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Lighting the looks – illumination in beauty salons

01.10.2015 /  Uncategorized

There is much more than just the quality and price of a beauty service that makes our clients walk into one salon and not the other. The atmosphere and interior of a parlour can have much more power over the choices of your customers than you might think.

Surprisingly, the most influential element of a salon interior is not the wall finishes, furniture or flower arrangements. All efforts and investments to these can be futile under low-quality illumination. Here’s why it is important to pay attention to the lighting design in a beauty salon, whether it is a high-end parlour or a small home enterprise.


Lighting in a beauty salon has three main tasks:

It allows the beautician to see what they are doing.

Working in poorly lit conditions is a struggle, and nothing is more unprofessional than spending time on re-adjusting the lighting when full attention should be focused on the client. Having sufficient light in the right places can both speed up the workflow and reduce stress levels. Not having to precisely position your client under scarce illumination or constantly look for your tools in the shadows can turn the working day into a much brighter experience.

It creates the scene where the clients evaluate the procedure results.

Whether it is a new hairstyle, makeup or manicure they are getting, the results can look radically different under new illumination conditions. And of course the client will base their approval of the work on the first impression. Even the healthiest skin will look fatigued when the lighting colour is off. Even the shiniest hair colour will seem murky under poor lighting. Nobody will trust the results to look better in another interior if the impression is miserable already inside the salon.

A pleasant atmosphere is highly dependent on illumination

Comfort and relaxation are integral components of the beauty industry and lighting is a vital element in making the clients feel welcome. It is an efficient tool in all service industries to affect the behaviour of the guests. With great power to influence the mind, appropriately designed illumination can invite your guests in or keep them out; convince them to stay or rush them to leave; have them relax or keep them alert. Whether the salon strategy is to offer a slow relaxation experience or a fast-paced service, lighting is a major component in establishing the appropriate atmosphere.


What kind of lighting makes us look good?

The most common way that we perceive a human body beautiful is based on what we think is natural. We may find extreme designs and fashionable quirks interesting and intriguing for special occasions, but most of the time we will still want to leave an impression of natural beauty.

Our brains are programmed to sense sunlight as the most natural source of illumination. Electrical lighting has been around for only a little over a century, so for most of the history, humankind has had to do away with sunlight and open flames to light up their environments. Although we have already gotten used to extremely artificial illumination sources such as glowing dancefloors and neon signage, sun and fire are still the main lighting concepts that we find most appropriate.


Most interior lighting aims to simulate different aspects of sunlight. We put spotlights into our ceilings to simulate daylight shining through. We put diffusing shades on our wall sconces to reconstruct a sunset through a cloudy sky. We hang chandeliers to create our own small sun under our ceiling.

In short: we sense natural daytime illumination coming from above, at a slight angle. We perceive direct lighting and strong shadows as sunny daytime, and scattered lighting and soft shadows as cloudy, overcast afternoons. Depending on the mood and atmosphere we want to create, a mix of appropriate lighting elements will help us manipulate the perceived climate of our interior.

The beauty of a setting sun, often called “the golden hour” is one of the favourite illumination conditions for film-makers and photographers. The romantic fairness that a sunset casts upon the world is a great trick to use in the beauty industry. Illuminating your models with warm-toned horizontal light is the aim of Hollywood-style vanity mirrors with diffuse lighting aligned on both sides, as well as circle-shaped beauty dish speedlights widely used in fashion photography. The low lighting angle washes out all wrinkles and small shadows; the diffuser reduces irregularities of the skin; and the warm tone enhances and underlines the skin tone to look more fresh and young.


Fire has been a helpful asset for humans from the very early history of homo sapiens. Besides other useful features of an open flame, it has been an alternative source of lighting after the sun went down. Campfires and torches usually cast warm light from a low angle. We associate this kind of illumination with the night-time peace and quiet, homely comfort and safety. Low-level diffuse lighting is ideal for creating peace and comfort for relaxation. Perfect for meditative treatments such as massage and aroma therapy,

How do I make it better?

Depending on the atmosphere that should be created, the lighting industry can offer a wide range of products for all types of illumination. Instead of choosing individual luminaires, try to see the bigger picture. What is the atmosphere you want to create for your clients? What are the tasks and activities that you need to illuminate? It is always a good idea to ask for advice, as most companies can offer consultation services. Discussing your salon lighting with a specialist such as Neue will allow you to understand your needs and possibilities, and achieve an optimal result that will meet both your requirements and budget.

Neue is a lighting design and supply firm passionate about helping people better understand lighting and rethink how lighting can and should work within their space.