Bathroom with large mirror and vanity lights

Two three-bulb vanity lights with victorian style shades add warm light to this bathroom.

A vanity light, also known as a vanity bar, is a long light fixture mounted above the bathroom mirror. The counter and mirror are the focal point of the bathroom, and vanity lighting draws attention to this important spot. Vanity lights and vanity bars come in a range of shapes, sizes, and colors. And since not all bathrooms look the same, not all vanity lights belong in all bathrooms. Choosing the right color, shape, material, and size helps establish the bathroom’s aesthetic.

A ceramic vanity light fixture

Ceramic vanity fixtures diffuse light into a soft glow.

 

Vanity Fixture Materials

Three different types of materials are used to make most vanity light fixtures: Ceramic, metal, and glass. Each material has its pros and cons and contributes differently to different bathroom settings.

Ceramic vanity lights are warm, often simple, and fit well in most bathrooms, especially minimalist ones. The translucent surface of the ceramic softens the shadows produced by the fixtures and allows for a comfortable transition between lighter and darker spots. Of course, ceramic would look out of place in some bathrooms. In those cases, metal and glass would be more appropriate.

Nickel and chrome are the most popular materials used in metal & glass vanity lights. Some fixtures feature a high-shine surface, for a sleek modern look, or a hammered or antiqued finish, for an old-fashioned feel. The glass shades over the bulbs may be completely clear or cloudy and translucent.

A modern bathroom with purple walls and ceramic vanity lights

The geometric shapes and simple lines on these contemporary vanity lights fit right into a modern bathroom.

 

Vanity Light Styles

The simplest vanity light is one long fluorescent tube, or perhaps a row of bare round bulbs. Those who prefer something more stylish have many options to choose from.

Going for a modern look? The shining chrome finish of the Mezzanine Style or contemporary circles of the Nova style will fit right in. Go minimalist with the Tubo style vanity bar, which upgrades the bare fluorescent tube with sleek detail. The geometric shapes of contemporary ceramic vanity bars add interesting angles.

Other vanity lights have Victorian or gothic details like fluted shades and curlicues. The Wallis style evokes old San Francisco, while the Wynwood style has classical curves suited to colonial design. The molded lines of the Classic Column style will remind you of ancient Greek and Roman architecture.

A ceramic vanity light with fish cutouts

Fish-shaped cutouts make this vanity light perfect for an ocean-themed bathroom.

Vanity lights can fit right into a themed bathroom, thanks to the variety of cut-out designs available. Choose fish for an ocean-themed bathroom, dragonflies for a bathroom that takes inspiration from nature, or palm trees for a desert island motif.

What Size Vanity Light?

In a guest bathroom, the mirror and sink may be quite narrow. Two-bulb vanity lights measuring 18″-24″ fit these niches perfectly. For a long mirror in a master bath, you have two choices: one extremely long fixture, like the 52″ wide six-lamp Maxwell style, or several small fixtures, like the 13.5″ Simple Squares design.

Lighting makes the difference between a sterile, uncomfortable bathroom and a bathroom that welcomes visitors warmly — and helps you look great in the mirror. Browse our bathroom lighting to find the perfect vanity bar. Also consider pairing a vanity light with matching sconces.