Bathrooms are very intimate spaces. It’s the place that sees us at our most vulnerable—the same way we came into the world: au naturel, wet, and crying. And, we do so much in the bathroom.

Some people turn on the shower and sob.

Others sip beer in the shower or apply makeup at the vanity.

And some of us put our hands on our thighs and twerk butt-naked like we just don’t care.

Here’s the thing, though. You can’t look good doing any of these things without best-in-class bathroom lighting. You don’t want your twerk to look like a Corgi’s backside as it gallops towards a chunky piece of mince pie, do you? Nope. Nada.

In this article, we’ll turn on the tap and let flow all our secrets on how you can use LED bathroom lights to bring your bathrooms (and your faces) to life. Add Tru-Colour® tech to light your faces, and you’ll look up to 30% better in the bathroom, whether you’re sobbing or twerking. Yippee.

What’s this about light quality?

When you’re not busy summoning Bloody Mary in your bathroom, you’re probably applying all sorts of powders, creams, and sweet-scented substances to your face. And so, you want perfect light quality to avoid using lipstick on your eyebrows.

This is why your bathroom lights’ Colour Rendering Index or CRI is critical.

If you choose a low-CRI bathroom light fixture, colours will look unnatural. As a result, you’ll think your face looks unhealthy and sickly (when it doesn’t), and you’ll apply more makeup (when you don’t need to).

You want at least 80 CRI for your LED bathroom lights. But there’s a catch. When it comes to anything to do with your face, red is the essential colour. Why? Blood. And if the CRI score of your bathroom light fittings only covers the standard scale (R1 to R8), and red is ignored, which is on the extended scale (R9 to R14), your face will look washed out.

But Brightgreen Tru-Colour® LEDs have changed the makeup (and CRI) game, pals. With the purest red on the market and scoring 98 CRI on the extended scale, it’s like applying makeup under direct sunlight.

Don’t forget the colour temperature in your bathroom

Correlated colour temperature or CCT describes how warm or cool a light looks. A CCT that’s too high (too blue) or too low (too orange) will also affect colour accuracy in the bathroom.

We recommend a CCT between 2700K and 3000K for the bathroom, depending on the space’s function. A warmer light (2700K) will feel welcoming and is perfect for the powder room. A cooler light (3000K) is better for colour accuracy and is more appropriate for a master bathroom.

Bathroom lighting 101: How to pick your bathroom light fixtures

Many of the rules we’ve cooked up in our kitchen lighting guide also apply to bathroom light fittings. So, let’s keep it stupid, simple. Here’s a laundry list of the basics we’ve already covered:

  1. Think about how you’re going to use your bathroom. And then pick the bathroom light fixtures to match those functions. For example, many people use makeup, so it makes sense to have task lighting next to vanity mirrors. More on this later.
  2. Avoid the one bulb show. Even if your bathroom is tiny, a single bathroom downlight isn’t going to cut it. You’ll need a range of lights, and you’ll need to layer your bathroom with ambient, task, and accent lighting. More on this later, too.
  3. Light glare is terrible. We hate glare. Avoid it at all costs. Like kitchens, bathrooms are also very shiny places. For example, if you’re placing bathroom downlights over the tub, you’re almost guaranteed to come eye-to-eye with light glare.

Getting hot, wet and steamy in the bathroom. IP-rated bathroom lights.

Let’s first address the wet elephant in the room. Bathrooms are damp, moist places. So if you’re placing your lights in wet areas, you’ll want to make sure your lights can handle direct and/or indirect moisture.

You’ll need bathroom lights with Ingress Protection Ratings (IP Ratings) from IP44 (the first level of protection) through to IP67 (complete immersion protection). An IP44 rating will be sufficient for ceiling-mounted lights—even above the shower. And an IP67 rating is a safer bet at lower heights.

Ambient, task and accent bathroom lighting

If you want an in-depth guide to light layering, you can check out our guide to kitchen lighting. The same principles will apply to your bathroom light fixtures.

Ambient lighting

You won’t go wrong with standard bathroom downlights and other bathroom ceiling lights. They’re popular choices—affordable, effective, and understated yet elegant.

If you’d like to get a little fancy, you can add some pzazz to your mirror with backlighting or bathroom vanity lighting. Wrap bathroom LED strip lights around the back of your mirror for a halo effect—they’re a fantastic form of supplementary general illumination.

Task lighting

Task lighting in the bathroom can be tricky. You might be inclined to think that a downlight above the mirror or the sink is enough, but overhead lighting on its own will cause harsh directional shadows.

You should add some bathroom lights that hit your face for optimal illumination. So how do you do it?

The best way is to position your lights on either side of the mirror and at eye level. Bathroom vanity lighting creates an even glow across your face and eliminates shadows.

For task lighting, we recommend:

  1. Recessed and surface-mounted lights: Use bathroom downlights and surface lights for easy overhead task lighting.
  2. Wall lightsCombine your overhead lights with bathroom wall lights flanking your mirror to make your face glow.
  3. Pendant lightsIf you can’t use bathroom wall lights, you can use hanging bathroom ceiling lights on either side of the mirror to achieve similar results.
  4. Strip lights: Finish off the ensemble with the bathroom LED strip lights under your floating vanities and to light the path towards your loo.

Accent lighting

Bathrooms mean functionality. So it’s easy to forget about decorative lighting. But if you have elegant tile arrangements across a wall or even a claw-foot bathtub, you can up the drama in your bathroom with some accent lighting.

Add recessed bathroom wall lights close to your ceilings to wash your mosaic walls with light. Or install in-ground uplights behind your claw-foot bathtub to complete your bathroom-lighting ensemble.

Avoid the face punch of bright bathroom lights

Stumbling towards your bathroom in the dark and flicking on bright bathroom ceiling lights often feels like being punched in the face by light. Add dimmers, and you’ll be able to start your morning routine smoothly. It’ll feel less like a face punch and more like a candlelit night in the bathtub (which dimmers can help with, too).

Want to save your brainpower for the shower

If you prefer to preserve your precious time for pondering in the shower, let someone else look after your LED bathroom lights. Get in touch to bring your bathrooms (and your faces) to life with the world’s highest light quality and expert lighting design. And did we mention complimentary advice, lighting layouts, lux calculations, and more?