Lighting Tips

Planning the lighting your salon can be broken down to a few simple rules for different areas of your salon. To plan proper lighting, you must understand three terms, kelvin, lux and lumens. It’s easy. Kelvin is the ‘color temperature’ of light. A low number like 2700K is yellowish-red, which is like the standard light bulb we grew up with. A high number like 5000K is bluish light, like you see in an office building.

Visual explanation of Kelvin color scale

Your Client’s Hair

Make sure you use 3500 Kelvin lights to light your client’s hair. LED lights are far better than other lights because its spectral power closely mimics the sun’s. An hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset, the light outside is about 3500K – this is the considered the golden hour for photography, due to the perfect color temperature of the light.

Your Client’s Face

2700-3000K is ideal for lighting your client’s face. Their complexion will look like they have a slight tan. 3000K is preferred. Higher Kelvin light is not flattering for the skin.

Lumens and lux refer to the amount of light.

  • Lumens is the amount of light emitted from a light source.
  • Lux is the amount of light hitting a surface.

Plan your salon lighting to have:

  • 50 lumens per square foot for overall lighting.
  • 100 to 150 lumens per square foot for your cutting station.
  • 500 lux for your overall light.
  • 1000 to 1500 lux for your cutting station.

To achieve this, a simple method is used to calculate your lighting requirements in lumens (see below). To calculate the lighting needed for the overall lighting for your salon, determine the total square footage of your space. Then multiply that by 50 lumens per sq foot to get the total lumens needed. Bulbs will specify how many lumens each bulb has. Get enough bulbs to total that many lumens. For example:

  • If your salon is 25 feet wide by 40 feet long, you have 1000 square feet of space to light up. (25 x 40 = 1000)
  • Then multiple 1,000 sq ft by 50 lumens per sq ft to determine how many lumens your salon will need for overall lighting.
  • 1,000 x 50 = 50,000 lumens.
  • For 1000 lumen bulbs, you will need 50 bulbs. For 1500 lumen bulbs, you will need 33 bulbs.
  • As a rule of thumb, 50 lumens would give you approximately 500 lux of light per sq ft.

Your cutting station should need a lot more light, (100 to 150 lumens per sq foot; 1000 – 1500 lux).

  • A typical cutting station is about 5 feet by 5 feet. That is 25 square feet.
  • You would need 2,500 lumens (25 sq ft x 100 lumens per sq ft) above each cutting station.

Remember that the further away your lights are, the more the light spreads out. Typically

  • your overall lights are high up and
  • your cutting station lights are low.

If you have dark walls, you should add a little more light because the dark walls will absorb light rather than reflect it. Wall color is also an important consideration in a salon because if your walls were, let’s say, red, your reflected light off the walls would be giving unwanted red tones. Remember every light you buy will tell you how many lumens it is and most will tell you the kelvins.

LIGHTING CHEAT SHEET

  • Kelvin is the ‘color temperature’
  • Use 3500 Kelvin for hair
  • Use 3000 Kelvin for face
  • Lumens is the amount of light emitted from a light source.
  • Lux is the amount of light hitting a surface.

Plan your salon with:

  • 50 lumens per square foot for overall lighting.
  • 100 to 150 lumens per square foot for your cutting station.
  • 500 lux for your overall light.
  • 1000 to 1500 lux for your cutting station.

CRI is the Color Rendering Index. Knowing a bulb’s CRI will enable you to pick one that shows true hair color.

  • The ideal CRI is around 80 or above.
  • Lower CRI numbers will make colors look washed out.
    • For example, HID (Metal Halide) lights have low CRI numbers, typically around 60-65 CRI.
  • Higher CRI numbers do not mean it’s better.
    • Incandescent lights have a CRI of 100, but they have too much infra-red. A blonde will appear to have strawberry blonde hair.
  • Halogen lights have the same problem, with too much infra-red.
  • The key to seeing accurate color is to use LED lights with a CRI of 80 or higher. These lights have wave lengths similar to the sun’s, and thus will show true hair color.

Visual graph showing spectral power for different light sources.