The Best Fogless Shaving Mirror

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For shaving in the shower, I use the ToiletTree Fogless Shower Mirror. For $30, it makes the experience a pleasure. Its durability and true ability to remain fogless make it the best you can buy short of a contractor-installed heated mirror.

Shaving in the shower

I’ve subjected my and my friends’ whiskers and leg hair to dozens of manual and electric razors, shaving creams and beard trimmers.
As the Sweethome’s resident shaving expert, I’ve subjected my and my friends’ whiskers and leg hair to dozens of manual and electric razors, shaving creams and beard trimmers. I’ve also spoken to shaving professionals like Craig the Barber, ShaveBlog’s Corey Greenberg, Esquire’s grooming editor Peter Martin and an anonymous source at the Art of Shaving. On top of that, I’ve put my face through many hours of shaving to test different products. In my many hours of experience shaving deliberately, I’ve found that if you shave with a blade every day, doing it in the shower saves time and will likely give you a better shave than if you stood over your bathroom sink. The warm water and steam will open your pores and soften the hair much better than a few splashes of warm water or even a quick press of a hot towel, and rinsing the razor is simple since the stream of water is right there. But most importantly, you’re saving precious morning minutes by washing and shaving at once.

Dealing with fog

The only reason most men don’t shave in the shower is because there’s no mirror in the shower, and there’s no mirror in the shower because it would fog up too easily—and it’s a pain in the ass to shave by feel. Unfortunately, manufacturers who call their mirrors “fogless” are usually stretching the term. Most of these mirrors will fog up at least somewhat. Different brands have unique ways of dealing with this problem; some work better than others.

Some mirrors come with a treatment that keeps the fog off. The general inconsistency of these treatments is why you seldom see a permanently installed mirror in the shower. The only way to get rid of the fog on a mirror that’s not using some different treatment is to rinse it off, which is why most mirrors for the shower are small enough to wield with one hand (either to hold while shaving, or to douse under the water).

Other mirrors, like our pick and super-expensive installations, work better through science.
Other mirrors, like our pick and super-expensive installations, work better through science. They keep the mirror itself the same temperature as the rest of the bathroom by warming the space behind the glass (or plastic) reflective surface. With temperature equilibrium, the mirror won’t gather condensation and you can see your face clearly.

You’ll also see a few DIY ways to deal with fog on mirrors, whether we’re talking about the mirrors over your sink that fog up or compact mirrors you want to take in the shower. This piece from Lifehacker is a great survey of that. One option is to go nuts and install heating cables behind a mirror, but that’s too involved for most of us. If you want the benefit of shaving in hot humidity, you can let the hot water vapor permeate the bathroom and coat your sink mirror with anti-fog treatments made for windshields, or splatter a small mirror with dish soap or even shaving cream. But that’s a hassle, and once you’re shaving outside of the shower, rinsing the blade and your face isn’t as convenient. The fog-treated mirrors we’ve found are cheap enough (almost all are under $40) to make them a worthwhile investment for anyone who shaves regularly.

What to look for (and why, surprisingly, suction cup mounts are not ideal for most)

We looked inside shaving forums, searched grooming sites and combed user reviews to find the best models; then I tested the finalists myself through everyday use. After corroborating my findings with other literature, we made our picks.

We looked for a mirror that was small enough to be unobtrusive in the shower but large enough to make viewing easy. From there, you can try to deal with the fog, but the models we found to be the best generally work as advertised. Of those, I personally found the models that hold warm water in the back behind the glass to be extremely reliable, more so than treated surfaces that need to be rinsed or warmed up.

We paid special attention to how mirrors attached to the wall. In the mirrors we looked at, you have two options: suction cups or a one-time adhesive treatment, usually silicone putty and double-sided tape.

Surprisingly, the experts and my own tests pointed towards adhesives being the way to go.
Surprisingly, the experts and my own tests pointed towards adhesives being the way to go.

Don’t get me wrong—suction cups work for temporary mirrors for traveling or casual shavers. But using one means taking it off the shower wall after every shower, a hassle if you shave every day. If you leave up a suction-cup-mounted mirror, the suction will eventually loosen and it will crash to the ground—potentially at night when you’re sleeping. The noise will scare the crap out of you. (From what I’ve read, this is one of the major reasons people forego a shower mirror.) So really, your only safe option is to take it down every single time you shave.

To make sure I wasn’t the only one who experienced longterm issues with suction cups in the shower, I asked around. Editor John Mahoney backed me up without prompting, describing a high-end, quality dish soap caddy from a notable brand, saying “I used a suction-cup soap dish for a while, and it really sucks when it comes down in the middle of the night. Everything that’s on it goes flying, chain reaction, night terrors, etc etc. Also, if my soap dish is at all standard, the suction power tends to degrade over time. Once it started falling every week I got rid of it.”

You might be concerned that adhesives are going to gunk up your wall. Don’t worry about that. The one-time adhesives on models like our pick are easy to remove and reapply with the tube of silicone adhesive. So, if you’re likely to shower and shave almost every day, get adhesive.

The one-time adhesives on models like our pick are easy to remove and reapply.

But if you only shave a few times a week or you’re on the road very often, a suction cup model will work as long as you’re willing to take the mirror down and put it away after you’re done.

(Although we should ask: if you’re traveling, do you really need to haul around another piece of gear? Just shave with cream for the week in front of the bathroom sink.)

Pretty & high-end mirrors?

You’ve probably seen the gooseneck-style mirrors that adhere to showerheads or even models that take water from the showerhead to prevent fogging. They look cool, but the fact is that the shower (with its humidity, heat and stray water) is a punishing environment for almost everything except our bodies. Even if the defogging system works, these high-end mirrors have adjustable arms that gunk up quickly and become brittle, as Amazon reviews can attest. Stick with something simple—while it might not look as pretty as other options, it’ll work better, last longer and cost less.

Our pick

The ToiletTree Fogless Shower Mirror is the only mirror we found that you can buy once, install once and use every day without issue. It works exactly as you’d hope: no fog, strong adhesion to the wall and it’s big enough to give you the visibility to see what you’re doing.

The ToiletTree Fogless Shower Mirror is the only mirror we found that you can buy once, install once and use every day without issue.
It comes as two pieces: a base that sticks to the wall with silicone and double-sided tape and the mirror itself, which has a reflective surface that slides in and sits on the base with gravity. It sits securely, and I was never worried about it falling off. A shelf below the mirror holds a razor (or whatever) and a squeegee if you need to get rid of some of the water.

The back part sticks to the wall with included double-sided tape and a tube of silicone adhesive. Yes, we worried about the adhesive being impossible to remove if you move, but dissolving silicone and re-applying a new tube is cheap and simple.

To stop the fog, the ToiletTree has a reservoir behind the mirror that you fill with hot water. As mentioned, by making the mirror the same temperature as the rest of the showering environment, the glass won’t gather condensation and will remain clear. According to reviews and hours of testing in hot and cool showers, ToiletTree’s system really works. I would lift the mirror off its base, fill it with water from the showerhead, and slide it back in. No fog, ever.

As for the build, it’s the same as almost every mirror in this category. The reflective surface is acrylic and claims to be shatterproof. Not once did the mirror fall from its wall mount after weeks of use. Even so, I did some intentional drops into the tub from head-height. Even though it looks like cheap plastic, the whole unit never fractured or bent.

The major advantage the ToiletTree has over other models is its adjustable angle.
The major advantage the ToiletTree has over other models is its adjustable angle. When mounted, the mirror can tilt up or down as needed, which, if you share your shower with anyone else, makes it much more accommodating. In particular, this feature is great for anyone who shaves their head—the mirror can be angled to face down, so you can see the top of your head from different angles and get odd sections.

As mentioned, there aren’t many published reviews on shower mirrors, but the few that mention the ToiletTree love it. Fun Times Guide, a DIY home site with a network of 32 sites, has a specific post proclaiming its greatness. The author sought an ideal shower mirror, and found the ToiletTree to be the absolute best. The author’s husband shaves his head and found it to be good enough to use daily: “The best part of all: the ToiletTree fog-free shower mirror gets 2 thumbs up from a guy who uses it daily to shave his head bald and keep it smooth. (I wasn’t sure that any fog free mirror would ever get this high of a rating from him.)”

The ToiletTree also has an absurdly flattering Amazon customer rating of 4.5 out of 5 for over 1,300 reviews. That means an excellent product and exceptional customer service.

If we had to complain about one thing, it’s that the silicone can be messy to work with. As instructed, I used the whole tube, which caused some of the substance to squish and creep out around the frame of the mount. It was barely an issue, though, as the whole thing, especially when the mirror is mounted, covers up any excess silicone. The benefit of having it adhere to the wall reliably is worth it. (Also, the government-issue gray color is a bit of a bummer for aesthetics, but you’re probably not looking for flash in shower accessories.)

Alternative with lights

Also Great
ToiletTree Deluxe LED Fogless Shower Mirror with Squeegee
Works as well as the top pick, but it runs on three AAA batteries and isn't worth the extra $20 unless you have a really dark shower.
The ToiletTree LED model is a bigger version of our pick and we think it has a lot of unnecessary features that don’t justify the extra $20. It works the same way as the regular fogless shower mirror—you fill the reservoir behind the glass with warm water that prevents fogging and then the mirror slides into place—but it’s bigger and comes with a battery-powered light LED-lit rim that runs on three AAA batteries.

Unless you really need to examine your pores, we say stick with the regular fogless shower mirror. Maybe if your bathroom doesn’t get good ambient light you could benefit from this model, but we think everyone with a functioning light will be satisfied with the regular mirror.

Alternative with suction cups (for travelers or occasional shower shavers)

There’s also the ToiletTree Travel fogless mirror, which adheres with suction cups. If you shave on the road constantly, we love this model. For everyday use, though, suction cups can mean the mirror comes crashing down into the tub occasionally.

The other mirrors we dismissed

The Shave Well Fog-Free mirror is the other most popular and most lauded shave mirror we found. It’s okay but far from great. It’s much more basic than the ToiletTree; as it’s basically a treated plastic mirror with an adhesive hook, you’ll likely use it by holding it since it hangs on the hook at an angle that’s not square with your face.

In practice, that’s just not as convenient as the stationary but adjustable ToiletTree. The Shave Well actually fogs reliably, which you remedy by running under the showerhead. The routine feels inelegant and wastes time. More importantly, if you use your one hand to hold it, you can’t then stretch out your face to get at all your facial hair. That’s a dealbreaker.

There are countless other cheapo shave mirrors out there, but after hours of searching, the only two that had the critical and user popularity to be worthwhile are the Shave Well and ToiletTree. From further critical data and our own testing, the ToiletTree wins easily.

The rest of them? Here’s why we didn’t bother looking closer.

InterDesign’s Powerlock Suction Fog Mirror adheres okay, but it doesn’t deliver on its claim of being fogless and it distorts the image, according to Amazon user reviews. A 3 out of 5 review from users doesn’t bode well.

InterDesign’s Fog Away Suction Mirror has a better reputation than the Powerlock, but our and outside reviewers’ experience with suction cups has proven that they’ll always eventually come crashing down. That’s fine if you’re traveling or don’t mind taking it down after use, but we like the travel ToiletTree’s squeegee and reliable fog-clearing system better than the sound of this one.

The Zadro Z Fogless Free Shower Mirror is cool because it can adjust to 5x magnification, but we’ve never found a time when we’ve needed that feature. If you have a full bathroom like I do, you’re already close to the wall and thus the mounted mirror. It’s not worth the problems that come with its suction cup adhesion.

Zadro’s other models (makers of the Z Fogless line) have spotty reviews for their entire lineup. The Fog-Free LED Shower Mirror (2 out of 5 stars) and the Fog Free Mirror with Light and Clock (3 out of 5 stars) have lots of complaints. The most common? Shoddy craftsmanship that breaks quickly. We’d steer clear of their half-dozen or so variants on the shower mirror.

Jerdon’s nine-inch fogless travel mirror uses suction cups, which already disqualifies it for us. We also don’t like how the blank two-inch perimeter cuts the mirror’s actual size down to seven inches. Users also claim that the only worthwhile part about this fog-prone mirror is the suction cup.

OXO has a shower mirror and this brand makes some home products we like, but their mirror uses suction cups and users say its fog-clearing system doesn’t work.

Better Living Products’s shower mirror works like the Shave Well, which means you rinse it constantly. After experiencing the inelegance of this routine with the Shave Well, we dismissed this one, too.

Wrapping it up

If you shave (or tweeze) in the shower, or you want to start doing so to get the benefits of soft hair and loose pores, get the ToiletTree Fogless Shower Mirror. You get convenience and durability for just $30.

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Sources

  1. Lynnette Walczak, We Finally Found The Best Fog Free Mirror!, Fun Times Guide, August 2010
    “The best part of all: the ToiletTree fog-free shower mirror gets 2 thumbs up from a guy who uses it daily to shave his head bald and keep it smooth. (I wasn’t sure that any fog free mirror would ever get this high of a rating from him.)”
  2. Craig the Barber, CraigtheBarber.com, Interview
  3. Corey Greenberg, Shaveblog, Interview
  4. Peter Martin (Grooming Editor), Esquire, Interview
  5. Anonymous, The Art of Shaving, Interview

Originally published: July 29, 2013

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