The Key to Flawless Makeup is All in the Lighting

Posted by Jack Zhang on

The application of makeup can be a strenuous process. As a model, learning the fundamentals of makeup have been imperative from the start; though only through trial and error did I manage to understand that flawless application heavily depends on the lighting we use! After many years of said trial and error (both in professional photo shoots and in selfies), I’ve found that the ultimate key is the lighting — that is, bright, white lighting.


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I’ve paired with the ELA bulb to illustrate the importance of white light, and how it aids in the meticulous, time-consuming process we call makeup application. (Sorry, orange light fans.)

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For best results, I suggest the use of a bathroom vanity, mounted at eye level and evenly spaced or in the shape of a portrait canvas. Replace any incandescent bulbs with your Lumenari ELA lights set to white and ready to use. Be sure to not set the brightness up way too high, though. It is common that most of us place our lights on full brightness attributing it to the inability to see clearly. Excessive light can actually make it more difficult to see any of the colors you’ve placed on your face and may end up with more makeup on your face than necessary.


If you’re a planner like me, you’d be interested in the type of makeup to apply depending on the situation. Here are some of my tips from the experiences I’ve had combating the right looks in various locations, and how light either makes or breaks our presentation.


(Saya’s Tip): Overhead lighting illuminates the upper portion of the face more brightly, making it appear as though you have wrinkles or dark shadows under your eyes. This can give you an aged appearance. The lighting really makes all the difference in how you see yourself in the mirror.

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Work and Office:

Often times, offices are lit with harsh, ugly fluorescent lighting. Eyebags become prominent and teeth can look yellower than they are. Because of its cool tones, office lighting often contains blue, although making it easier to focus and geared towards increased productivity, these colors look very vivid in photos. In your beauty situation, it is best to apply natural colors such as taupe or brown on your lids. Neutral, soft tones are the way to go.

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Patio brunch:

This situation is ideal because you’re probably going to be surrounded by natural light—perfect for Portrait Mode! Equipped with our mimosas, this means you can wear minimal makeup and softer colors and still look effortlessly glamorous. A little bit of mascara, your favorite lipstick, and some highlighter (aided wonderfully by the natural light!) is all you’ll need.

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Evening endeavors:

Dimly lit restaurants usually leave a vibe of romance in the air. But for makeup, the same ardor doesn’t apply. Makeup is best with bold, heavily contrasting colors. If the color is too pale or neutral, it could give you the washed out appearance. The smoky eye look is always my go-to in preparation for nice dinners with my partner.

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Camera flash:

Last but not least, we have the camera flash kind of night. This is the hardest situation to get right and easily boils down to the method in which you apply your makeup, and the backbone of why white lighting is imperative, especially when your snaps happen in the later hours of the night.

The horror of going through your photo album from the night before and seeing your face in all pictures looking ghost pale is a gut-wrenching feeling I’m sure we’re all too familiar with. In the makeup world, it even has its own name: the makeup flashback. It’s important to remember that this is not always the camera’s fault and can easily be combated by your method of application. Here are some of my tips to try and avoid that:

  • Ditch your bedroom lights and switch on ELA. As mentioned before, white is the best color option to examine your complexion in the most objective way.
  • Pick the right shade. Even if your foundation is just slightly lighter than the shade of your neck, this contrast may be more overstated in flash photography. Find a color that fits like a glove and says goodbye to looking lifeless.
  • Try to select a foundation with no SPF. SPF reflects light, causing the face to appear much lighter than the rest of the body (leave your SPF foundation for the daytime)!
  • Instead of the unwanted light from most SPF foundations, use contouring, blush, and highlighters with tact. Bronzer deepens contrasting colors on your face, emphasizing your best angles, and blush brings back the color of youth and healthiness into your complexion after your foundation has set.
  • Set your makeup with colored setting powder and avoid plain white or colorless powder.


After I’ve completed my makeup under white light, I usually play around a bit with the color settings to see how my makeup changes depending on the lighting. It nice to be able to get a glimpse of how my pictures will turn out in photographs. ELA lights make this incredibly easy to accomplish. Your own home will become the makeup and photography studio you’ve always wanted.


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