What is the Best Lighting to Put on Makeup?

It has happened to the best of us. We double-check our perfectly applied makeup before leaving the house. It’s smooth, seamless, and most definitely the right shade. One hour later, an entirely different look stares back at us. Whether it’s the harsh reality of the rearview mirror or the office fluorescents, in a different environment, the blending we did that morning appears to have been futile. What is going so drastically wrong in the space of an hour? When the day’s activities aren’t to blame and you know how to apply your makeup, it’s time to assess your makeup lighting. 

woman looking into mirror

What is the best lighting to put on makeup? Once you know the answer to this, the variation between the face you see in the safety of your own home and the one displayed out and about will be no more. You can walk confidently into the office bathroom without a flinch. Keep reading to discover the lighting to avoid and the one that is best for putting on makeup. 

Lighting mistakes to avoid 

Let’s begin with the lighting mistakes to avoid, which unfortunately includes the lighting we love the most. We understand that turning on a blinding ring light first thing in the morning isn’t ideal, but that soothing, orange glow from a salt lamp won’t do. As flattering as it may be, soft, moody lighting is a catfish of sorts. According to makeup artist expert Melanie Barrese, “lighting is everything when it comes to makeup, and that’s whether you’re doing makeup on a shoot or in your bathroom. More than anything, you need to ensure the lighting a slightly warm, white light, but more importantly, it’s directed at your face, as opposed to overhead, this will allow you to clearly see your face.” 

In other words, keep the soft lighting for after you’re glammed up. 

The next big mistake is using natural light at an angle for makeup application. For example, sitting with your back to a window or beside one which is only highlighting a part of your face. Make sure you face the light. We don’t want to stare directly into the sun, but angle yourself towards the window where the light comes in so your face is lit evenly and no shadows are casted. This means when buffing and blending with a foundation brush, you’ll be less likely to leave any gaps. 


Should I use natural light for makeup application? 

Now that we have established how to use natural light for makeup application, you might be wondering should I use natural light for makeup application? 

The answer is yes. Facing a window in day-light will give you the best lighting for makeup application, even if it’s grey skies. If you nail your makeup in daylight, you won’t get any frights throughout the day, whatever changes in lighting you may encounter.  

During those winter months, natural light can be hard to come by. On dark mornings, do your skin, mascara and even lips, but the leave blusher, bronzer and eyeshadow until you have daylight, so for example when you get to work.  

makeup fix up tip

The great thing about the Illamasqua Color Correcting Bronzer Glint is that it is a buildable powder that contains both cool and warm shades. It can be easily blended with the color correcting pigment, making it perfect for filling in any gaps you may have missed. It also allows you to make touch-ups in specific areas without adding an extra layer onto makeup that’s already there, which can cause a cakey look. The long-lasting formula can help to achieve that velvety, seamless glow in the harshest of lights. 


What is the best bathroom lighting for makeup application? 

On the days when daylight simply isn’t an option, you may need a backup. Enter: the bathroom lighting. 

When choosing your bathroom’s bulbs, watch out for the its Color Rendering Index, or CRI, in order to get the best lighting to put on makeup. The Lightbulb Co. UK explains that a CRI score of “100 indicates that the light is showing colors as they would appear in natural daylight.”  

According to StyleCaster, the bulb wattage to go for is 75-100 which gives a warm white. This shade of bulb gives the best bathroom lighting for makeup application. It’s not too bright that it will wash you out, causing you to perhaps go a little overboard on bronzing. At the same time, it’s not too glowy, providing you with an unrealistic expectation of what you should look like to the outside world.  

woman wearing foundation looking at herself in mirror

Having said this, there are two makeup bag essentials that you can rely on in bad lighting. Firstly, a foundation that matches your skin tone and secondly, a translucent powder, as you don’t need to worry about over-applying. 

Do I need a light up makeup mirror? 

A light up makeup mirror is also a handy option, as most are transportable. This means that you have the best of both worlds as you can move them towards the window on bright days. Choose one which has LED lights, as their illumination is very similar to the sun’s. You also don’t have to worry about the shadows caused by downlights as light up makeup mirrors will give direct illumination to the face. 

Now that you know the best lighting to put on makeup, there’s no excuses for lines and gaps! If you’re looking for the right shade, take a look at the Illamasqua Shade Finder to eliminate that face-neck contrast. 


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Josie Wilkins

Josie Wilkins

Writer and expert

Josie is an Online Beauty Editor with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. Her passions involve all things skincare and beauty and in her free time she likes to travel, read and get her beauty sleep.