You can have the most moisturizing, pore-concealing BB cream that you swatched in natural, incandescent, and fluorescent light; mascara that will never flake; and the last 20 tubes of RiRi Woo in existence, but the key to looking your best each and every day is optimizing the bare bones of your beauty routine—the physical hardware. I'm talking a never-ending pile of soft, white single-use facial towels, a collection of freshly cleaned brushes designated to specific products, a comfortable stool or chair that's the perfect height for your uncluttered vanity table, and, most crucial, a great mirror. It's a shame that the service aspect of the vanity mirror has become a bit of an afterthought. That vintage shaving mirror might look cute, but trying to do your makeup while lit from below is impossible and also the 45-year-old wiring has a good chance of overheating and burning a hole in your desk. Form and function, people! Your mirror should complement your lifestyle, and because most of us can't even accurately predict what footwear is appropriate for the day ahead, I've compiled a guide to buying the right mirror for you:
You're the type that, for whatever reason, doesn't have a set-in-stone workstation on which to do your makeup. Maybe it's because you're a free spirit, maybe it's an apartment-size issue, maybe you prefer to move to wherever the best natural light comes in to put your face on. Or maybe it's because you work in the Gloffice, where there are eight beauty people and one makeup mirror—poor little guy's like an army brat, off to a new home base every couple of hours. Mobility is the name of the game for the Kimball & Young Classic Adjustable Mirror; it'll happily go wherever you please! There's no wire dangling off and flopping around, it doesn't take up a ton of surface space, and it's ITG-tested and approved.
The Constant Smoky Eye-r
I read somewhere that Kim Kardashian sometimes gets her makeup done while laying down, so as to avoid getting dark eyeshadow sprinkled all over her (plump, supple, smooth, high) cheekbones. I've also heard of the preemptive powder layer trick, whereby you cake on a ton of translucent powder directly beneath your eye to catch the flakes, and then dust it off after. Sounds messy, and it is. Then they started making "eye shields," which, meh—I can't even buy Q-tips with any consistency, let alone cheek protectors. Some people put their eye makeup on before the rest of their face so that they can clean off the cheek area before applying foundation, etc., but how can you concentrate on a blend-y, smudge-y shadow masterpiece with leftover red acne patchiness glaring at you from below? You can't—it throws the whole thing off. Enter the low-sitting, upward-tilting vanity mirror, one like the Gatco Polished Brass Table Mirror. You lean over it at such an angle that your dark eyeshadow will fall downward, off of your face, rather than float across onto your cheeks. It's physics.
The Low-Maintenance Types
You're a bed->shower->moisturizer->jeans->door kind of girl (or you're a guy), and there's no sitting or multi-step makeup application in your routine. You probably don't even own any product that requires a brush or tool beyond a cotton round. You should look into a wall-mounted mirror like the Zadro Swivel. It's a twisty little friend that reliably hangs around, waiting for you to check for toothpaste foam after you brush your teeth, or flip it to the magnified side to pluck a few stray hairs. Also great for those with literally no counter space.
The Low-Maintenance Sheik Offspring or Lottery Winner
The Michael Anastassiades Beauty Mirror is another great wall-mounted option, but it's cool because it a) doubles as art and b) comes in gold c)...that's actual gold—it's a gold-plated mirror.
You're not anal about it, but there's definitely a place for everything and everything is usually in its place when it comes to your surroundings. You like to sit, study, and take your time with your beauty routine, if it's coming home and melting off your makeup with Bi-Facil and rainbow Cotton Clouds, or thoroughly buffing in your cream blush and combing out each lash before work. You're detailed, but it's really about the overall picture—you need a big mirror surface to sit back and take in the complete effect of your work, hair and all. And since you have that dedicated space for things, they might as well look nice sitting there. KKDW Co. Walnut & Steel Mirror is your vanity mirror, handmade just outside of Austin by a lady carpenter named Kelly.
Note that I tried to leave out anything with a ton of magnification. I'm a firm believer that studying yourself so closely literally distorts how you see yourself, and can have longterm effects—pickers and over-pluckers probably know what I'm talking about. Also, I wasn't knocking the vintage vanity mirror game entirely, I'm all for beautiful vintage pieces whenever they make sense. I compiled a list of my favorites on Etsy here—just be sure to have anything super old that plugs in (like pre-1985) checked out by an electrician—I've had vintage appliances and electronics melt entire chunks of my apartment.