Choosing the Best Lighting for Makeup Application

Choosing the Best Lighting for Makeup Application

All beauty gurus, whether they are makeup artists or hairstylists, agree that good lighting is at the forefront of their operation. As such, a lot of their business budget is invested in quality lighting.

You should consider makeup application lighting as a key tool in your makeup skill set. Without proper lighting, your makeup will eventually be blotted out by shadows and the colours will lose their intensity. Having the right lighting can dramatically improve your makeup application skills.


As Mariah Carey once said, “Bad lighting is toxic”. She wasn’t wrong. Here, we go over some of the ins-and-outs to choosing the best lighting for makeup application.

How to Apply Makeup Correctly

The best way to put on makeup is to first follow the proper prep procedures. These preparation steps involve cleansing, moisturising and priming. Applying perfect face makeup can take a bit of practice but in time, things become easier. Lighting featuring the Spectrum Platinum Pro II Ring Light


First, you want to make sure your face is cleared of any impurities, dirt and residues To do this, simply wash your face with water and be sure to moisturise. Priming is optional, but it is highly recommended if you want your makeup to last for an extended period. Applying a primer to your face before makeup application can prevent runoff from sweating or heat.


After the initial cleansing and preparation, you can start layering your makeup step by step.

1. Foundation
2. Concealer
3. Lashes
4. Eyeshadow
5. Mascara
6. Eyebrows
7. Cheeks
8. Lips
9. Touch Up

The Science Behind Good Lighting

Quality lighting is crucial when applying makeup. Believe it or not, the best way to apply makeup is to make sure you see the makeup!


Good lighting means that you're able to apply the perfect face makeup without having to worry about those pesky shadows. You will be able to select the best lipstick and the ideal eyeshadow. Also, makeup tutorials often involve a complex combination of different shades and foundations, to the untrained eye poison ivy green can easily look like forest green.


Unfortunately, finding the right lighting for makeup application isn't as easy as it seems. Fiddling with too much light can cause heat and excessive sweating, while not using enough light can blot out the true beauty of your makeup. Mirror wise, you might score a 10 but step outside and you’ll be lucky to score a 6.


So, what is the best type of light? Firstly, we need to view light as a spectrum of colours and not just as “light”. Focusing on the even distribution between red, green, and blue, will dramatically improve your judgement on shades and foundations.

prism light rainbow

Visible light (also known as white light), when passed through a triangular prism, refracts into 6 main colours i.e red, blue, orange, green, violet and yellow. The separation of the white light into different colours is called dispersion.


Natural Light Is the Best Light

Let’s be honest, nothing really beats natural light. It’s clear, soft and delicate – all the things you want in your makeup arsenal. Always be sure to look for the nearest window to take full advantage of natural lighting. Your makeup will end up looking vibrant and perfectly matched to your skin tone.

natural light window studio

Natural light through a window is commonly used in fashion and lifestyle photography as it is evenly diffused, just like a studio softbox light.

LED Continuous Lighting

What happens if natural light is not available? The alternative is to use a white light produced via LED (light-emitting diode) like the Spectrum Aurora ring light or if you are not fan of ring lights then the Spectrum Allurelite is perfect for hair and make up application. These lights provide a steady stream of light, but they can get quite hot when not managed properly.

This lighting solution has been popular amongst bloggers or vloggers, influencers and small businesses. It can also be used for product photography for ecommerce sites. Featuring the Spectrum Allurelite.


Try using a set of reflectors to evenly spread the light while reducing the emitted heat. When shopping for a light, find one with a Colour Rendering Index (CRI) of 90 or higher, the closer to the index of natural light, the better.

Compact, lightweight, bright and portable - it's perfect for any creative professional on the go! Featuring the Spectrum Allurelite.

Spectrum ring lights
and the Spectrum Allurelite have a CRI of 95. Because of this, they are often used by top-end professional makeup artists. The ring lights have an adjustable colour temperature and brightness setting. And if you leave a Spectrum ring light on for a long time, the light doesn’t get too hot.


Ring Lights for Makeup Application

Ring lights are ideal for both applying your makeup and taking photos of the finished product. If you’re a beauty blogger to vlogger, a ring light is worth its weight in gold.


Because they evenly spread light, ring lights get rid of sneaky shadows and highlight your features perfectly. You might have noticed a sparking, halo-like reflection in a beauty guru’s eyes before - that’s a ring right.


These lights come in a variety of models, including a selfie ring light. These lights are small and compact in nature, designed to clip on to smartphones. Although these lights are smaller, they still produce the same effect as a full-sized Spectrum Aurora ring light.


The Spectrum Aurora ring light is an LED light perfect for makeup artists, hair salons, brow specialists, lash specialists and tattooists. It is used during studio or salon work and photography, too. It creates a wrap-around effect eliminating any unwanted shadows for full glow.



colour rendering index comparison

The CRI (Colour Rendering Index) is a scale from 1 to 100 that measures the ability of a light source to accurately show the true colours of an object compared to a natural light. The higher the CRI number the better the representation of colours of the object being lit.

Makeup Lighting Dos and Dont’s

1. Lighting Position Matters
Lighting should be placed directly in front of your face. If the light is placed above you it will cast a shadow. Shadows are your enemy, you may end up applying much more makeup than you intended.


standard lighting vs spectrum aurora ring light for makeup applicationThe best way to light up your face for makeup application is positioning the light right in front of the face (not above or below). A white light, like the Spectrum Aurora ring light with a CRI of >95, is best. This is shown in the right image.


2. Avoid Yellow Lighting
Yellow light simply lacks the clarity and brightness needed for a beauty video or photograph. Since yellow lighting tends to be duller it can make you look tired or ill. Applying makeup in this kind of light is bound to backfire, the worst part is that you won’t realise it until you step outside into the natural light.

3. Avoid Rose Coloured Lighting
Rose light tends to give off a bit of heat which will warm up your skin and appear vibrant and healthy. While this sounds like a good trade-off, there is such a thing as “too flawless”. 
Due to this healthy glow you get in this lighting, you may miss some spots and blemishes and forget to apply concealer to those areas. Your final result may seem fine at first but if you look over your makeup once more, you may find some uneven patches.


4. Fluorescent Lighting Is A Big No, No
s quoted by lighting expert, Sarah Knight “I would say the fluorescent lighting is the worst. The imperfections on your face all show up”. This type of lighting is unflattering and overly bright. It results in over applying your foundation, bronzer, powder or blush.


clueless gif bad lighting meme

Cher (Alicia Silverstone) from the 1995 cult film, Clueless, quotes bad lighting as the reason for her misfortune.


Above we’ve covered a few of the reasons why decent lighting can take your makeup game from so-so to star quality. Ideally, we would all have perfect natural light to work in at all times. The sun doesn’t work like that, unfortunately. And if applying a full face of makeup in the middle of the street doesn’t sound like something you want to do, a ring light is definitely your next best bet.