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How to Light Your Bathroom Mirror With Recessed Lighting (Reviews/Ratings)

Steve Sheinkopf  |  December 08, 2014  |  3 Min. Read

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Kitchens and baths are the only two rooms requiring task lighting. Think about it.

You turn the lights down to watch TV. You probably have an iPad or Kindle, so you do not even need lamps or bedroom lights for reading.

Baths are an exception, because you need very specific lighting to apply makeup or to shave. Unlike other rooms, you cannot augment light with portables. You have to plan correctly.

I focused on the mirror, because you do not have to be so rigid in other parts of the bathroom. You will probably still find the soap in a dimly shower or bath. Applying cosmetics or getting that last whisker is another story.

Cross Illumination

The concept of cross illumination or fully lighting both sides of you face is critically important in bath lighting. We already wrote about how to light a bath mirror with sconces. I like this method. As a review you place sconces on both sides of the mirror at roughly 66 inches high depending on your height (you do not want to look at the bulb).



Recessed Lighting

I wrote this article because people advise against recessed as the main light source in a bathroom. It does work well if you cross illuminate however.


Place recessed on either side of the sink. I like a regressed eyeball trim to focus the light to the sink itself. It's pretty basic, but works very well. Usually 30 inches apart will suffice, depending on the height of the ceilings.

Recessed is also inexpensive, because it is a true commodity. A good recessed can (the electric part in the ceiling) and trim (decorative piece) should cost less than $30.

Couple of Last Tips

  • First, smaller looks better. Many electricians still use larger 6 inch diameter recessed cans. Unless you have a tall ceiling 4 or 5 inch will more than suffice.
  • Second, do not place the main task lighting behind you. It will create shadowing and shaving will be impossible.
  • Third, if you buy LED (and you should) for energy efficiency, buy a LED compatible dimmer. Most dimmers will not work with LED. Legrand dimmers work with every type of light.


I love this bathroom. It has recessed and decorative lights throughout. However, recessed can be an inexpensive and effective way to light a bath by itself.

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Additional Resources

Get our free Recessed Lighting Buying Guide with tips, trends and design suggestions for using recessed. Over 70,000 people have already found answers in a Yale guide.

View our recessed lighting buying guide


A few review sites have placed this at the bottom of their articles. So here is our take: Our mission is to find reliable products for you to buy. Other review sites may say this as well.

However, we don’t love every product. Quite frankly, it costs us way too much money in repair costs to support less reliable brands.

In fact, we sell fewer brands than most appliance stores. Here is why:

We feel it is our responsibility to repair your appliances after you buy them.

We now have 30 service technicians, each averaging 8-10 calls a day Monday through Friday, plus another 110 on Saturday. That's over 30,000 service calls logged in one year.

The labor rates of fixing an appliance do not come close to the true cost in any product’s warranty period.

That is why no major retailer has a service department. It costs too much labor, money and time.

Our Blog is a bit different than most others you will read. We cannot write glowing reviews of unreliable products.

Hopefully, the bloggers and organizations who write such glowing product reviews for every brand consider servicing these products first. Only then they will understand the consequences of their marketing.

Steve Sheinkopf

My goal has always been simple: I want Yale to be the best retail experience anywhere. I have tried to create a compelling environment for customers and employees alike.

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