How to Get the Best Ring Light Headshots to Show Off Your Makeup

ring light headshots

We all love a bit of natural daylight, but it isn’t always possible to get it for makeup application. If you want to create a great portfolio of your work, you need consistently good lighting – and ring lights are fantastic for this. Here's how to get the best ring light headshots to show off your makeup.


If you want to create a great portfolio of your work, you need consistently good lighting – and ring lights are fantastic for this. Here's how to get the best ring light headshots to show off your makeup


Why Use A Ring Light?


Simple. It’s the best light for the job. The circular design provides an even, soft light that minimizes shadows and shows colours as they should be. It’s the go-to tool of beauty bloggers and vloggers for a reason.


getting the best image with ring light headshots


The Spectrum Aurora 13” Mini Pearl Complete Studio Ring Light Softbox Kit is a great compact kit for ring light headshots, ideal for travelling to client’s homes with or moving around a studio or salon. It comes with two softboxes so you can achieve complete three-point lighting.

It’s daylight balanced which is great for applying makeup, but the kit also contains an orange filter for giving a warm tone to skin. The dimmable switch means you can adjust the brightness according to your surroundings or needs.


The collapsible softboxes fold away easily, and because the lights don’t heat up you can just pack up and go when you’re finished – no waiting around!


the best ring light headshots for makeup artists


For larger areas needing to be lit, the 240 LED light Spectrum Aurora 19” Diamond Luxe Complete Make Up and Beauty Studio Ring Light Softbox Lighting Kit, features a larger light with a fully adjustable gooseneck, which is great for positioning your light at just the right angle. It comes complete with an adjustable 2 metre heavy-duty light stand for added stability and versatility, and two softboxes.


Again, this lighting kit comes with a dimmer switch and orange filter, and both feature a 12 month Australian warranty.

Creating the Best Ring Light Headshots


It doesn’t matter if you use a phone camera or a professional DSLR for your portfolio shots, but there are a few things you can do to create a dramatic improvement in your images.

1. Positioning Your Light

It’s vital to position your ring light correctly for makeup shots or videos. Position your light so that it is directly in front of your (or your subject’s) face. If you have it above or slightly below, you’ll end up with shadows that can ruin your makeup application.

If you are using softboxes, position one to each side of your subject, with the ring light in the middle, like in the diagram below:


This is called three-point lighting, and defines all of the face. Watch this handy tutorial video for professional tips and advice on lighting for beauty images or videos.

2. Light Is Not All One Colour

how to get the perfect ring light headshot


Different lights have different “colour temperatures”. Think about how the yellow-orange glow of a tungsten light is different from daylight. The type of lighting you use has a dramatic effect on your finished images. The daylight-balanced Spectrum Aurora ring lights mentioned above are great for showing the true colours of your makeup.


Fluorescent lighting is perhaps the worst type of lighting to apply makeup in, as it shows up all blemishes and imperfections. This can lead to you over-applying makeup to compensate for what the light shows.


3. Camera Settings

how a ring light can help capture the best headshot


Even phone cameras have settings you can adjust to get the best photo for your ring light headshots. One of the most important things to do is to set your camera’s white balance to the correct type of light. This ensures you won’t get photos with weird looking colours on them.


For daylight-balanced lights such as the ones mentioned above, set the white balance to “daylight”. You can usually find the white balance (WB) settings in your camera/phone menu. 

4. Don’t Place Your Lights Too Far Away

showing off your makeup with a ring light

Because ring lights are made to wrap light around, you don’t want it to be too far away from your subject, or you will lose the advantage of this. Keep your lights fairly close, and experiment with different distances to find the ideal range. If the light is too far away, you also won’t get those cool circular catchlights in your subject’s eyes.

5. Keep the Light Central

ring light for headshot photography


To achieve the best lighting for your ring light headshots, try to keep the subject’s face in the centre of the ring light. This will give even lighting over both sides of the face, and they won’t be too close to or too far from one of the softboxes.

6. Use Bolder Colours For Photos

makeup photography with ring light lighting


Cameras can sometimes “mute” colours, so they don’t look as bright in a photo as they do in real life. Because of this, don’t be afraid to apply bolder colours. Even when you are after a natural look, you can go brighter with the lips and eyeshadows and still look natural.


7.Use An Image Editor

MUA ring light headshots for professionals


Great photos don’t just happen in camera. Most images can do with a little adjustment in image editing software. All you need to do is adjust the saturation/vibrance of the colours, adjust contrast, tweak the exposure and perhaps crop the image to bring out its full beauty.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money or sign up for monthly subscriptions to find decent, basic editing software. Check out this article by Tech Radar, which lists the best free image editing software you can get for 2019. 


Tips and Tricks to Publishing the Headshot image

  • Determine how you would like your portfolio to look like. There are two ways:

    i. Publish a variety of images and styles: This will show as a makeup artist your versatility to potential clients such as a natural makeup (e.g. bridal), editorial style makeup (e.g. fashion) or creative/fun makeup

    ii. Stick to your specialty: If you have a niche whether its fashion, editorial, bridal, corporate, film, special effects, TV or runway this should be the theme of your portfolio


  • Before and After photos: If you are focusing on the local market, these are perfect for makeovers, classes or bridal work. This would be a great marketing strategy for potential clients. It's not recommended for fashion or commercial work

  • Popular apps to edit makeup images are Facetune, Instagram’s own filter and editing tools, VSCO, Lightroom CC or HUJI. These apps are either free or a small cost of less than $5USD.