What makes the difference between a great portrait and an average snapshot? Lighting! This is also true for the application of makeup. Without good lighting, it may mean the difference between a great makeup job and a mediocre one. So let’s talk about the best lighting for makeup application.
There are certain tricks and tips for doing great makeup application in everyday life. One of the most important factors when applying makeup is without a doubt lighting. But why is lighting so important?
Simply put it enhances features of the face which gives you more control and creativity when applying your makeup.
But what do I know about lighting? After working on movie sets and makeup/dressing rooms for years, you come to appreciate the importance lighting can bring to a scene or an actors presence. Many of these fundamentals I learnt on set are also transferable for seeking out the best lighting for makeup application. So let’s jump in!
Best Lighting for Makeup Application, YouTube Videos And More
Natural Light Is a Great Starting Point
A natural look is generally what we are going for in everyday life, so natural lighting is vital. For many people, that would be most accessible through a window or other opening. But, light direction changes during the day, so some sort of artificial light will likely be a requirement.
Stay Away From Down Lights Or Ceiling Lights
Speaking of lighting direction, overhead light, like the ceiling fixture in the bedroom, is not a good choice. This is because it will cast shadows down your face rather than having a shadowless surface to work on. Using down lights will cause your eyes to be more darker while casting a shadow from your nose downwards.
Color and Diffusion Are Other Things To Think About
Warm light will alter how the skin tones and makeup colors look. So will a light that’s too cold. A flat white will offer you a nice neutral color. You don’t want harsh shadows, or a really bright light either. You can miss things that will stand out later, or you could err the other way and apply too much or the wrong type of makeup.
If Possible Use Light Bulbs Around Your Mirror
We’ve all seen those lovely vanity set ups with a ring of 10 or 20 bulbs around the mirror which produce great directional light. If you can get your hands on one of these setups, it will give the best results. If you are looking for something thats more portable, a good ring light will give you the same advantages as these vanity mirrors with inbuilt lights.
Ring Lights Are Also A Great Option For Defused Lighting
We’ve reviewed ring lights before and I found that I prefer the LED ring lights with a large center opening. If you are applying makeup on someone else, set the light to shine on them and look through the center of the ring light while working. If doing your own make up, set the light to shine as full on to your face as you can arrange. You can point it directly at yourself or use the mirror as a reflector, avoiding hot spots.
Ring lights offer other advantages, too. Have you ever wondered how some photographers and cinematographers get an almost shadowless lighting effect without making everything look dull and lifeless? They are using a ring light.
A ring light is like a hula hoop of light, with your lens or face poking through the open middle. That type of lighting is perfect for applying makeup while recording video. Shadows can mess up your makeup job. So can light that is too directional. A ring light gives you a directional set up without worrying about shadows. Directional, but flat and diffuse.
Umbrella Lights Are Good, But Not The Best
You might be tempted to use other lighting tools from your portrait or Vlogging set up. An umbrella light might seem like a great choice, but I find that one umbrella might give hot spots or a little too much shadow. While the one umbrella light is great for showing modeling detail, a model will not like the makeup job if we have strong shadows obscuring our view or fooling us.
Wrapping It Up
Well then, what is the best lighting for makeup? I see two answers. One is diffused natural sunlight, which is free but you will not have it everywhere all the time. Two is a quality vanity mirror or ring light, which you can setup or take anywhere and use at any time of day or night.
If you want to learn more about the art of applying makeup you can check out these useful resources down below.