How To Choose Salon Lighting? The Definitive Guide

Salons are one of the few commercial businesses that heavily depend on proper lighting. Contrary to popular belief, more is not always better because high-intensity lights can cause eye strain and headaches. If the lighting is too dim, it’ll cause a problem for both stylist and the customer.  So, you might get confused while trying to strike the perfect balance.

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salon lighting

To solve this dilemma, we’ve written a complete guide to help you choose the best salon lighting based on the opinions of industry experts. So, let’s get started. 

6 Basic Elements for Superb Salon Lighting 

1. Flatter, But Not Too Much

Color Temperatures 

Having the right color temperature can make or break your business. Typically, warmer color temperatures ranging from 2700K to 3000K are preferred to get the best look out of the skin tone. It gives a fiery overtone that is both relaxing and flattering. This is the advice you’ll see mostly on the internet. 

color temperature

But true experts prefer a much cooler temperature close to natural daylight ranging from 3500K to 4000K. Because you don’t want customers to get a flattering look in your salon and end up getting a hideous look in natural daylight.

Cool and natural daylight color temperatures also bring the best shades of color during makeup or hair dye. 

So remember, flatter your customer but keep it real.  Keep everything in moderation.

It would help if you did not use lights with a temperature greater than 4500K for a few reasons. First, they flatten the complexion, and second adversely affect the ambiance.

High-temperature lights have blue and green hues that are bad for your salon. It makes the place clinical while destroying the salon’s welcoming vibes. 

Blending Various Color Temperatures 

You can choose to use multiple color temperatures for the different sections of your salon. It makes things more vibrant and less monotonous. However, always use temperatures that are not too far on the spectrum. 

For example, 3500 K lights for general lighting and 4500K for task lighting are fine. But combining 2500 K lights with 5000K will create an unappealing contrast. 

2. Accurate Color Rendering 

Next, you must take care of the color rendering index (CRI). Why? Because CRI values show the ability of the light to render the object’s color accurately. A lower CRI value means the colors seem less vibrant and mostly dull. You don’t want all your hard work to end up being mundane.  

color rendering index

So, ensure you use lighting bulbs rated 90 or above for most critical works in the salon. 

Sure, they are expensive but consider it necessary if you want your business to flourish. 

Halogens and LED bulbs have higher CRI values closer to the natural sunlight, which is a perfect 100. Fluorescent and Incandescent are low quality, and we recommend replacing them for better salon lighting.  

3. Shadows are a Big NO-NO 

Most salons offer hair cutting, dyeing, and makeup services; some even have studios for glamorous photoshoots. Whatever the case, you must eliminate shadows. Shadows happen when the light source directly hits the customer’s face, leaving one side of the face bright while the other completely dark. Here are a few things you can do to remove dark spots from your salon.

  • Avoid spotlights as they focus on small areas creating shadows in the process. 
  • Don’t use recessed light as they only direct light downwards, creating sharp shadows. Instead, use a track, pendant, and surface-mounted lights for overhead lighting.
  • Track lights are your best bet. Use a light diffuser or indirect lighting for better distribution of light. 
  • Use track lights but don’t place them directly above the customer’s chair. 
  • Never put the lighting fixture above cabinets or shelves, as it obstructs light.
  • If your interior has bricks or a dark color theme, it’s best to go with a cooler temperature (i.e., 4500 K to 5000K) as they absorb light. It will balance out the dark color. 
  • If you have a modern steel look, it’s better to go for a warmer color temperature from 3500K to 4000K. 

These tips will help you remove shadows and dark spots. We’ve discussed the placement of the lights in a later section. 

4. Clutter-free Workstation 

Lighting alongside the mirror of a workstation works great for illumination. It helps the employees see the minor details of the face and hair and removes any shadows. Vanity lights are a popular example of such lighting. 

So, it’s only practical to remove any clutter from the workstation that can obstruct the light. Use cabinets or drawers for hair and makeup tools. You must make the whole experience about the customer alone. 

5. Separate Lighting for Different Sections

Having separate lighting for different sections lets you be creative and boosts the customers’ interest. It’s also more practical. Here’s how. 

Reception and Waiting Area 

Use cooler color temperature and bright lights at the reception. It makes the receptionist more alert and will help him cater the appointments and finances more efficiently. On the contrary, waiting areas can have a lower color temperature, so the customers feel right at home. There is also no need for very high CRI-rated bulbs in this place. 

Hair Cutting and Makeup Workstation

You need task lights and overhead lights with warmer temperatures in hair-cutting areas. Ideally, go for 3500 K to 4000K. 

It’s warm enough for skin tone to look even and makeup glamorous. But not so low that makeup turns out to be completely different in natural daylight. Also, ensure high CRI (85 to 90) rated bulbs are installed in this area. 

led lighting for salon

Shampooing and Hair Dyeing

Since this area mostly deals with colors, your best option is 4500K color temperature with a CRI value greater than 90. With the right lighting design, your customers will feel satisfied, and you’ll get repeat business. 

Retail Stands 

You can use spotlights in this area to showcase new products. The purpose is to draw customers and generate sales. You are free to use warmer color temperatures.

6. Use Cost-effective Lighting 

Salons have tons of bright lights, so you must spend a lot on electricity bills and maintenance work. However, by using modern LED lights, you can save a lot of money because they consume 80% less energy compared to old fixtures. 

Lighting Requirement for a Salon in Three Easy Steps

Calculating the lighting amount can help you make better decisions about the number of fixtures and power required for the salon. 

Typically, lighting is measured in footcandles, lumens, and lux. You’ll find these ratings on the packing of every lamp. These units tell how bright the light is. If you want to learn more, go through this detailed guide we wrote on lighting units. Click here

Here’s an easy way to know the lighting requirement for the salon. 


Measure the area of your shop by multiplying the length and width of the place. You can also measure the specific area within the salon if you want distinct lighting for that place. 

Example: A 12 by 8 ft hair-cutting station has an area of 96 sq. ft.

Step. 2

Multiply the area you calculated with the lumens required for each section in the following table. 

01 footcandle (fc) = 01 lumen per square foot = 10.76 lux

Salon Arealumens per sq. ft lux 
General Area 50500
Waiting Area50500
Hair stylist workstation100-1501000-1600
Make-up 1001076
Hair dyeing station 1001000
Nail art, manicures, pedicures, etc.45-65400-700
Recommended lighting for a salon

To get the lighting requirement for the hair-cutting station area calculated in the previous step, multiply it by the value given in the table, i.e., 96 sq. ft by 100 lm per sq. ft. So you need at least 9600 lumens for your work area. 


The next step is to find the number of fixtures. So divide the total lumens, which in our case is 9600, by the lumen rating of the lamp. Suppose you use track lights with a lumen rating of 1500. The number of track fixtures you require would be (9600/1500) 6 or 7.

Natural Light 

Natural lighting is always better than artificial lighting, so make sure you add big windows to have plenty of light during the day. 

Proper Placement 

Never install lights directly above the client’s seat because they will cast shadows. The best practice is to install lights two feet away from the workstation pointed to the wall or mirror. That way, you’ll get nice diffuse and indirect lighting. 

Types Of Lights That Will Help Grow Your Salon Business 

Lighting Technologies

Lights have continuously evolved in the last few decades. Traditionally, fluorescent and incandescent lamps were quite popular because they were inexpensive. However, the quality of the light was subpar. Halogen bulbs were a better option with ideal color temperature and color rendering ability. But they were inefficient and produced a lot of heat.

Nowadays, light emitting diode (LEDs) luminaires are the best option due to their cost-effective, energy-efficient, and high color rendering abilities. Modern salons are shifting to LED technology every day.  Here are some salon lighting ideas for you to choose from.

Ambient Lighting 

Ambient lighting fixtures are any illumination that sets the mood and vibe of the place. Ambient lights are critical to creating a feel-good effect for your customers. 

ambient lighting for the salon

Indirect Lighting

Indirect wall lighting means the light beam bounces off a surface like a ceiling or a wall, which lights up the place. It’s perfect for diffusing the light and creating a serene light wash. Moreover, indirect lighting is perfect for eliminating shadows. 

Task Lights 

Task or track lights are the must-haves of any salon. It gives off directional lighting, which is critical for hair styling, makeup, dyeing, or beauty therapy. Furthermore, you can adjust the angle whichever way you like giving you tons of flexibility.  

Vanity Lights

Vanity lights are warm temperature lights resembling halogens placed alongside the workstation mirror. It adds glamor and flatters the client. Fashion models popularly use them. 

Smart Lights 

LED light bulbs are the only luminaire that offers smart and intelligent lighting systems controlled by Wi-Fi. You can use your smartphone to choose from thousands of colors, temperatures, and dimming settings. Perfect for modern salon lighting. 

Final Thoughts 

Choosing the proper salon lighting can be a troublesome task, but by going through the above steps, you’ll find it easy and enjoyable. We started with critical elements necessary for perfect lighting and then moved on to calculating the minimum lighting requirement for your place and where to place them. You also got to know the perfect color temperatures and design techniques for various salon sections.

By implementing the steps, we’ve discussed above. You can design the perfect lighting for your salon. 

RC Lighting is Your One-Stop Shop for Salon Lighting 

Salon lighting is different from other commercial projects because quality is critical here. High-quality lamps render color efficiently and are built to last long. RC lighting caters to market needs by producing LED luminaires with premium raw materials. 

Our manufacturing occurs in a high-tech industry and is supervised by leading experts. So that you get LED light fixtures that comply with international standards. Despite this, our prices are market competitive.

RC lighting has a massive product catalog for you, such as vanity, track, surface-mounted, and pendant lights. Our creative team also makes sure that you get the latest design trends. 

We also provide customized orders that suit your business needs. So, get a free evaluation of your project by contacting US NOW! 

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