May 03, 2022 5 min read

Natural vs LED lighting? Which will actually benefit your makeup application?

It’s easy to assume that natural light is always the better choice over artificial light when it comes to applying makeup. However, a makeup artist doesn’t always have access to natural sunlight when they’re applying foundation, eyeliner, and other essential products to their models.

Does this mean there’s a place for natural light sources in the makeup routine, or do you simply need to make sure you’re choosing the right kind of LED lights for your dressing room or vanity table?

Today, we’re going to look at how different kinds of visible light can influence the appearance of your skin, and help you when you apply makeup.

Why is Lighting Important for Makeup Artists?

Most makeup artists and experts agree the key to good lighting application is the right lighting. Whether reliant on natural sunlight or artificial lights, ensuring a person’s skin is properly illuminated means it’s easier to address issues like dry skin, oily skin, and unwanted issues with makeup and skin tone inconsistency.

Good lighting for makeup application means when you apply concealer, setting powder, and setting spray, you can see all the colours of a person’s skin perfectly. During makeup application, you can avoid unwanted shadows which can make it harder to see which colours don’t go with which skin tones.

Good lighting involves the full spectrum of visible light. Full-spectrum means you can see all the colours in an environment perfectly, so it’s easier to determine exactly what certain colours on a person's lips or eyes will look like outdoors.

Unfortunately, finding the right glow for makeup artists can be easier said than done. Not all artificial lights can achieve the full spectrum as they should, and some create unwanted shadows. Additionally, fiddling too much with warm lighting choices at high levels of brightness and intensity can increase your risk of sweating and blemishes.

Why Natural Light is the Best

For any complexion, natural light makes a real difference to the application of makeup. Applying makeup in natural light, similar to the spectrum we get from the sun, will mean you get the most natural insight into what the makeup will look like in standard bright sunlight.

With natural lighting, you can add colour, concealer, eyeshadow, bronzer, and more with a good insight into how it’s going to look in a natural environment. You’ll also end up with a more realistic image. A full natural lighting experience will ensure the intensity of artificial light doesn’t hide any issues which may need to be covered with powder and concealer.

Natural lighting ensures you can create a look that’s matched the person’s skin tone.

When daylight isn’t available on a dreary morning or day, the next best option will be a glow that’s as close as possible to the spectrum of natural sunlight. Since sunlight contains all of the colours in the spectrum, it creates “white light”. This is a little cooler than the artificial light created by most incandescent bulbs.

White light from LED lights can create a steady stream of light without too much light intensity. The right artificial lighting with cool white lights shouldn’t use incandescent bulbs, as these can get too hot when used for long periods of time.

In some cases, it’s possible to improve the impact of your natural lighting experience by using a set of reflectors or similar tools to balance the light intensity.

The Best Artificial Lighting for Makeup Application

If you’re reliant on artificial light sources rather than natural light or natural daylight for your makeup application, don’t panic. As long as you stay away from various sources of fluorescent lighting, you should still be able to achieve good results.

The best thing you can do to ensure your artificial lighting looks as good as possible is to ensure you position your artificial light sources correctly. The best lighting option will apply a ring of evenly diffused light around your face. This often means it’s best to look for mirrors with a ring of lights around them, so you get a more even balance of light, and more coverage for your whole face.

While a ring light can be suitable for a makeup artist, if you’re applying your own makeup at home, and you can’t always rely on the bright sun, the best lighting will usually be a beauty mirror which can cast away shadow by spreading light all around your reflection.

Some forms of beauty mirrors with lights built-in already come with various forms of dynamic lighting options to choose from. This may mean you can switch between warm and blue light, using warm light to apply moisturizer, while relying on blue light to apply blush to your cheeks, and finish your makeup look each morning.

What Types of Lighting Should You Avoid?

 When quality light is so important to your makeup routine, it’s also worth ensuring you know which kinds of light you should avoid. Generally, warm yellow light can make your cheeks appear sallow, and your skin looks more tired, which isn’t great if you’re going to be shooting a video for YouTube or preparing for a photo session.

When conducting your beauty routine, make sure you also avoid:

·         Fluorescent lighting: Fluorescent light is overly bright and not particularly flattering. It can lead to you choosing the wrong shades of makeup for your face because bad lighting changes your skintone and how parts of your face look.

·         Blue light: While cool light similar to the sun is great, high blue content can also make you look more drained. Try to ensure your lighting is as natural as possible.

·         Rose coloured light: Red and rosy coloured light might give your face a healthy-looking glow, but it can also distract you from what you really look like. Although you might like your appearance in red light, it’s best to go for something with more blue.

Making the Most of your Lighting

One final point to keep in mind when you’re looking for the best lighting for your makeup or beauty routine is that positioning is key. You’ll need to position the light far enough away from you that it’s not going to heat your hair and skin, leading to various blotchy problems.

It’s also worth ensuring you have the right balance of light all around your face. Having an even balance of light can make a real difference when you’re applying mascara and other forms of makeup. Choose artificial light sources which spread the light evenly around your face during your makeup application, and ensure you position your light in front of you, not behind you.

You should also close the window shutters so the colour temperature and exposure stay the same.

Artificial Light Sources

Positioning light above or below your face creates a shadow which can make it harder for you to get the right coverage with your makeup. This is why it’s so much easier to apply makeup perfectly when you have a lighted makeup mirror, rather than relying on the light above or behind you in your dressing room to create the perfect reflection.

Remember to keep an eye on the health of your bulbs over time and make sure you change them if they start to turn yellow or struggle to give you the daylight results you’re looking for.

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