LED vs Incandescent vs Fluorescent: Which Type of Lighting is Best for Makeup?

LED vs Incandescent vs Fluorescent: Which Type of Lighting is Best for Makeup?You spend a lot of time applying makeup to ensure that you have a flawless look when you step outside of the house. Everything looks perfect, but once the sun hits it or you go under a different source of light, your makeup may look completely different.

It’s not that you applied your makeup wrong.

Chances are, you just applied your makeup under the wrong lighting type.

Which type of lighting is best for makeup?

LED Lighting is the King of Longevity

White LED bulbs are the best of the best when applying makeup. Cost efficient, these bulbs last longer and will save you a ton of money over the lifetime of your bulbs. Keep in mind that LED is more expensive than other lighting options.

So, you’ll pay double the price for LED lighted mirrors as you would incandescent or fluorescent.

But, the bulbs last 40 times longer than incandescent and 6 times longer than fluorescent. Economically, these are the best bulbs for mirror lighting you can purchase.

LED has come a long way in recent years, and this form of light provides a much better color-rendering index than it once did. If you plan on going out in the sun, LED lighting provides a good mimicking effect compared to the sun.

When natural light isn’t present, the LED light will mimic the light the best.

And a lot of the mirrors that contain LED lights will contain magnifying options, which allows the user to zoom in on their face for an upfront view of their makeup application skills.

Incandescent Lighting is Most Flattering

Incandescent mirrors get a bad name because the technology is outdated. These bulbs gobble up energy, and they have a much shorter lifespan than any other bulb on the market. But the color spectrum of the incandescent light allows for a very flattering look.

When applying the following, this light works well:

  • Bronzer
  • Powder

Since this form of lighting produces a warm golden color, it works very effectively when applying bronzer or powder to the skin. A trick that many makeup professionals don’t know is that the Incandescent has a color rendering index, or CRI.

This number isn’t placed on the bulb’s box for no reason.

When you want a light similar to natural light, you’ll want to look for a bulb with a CRI number that is 90 or higher.

There’s also a lot of people that tend to place this light to the side or behind their face. No. Just don’t.

Lighting needs to be shined from the front so that the proper lighting is achieved. If you don’t have Incandescent light shining from the front, you’ll be sad to realize that your makeup looks horrible when you look at it in any other light source.

Fluorescent Light is the Most Unflattering

Fluorescent lighting is the most unflattering of them all. When a person is seen under this lighting, they’ll look horrible. Why? It magnifies flaws and really highlights the mistakes you made when applying your makeup.

Even cool white fluorescent light is ultra-unflattering.


The light causes you to overdo everything, including:

  • Blush
  • Bronzer
  • Foundation

And when you apply your makeup, you’ll wind up with a lack of facial color because you’ll try to overcompensate with more application.

Natural sunlight is best when applying makeup, but when natural sunlight isn’t available, the next best thing is an LED light.

A few tips that will help you choose the best makeup and ensure the best lighting are:

  • Buy makeup under the right light. Department stores are not a great place to buy makeup because they have fluorescent lighting. Choose to walk near an open window or go to an area where LED lighting is present to view the makeup.
  • Buy the right bulb. The right wattage is a must, and this means a wattage between 75 and 100. A 100 watt bulb is great, and this allows you to see all those little imperfections that somehow hide away under other forms of light.
  • Invest in a makeup mirror. Can’t find just the right light? A makeup mirror can help. These mirrors allow for ample light from all angles and will become a must-have in any professional makeup artist’s toolkit. The good news is most people will find these mirrors to be affordable, too.
  • Install light dimmers. If you’re really serious about your lighting, you can install light dimmers to view your makeup under an array of lighting situations. The light dimmer idea is an expensive one if you’re not a handyman or handywoman, but it’s great when trying to judge how you look under different lights.

If you keep these tips in mind and choose any lighting aside from fluorescent, you’ll be on the right path to applying makeup like a professional. And if you have a handheld mirror, you can apply your makeup in the best light of all: natural light.

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