How Much Magnification?

The number 1 question our customers ask about vanity mirrors and makeup mirrors is "How much magnification do I need?"   And the answer is far from simple but hopefully we'll help.

The quick answer is that 5x and 7x are the two most popular and most acceptable magnification powers.  But there's much more to it. 

Relative magnification strengths.

Incredibly, there are no standards for the determination of magnification power for makeup mirrors.  Because of that, it's important if you're purchasing online, to only purchase from reputable sources and to purchase high quality mirrors.

People also talk about distortion.  Distortion is a necessary "evil" of makeup mirrors, with a single (very expensive) exception.  More about that, later.  In order to achieve magnification, 99% of magnifying mirrors use the "bent glass" method - which is exactly what it sounds like.  The greater the bend, the greater the magnification and the greater the degree of distortion. 

So what's the answer?  There are two answers.  One is compromise - in other words the best solution may be a compromise between the highest magnification and the least distortion.  There is another answer - a large mirror.  Because the center section of the mirror is the area of least distortion and a larger mirror has a larger center area, there's a larger area of least distortion.  5x and 7x mirrors usually reach a happy compromise after considering magnification, size, and distortion..

It is a mistake to simply get the highest magnification possible.  Our highest magnification mirror is a 15x mirror.  It is also the most frequently returned mirror.  Why?  The magnification is too great for most people AND, not insignificantly, the viewing distance is about two inches from the mirror - too close for many.  And that short viewing distance is not the fault of the mirror because as a rule, the higher the magnification the shorter the focal length.  In other words, the higher the magnification, the closer the viewer must be to the mirror for a clear, in-focus reflection.

I mentioned earlier an expensive exception to the bent-glass dilemma.  It's called "optical glass".  Instead of bent glass it's possible to build a glass optical lens in front of the reflective surface of the mirror to achieve the magnification.  In the case of an optical glass mirror, there is essentially no distortion.  The drawback, however, is that grinding a seven-inch or nine-inch lens from optical-quality glass is an extremely time-consuming and extremely expensive process.

To sum up, a good place to start in selecting the magnification for a makeup mirror or vanity mirror is at 5x or 7x purchased from a reputable supplier selling higher-quality mirrors.


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