Look on the Bright Side: The Importance of Salon Lighting

Lighting affects the whole mood of your salon, so utilize these tips to bring warmth and brightness to the environment.

<p>Natural lighting can allow clients to feel extra relaxed, but make sure you have an option,such as blinds,  to dim the windows if it’s too bright. (All photography courtesy of Michele Pelafas)</p>

Proper lighting is just as essential to the vibe of your salon as the decor. What good is fabulous wall art if the colors look washed out? Luckily, an expert on the matter shared some lighting wisdom with us. Michele Pelafas of Michele Pelafas, Inc. specializes in salon design, and she knows how to brighten up a room.

Light Bulb Type

Pelafas recommends using Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs. They’re the most commonly used bulb in the commercial building industry because they’re long-lasting, meet energy codes, and require less maintenance. Browse through lamps online that have positive reviews, or ask an interior designer for recommendations. Pelafas suggests purchasing higher quality LED lamps with a Color Rendering Index (CRI) of 86 or higher. “These fixtures are usually higher priced, but the investment pays for itself,” she says.

<p>Chandeliers are an elegant touch to overhead lighting.</p>

Bulb Temperature

The Kelvin scale is a way to describe the appearance of the bulb: whether it’s cool (blue) or warm (orange/red). The higher the Kelvin temperature, the cooler the color: Warm colors tend to be between 2,700K and 3,500K temperatures, while cool colors tend to be 4,500K and above. While there is a large range, Pelafas recommends leaning toward warm-colored bulbs (2,700K to 3,500K are her go-to temperature for bulbs) and making sure bulb temperatures are consistent throughout the salon.

“Warm lighting feels more natural and is the most flattering, not only on the complexion, but to the interior as well,” she says. “Cool temperatures can grey-out cozy interiors and wash-out clientele. It is rare that I specify a cool temperature bulb in an interior. When in doubt, go warm.”

<p>Proper lighting is essential to the feeling of your salon, and experts recommend leaning toward warm tones.</p>

Natural Light

Natural light is always a welcome addition, but it shouldn’t be relied upon, especially for close work. Keep in mind that direct sunlight (like when the sun sets) can irritate sensitive eyes. You may want to tint the windows to prevent any harmful rays.

“Natural light is a way for your guests to connect with nature, whether it’s observing a newly fallen snow or sunshine on a gorgeous summer day,” Pelafas says. “But windows should also be shaded if the sun is directly interfering with work tasks and general comfort.”

<p>Workstation lighting should be low-heat and energy efficient.</p>

Illuminating the Workstation

Good general overhead illumination is essential in any nail salon; however, individual task lighting at your work station is still the best source of light to see the quality and detail of your work. Pelafas recommends lamps that are low-heat and energy efficient with “full spectrum” lighting that accurately renders color.  

“Nail technicians can light up their workstations with a task lamp, which can be their most valued tool,” Pelafas says. “A good task lamp would be fully adjustable for perfect ergonomics to use above the hands and beneath eye level, which eliminates shadows.”

Bottom Line

“Good lighting can make or break an interior and I truly believe that lighting is everything,” Pelafas says. “It impacts both the aesthetic appeal in the space and the functional ability to perform tasks:  Each is the lifeline of a nail salon business.”

A professional design firm that specializes in nail salon design can help you make the right selections on this important investment. For more information about lighting, interior design, and Michele Pelafas, Inc., visit

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