The Most Flattering Lighting Around a Mirror
Look for vertical, linear fixtures that provide even illumination around the face, says our expert.
 
My local department store has the best lighting in its dressing rooms. The lighting is very flattering and makes me want to buy everything. The lighting appears to go the length on either side of the mirror and would lead me to believe it is fluorescent lighting. I usually hate fluorescent. What type of lighting could I use in my bathroom to achieve the same flattering light? Is there a non-fluorescent option that is flattering?

You are absolutely right about having lighting on either side of the mirror. It is the most flattering because it bathes people in even illumination. Good store designers (or those that hire incredibly talented lighting designers) know that if people feel attractive when they try something on, then they are more likely to buy it. Any time there is recessed lighting above a mirror, whether it is in the dressing room of a store or in your own bathroom, you are hit with light that casts harsh shadows underneath your eyes, nose and chin. Nobody looks good under this type of light ... unless you are lying on the floor looking up.

For your bath, find a light fixture that is vertical and linear. This gives you better coverage from the top of your head down to your ... elbows. There are lots of fixtures that use incandescent or halogen sources to provide this kind of illumination. Take a look at the Robbia Full by Artemide and the Dover by LBL Lighting.

There are also dimmable fluorescent sources, like the Emanation by Boyd Lighting, that I think do a very good job, especially when the correct color temperature of light is selected. I tend to recommend a lamp that is 2700K to 3000K (the color of standard incandescent and halogen light). Sometimes I specify fixtures with two parallel lamps, one of which also provides the color of daylight (5000K), like one made by Dreamscape.

We are not seen under much incandescent light during the day, so it’s better to do your makeup and select your clothes under a daylight quality of light. Most of us are getting up and getting dressed before it is daylight outside, so we need to rely on an electric light source to provide an effective substitute. You simply can’t always wear the clothes from the night before. My limit is three times a week.

Randall Whitehead, IALD

Randall Whitehead, IALD, is a professional lighting designer and author. His books include "Residential Lighting, A Practical Guide." Whitehead has worked on projects worldwide, appeared on the Discovery Channel, HGTV and CNN, and he is regular guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Visit his website www.randallwhitehead.com for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.

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There are a few things to

There are a few things to consider when choosing and installing your bathroom lighting. Vanity lighting may be defined as a light fixture installed above, or alongside a mirror. We offer many vanity lighting options with excellent and flattering light output. Two measures to remember when selecting fixtures for your bathroom are CRI (Color Rendering Index), and color temperature. In terms of CRI, choose a fixture with a high CRI (90+ is preferred). Incandescent and halogen light sources always have the best CRI – 100 – meaning they most accurately render colors. If you wish to use an energy-efficient LED or fluorescent light source, ensure your selection has a CRI or at least 90. This provides excellent color rendering in bathroom settings. For color temperature, try selecting fixtures / light sources with a warm color temperature (2700K – 3000K). Many find warm color temperatures more flattering than cool ones, because they are similar to the incandescent lights most people have become used to. You never want to go above 3500K in a bathroom lighting application — it's just not as flattering and inviting as warmer temperatures. -Decoraport USA

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