As someone whose makeup obsession began in a poorly-lit college dorm room and has followed me to my current, equally dimly-lit NYC apartment, I've always been curious as to how lighting was affecting my makeup routine. There have definitely been days when I primped under my bathroom's harsh fluorescent lights, only to venture outside and have my makeup look totally different, as well as days where I get ready with only the natural light from my apartment's sole window, which often resulted in an unblended look. With this in mind, I decided to step up my game for one week, using a properly lit mirror and seeing if the switch would affect both makeup application as well as how my final look would appear when I left the house.
When Simplehuman approached me to try out their Sensor Mirrors, I knew it was the ultimate opportunity to test my lighting-versus-makeup theory. The brand generously gifted me their Sensor Mirror Trio ($300, simplehuman.com) as well as the Sensor Compact Mirror ($80, simplehuman.com), both of which I was able to unbox and charge in under an hour before they were ready to use.
The Sensor Mirror Trio fits comfortably on my vanity and has 1x, 5x, and 10x zoom views, perfect for everything from full-face view to a super up-close, pore view. There's a sensor that lights the mirror when you put your face near it, and there's a switch controlling two lighting options: a neutral full sunlight and a more warm-toned candlelight. A touch pad on the side of the mirror controls the level of brightness for each, which ranges from 100 lux to 800 lux, also known as very, very bright. The Sensor Compact Mirror is a bit more simple, but still far more advanced than any mirror inside a makeup compact, which is my usual go-to for touching up makeup on the go.
Day One: The Harsh Reality
Without a doubt, the first day was the most difficult out of the whole experiment, primarily because it presented me with a super close examination of my skin that I hadn't had in a while. I didn't even end up applying makeup on day one, as instead, I devoted a good chunk of time in front of the mirror to tweezing stray brow hairs, extracting blackheads, and mentally revamping my skincare routine now that I had a really good, clear look at my face.
Even though I wouldn't say I "enjoyed" this first day, I was already grateful for my new mirror. I'd actually rather a pretty harsh peek at what my skin looks like up-close, so in a weird way, I was definitely thankful for the intense lighting. Plus, I was able to go into the rest of the testing week with a perfectly plucked and prepped canvas.
Day Two: Perfecting My Shade
Day one may have been for examining my skin, but day two ended up being all about a harsh look at the products I was using. As I switched between the lighting options on my mirror, I quickly realized that some of my go-to foundations and concealers were simply not my shade anymore. Much like seeing my skin up-close, it was a little frustrating to realize how far off I'd been about so many of my shade matches, but in the end, I was grateful for being able to see it now. Even better, I was able to cut down my massive collection of base products and keep only the shades that really matched.
Day Three and Four: A Lighter Look
When it came time to actually apply my products, I found myself going for a much more natural look. Being able to see my skin so up-close allowed me to really see that, overall, my skin looked nice, and I didn't really want to cake it over with layers of product. I was able to determine which spots on my face I felt needed targeted concealing, and for the rest of my face, I applied only a light layer of tinted moisturizer to even out my overall complexion to my liking. I thought the mirror's harsh reality would have me packing on more makeup and product, but in fact, I could better see my skin as it truly was, and apply coverage accordingly.
Day Five: Trying The Compact
On day five of my testing period, I went on a staycation to a hotel in Brooklyn, so I couldn't drag my Sensor Mirror Trio with me. It was the perfect opportunity to test out my Sensor Compact Mirror, though. Because the compact has a 3x zoom, it's a happy medium where I can get a detailed enough view to really concentrate on my eye makeup, but also wide enough that I can see about half my face at one time, which is helpful for applying foundation and the like.
The only thing I didn't love about the compact was that it lights up automatically when it's removed from its pouch, making it hard to sneak subtle peeks at my makeup while out and about. I am probably more likely to use this as a makeup mirror while traveling than an everyday, in-my-bag, touch-up mirror, but TBH, I could also see myself bringing this around and whipping it out when I want to take a good selfie, because it's basically an on-the-go ring light, which I am seriously all about.
Days Six and Seven: Risk-Taking
After mastering my base products, I felt confident trying out bolder makeup looks with the mirror as well. Being able to test the looks in the different lighting options on the mirror comforted me by convincing me that I wouldn't look edgy at home and totally bonkers out in the real world. I tried everything from a glittery green eye to full-on Kylie Jenner lips for my Halloween costume, and felt super confident in doing so. In fact, without having this extreme lighting, I'm not sure I would've had the courage to leave in these bolder looks.
In the above image, you'll see my Simplehuman mirror to the left, and my original makeup mirror to the right. Gold, geometric, and chic, my old mirror perfectly complemented my room decor, but its lack of proper lighting or zoom views — coupled with only the light from my window and a fluorescent lamp — proved no match for the advanced Simplehuman Sensor Mirror Trio.
In the end, I've decided to stick with my Simplehuman mirror, because I now care less about how my mirror looks on my vanity. Trust me, guys, I'm now a strong believer that, when it comes to a great makeup look, your lighting matters just as much as your beauty products or technique, and I'm thrilled to have a mirror that really suits my getting-ready needs.