Anyone who’s done their makeup under the sickly pallor of fluorescent bathroom lights knows that it's not ideal for perfecting coverage. There’s a reason backstage dressing rooms are known for their mirror game, and a ring light lets you bring the same universally gorgeous lighting into your home (or handbag). The best ring lights for makeup let you work with different lighting temperatures just like the professionals do, resulting in flawless looks.
- Adjustable Lighting: Having the ability to dial your brightness up or down and control color tones will ensure a flawless makeup application at any time of day. All of the options below are fully dimmable and deliver at least three color temperatures (warm light, natural light, and cool light) thanks to a mix of yellow and white LED bulbs.
- A Stand or Tripod: For applying makeup while sitting at a countertop or vanity, you need a way to secure your ring light at the right height: A stand or short tripod will do the trick. While a taller, adjustable tripod is probably not necessary for doing makeup, if you think you might want to eventually branch out into vlogging or streaming, investing a little extra in a ring light with a more versatile tripod will both serve you now and save you money in the long run.
- Compatibility: If you want to take selfies or stream video, double check to make sure that your ring light will work with your phone. Most are compatible with smartphones, and some even have the option to mount larger cameras if that’s what you prefer.
- Portable models: A clip-on model goes anywhere you do, so it's a great “gateway light” if you want to try the concept out, and it makes a great add-on to a more intensive setup. If you don’t want something taking up space in your bag, a lighted phone case makes a great space-saving alternative.
I’ve worked as a makeup artist and in front of the camera — so I know the value of good lighting. These are the ring lights for makeup I would recommend to artists and vloggers at every skill level.
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1. The Best For Beginners: A Small LED Light With A Cult Following
If you're new to using a ring light for makeup, a smaller model is the way to go, like this 6-inch model from MACTREM. You get that same gorgeous, soft light for a fraction of the real estate (and price). Plus, this small ring light is big on features, with three different color temperatures (white, warm yellow, and warm white) and 11 brightness levels. It comes with a tripod for the light and a separate stand that is compatible with most smartphones — and the USB power cord taps into outlets, laptops, and power banks for on-the-go versatility. Amazon reviewers love it, giving it an impressive 4.6-star rating after more than 3,000 reviews.
A helpful review: "This lamp is amazing, I got it to enhance the quality of my room light in order for me to practice my makeup skills and it’s really good lightning. It has different options and is super portable and easy to carry [...]The angle of the ring is adjustable and that’s another plus in this purchase.Definitely recommended for makeup/YouTube starters and even students that just want a better lighting."
2. The Best For Experienced Users: A Bigger, Rotating LED Light With An Adjustable Tripod
For maximum versatility, this larger, 10-inch ring light comes with an adjustable tripod that extends up to over five-feet tall so you’re not limited to countertops and lets you set up a greater variety of shots. It has three different options for color temperature (cold light, mixed mode, and warm light) and 10 brightness settings, plus the light is capable of rotating 360-degrees so you can find just the right light, whether you're applying makeup or doing a makeup tutorial for YouTube. It also comes with a pad-tilt for mounting a camera, as well as a phone clip that lets you mount your phone in the middle of the light, either vertically or horizontally (and it's compatible with most smartphones).
The tripod itself is super easy to use — to adjust the height, simply twist the components to lock them in place (though finding that sweet spot can take some trial and error). To charge, a USB power cord plugs into any device or power bank, or an adapter if you prefer a wall plug.
A helpful review: "This light is absolutely what I was looking for. It’s easy to assemble and the tripod allows for different heights as well. This ring light is not just a one dimensional light, it has 3 color temperatures as well as brightness settings. It swivels, rotates and pivots. I would recommend this reasonably priced light to any vlogger, makeup artist and you tuber!"
3. The Most Portable: A Clip-On Ring Light For Perfect Selfies On Any Device
This compact, clip-on ring light turns phones, tablets, and laptops into a studio so you’re not limited to home base and is small enough to toss in your bag. Unlike many other clip-on models, this one has three color temperatures (warm light, cool light, and natural light) and you can adjust the brightness as low as one percent and as high as 100%. Its single-button operation is hassle-free, so there's no fiddling around to get your perfect light. It recharges via USB and even has a handy charge indicator that lets you know when the battery is low. It's compatible with any device less than 0.59 inches.
A helpful review: "This is a great little product! It works as advertised; the intensity can be adjusted for each of the three light modes. Battery life has been great so far; a full charge works for about 4 hours spread throughout the week. The design is super light which makes it very convenient for travel. Overall, great product in this category!"
Also Nice: A Ring Light-Inspired Case For iPhones
The light-up iPhone case that's famous for keeping up with Kardashians is a great tool for being always ready for the perfect snap, and is a nice option for travel when you can’t take something bigger along for the ride. It has front and back lighting, that uses variable dimmer technology, and lasts up to 30 minutes (then recharges handily via micro-USB). It’s also a legitimately protective case thanks to its sturdy shell and soft silicone bumpers. (Honestly, I use mine as a flashlight more than anything else and it’s way better than the built-in app for that purpose.) You can also use it for ambient lighting, since it's 90% brighter light than your phone's flash. It's compatible with iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone 6 Plus.
A helpful review: "I LOVE LOVE LOVE this case! The lights on the front AND back are perfect! Totally dimmable to get the desired brightness! The case itself is a gorgeous matte finish. It fits my iPhone snug and feels great in my hand. I’ve purchased cheaper light up cases and there is NO comparison. Worth EVERY penny!"