The Best Lighting For Makeup

Last Updated on October 20, 2022 by The Tutor

best lighting for makeup

What is the best lighting for makeup?

Makeup artists often stress the importance of lighting when applying makeup. Some of the professionals in the entertainment industry will stress the importance of makeup lighting and in fact will often say that lighting is more important than the actual makeup they are using.

The best lighting for makeup is natural daylight. The goal is to replicate the benefits of that natural daylight effect indoors by using the right combination of light fixtures, bulbs and kelvin temperatures.

We will take you through what we believe are to be the basics when it comes to understanding how to provide adequate lighting for applying makeup. Then, we will provide you with our recommended makeup lighting options. As always, everything that I will recommend will be lighting for makeup

Lighting Basics for Applying Makeup

  • Lumens
  • Color Temperature
  • Elimination of Shadows
  • Bathroom Vanity Lighting
  • Bedroom Makeup Lighting
  • Portable Makeup Lighting


How Many Lumens Are Needed for Applying Makeup?

Lumens are the primary factor when determining whether you have the best lighting for makeup. Lumens is the measurement of the amount of light that a bulb or a fixture gives out. Years ago, when every light bulb was incandescent, brightness was measured in watts. We would see a 60 watt bulb and knew how much light we were going to get from it.

As time passed and lighting technology evolved, we saw the introduction of fluorescent, halogen and then LED bulbs. What we found was that each of these other bulb options produced different amounts of light (lumens) without requiring the same number of watts to do it. The chart below will show you what I mean. This is why we only look at watts when it comes to energy savings and lumens will be the measurement for how much light we can expect to get from that bulb or fixture.

Once again, for makeup you are looking for as many lumens as possible. For more on light bulbs and what each of the choices mean, read how to choose the right light bulb.

lumens chart

Which Color Temperature is Best for Makeup?

Color temperature is measured on the Kelvin scale. Every bulb sold will reference which color temperature it will yield right on the package. These colors range from warm (yellow in color) to cold (blue in color) This would be a good time to read about the Kelvin color temperature scale so that you have a full understanding before continuing because selecting the right color is also important.

The best lighting for makeup will likely have a temperature of at least 5000k. This will more closely replicate that natural light effect that we discussed earlier. How does this impact your shopping for your lighting options? You should narrow your search to light fixtures that come with bulbs that are at least 5000k or have the ability to be replaced with the bulb of your choice.

Eliminate Shadows to Provide the Best Lighting for Makeup

When you think about the natural lighting you get from the outdoors, the light really covers you evenly without dark spots. We want to bring that same effect into your bathroom or wherever you apply makeup every day.

One of the problems we encounter with certain light fixtures or vanity lighting is they often have the light source directly in front of you. That is great when you are applying makeup on the tip of your nose. However, not so good when you are seeing shadows on the sides of your cheeks.

When planning your makeup lighting project or deciding on which fixture to purchase, you should seriously consider something that will provide lighting at wider angles and essentially surround you if possible.

If you are installing lighting in your bathroom, then your whole bathroom lighting project should be geared towards optimal lighting for makeup. If you start by selecting and installing the right recessed lighting, then the issue with the shadows most likely will not be much of a concern.

If you are looking to purchase a makeup lighting fixture that will sit on a table in your bedroom for example, then the selection of your fixture is critical. Most bedrooms have very poor lighting and often times there is nothing more than a few table lamps. If you purchase a fixture for applying makeup, then you will want something that is as wide as possible to eliminate these shadows.

Bathroom Vanity Lighting for Makeup

When purchasing lighting for your bathroom vanity, you should be focusing on a light fixture that will deliver the best lighting for makeup application. We just discussed the elimination of shadows by having light come from multiple directions. Below is an example of a fixture that is NOT optimal. Please do not purchase something that looks like this.

bad makeup lighting

Here are some of my recommended fixtures to provide the best lighting for makeup

GS Mirror LED Lighted Bathroom Mirror with Dimmable Touch Switch

lighted mirror

This is my top recommended fixture for your bathroom. This is really a mirror with the lighting built in. Notice from the photo that the light surrounds the entire mirror giving you light at all angles.

Check Pricing on Amazon Here

Additional specs and benefits:

  • Available in 4 sizes
  • Light temperature is an optimal 6500k which is perfect for makeup
  • You can install it horizontally or vertically
  • Touch button switch on the mirror to dim the lights
  • 1800 – 5800 lumens depending upon which size you select

In addition to delivering the light needed for applying makeup, it is versatile. You can also add a decorative light bar above this mirror. Then, just turn on these lights when you need them. That way, you end up with the best of both worlds.

Due to this versatility, this mirror/light combination is why I am recommending this as the best lighting for makeup. This should not be used as your primary light source in the bathroom. Recessed lighting in the ceiling is optimal.


Neu-Type Large LED Wall Mounted Mirror with Dimmable LED Lights and Built in Circular Magnifier

neu type mirror

I like this makeup light / mirror combo second because it comes in one size. However, the color temperature is optimal and so are the lumens. The added bonus is the built in circular magnifier which helps when you need to see up close.  Like my recommended light above, you can also install something decorative above.

Check Pricing on Amazon Here

Additional specs and benefits:

  • Available multiple sizes. The link above will take you to where you can see multiple purchase options
  • Light temperature is up to an optimal 6500k which is perfect for makeup
  • Easy installation
  • Touch button switch on the mirror to dim the lights
  • 300 – 5000 lumens depending upon which size you select and also how much you have it dimmed

Just like the first option above, you can also add a decorative light fixture above this if you like. This should not be used as your primary light source in the bathroom. Recessed lighting in the ceiling is optimal.

Ikakon Vanity LED Bathroom Fixture (3 lights)

ikakon vanity lightIf you are not a fan of the makeup light mirror options above, then this would be a very good second choice. This light fixture delivers 1100 lumens which is really good for a fixture this size. The light is also directed down at the right angle for applying makeup. Used on its own, this is perfect for a smaller bathroom.

Check Pricing on Amazon Here or this 4 light version

Additional specs and benefits:

  • Available in multiple
  • Light temperature is an optimal 5000k which is the minimum for makeup
  • 1100 lumens
  • Easy to install
  • 2 year warranty

This fixture should also be used in combination with recessed lighting. In fact, I would pair this with the recommended mirror light above. I think they would look great together and would prove to be the best lighting for makeup that you can have in your bathroom.


Bedroom Vanity Makeup Lighting

Hollywood Lighted Makeup Vanity Mirror Light for Dressing Table

hollywood lighted vanity

This is my top recommended best lighting for makeup light for your bedroom or dressing table.

Many women prefer to sit and apply their makeup and doing that in the bathroom in front of your sink is virtually impossible. This mirror light is perfect for placing on a small table in your bedroom where you like to apply your makeup What I like about it is the 36 inch width will help to surround you with light eliminating shadows.

Check Price on Amazon Here

Additional specs and benefits:

  • Sockets for 10 light bulbs
  • 36”w x 30”h x 1.6” deep
  • Includes mirror
  • Incudes power cable
  • Includes controller
  • Includes accessories pack

What I like about this choice the most is the ability to swap out the bulbs. You can install whichever bulbs you want. Most of the other fixture come with pre-set bulbs with certain kelvin temperatures and lumens. With this one, you just select the bulbs that you want for your makeup lighting.

I would get 10 5000k LED bulbs and you will have an amazing setup. Keep in mind the total lumens matter too. So, if each bulb was about 450 lumens, that would deliver the optimal light.

*One thing to consider – if you plan to keep these lights on often, then maybe choose a warmer kelvin temperature of 4000k. Otherwise, my 5000k recommendation about will clash too much with the other lights in your room.


Portable Travel Makeup Lighting

 Easehold LED Lighted Vanity Mirror – Portable Tri Fold easehold lighted vanity mirror

This is the best lighting for makeup in the travel segment and it also has gotten some of the better reviews. It is a tri fold light/mirror that can be dimmed with multiple light settings.

Check Price on Amazon Here

Additional specs and benefits:

  • Multiple mirrors for up to 3x magnification
  • Can use batteries or USB for power
  • 180 degree rotation
  • Weighs only 3 lbs

It is not easy to find small portable makeup lights that are high quality, deliver enough light and at a price that makes sense. This one hits the mark.


Table Top LED Makeup Ring Desktop Light

tabletop makeup ring

This light can be used at home at a small table and it also is portable. You can fold it up and put it in your suitcase, take it to college or anywhere else. This also comes with a mini mirror, a stand and a selfie stick to hold your phone so you can use this light for vlogs. It delivers a kelvin color of 5500k which is perfect.

Check pricing on Amazon Here

  • Additional Specs and Features:
  • Diameter of the light ring is 8 inches
  • Weighs only 2.75 lbs
  • 5500k temperature

This is a smaller light which is probably best suited for bringing with you on vacation. Although it says it can be used for video vlogging, the ring is a bit small for that.


Portable Clip/Desk Light for Makeupportable makeup lightCheck the Price on Amazon Here

Throw this in your suitcase and go on vacation. It is small enough to fit anywhere and only weighs 14 ounces. It can be powered multiple ways and recharged via USB and it is extremely bright for its size.

We are talking about inexpensive travel lights. This one is not going to be top quality but will deliver the light needed to apply your makeup while traveling.

Related Questions

White light bulbs are the best for makeup?
LED lights are the best bulbs that you can use for makeup. The consistent light they deliver plus the cooler temperatures make LED bulbs the obvious choice.

What color light is best for the bathroom?
In another article, we talked about the kelvin light temperatures. In the bathroom, a temperature of 3500 makes the most sense. However, for the lights that are being used to apply makeup such as your vanity, then you want those to be much colder at 4500k or more.

Is soft white or daylight the best lighting for makeup?
Daylight is the optimal light to use when applying makeup.

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  1. Bobbie Foster September 30, 2019
    • The Tutor October 1, 2019