Lighting Design

How to illuminate a hair salon and barbershop

Over the past few months, my team and I have worked on lighting design projects for several hair salons and barbershops.

The results have been really exciting, and the owners also received positive feedback from their customers.

For me, working in this field is like going back to my childhood.

My mom Laura used to be a hairdresser… And as a young boy, I often helped her in her salon.

It was many years ago, and as far as hairstyling goes, I’ve forgotten almost everything…

That’s why I’ll be of more help to you by sharing my knowledge as a lighting designer – which has become my profession after my youthful experience as a hairdresser’s assistant!

I decided to write a guide on the lighting of salons and barbershops, explaining all the techniques used by my company, OLEV.

If you are the owner of a hairsalon or barbershop and you want to upgrade the design of your shop…

In this article, you will find some handy tips on how to achieve appealing aesthetics and a comfortable atmosphere in your salon.

I will help you navigate your way through all the different possibilities in terms of lamps and lighting fixtures. But most importantly, you will discover the strategies my team uses to create an appealing environment that will retain your current customers and attract new ones.

The 3 essential rules for the correct lighting of a hair salon and barbershop

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There are 3 essential rules to ensure that your salon is properly illuminated.

Overlooking any of these rules will compromise the success of your project.

You could interfere with the work of your hairstylists, or worse, cause discomfort to your customers.

Let’s take a closer look at these 3 rules.

1 – Only use lamps with a colour rendering index over 90


Colour rendering is perhaps the most important aspect of the lighting in a hair salon or barbershop.

It’s quite a complex concept… But I’ll try to explain it to you with a practical example.

Have you ever heard a customer say, ‘let me just go outside quickly and check how the colour looks in daylight’?

Or have you ever suggested it to the client yourself, well aware that the colours appear more muted in the artificial light of your salon?

This happens when the lamps don’t have a high colour rendering index.

Colour rendering is the ability of artificial light to render colours in the same way as natural light.


  • if the lamps have a low colour rendering index, the colours inside will appear dull, washed out, muted. Inside the salon, you will see a certain nuance… But as soon as you step outside, you will see a completely different colour.
  • if the lamps have a high colour rendering index, the colours inside the salon will appear exactly the same as they do in daylight.

To put it simply, you can solve the colour issue by choosing lamps with a colour rendering index over 90.

One of the most exciting moments for a customer is choosing their hair colour…

And the customer should feel comfortable going out and seeing the same colour they saw inside the salon.

Any customer who ends up with a different colour than the one they chose is an unhappy customer!

2 – Ensure visual comfort for the customer


Hairstylists are artists, eclectic spirits who regard their profession as a true mission.

On the other hand, hairdressing should be an enjoyable moment, which allows people to rediscover care, beauty, and self-esteem.

But if you want your customers to relax and enjoy the experience, you need to ensure that the lighting is comfortable.

Light sources shouldn’t cause glare – especially when the customers are at the backwash units or in the cutting and styling areas, where their movement is limited.

In this article, we will examine more specific situations.

But as a general rule, avoid shooting light straight into the customers’ eyes!

3 – Ensure proper lighting for your staff


To guarantee the customer an excellent outcome, the same visual comfort principles also apply to the staff.

The lighting should not compromise the customer’s safety or the quality of the hairstyle by glaring the hairstylers when they are using scissors.

It is best to avoid uncomfortable, glaring light that could lead to permanent damage to the customer’s hair!

Focused light or diffused light?


Some lamps provide diffused light suitable for illuminating an entire space, while others provide focused light, which is more direct and focused on specific areas.

So which type of lighting should you choose for your salon?

The answer is… both!

You need to achieve the right balance between focused and diffused light.

More specifically:

  • diffused light is normally used to illuminate transition or waiting areas;
  • focused light is required for cutting, styling, or colour mixing areas and backwash units.

When it comes to focused light, my advice is to choose adjustable lighting fixtures.

This way, you’ll be able to change the direction of the light beams at any time and also adjust them to a new furniture layout.

Warm light or cold light? How to choose the right light temperature in the hair salon

One of the questions that hairstylers ask me most frequently is:

‘Which one is better, warm light or cold light?’

The truth is that there is no set answer.

Colour temperature also affects how we perceive colours.


I don’t want to bore you with too much technical talk, so I’ll just stick to the most important points.

A good compromise is to stay within a range between 3000 K (warm light) and 4000 K (cold light).

If you want to achieve a perfect match between the colour’s appearance inside and outside the salon, the light should be colder during the day and warmer in the evening.

For example, if your customers leave the salon at noon, the ideal light temperature inside should be 4000 K – which means cold light, closest to sunlight.

However, I must say not everyone likes cold light.

I have illuminated some salons with cold light and others where the hairstylers explicitly requested warmer light, which is more welcoming and elegant.

Between 3000 K and 4000 K, there is no ‘wrong’ light. A lot depends on the owner’s taste, and also on the finishes of the decor.

For example, warm light is more suitable for an environment with wood tones. Whereas for more modern and minimal aesthetics, cold light is also appealing.

As you can see, with colour temperature, we enter a more subjective domain, which requires specific evaluations each time.

A professional lighting designer will be able to suggest the solution that best meets your requirements and matches your aesthetics.

The most efficient way to achieve an ideal colour temperature is to explore the many opportunities offered by modern LED technology.

The dynamic lighting technology called Tunable White automatically adjusts the light temperature from cool white during the day to warm white in the evening

This way, you’ll benefit from the perfect light at any time of day, season, and weather condition!

Now, let’s take a look at some specific lighting solutions for hair salons and barbershops.

Mirror lighting in hair salons and barbershops

Customers sitting in the cutting area should be able to see themselves clearly in the mirror.

This is why it’s important to place the light sources so that the customer’s face and hairstyle receive diffuse light without shadows.

To achieve this effect, the best strategy is to use lighting all around the mirror.

The customers will be able to see a clear and bright reflection of themselves… And it will also allow the hairstylist to immediately determine how appropriate the style or the colour is for the customer.

Lighting for backwash units and colour mixing areas


As I said before, you need focused light for the backwash units.

Very high colour rendering is also essential to avoid altering the colours of the dyes.

The light source must be placed so as to illuminate the hairstylist’s hands and the customer’s hair without causing glare to any of them.

How to choose lighting that will save you money on your electricity bill


Energy-saving is an essential aspect.

A salon is usually open for 10 to 12 hours a day… And the last thing a hairstyler wants is to replace the lighting and end up with the same electricity bill at the end of the month!

If you want the highest energy-saving rate, LED lighting is the right choice.

If you’re currently using halogen lighting in your salon, you’ll be amazed at how much you can save with modern LED lighting.

You may even be able to recover your investment within a few months.

Where to start with the lighting design for your new hair salon or barbershop


With this guide, I tried to give you a road map to follow when choosing the ideal lighting for your dream salon.

As you can see, this type of lighting is quite complex…

That’s why the support of lighting designers with specific knowledge can make all the difference when it comes to designing a sophisticated and professional environment.

Your salon is your dream. It represents the passion you put into your work every day.

You can’t risk jeopardising your investment in new furniture, new decor, and new equipment with the wrong lighting!

So if you found my advice useful and enjoyed the photos of OLEV’s lighting solutions for hair salons and barbershops…

All you have to do is click here and fill out the form with your details.

Our experts will listen to your specific needs and will be able to suggest the most suitable lighting solutions for your own salon.