Think Piece, Think Please: Beware the Ring Light
I research a lot of makeup artists in my spare time. I look at both hobbyists and professionals because there is so much to learn from everyone else. While I am proud enough in my own training, I avoid being overly proud and dismissive because the potential to learn is simply too high. You can learn both good techniques and mistakes to avoid, all from one face. I understand there is this animosity from professionally-trained artists looking down on Youtubers, but I've seen both sides of the fence and know they both have a lot to offer.
Back to the original point: As I'm browsing, I'm pretty shocked at how so many local MUAs use a ring light. Gone are the days when a simple mirror light (or even daylight) was enough. Now it almost seems a requirement to carry a ring light. I'm glad that people are taking makeup artistry more seriously, but a ring light is so bulky! It is beautiful, but I have reservations about it other than weight.
Let me tell you why.
The ring light scatters the light source pretty nicely around the face. Photographers describe it as a nondirectional light source, meaning it creates shadowless illumination. When people aren't using a McGyvered circular light bulb, a legit ring light instantly brightens up the whole face and shows off makeup work quite well.
I'm careful with the ring light because it superimposes a prettifying mask on the subject. It almost becomes a filter.
The brightness and proximity of the light, combined with poor photography, hides so many imperfections; including poor blending. And any time lighting is very bright, it's instantly attractive to our eyes. That said, I feel a little twitchy whenever poor makeup work masquerades as amazing job simply because of the ring light. I don't think it's fair to the audience, and it does a huge disservice to quality makeup work.
I was taught HD makeup in my course, and my eyes were trained to zoom in on details. In front of a ring light and typical camera settings, I can barely see poor eyeshadow blend-work, and I would suppose to a regular observer, taking it in at first glance, those details aren't even noticeable.
I will concede though that the "catchlight" (a term photographers use to refer to the light reflected on a subject's eye) is certainly mesmerizing. When I watch people under ring lights, I just get sucked in to that white circular line on their pupils.
Personally, I think it gives a feeling of being overproduced and artificial, but it is nonetheless a beautiful kind of being overproduced and artificial.
That said, I am certainly not lumping all ring light users in the same boat. Youtubers in particular, have mastered a great ring light setup. Their faces are very bright but you can still see some kind of crispness to the details. And some IG artists post multiple photos of their work, some under natural lighting and camera phones, so I can tell the ring light is not hiding poor work.
Of course, I just got a ring light sponsored by my ate so I'm very defensive about its misuse, harharharhar!