What Light Do Makeup Artists Use?

We’ve always been amazed at professionals’ flawless makeup, so we got interested in the kind of light that makeup artists use. Our research led us to two light sources that makeup artists prefer to have and use.

What light do makeup artists use? Makeup artists use natural light or daylight as much as possible. If this is not an option, makeup artists use light that comes from LEDs. LED light is the closest artificial light to natural light that doesn’t emit a lot of heat. Makeup artists can also adjust the brightness and color temperature of LED lighting to match skin tones and the looks they are going for.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at these two kinds of lighting that professional makeup artists prefer. We’ll also discuss the lighting tools that makeup artists use to create their flawless looks. We’ll also look into the other kinds of light makeup artists used before LED lighting for makeup came along. And finally, we’ll share with you a few lighting tips to help you get the best lighting for your makeup routine. Let’s begin!

The Best Light for Makeup Artists

For makeup artists, the best light for doing your makeup is natural light or daylight. The light coming from the sun is the most honest–it’s clear, evenly diffused, and it shows the true colors of your makeup and outfit. The next best thing to natural light is a warm white light from LEDs, which closely resembles natural light and can be adjusted to become warmer or cooler.

Natural Light

The light that comes from the sun is the best lighting for makeup because it is clear, soft, and diffuse, lighting your face evenly. When you use natural light for makeup, your makeup colors are bound to match your skin tone perfectly.

This is why makeup artists recommend applying your makeup near a window or skylight. Through a window or a sheer curtain, natural light is like a softbox light you’ll commonly see in photography studios.

LED Light

Makeup artists don’t always have access to natural light, so their best alternative is to use the white light that comes from light-emitting diodes or LEDs. LEDs with a color rendering index or CRI of 90-100 are preferred.

The CRI is a scale that indicates how good a source of light is at rendering colors, like natural light. LEDs with the highest CRI are the most accurate when rendering colors, which is an absolute must when applying makeup.

Makeup artists also use LED lights with a brightness output of up to 5800 lumens because the brighter it is, the more they will see what they are doing.

What Makeup Artists Use for Lighting

If makeup artists have no natural light access, they use several LED devices to provide lighting. The most common lighting devices they use are LED ring lights, LED mirrors, and LED headlamps.

LED Ring Lights

Ring lights have become extremely popular not only for makeup application but also for taking photos of your makeup when you’re done. Ring lights spread light evenly, eliminating shadows and highlighting your features beautifully. The brightness and the color temperature of ring lights can also be adjusted to suit skin tones and makeup looks.

Ring lights have also become a must-have for beauty vloggers, influencers, photographers, tattoo artists, hairstylists, lash specialists and those who want to have good lighting for online meetings and classes. Ring lights come in various styles and sizes and can benefit anyone in need of good, even lighting that renders colors accurately.

LED Mirrors

LED mirrors are similar to ring lights in how they provide light and the kind of light they emit. Makeup artists use LED mirrors so that their clients can also see the transformation is done.

LED mirrors are also for personal use. Having a reflective surface allows you to see what you’re doing easily and lets you check your blending, contouring, and highlighting. LED-lighted mirrors are great for anyone who wants to see a clearer, more well-lit reflection of themselves in the mirror. We have also written this article that discusses if LED mirrors are good for makeup. Check out the article for an in-depth discussion about the topic. 

LED Headlamps

Some makeup artists also use LED headlamps that give off warm white light. LED headlamps for makeup artists help if a dressing room or makeup area is too small or cramped for a bigger lighting setup. Imagine a busy backstage with a lot of foot traffic–someone could seriously get hurt when they trip over a lighting cable or accidentally bump into ring lights and lighted mirrors.

✅ Video – How Lighting and Makeup Work Together

In this YouTube video from consumer electronics company B&H, photographer Cory Rice and celebrity makeup artist Moani Lee show how lighting and makeup work together to create stunning images in both daylight and artificial lighting settings. Rice explains the different effects of lighting setups on portraits, and Lee shows what she does to achieve the effect she wants, considering the kind of photography lighting in use.

Other Kinds of Lighting Used for Makeup

Aside from LED light, makeup artists also get to work with other kinds of artificial light. They often had to work with the ambient light in a room, whether coming from a fluorescent bulb, an incandescent bulb, or a combination of different light sources.

Fluorescent Light

Fluorescent lighting tends to be overly bright, making your skin look washed out. Because the cool white light makes you look pale and your skin looks dull and lifeless, you would tend to apply extra foundation, too much blush, or an excessive amount of bronzer to add some color to your skin. You can also check out this article that discusses what a cosmetic mirror is. We have shared tips and information that you can refer to.


Incandescent lighting that is too warm or too yellow can make you look tired and highlight dark spots. This makes you tend to overdo it with the concealer, even if these spots are hardly seen in natural lighting.

Moreover, incandescent bulbs emit heat, which can make applying makeup an uncomfortable experience. You will often find yourself dabbing at your sweaty face, and soon you’ll find your makeup nearly ruined because of it.

Rosy or Pink Light

Rosy lighting gives you a natural-looking blush and a healthy pink glow, but that’s not really what you look like in broad daylight. The rosy lighting hides blemishes and under-eye circles, so you tend to under-apply concealer or do away with it entirely. The result is often another trip to the bathroom (preferably one with better lighting) to cover up the spots you missed, which could be a lot.

As you can see, these lighting types are less than ideal for makeup because they don’t show the true colors of your skin tone and the shades of your makeup. This is why professional makeup artists invest in their lighting systems.

Professional makeup artists are also aware of the effects of different kinds of lighting on faces to apply makeup accordingly. For most of us, however, we wouldn’t know what our made-up faces look like until it’s too late–we’re already out the door, and not a few people are giving us funny looks.

This is the reason why it’s recommended to apply makeup near a source of natural light or use high-CRI LED light from a ring light or lighted mirror. Natural light and warm white LED lights are the most honest and show us what other people would see. You can also check out this article that talks about the best lighting used for applying makeup. Check out the article for more information.

Makeup Lighting Tips

If you want to have flawlessly applied makeup that brings out your best features, follow these lighting tips!

  • Use natural light whenever you can.
  • If there’s no daylight available, use a warm white LED light with a CRI of at least 90.
  • Make sure your face is evenly lit from all angles and that it’s lit from the front.
  • Choose diffused light that doesn’t create shadows on your face.
  • Avoid lighting that is too white, too pink, or too yellow, which doesn’t show your true skin tone and your makeup’s actual colors.
  • Get dimmable LEDs that would let you see how you’ll look in different lighting settings. This can help you with your day/office makeup and your evening look.

Related Questions

Is LED or Fluorescent Better for Makeup?

LED is the preferred lighting for makeup. Makeup artists find LEDs better than fluorescent lights in rendering skin tones and different shades of makeup accurately. Fluorescent lighting tends to make skin tones look washed out, which can make you over-apply your blush and/or bronzer. LED lighting is also closer to natural light, which is considered the gold standard for makeup lighting.

How Many Lumens Do You Need for Makeup Lighting?

It is recommended to have as many lumens as possible when doing makeup because you want to see what you are doing clearly. A range of 1100-5800 lumens is good. A high lumen output can be achieved through the use of multiple LEDs. However, it’s also important to avoid overly bright light, which can damage the eyes. You can also check out this article that we have written that discusses frameless mirrors are in style. Check out the article to find out more about frameless mirrors.

What Lighting is the Most Flattering?

The most flattering lighting is a soft, diffused light with warm white color temperature and a color rendering index or CRI of at least 90. According to lighting professionals, people tend to look their best when illuminated by light bulbs that measure 2700-3000 Kelvins and have a CRI of 90-100. We have also written this article about the most flattering lighting. Check out the article for useful information that can help you find the best lighting for your home.


And that’s it for our article on the light that makeup artists use. We discussed natural light and LED light as the top preferences of makeup artists when it comes to lighting, and we also took a look at the LED lighting devices that makeup professionals have in their arsenal.

In this article, we also discussed the effects of other kinds of lighting on the face and how you might put makeup on under these lighting conditions. We gave a few tips to help you avoid makeup mistakes caused by poor lighting.

We hope this article helps you get the best lighting for your makeup routine.

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