Management Practices

Six Things You Need to Know About Salon Lighting

Michele Pelafas | August 16, 2017 | 12:03 PM
Warmer temperature bulbs are both flattering to the complexion and to the interior.
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Utilize bulbs that have a high Color Rendering Index (CRI) of 86 or higher.
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Lighting on either side of the mirror eliminates shadows on the face and is flattering on the complexion.
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Use LED lighting for long term cost savings.
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Effective lighting is dependent upon the ceiling height and type.  There is always a solution when you enlist an expert.
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When it comes to salon design, the appropriate lighting is one of the most critical design factors and it can impact how your clients feel about your services and your salon. With this helpful blog, Salon Designer Michele Pelafas offers some valuable guidance when it comes to selecting your lighting:

Salon Lighting Should Flatter the Complexion and Compliment the Interior
Bulbs come in a variety of temperatures ranging from very warm to cool. A warm temperature bulb (2,700 to 3,500 Kelvin temperature) is the most flattering on the complexion and compliments most salon interiors. Cool temperatures (4,800 Kelvin temperature) can equate to daylight (a sunny afternoon) and is typically not the most flattering temperature (think about being out in broad daylight and how your skin looks in the sun). Daylight/cool temperature bulbs will grey-out warm interiors as well as wash-out guests.

Salon Lighting Should Accurately Render Color
Have you ever heard stories about guests receiving hair color only to walk outside and the color appears differently? The simple solution is to utilize bulbs in the space that accurately renders color. How well a bulb accurately renders color is determined by the bulb's Color Rendering Index which represents the quality of light and its faithfulness to render colors. Always request bulbs that have a Color Rendering Index (CRI) of 86 or higher.

Salon Lighting Should be positioned to Eliminate Shadows
How a guest looks in the salon chair is paramount in the salon environment. If a guest feels good about their appearance, it reinforces a positive experience for repeat business and increased revenues. The easiest way to help eliminate shadows on the face is to position lighting at the mirror on either side to directly light the complexion. This too should be a flattering temperature bulb (2,700 to 3,500 Kelvin). Spotty lighting above, such as track fixtures, will also create shadows. In this type of application, wall lighting on the face is even more important.

Invest in Energy-Efficient Bulbs for Long-Term Savings
Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs have revolutionized energy efficient lighting. When possible, request salon light fixtures that support these types of lamps. With a wide variety of color temperatures and high Color Rendering Index options, these bulbs are ideal for the salon environment. Although these lamps are typically higher in cost to purchase, the investment is worth it as these lamps have long life, use less energy, save on maintenance and replacement costs and provide long term savings.

Overhead Task Lighting and General Illumination
Overhead fixtures provide you with general lighting to perform tasks as well as light the overall space. If the overhead lighting is properly designed, this will provide enough lighting to perform all of the required tasks for hair styling and color application. Separate "task lighting" is not required if the overhead lighting is properly configured. Proper overhead lighting will vary from space to space and is dependent upon the ceiling height and type (open, grid, etc) as well as how dark or light the space is. A lighting designer who understands the intricacies of salon lighting can help.

Quality Lighting Counts
As in anything, quality matters. LED and florescent bulbs, while a wonderful source of general lighting, can be flat. There are thousands of sources for LED lighting and for as many quality options on the market there are just as many poor ones. Look for LED bulbs that replicate Halogen bulbs, have a high CRI (Color Rendering Index) and have high quality optics that bring just enough sparkle to the space to show the depth, dimension & shine to the fabulous hair that you produce.

Remember, the best lighting for your salon combines a variety of lighting to suit its particular purpose. While you do not have to be an expert here, the idea is to be able to effectively communicate the basics so that you can explore all of your lighting options to fit your budget and ensure a successful result.

Michele Pelafas is a respected and distinguished designer and entrepreneur well-known for her inspiring furniture collections and interior design projects found in hundreds of spas, salons, hospitality and residences across the US and abroad. She is the founder of Michele Pelafas Design and you can follow her regular blog at or contact the company at 866-990-7750.

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