If you’ve ever seen a dressing room in a professional theatre, you’ve probably seen how well-lit they are! Those high-intensity bulbs are meant to replicate the stage lights so that performers can apply the right amount of rouge, lipstick, etc.
Even if you’re not going to perform under super-bright lighting, the same principle applies for your makeup. Poor lighting can make you underestimate the amount of colour you need. Certain lights, including incandescent/tungsten bulbs, produce an orangish glow that can throw off your design.
That’s why anyone serious about makeup needs proper lighting. No need to install a bunch of light sockets. Modern makeup lighting can be tweaked for any situation, whether you’re getting ready to take the stage or spending your evening in a dim nightclub. Read on to learn how to choose the best lighting for makeup application.
What kind of lighting is best for applying makeup?
Before we dive into types of light fixtures and their specifications, let’s review what makes for good makeup lighting. You obviously want sufficient lighting to be able to see your face, but there are a few other factors as well. They are: intensity, colour, and direction.
Those theatre dressing rooms are designed to mimic the brightness of stage lights, which are typically high-wattage tungsten lamps. However, those lights produce a lot of heat, as any actor or dancer will tell you. If your vanity has regular incandescent bulbs, you might end up sweating and squinting a lot — not ideal for perfectly applying your makeup!
Most people will not be in a situation with such bright lights. So, if you apply makeup in an overly bright place, you’ll likely make your blush, eye colour, and lipstick too intense. Ideally, you have just enough illumination to see your skin and makeup hues clearly.
How many lumens do you need for makeup lighting?
First, know how to identify brightness. Wattage is the amount of electricity that a bulb uses; its actual luminosity is measured in lumens. Even a low-wattage LED bulb can produce brilliant light.
Professional MUAs recommend doing makeup with a light source of 1000 to 1400 lumens. This is the luminosity you would get from 75-100W incandescent bulbs, but without the warm, orange hue. Read on to learn how colour impacts your lighting for makeup application.
You know that the right colour is crucial to your overall makeup design. However, your products’ colours are impacted by the lighting. Let’s review some basic colour theory: there is a colour wheel with all colours of the rainbow. Colours that are opposite on the colour wheel cancel each other out. That’s why “colour-correcting” concealer is often yellow or green, so that it can reduce purplish or reddish areas of your face.
By the same token, lighting can alter the appearance of your makeup. Your carefully applied purple eyeshadow can be essentially washed out by yellowish lighting (which is what incandescent lamps produce), while red lipstick may look dull under greenish lighting (such as fluorescent bulbs).
Colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel tend to enhance each other. Professional MUAs use this principle to create harmonious designs. For example, this is why blue and green look so nice together. The same is true in lighting. A blueish hue can make green eyeshadow look more intense, while red lighting keeps yellows and golds looking vibrant.
Theatre lighting is typically “gelled,” meaning they have a coloured film over the fixture. Otherwise, all the performers would have a slight yellow or orange glow, because that’s what tungsten light produces. So, if you’re trying to use tungsten bulbs for makeup, you’ll end up trying to counteract that hue — which can cause you to accidentally apply a makeup colour that doesn’t look good under other lighting.
What colour temperature do you need for makeup lighting?
Colour temperature refers to the overall warmth or coolness of a light source. This impacts how you perceive the colours of your face and makeup, so it’s important to get it right. Colour temperature is measured in a unit called kelvins. The lower the kelvins, the weaker the light and the warmer it appears to be. For example, a light with 1,000 kelvins is basically candlelight. It casts an orangish glow. Tungsten aka incandescent bulbs have a low/warm colour temperature. This is relaxing and cozy but not ideal for makeup design!
For makeup application, aim for a fixture with between 4800 and 5000 kelvins. This mimics natural daylight, which helps bring out colours’ true hues, yet it’s not as intense as direct sun, which can wash you out.
Whether you’re going to a nightclub, your workplace, or somewhere outdoors, you’ll most likely be in a place with ambient illumination. This is quite different from your vanity, where the light usually comes from one direction. If your makeup lighting isn’t set up properly, this could be an issue.
For example, most bathroom vanities have the lights above your head. This casts a downward shadow that can make your makeup application difficult. You need illumination on the sides of your face, which is why those dressing rooms usually have lights all around the mirror. This is ideal for reducing shadows.
Putting it all together
You may be wondering how you can possibly illuminate your vanity in a way that applies to all situations! The secret is to do your makeup in perfectly balanced white light that makes all colours true to their hues. This way, your makeup will look good whether you’re indoors under fluorescent lights or spending the day outdoors.
Is LED lighting good for applying makeup?
So, what type of makeup lighting is balanced, white, and not too hot or bright? New LED technology is perfect for makeup lights. You can adjust the intensity on some fixtures, which is helpful if you are preparing to go on stage under super-bright lighting.
Makeup LED fixtures such as lighted vanity mirrors and ring lights typically have a colour temperature ranging from 3000 to 5000 Kelvins, which gives you a natural, balanced white light. Some fixtures allow you to tweak your lighting to a warmer or cooler temperature. This is helpful if you’re doing makeup for a setting where you need to control for reflective light. For example, if your wedding is in a garden in the late afternoon, the light will be blueish-green. So, you should set your LED makeup fixture to a cooler colour temperature.
Need the perfect LED fixture for your vanity or makeup studio? Shop Lumina Pro’s selection of lighted vanity mirrors and ring lights and get perfectly balanced lighting for makeup application.