How to Find the Best Bathroom Vanity Lighting

Published By: Shades Of Light

Date Published:

Last Updated: March 07, 2022

An essential component of any well-lit and oft-used bathroom, bathroom vanity lights pack a powerful punch for practical, attractive task lighting. Simple and easy to style, these fixtures come in a range of shapes and looks that can really take your bathroom lighting design to the next level. Bathroom vanities require special considerations for task lighting — the type of lightning required to perform specific tasks like shaving and applying makeup. Your bathroom is the space where you’ll start and end your day and you’ll want to have functional lighting for chores like shaving, makeup application, and hair styling. Bathrooms of all sizes will benefit from these tips and tricks, from the spacious and spa-like to petite powder rooms. Those looking for vanity lights for a small bathroom or half bath lighting have just as many opportunities for bathroom beautification as those with a more sprawling layout!

Bath Lighting Ideas and Tips

What is a Vanity Light?

Vanity lights are a particular subset of lighting fixtures designed to be mounted above the bathroom vanity. The vanity area is typically comprised of a vanity sink, countertop, and vanity mirror. Vanity lights are considered task lighting and should not be expected to fully light a bathroom on their own. Be sure to incorporate other layers of light throughout your room—bathroom ceiling lights and bathroom pendant lights (or even chandeliers for a trendy, modern flair) are great for providing ambient lighting to the room as a whole. The primary function of bathroom sconces and vanity light fixtures is to evenly light your face for all your daily self-care tasks.

Vanity Light Sizes

Vanity lights are available in a range of sizes and lamp arrays so you can choose the version that best suits your space. Single vanity light fixtures (which may also be referred to as bath sconces) are ideal for smaller spaces and narrower mirrors. Bigger mirrors and longer vanities might call for two, three, or four light vanity lights. Pay special attention to the width and height of your chosen vanity light, as well as the number of lamps per fixture, as these specifications will help you determine if the light in question matches your space.

Bath light Size Chart

Vanity Light Shapes

The range of vanity light shapes available will allow you to truly flex your design skills and chose a fixture that perfectly suits your bathroom aesthetic. Some of the most popular shapes include:

· Bar: Bar vanity lights have a classic feel. These lights are typically comprised of a long rectangular shade enclosing multiple lamps, which makes them a great option for incorporating long-lasting LED arrays.
Bar Vanity Lights
· Cage: Cage vanity lights evoke a more rugged, industrial bathroom mood and frequently allow the light to shine unobstructed, without a diffuser, for an open, airy look.
Cage Vanity Lights
· Globe: Globe vanity lights are a modern/contemporary bathroom lighting mainstay, and perfect for creating a sleek, clean, yet slightly quirky aesthetic. These lights enclose the lamp in what is typically a clear or frosted globular shade and lend your vanity area sophisticated panache.
Globe Vanity Lights
· Shaded: Shaded vanity lights cover a wide range of shapes and styles that all enclose the lamps with vanity light shades. While these fixtures are diverse and versatile, it’s important to chose fixtures with metal or glass shades, as fabric shades (unless they are safety rated for bathroom use) are frequently not suitable for damp environments. If you love the look of a vanity light with a fabric shade, be sure to choose one specifically designed for damp areas, or consider mounting in your powder room, where airborne moisture from tubs and showers won’t compromise the materials.
Shaded Vanity Lights
· Tube: Vanity tube lights are similar to bar lights, but these rounded fixtures have an even more futuristic air. The long, tube shape keeps things sleek and simple for more understated rooms.
Tube Vanity Lights

Choosing Vanity Lights for your mirror

Vanity lights function primarily as bathroom mirror lights; they bring task lighting to the area over your vanity and should easily light your face when you use your bathroom vanity mirror. Since these lights work in tandem with your bathroom mirror, it’s important to consider the shape, size, and style of your mirror when selecting your vanity fixtures. Here are a few vanity light and mirror pairings we recommend:

· A round mirror paired with globe shaped vanity fixtures can lend a bold and bubbly geometric feel.

· Mismatched but complementary finishes across your mirror and vanity lights could create a trendy and casual eclectic style.

· If your mirror is particularly long, hanging multiple fixtures across the top gives the space a chic sense of balance.

Whatever your chosen style and decor, matching your light to your mirror will allow you to create a unique space you’ll be proud of.

Bath Lighting Ideas and Tips

Should Vanity Lights Hang Over the Mirror?

Because they’re intended primarily as task lighting, vanity lights should be positioned optimally for illuminating the head and face evenly, and eliminating any shadows that might impede tasks like shaving or makeup application. In many cases, this will entail hanging the light above the mirror. However, some spaces may be best suited to single- or double-light bathroom vanity sconces instead. If your mirror is narrow enough, two sconces placed on either side of the mirror hung at the proper height will cast even lighting across your face.

How High Should Vanity Lights Be Above the Mirror?

Whenever possible, vanity fixtures mounted above the mirror should be positioned roughly 78" from the floor, while vanity fixtures mounted to the sides of the mirror should be positioned at about 60" from the floor - or roughly eye-level. Lights in this style should be hung about 28" apart. If the width of your mirror, or some architectural feature like a window or attractive tiling prevents these optimal mounting positions, consider using a different lighting approach.

Perhaps your space is best suited to using both vanity sconces hung beside the mirror and a vanity light hung above the mirror in conjunction. Mounting light fixtures directly to the mirror itself to create a mirror with lights is another option that adds an edgy, modern layer to your room.

You might even decide to do away with wall-mounted fixtures entirely, and instead use a series of hanging bathroom pendants as your lights; lights in this style should be hung generally using the same parameters as above (60” high and 28” apart), and only fixtures suited for damp locations should be used.

Pendants are an especially good option for children’s bathrooms, as the height of the fixtures can be adjusted to accommodate growing kids without having to install new fixtures or plan a full bathroom remodel. Because these fixtures should be placed at roughly eye-level for the best bathroom task lighting, pendants can be hung a little lower for smaller bodies, and raised later to maintain the ideal placement as your kids grow.

Should Vanity Lights Be Wider than your Mirror?

How wide your vanity light is in relation to your mirror can be a matter of personal taste, but there are a few simple tips you can adhere to in order to achieve a posh, balanced look. Single light fixtures placed above a mirror should generally be about a third of the width of the mirror. Conversely, multi-light fixtures and other horizontal light styles like vanity light bars can extend beyond the width of the mirror but should never be longer than the vanity itself. Choosing a fixture that is roughly three quarters the width of your vanity is a good rule of thumb if this is the style that speaks to you. If your mirror is particularly wide, or you’re looking for double sink vanity lighting, consider mounting two smaller fixtures centered over each sink instead.


Once you’ve found your perfect vanity fixture, it’s time to refine your look with vanity light bulbs! Whenever possible, choose bathroom light bulbs with a high Color Rendering Index - a CRI of 90 or higher will ensure you see the most accurate colors in your room (which is particularly important if this is where you'll apply make-up each day!) Except in the case of integrated LED arrays, vanity light bulbs are sold separately on so you can fully customize your lighting experience.

When choosing the best light bulb for your room, there are several factors to consider. First, you should double check the technical requirements of your chosen fixture and ensure you select bulbs with a bulb base that will fit your lamp’s sockets and that match the recommended wattage of your fixture. From here, you can zero in on your ideal aesthetic — if your chosen fixture has uber trendy clear shades or exposed bulbs, you can further customize the look with decorative bulb styles.

Bath Lighting Ideas and Tips

Kinds of Light Bulbs for Bathroom Vanity

Vanity light bulbs come in all shapes, sizes, and styles so you can choose the best look and shine for your space. Some of the most commonly used bathroom vanity light bulbs include:

Edison: Edison Bulb vanity lights have a historic, vintage feel. The term Edison bulb can be used to describe two styles of bulb. Traditionally Edison Bulbs have a distinctive tapered bulb shape, usually with a visible coiled filament in the center. Because this coiled filament is such an attractive and popular look, you can now find this feature in other styles (like tube or globe shaped bulbs). Both types of bulb — those with the historic tapered shape, and those featuring visible filament coils — can be referred to as Edison Bulbs.

Globe: Vanity globe light bulbs are a fun and stylish option for fixtures with exposed bulbs or clear shades; they also look great peeking out from under translucent or opaque shades in fixtures mounted above the mirror. They’re perfect for creating a unique look, and accenting any geometric features in your bathroom, like a round mirror.

Halogen: Halogen vanity light bulbs, a longer lasting alternative to traditional incandescent bulbs, are sometimes used in slim vanity fixtures, so check your light’s specifications to see if one of these is required; while halogen bulbs are offered in standard medium base or candle base arrays, it’s more likely you’ll find this bulb technology used for more specialized bi pin or wedge lamp bases.

Incandescent: Incandescent vanity bulbs have been a vanity mainstay for decades. These classic bulbs are available in the widest array of shapes and styles, but may not be as long lasting or as energy efficient as their LED counterparts.

LED: LED vanity bulbs may be the new kids on the block as far as bulb technology is concerned, but they’re certainly here to stay! This highly versatile tech is long lasting, energy efficient, and allows for a range of color temperatures and brightness so you can truly customize your space. While many vanity fixtures now include permanent, integrated LED arrays, any medium or candle based fixture can be updated and modernized by selecting LED bulbs.


For those looking to create the perfect vanity for makeup application, a few special considerations should be taken into account:

Enthusiast makeup artists won’t find professional grade lighted makeup vanity mirrors on, but for hobbyists, a more general LED Lighted Mirror might be just the ticket! The most important factor to consider when designing light intended for makeup use is to ensure your face is lit evenly and there are no harsh shadows under your eyes, cheeks, or chin, which can make it difficult to blend makeup properly. Ideally, makeup enthusiasts will want to use light on either side of the mirror, as above-mirror lighting can sometimes create shadows that make makeup application difficult. If this set up isn’t practical (for example, if your mirror is too wide to hang sconces close to 28” apart) consider using both above-mirror lighting and lights arranged alongside the mirror!

The best lighting for makeup is natural daylight, so when possible take advantage of windows or skylights when designing your vanity space! But when that’s not possible, either due to the architecture of your space, or the time of day, choosing LED fixtures or vanity bulbs without any colored tint is the next best option.

Those looking to create the perfect bathroom lighting for makeup should look for bulbs like this one to serve as the ideal makeup light bulb. Chose bulbs or LED fixtures that emit light that is as close to white as possible—and be sure to chose bulbs with a high CRI (around 90-100) for the most accurate colors. Bulbs in the ‘soft white’ range of 2700K – 3000K are recommended for general bathroom use, and makeup application in particular.

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