Best color temperature for skin tones in video and photography

Have you ever left the house thinking you looked great, only to discover you looked terrible in a clothing store dressing room? Do the bathrooms in some hotel rooms make you feel out of sorts when you’re away from home? Are you bothered by your reflection in the airplane lavatory?

It’s not you; it’s the lighting!

Continue reading this post to find out the answers to the above questions. In this post, we’ll also give you some tips on the best color temperature for skin tones.

What is skin tone?

What is skin tone?
What is skin tone?

Skin tone refers to the color of the skin on the surface, whereas skin undertone refers to the subtle hue beneath the surface. The amount of melanin (skin pigment) present in the uppermost layer of your skin determines your skin tone.

That means you can have the same skin tone as someone else but have a completely different undertone.

Some types of undertones

There are three sorts of undertones: warm, neutral, and cool.

Warm undertones: If your skin’s base tone is yellow or gold, you have warm undertones.

Neutral undertones: You are neutral if you have a mixture of warm and cool hues, or if your undertone is the same color as your skin.

Cool undertones are those that have hints of blue, pink, or red.

Another common misconception about undertones is that fair-skinned girls cannot have warm undertones and dark-skinned women of color cannot have cool tones. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, model Alek Wek is a prime example of someone with darker skin who has cool, bluish undertones. And, for example, Beyoncé has a warm undertone.

How does the color temperature of light affect skin tone?

How does the color temperature of light affect skin tone?
How does the color temperature of light affect skin tone?

It makes no difference if you’re a supermodel. You’ll look like the villain in a classic horror film in harsh lighting, with dark circles under your eyes, creases in your brow, wrinkles tracing around your mouth, sagging cheeks, and a moonscape complexion.

Cinematographers are well aware of this. Depending on the scene, they use light to make people look glamorous or ghastly. Whenever he walks into a room, he is very conscious of the light, according to Danish cinematographer Stephan Pehrsson, who used lighting to dramatic effect in the PBS and BBC One production of “Les Misérables.”

He is always aware of lighting that enhances a person’s appearance, what makes you look good, and what makes someone appear unattractive, what makes you appear to be a bad guy.

He’s noticed a trend in modern housing and commercial buildings toward unflattering lighting. There were a lot of spotlights these days, he observed. It was not good at all. Overhead lighting is popular because it creates a sharp, clean look in the space. Mr. According to Pehrsson, it casts pronounced shadows across the face, particularly under the eyes, highlighting wrinkles and imperfections. It’s also not good for your health. Every bulge, droop, and wrinkle acts as an awning, casting shade beneath.

Jennifer Graylock, a celebrity and fashion photographer, described the phenomenon as follows: You know how you can make yourself look scary by holding a flashlight under your chin? The opposite is true for overhead lighting. It just makes you look scary from above. This is true in many retail dressing rooms (hello, H&M, Nordstrom, and Target) as well as hotel bathrooms. Furthermore, the light that shines down on you has an icy blue or greenish tint that makes you appear to be in need of immediate medical attention.

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What is the best color temperature for skin tones rendering in the video?

Best color temperature for skin tones in the video
Best color temperature for skin tones in the video

Which color temperature option among 5000K, 5600K, and 6500K will produce the best and most natural skin tone if you are looking for daylight color temperature bulbs for use with video production?

When it comes to skin tones, the color rendering index (CRI) and R9 value of the light source are the most important factors. Color temperature is actually of little importance as long as the color rendering values are sufficiently high.

Natural daylight’s color temperature varies greatly depending on the weather, time of day, season, and other factors. As a result, camera systems have been designed to account for this expected variability, and you should not notice any significant differences in skin tone color rendering if you use a high CRI light source.

Color temperature calibrations can be performed very well by video cameras and post-production software, with no loss of color accuracy. This calibration setting will most likely be referred to as “white balance,” with options such as incandescent, direct sunlight, overcast daylight, and so on.

Keep in mind that, unlike color temperature, a low CRI light source cannot be calibrated or compensated for, especially in images with rich colors, such as skin tones. Color temperature adjustment is referred to as white balance because it accurately describes the process of balancing relative amounts of white light. White balance adjustment, in particular, entails adjusting the proportions of yellows and blues in an image’s composition.

Low color rendering, on the opposite hand, indicates an entire lack of specific wavelength bands, like deep reds. As a result, no amount of calibration can make up for the light source’s fundamental lack of specific wavelengths.

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Does the color temperature of your light have an impact on skin tones in photography?

Does color temperature affect skin tones in photography?
Does color temperature affect skin tones in photography?

OK, now we’re going to get nerdy. There are numerous types of artificial lights, and then there is the light from our sun, also known as daylight. If you want to learn more about light color temperature, there is a great article on the Internet.

Artificial lights are generally classified into three types: warm, neutral, and cool.

Warm lights include tungsten, incandescent, and candlelight. Neutral lighting is what you’ll find in most retail stores, and it’s usually made up of fluorescent or LED lighting. Neutral light is typically between 3800K and 5000K. Cool lights are defined as any light with a color temperature greater than 5000K.

When it comes to photography, ambient light will be all over the place. If you’re shooting with continuous “Hot Lights,” it’ll be on the warmer side, ranging from 2800 to 3200K. If you’re shooting with newer LEDs, the good ones are tunable, but otherwise, they’ll get on the cooler side, and if you’re shooting with a speed light or studio strobe, it’ll get on the cooler side, usually a minimum of 5500K, but sometimes up to 6500K depending on the quality and power setting.

This raises an intriguing question: Is there the best color temperature to use when photographing people in order to achieve more pleasing skin tones? Searching Google yields a plethora of articles on how to light for skin tones, but very few on whether to use warmer or cooler color temperatures for your lighting. Having said that, pros generally prefer warmer color temperatures (i.e., Tungsten) because they look better. As a result, much of our indoor lighting for homes is generally quite warm.

So, how does the color temperature of your lighting affect skin tones in photography? Yes, we would say. Which one is more appealing? That is purely a matter of personal preference.

The important thing to remember here is that some people look better in warmer light, while others look better in cooler light, and you should adjust accordingly.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How can you tell if you have warm or cool skin tones?

Warm undertones: If your skin’s base tone is yellow or gold, you have warm undertones. Cool undertones are those that have hints of blue, pink, or red. Neutral: If you have a mixture of warm and cool hues, or if your undertone is the same color as your skin color, you are neutral.

Is it better to photograph people in warm or cool lighting?

People look their best when illuminated by light bulbs that have a kelvin temperature of around 2700 degrees Celsius. Most bulbs, whether incandescent, LED, compact fluorescent, or halogen, are labeled “soft white/warm white”, from 2700 to 3000 kelvins, “bright white/cool white”, from 3500 to 4100 kelvins, or “daylight”, which ranges from 5000 to 6500 kelvins.

Does LED lighting cause skin to darken?

Because it stimulates the production of melanin in your skin, blue light has recently been linked to hyperpigmentation. The darkening can occur within 20 minutes of exposure and can lead to long-term darkening, including melasma. However, it does not affect everyone in the same way.

What lighting reveals the true skin tone?

It is emitted by a region of the sun with a temperature of approximately 5500° Kelvin. Because it is made up of all color wavelengths, it can reflect all colors. Because it can be reflected by any color, white light is by far the most versatile color of light. This means that colored makeup looks the best in this light.

Which light color is best for skin?

The heavy hitters are red and blue light. Because there is a specific receptor in the mitochondria of skin cells that red light specifically acts upon, red light is an ideal wavelength for changing the way the skin functions.


In conclusion, we had provided some information about skin tone and the best color temperature for skin tones. We hope that will help you choose the right color temperature for your skin tone. If you still have any questions, please let us know by a comment in the below section. We will try our best to answer you. Thank you for reading!