LED vs Standard Bulb? Which is Good for a Lighted Mirror?

When choosing to buy a lighted mirror you constantly see the options “Compact Bulbs” and “LED Lights” and it can be frustrating when you are not sure what you are going to be buying, so here’s a guide on the differences in types of lights for mirrors.

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs:

Standard bulbs

  • Inexpensive, almost 4x less expensive than LED’s
  • Fast working, doesn’t need to warm up like LED’s
  • Brighter warm color for daytime makeup application

Also known as CFLs, compact fluorescent bulbs are spiraling fluorescent bulbs like you would see in a dressing room or that you would put into a lamp in your home. This bulb lends a natural glow that is the most similar to daylight, when compared to other bulbs. Choose this kind of bulb when you are looking for a reliable light option for your mirror that gives off a broad and non-synthetic light source.



  • Long lasting, almost 5x longer than compact bulbs
  • Low energy use, 30% less than traditional bulbs
  • White light for indoor or nighttime makeup application

LEDs or Light Emitting Diodes are are tiny devices that turn electricity directly into light. For a long time you would only see LEDs on light up watches and clock radios because they were not very bright and cost restrictive. But modern innovations in making LEDs has led to them being much brighter and much cheaper to produce. You will most often find them in smaller items, rather than the vast vanities. LEDs are found usually in compact or tabletop shaving, makeup and travel mirrors. If you want something that mimics indoor lighting such as in an office or a club, then this is a good choice for you.

Make-Up Mirrors and the Color Rendering Index

Another thing you should make note of when choosing a new make up mirror is the CRI or “Color Rendering Index” of the lighting source. When you are using it to apply make-up, this can change the outcome because he CRI of a light bulb is a representation of how well it reproduces colors.

Mirror with lights

A low CRI number in the 20s or 30s will wash out color, making it hard to match and blend make up. Incandescent or halogen bulbs on the other hand have “perfect” CRI of 100. For an all-around mirror, one which you will be using for everything from the application of make-up to tweezing your eyebrows, aim for a CRI of 60 to 75 as it will give you a more accurate representation of the natural lighting that you will want most of the time.

Also usually listed with a bulbs CRI is its CCT or Color Temperature. CCT which is shown in degrees, is a measurement of a light’s character or warmth. A high CCT temperature of 4000-5500k gives off bright white light like you would see in an office building. Meanwhile at the low end of the color temperature, around 2500-2800k produces a warm natural light similar to being outdoors.

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