Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of corporate makeup (headshots for companies websites, interviews, internal shoots etc). On these types of shoots, I am usually only given enough time to quickly improve on the makeup people are already wearing. This is not always the easiest thing to do considering how many women are wearing the wrong makeup; not only for their coloring but because they are not applying their makeup for fluorescent lighting that they’re sitting under all day!
Makeup for Fluorescent Lighting: Do’s and Dont’s for Looking Good at the Office
We are stuck inside classrooms from the time we are five years old, until we are 18+. Then, millions of people move on to work in offices. Considering a majority of most people’s lives are spent beneath fluorescent lighting, it is a shame how unflattering it really is. While candlelight may not be ideal, it certainly would make us look better.
If you work in an office or spend hours in a classroom, these next few tips are dedicated to you. Don’t worry, you can still look good, despite your unfortunate lighting circumstances.
Avoid Bright Pinks and Bright Reds
Pink and reds are enhanced much more under fluorescent lights, which have the potential to make you look clownish. You can still wear these colors, just opt for deeper shades. If you love pink blush, choose a rose colored one over a fuchsia. If red is your staple lip color, skip the fire-engine red and choose a wine colored option instead.
Warm up Your Face
Fluorescent lights cast a bluish-green hue onto the skin, which can automatically make you sickly and pale. To counter-act this, focus on warming your skin up a bit. Choose a warmer shade of foundation or blush and stay away from anything with a cool, pink base, as it will only look more pink and washed out under the lights.
Skip the Bronzer
Even though you want to warm up your face, I would avoid heavy bronzer. Fluorescent lighting enhances the orange hue within the bronzer, which can make you look like an oompa loompa. Instead, use a natural shade of blush to add warmth and life to your face.
Pick Softer Colors
When applying makeup for fluorescent lighting, it’s important to know that fluorescent lights sharpen colors, making them look darker and harsher. Black shadows and liners tend to look extremely hard and can actually make you appear older. To keep your look soft but still defined, choose a grey, dark brown or even deep green/purple liner instead.
Rethink Cool, Earthy Tones
Beiges, taupes and sandy colors should be avoided while doing your makeup for the office. When seen under fluorescent lights, they have the potential to appear muddy and dirty. Instead opt for warmer browns, peaches and rose colored shades on your lips, cheeks and eyes.
Choose Creamy Products
Fluorescent lights seem to suck the life out of your skin, and they make your complexion look dry and unhealthy. To counteract this, avoid heavy foundations and lots of powder. Try a BB cream, or use a luminous foundation formula (check out my review of Maybelline Dewy+Smooth). Use a cream blush instead of a powder one. I also recommend dabbing some clear gloss over your lipstick to make your lips look plump, and experimenting with highlighters to give your cheeks a little bit of dimension and glow.
Other Helpful Tips:
- When doing your makeup for fluorescent lighting, apply it in front of lighted mirror with a fluorescent (or “office’) setting.
- Shimmer and glitter finishes reflect strangely under fluorescents. Opt for matte, velvet and satin finishes.
- Less is always more. If you apply your makeup with a heavy hand, it will look even more cakey and thick under the lights.
- HD foundations work well under fluorescent lighting because the formulas are designed to look invisible to the naked eye. My favorite is Makeup Forever HD.
- Experiment! Not all of these tips will work for everyone. Look in the mirror and decide what’s working and what’s not.