Picture this: You wake up early on a workday (a feat to be proud of). You don’t necessarily have to, but you’ve got the time, so you decide to spend some of that extra time on your makeup. After one last quick check in the mirror, you head out the door, feeling yourself and the look that you’ve created. Then, on a bathroom break at the office, you take a peek in the mirror and are surprised to see that your face here looks nothing like it did at home. What happened? Sure, the lighting isn’t great at the office, but there’s no way it could do all of this… right?
If this sounds familiar to you, take heart. Your makeup skills are probably not to blame – it’s more likely that your makeup lighting at home isn’t right – and it’s messing with your look.
Unfortunately, most standard bathroom lighting types aren’t a great help for flawless makeup. You might need to tweak the lighting set up at home to get it working for you instead of against you. This article will compare some of the common pitfalls of builder-grade lighting, and tell you exactly what you need to look for to upgrade your makeup space.
Remember, the purpose of makeup lighting is to show your face as true as possible, so you know how the look will translate outside of your home.
NO: Windowless Rooms
Hopefully, your home was built with windows in the bathroom to help balance the lighting. However, if your bathroom doesn’t have a window and it’s not in your budget to install one, we recommend you get ready for the day by your bedroom or office window. Not only will this improve your makeup accuracy, but it will add dimension to the styling of your bedroom.
YES: Natural Light
Expert makeup artists all agree that natural light from the sun is the best light for doing makeup. If you can do your makeup facing a bright window, this is the best choice. However, many people do their makeup early in the morning or don’t have a windowed area suitable for makeup.
NO: Fluorescent and Colored Lighting
Everyone knows that fluorescent light is the most unflattering possible. While many spend days under fluorescent light in the office, it is typically offset by some natural light coming through windows. Bathrooms are often windowless, completely isolating the makeup artist in the worst lighting possible.
While warm, yellow light could be soothing for a home spa experience, it exaggerates flaws in the mirror. The yellow glow will bring out yellow and green tones in your skin, often making you appear sickly or washed out when you aren’t. This effect commonly results in putting too much makeup in the wrong places and then looking cakey once you step out onto the street.
Pink or rosy light has the opposite effect of fluorescent and yellow light― it hides flaws! This might feel good while applying makeup, but you may notice that you failed to cover certain areas as soon as you get to the office.
YES: Warm White Light
Warm white light is the best artificial light for doing makeup. It most closely mimics the effect of the sun, so what you see in the mirror will match what everyone else sees in the office or at dinner. Many experts recommend backlighting your mirror with LEDs to achieve this effect.
NO: Light From Above or Below
Kids love to make scary faces at sleepovers by shining a flashlight upwards from their chin. Overhead makeup light can create the same results (although not as dramatic). As the light shines down your face, it will naturally exaggerate certain features, like shadows under the brow, nose, and mouth. It can also catch more harshly on wrinkles. Once again, the results are too much makeup in the wrong places.
YES: “Face-forward” Light
“Face-forward” light shines directly towards your face rather than shining down on you. When your lighting is set up this way, it will reduce false shadows, making it easier to decide where to apply makeup. Many add LEDs around their mirror – it’s is an easy, inexpensive way to customize your makeup table and get the truest lighting for your look.
Pro Tip: If you’re renting and can’t replace your bathroom lights, a ring light is a solid option. They come in a wide range of prices and sizes, so it won’t be hard to find one that will fit both your counter and your budget. Position a smaller ring light around face height. Larger ring lights are designed for you to look through them, so the light shines on your face from all sides to eliminate shadows, as seen below:
Kick that Crappy Lighting to the Curb
Replacing, or adding to, your bathroom lighting isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Swapping out an old fixture with a new one is a relatively simple project that won’t cost much to have done. It’s also very beginner DIY-friendly – most homeowners can do it on their own. (Just remember to turn off the breaker first!)
A simple lighting upgrade can totally transform your makeup experience, and give you the confidence to trust that what you see in the mirror at home will translate across to the rest of your day. Whether you have a full makeup studio or you’re sharing a small vanity with a partner, you’ll be surprised at how a small change can make such a big difference.
If you want some help choosing the best lighting upgrade for your makeup area, stop by our showroom and take a look at the options we have available. You’ll be able to see for yourself how you look in different lighting, and our experts can help you find the right options to dress up your space. Stop by, or give Ellen Lighting today for a free consultation!