ideal for home use, its large size, and premium finish makes it ideal for hairstylists and makeup artists, as well. Plus, the beautiful finish also makes for a thoughtful gift for birthdays, holidays, or just because.
The handle is ergonomically designed and comfortable to hold, which compensates well for its increased weight (approx. 1lb). Fortunately, you can easily hang the mirror up through the hole in its handle, so you can position the mirror at the ideal height while you do your hair or makeup with a simple bathroom hook.
The only negative with this mirror is the connection between the mirror itself and the handle could be sturdier. There is a little play in the handle, and it’s possible that the handle could separate from the mirror after extended use (not that I’ve heard reports of this happening).
This mirror is made from thick shatter-proof glass and the frame is tough plastic with a comfortable silicon grip. While you won’t get away with hitting the glass with a sledgehammer, it will survive falling off a desk onto a hard floor.
They say breaking a mirror is worth seven years of bad luck. Whether you’re superstitious or not, buying an unbreakable mirror can prevent the aggravation and potential danger that comes with cleaning up a broken mirror. This high-quality, affordable option can ensure that you’ll never have to worry about shattering your looking glass.
The mirror is single sided with 1x magnification (i.e. no magnification). Despite its toughness Deatti have still managed to preserve a clear high quality reflection, and it is surprisingly light for its size (viewing area 11 x 71/2”, weight 11.4 oz).
The handle is coated in an anti-skid material that’s comfortable to hold and easy to mount on the wall for hands-free viewing.
Whether you need a mirror for makeup, hair or for salon applications, this handy unbreakable from Deatti is a sound investment.
Sometimes, all you need is a cheap and easy to use mirror that’s going to get the job done without breaking the bank. If that sounds like you, then this affordable mirror from Goody will be right up your alley.
This simple mirror has a plastic handle that’s available in a variety of different colors (IMPORTANT: they will send you whichever color is available – you cannot choose this). The front mirror is a standard 1x magnification mirror with surprisingly little distortion. In the past this small hand held mirror was double-sided but that does not seem to be the case with the current model.
The mirror measures just over 8” including the handle, so it’s compact enough to pack for a vacation. Keep in mind that the mirrored area is only 3 ½” x 4” across, which I feel is too small for use as a daily makeup mirror. But if you find that a larger handheld is too heavy I think you’ll like this one.
While this mirror doesn’t score any points for its striking design or high-end materials, it certainly does what it’s supposed to do. For about $6, it’s tough to beat.
Looking for a mirror that’s fit for a princess? This beautifully appointed vanity set from Kingsley is sure to fit the bill. While most sets like this are intended as toys, this set is the real deal, and it’s sure to bring you years of enjoyment thanks to its premium construction.
This three-piece set includes a mirror, hairbrush, and comb; all finished in ornately detailed chrome. Each piece features delicate and ornate engraving throughout, which gives this set a regal feel that’s truly fit for royalty.
The handheld vanity mirror is about 9” long with a 5” diameter mirror. Also included are a soft-bristle brush, which is also around 9” long and a large 7” comb with a beautifully detailed silver handle and ivory-look comb.
Since this is a set, it’s more expensive than other hand held mirrors on the market. If you’re only looking for a mirror, this probably won’t be the best choice for you. If you’re looking for a beautifully detailed vanity set, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better choice.
If there are any issues with this set from Kingsley, it’s the bristle brush. For ladies with thin-to-normal, straight hair, the brush will come in handy. For other hair types, it’s a bit too soft.
If you’re looking for the highest in quality and design, this German-made 3x magnification mirror from DWBA is the one for you.
The design is striking, more so in real life than the photos, with a beautiful beveled frame and long chrome handle. The mirror’s face is just shy of 5” in diameter, so it’s the perfect size for your beauty routine while remaining small enough to travel.
The mirror itself offers exceptional clarity for distortion-free viewing, and the 3x magnification is ideal for doing your makeup and handling the more delicate points of your beauty routine.
If style’s important to you, this is the best handheld mirror.
Handheld Mirrors Over The Years
Hard to imagine, but mirrors were once seen as a luxury item possessed only by society’s elite.
Before discovering mirrored glass, mirror makers polished pieces of tin, copper, silver, or bronze until they could see their reflection in the metal. These metal mirrors were the industry standard for well over a century, and it wasn’t until the Renaissance era that glassmakers pioneered mirrors made from glass.
Until the 20th century, mirrors were as beautiful as they were functional. Decorative hand held mirrors existed across almost all civilizations, including the Egyptians, Chinese, and Ancient Greeks. Most cultures would decorate their mirrors with images of gods or ornate carvings.
In Ancient Greece, some mirrors were much larger in size, allowing viewers to see a full-body reflection of themselves. These mirrors were so heavy and expensive to produce that handheld mirrors were much more popular.
Mirror making was considered an art form for centuries, but it became a lost art during the Dark Ages when entire economies and cultures were decimated. During the Renaissance, a renewed interest in mirror making was discovered, along with the ability to make mirrors from glass.
These new glass mirrors became all the rage for the aristocracy. According to one countess from the 17th century, as recounted in The Mirror: A History, “I had a nasty piece of land that brought in nothing but wheat; I sold it, and in return, I got this beautiful mirror. Did I not work wonders—some wheat for this beautiful mirror?”
While we may not hold the same level of admiration for our mirrors today as the countess above, they’re still one of the most important tools in our vanity.
Whether you’re looking for a magnified or standard mirror, the six above represent the best handheld mirrors on the market, and each one should make a perfect addition to your vanity or bathroom.