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Vanity Lights

Bathroom Vanity Lights: What to Look For & How to Choose the Right Lights for Your Bathroom

Cube vanity light cougar lighting

Lighting can make a lot of difference when it comes to the look of any room, but in the bathroom, getting lighting fixtures right can be even more important. Its important the lights you choose look stylish, compliment your bathroom decor, and provide the light you need for and your family to get showered, dressed and ready for the day! 

Here's our guide to what you should look for in bathroom vanity lights and what options are available on the market at the moment. 

How to Pick the Right Vanity Lights

Start with your lighting first.

If your vanity lights matter a lot for your purposes, you can style your bathroom around the lighting fixtures that you are considering.

It may sound somewhat counterproductive to do so, but the truth is that once you buy your furniture, whether that be cabinets, the mirror of your choice, or anything else, it can sometimes be difficult to find the right lights to go along with everything.

Besides some of the other features that we will discuss below, you should also consider the performance and characteristics of your lights.

What we mean by this is that some globes can also emit heat, which can make it truly frustrating for someone fixing their makeup, for example – they might end up sweaty by the time they finish their routine.

So, if this is something that you do not want to deal with, we suggest making a list of your most important features first.

How much light do you need?

There’s a plethora of options when it comes to the style and design of your vanity lights, and they look different, but they also produce a different amount of light.

For example, having a pair of sconces, one on each side of your mirror, might be enough for routine tasks such as washing your hands or combing your hair, but might not be enough for more detailed tasks such styling a beard.

A large sconce right above your mirror, on the other hand, can make it easier for you to focus on whatever you need to achieve. It is also a good choice if there just doesn’t seem to be enough room for you to place two sconces on the sides of your mirror.

Statement chandeliers can be another option, but only if you are sure that they will produce enough light and that their design doesn’t block some of it.

Finally, if you do not appreciate the look of a separate lighting fixture, you have the freedom to talk to your remodelling specialist and opt for recessed downlights instead.

However, in that case, you need to make sure that you have enough access to them and that you can change the bulbs without needing to call a professional.


As you can imagine, there are some significant differences between the size of recessed downlights and the light you get as a result and the size of a bath light bar, a pendant light, or a sconce.

Not only is the size essential because it effectively contributes to the area range being lighted, but it can also be matched with the power of the bulbs.

For example, chandelier lights usually allow you to fit them with bulbs that can offer you more light, whereas tiny sconces do not give you a lot of freedom in this sense, regardless of the bulb power.

Power, bulb types, and light colour.


Your fixtures also need to be matched with the performance of the bulbs you choose. Cheaper materials are usually incompatible with more powerful bulb options because the heat that they emit might lead to some parts of the fixture being melted.

Picking fixtures made of sturdy materials such as glass or metal automatically eliminates this problem.

When choosing your lights, you also have to consider whether part, some or none of the bulb structure is going to be visible. Some can awkwardly stick out of the fixtures and may ruin the entire look of your bathroom mirror area.

Bulb options

In terms of bulb types, the majority of people nowadays prefer LEDs because they are extremely efficient and tend to last for a long time. They also don’t require a lot of electricity, so you aren’t going to see significant increases in your bill just because of your lighting.

However, there are other options, and they consist of the following:

  • Halogen bulbs
  • Incandescent bulbs
  • Compact fluorescent lights (also known as CFLs)

Light Colour

As for colour temperature, there’s an easy way of telling what that will be even if you order your bulbs online. All lights are rated in Kelvins. Those that have a rating of under 3,000K emit warm light, whereas those whose rating goes beyond 3,500K produce cooler light.

A powerful bulb that emits cool light can be difficult to work with in the long run, especially since it also makes it challenging to see colours as they are in reality. By contrast, warmer lights always manage to create a cosy atmosphere, so you’re not going to feel like you are walking into an emergency room rather than your own bathroom.

As for brightness, the general rule of thumb when it comes to this feature is that vanity lights should not be rated at more than 1,500 lumens. Anything above will make you uncomfortable when looking in the mirror.

There are many differences in terms of bulb types when analysing this characteristic.

Even though you pick the same wattage and you expect the same performance from a LED and incandescent bulb, for example, the first will tend to emit more light compared to the second strictly because it does not involve the same technology.

There is a formula that you can use to calculate the number of lumens you need for your vanity lights (per square metre), and you can check it out here.

Finish and style

There are roughly three types of styles you can opt for these days when choosing bathroom vanity lights:

● Traditional
● Contemporary
● Transitional

Various other styles, such as Art Deco or coastal, also exist depending on what you have in mind and if you have already picked your bathroom design.

As for the finish, picking the same as that of your faucets and other fixtures can be a little overbearing. Subsequently, if your other fixtures have a shiny look, choosing a polished one for your vanity lights is recommended.

The only exception to the rule is the brushed nickel finish, which can be used on all of your fixtures and faucets.

Other options you have available are listed below:
  • Chrome
  • Stainless steel
  • Gold
  • Copper
  • Brass
  • Oil-rubbed bronze

As you can expect, all of these materials have different requirements in terms of how you are allowed to clean them, for example, and also come with various durabilities.

Since bathrooms are known for being the dampest rooms in any home, you have to make sure that you pick vanity lights that can put up with that amount of moisture.

Most galvanised metal, solid brass, copper, gold, aluminium and stainless steel typically remain rust-free for years. Other, perhaps less conventional materials these days but that can also prove their longevity and resistance in this sense are wood, glass, as well as stone.

Final thoughts

If you are still having a hard time picking your bathroom vanity lights even after reading our guide, you may want to opt for a mirror that comes with backlighting. It would be a good idea to choose this alternative if your bathroom is small and there really is not a lot of room to work with.

Your budget also has a say when it comes to picking your vanity lights. Depending on their design and the materials they are made of, some fixtures can be pricier but can be considered investments as they will not rust, and their bulbs are easy to replace.

On the other hand, if you’re renting and you’re remodelling your bathroom without the financial assistance of your property owner, you may be less inclined to select a more expensive option.

In the end, your vanity lights need to be effective, visually appealing, and as easy to work with as possible.

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