Take a Good Look in the Makeup Mirror: The Best Lighting for Applying Makeup

We’ve all been there. You complete every step of your skincare routine, prime, prep and meticulously apply your makeup, then step out feeling fresh-faced and confident. Suddenly, you catch a glimpse of yourself and see something completely different. But it’s not your makeup skills that are to blame; it’s the lighting! Applying makeup in overly harsh lighting can lead you to overdo it, while pink hues might make you miss a spot.

Luckily, it’s easy to avoid bad makeup lighting when you know what to avoid. And since most of us aren’t in the market to completely replace our bathroom light fixtures, we’ve also found some simple tips and makeup mirrors with lights that can make a huge difference.

Makeup Mistakes to Avoid

Applying Makeup with Overhead Light

Standing directly underneath your light source will cast all kinds of shadows, bringing out wrinkles, dark circles and uneven pigment. You might find yourself reaching for concealer or foundation to correct the shadows, which can end up looking cakey and overdone. For the best results, stand directly in front of your light source.

Applying Makeup in Fluorescent Light

Anyone who’s ever worked in an office building, visited an airport restroom or spent time in front of a department store mirror can agree: fluorescent lighting is the ultimate enemy of looking and feeling great. It’s harsh, bright and completely unforgiving. When imperfections suddenly seem so glaring, it’s easy to pile on too much foundation, blush and bronzer. Avoid applying your makeup in fluorescent lighting, or at the very least, be aware of its effect so you don’t overcorrect!

Applying Makeup in Yellow Light

While it’s the opposite of cold fluorescent lighting, overly warm light can actually have a similar effect. Yellow lighting has a tendency to make your skin look sallow and sick, leading you to go overboard with concealer in an attempt to brighten it up. Dark spots might also seem darker than they really are in yellow lighting conditions. So, those trendy Edison bulbs you’ve been eyeing? They’re great for warming up a living room, but keep them away from your makeup mirror!

Applying Makeup in Pink Light

It’s great to see the world through rose-colored glasses from time to time, but at some point we have to come back to reality! The same can be said for rose-colored lighting. This ultra-flattering light warms up your complexion, making your face appear vibrant and healthy. If you apply makeup in this kind of lighting, you might skip over a blemish or dark spot that becomes visible as soon as you step outside. It’s best to choose lighting that makes your skin look as true-to-life as possible. In the meantime, we’ll be petitioning for rose-colored lighting in all public places!

Upgrade Your Makeup Lighting

Head for Natural Light to Best Apply Makeup

Natural light is the holy grail for makeup application. If you’re lucky enough to have large windows nearby, move your makeup and mirror right in front of it. Set yourself up like you’re looking out the window, to make sure the light shines straight on and not from one side. Enjoy the view!

Install Warm White Light at Eye Level

If natural light isn’t an option, warm white light is the next best thing for applying makeup. Look for bulbs labeled “soft white” in 75 or 100 watts. But remember to avoid overhead lighting and don’t just place them above the mirror! If possible, install lights on either side of your makeup mirror, creating a wash of light that reaches evenly across your whole face.

Check Out Our Lighted Makeup Mirrors

One of the simplest and most effective ways to get professional-level makeup lighting is with a specially designed mirror. Our Riki Skinny Lighted Makeup Mirror and Riki Cutie Lighted Makeup Mirror, both by makeup lighting legends Glamcor, feature warm, white light that creates the perfect lighting for applying makeup.

LimeLife by Alcone’s Riki Skinny Lighted Mirror by Glamcor

Our lighted makeup mirror has an adjustable stand and five different light settings which makes the Riki Skinny perfect for everyday makeup, but a whole suite of forward-thinking features like a 3x magnifying mirror, phone attachment and Bluetooth capabilities have made it a cult favorite! Attach your phone directly to the mirror to snap selfies or post makeup tutorials.  This makeup mirror even has perfectly placed buttons that will ensure your arm stays out of the picture.

For on-the-go touch-ups, the Riki Cutie packs the same high-quality lighting into a travel-friendly package. Slip the ultra-lightweight mirror out of its carrying sleeve, pop out the retractable finger ring and choose from three light settings. The shatterproof mirror and rechargeable battery make it ideal for tossing in your bag and taking it on the go!

LimeLife by Alcone’s Riki Cutie Lighted Mirror by Glamcor with accessories


Do you have to deal with less-than-ideal lighting when putting on your makeup? Maybe it’s a window-free bathroom or an apartment full of fluorescent fixtures. Let us know about your favorite tricks and workarounds!

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