Ring Lights, Good Lights?

A Ring light is great for photography, including photographing your artistry, but may not be ready to stand up to all the obstacles a working artist faces. Let’s talk a little about the advantages of ring lights, the disadvantages, and why you might want to consider a different light for your artistry.

ring lightThe biggest thing people love about ring lights is their ability to produce flattering photos and videos when you view a subject through the ring. These lights produce shadowless facial features that flatten the face, diminishing definition. In other words, you lose the details, the personal qualities of the individual in your finished photo.

While this might be attractive for Instagram, it isn’t practical for makeup application or emphasizing the defining features of a subject.

Yes, professional studio photography sometimes uses ring rights. However, strobe ring lights are rarely used for shadowless facial features. Studio ring lights are traditionally used for the unbroken shadow (or, ring) cast on the subject’s nearby background. Most non-strobe LED ring lights don’t put out enough light to achieve this effect.

You might want to consider a different light for makeup application.

Why?  A Ring light simply isn’t built for that. If you are going to keep your ring light in a single location, not move it, and use it for photography, it may be great for your work. But, if you need to travel, want something easy-to-move, and need to be able to see the details of your makeup work, it’s time to consider a different light.

Here are a few problems you might find with a ring light.

  • Bulky. Ring lights are often large and not very mobile. Some are as big as your whole kit bag, which means you need an extra set of wheels just for your light.
  • Flimsy. Most ring lights are plastic, which means that the inevitable trip over the stand legs could knock it down and easily break your light.
  • Limited. Ring lights rarely work without a stand. Without a variety of mounting options, you have to carry the stand with you wherever you go.
  • Slow. Most ring lights come with four clip-on diffusion and orange panels which means you have longer set up times.

The ring light shape, make, and size aren’t your only obstacles to overcome for makeup application and styling. You also need to address the potential issues with the quality of  light that a ringlight produces.

  • Harsh. There are hundreds of individual LED light bulbs facing your talent. Even diffused, this can be really harsh on the eyes and hard to endure over time.
  • Inaccurate. Ring lights don’t have the right specs for makeup lighting. For example, the most popular brand on Amazon, Neewer, has a CRI of 83 and color temperature of 5500K.

Translation? The CRI is only 83 out of 100 for accuracy to natural light and at 5500K, the light pulls bluer than the ideal for makeup.

the makeup light tmlMichael Astalos created The Makeup Light and LED light panels such as the Key Light—to give artists a light that meets their needs for flawless application. A light that is light-weight yet strong, versatile, easy-to-transport, true color, and perfectly balanced to display crisp details working artists need.

Here are a few of the real pros of owning a light from TML:


  • Compact. This light kit is great for travel and packs well! Two Key Lights and two sets of every mount PLUS two sets of power cords and adapters fits easily into a Pro / Master Bag with room to spare.
  • Tough. TML LED light panels are field-tested, including running them over with cars (no, not kidding) to be sure they can stand up to whatever could happen on a job. Secure mounts and stands help keep your light sturdy.
  • Versatile. Both Key Lights and Eyelights can be mounted in a variety of ways. Yes, the stand is always an option, but TML’s series of mounts means these lights can be mounted on glass, clamped to countertops, and more!
  • Speedy. Set-up and take-down are a breeze. TML LED panels don’t need a cool-down time before you can pack up. Also, the Quick Release makes set-up and take-down a literal snap!
  • Gentle. TML lights are soft, but still crisp. That way, the lights are never hard on the eyes of the subject or the artist, but you can see contours of the face and never miss the details.

These are lights that were specifically designed for makeup application.

TML StrongBottom Line: The Makeup Light’s Key Light and Eyelight are designed for lighting makeup application. Photography and videos are great with them, too! These LED panels are built tough, easy to pack, and give you nearly infinite mounting possibilities.

It is nearly impossible to not have incredible lighting with a Key Light or Eyelight! Unless, of course, you forget to bring them.

Don’t worry. Once you see the difference, you'll never forget!