Do you really need a ring light? Well, no, you don’t need one. No one needs to look good on camera, but we all want to, don’t we?

Ring lights have been a gadget success story in the pandemic. And it’s not like using them is a dirty little secret when Justin Trudeau posts pictures like this on his Twitter.

Justin Trudeau and his ring light

When you’re presenting virtually you have complete control over how your audience sees you.  Which means if you don’t look as good as you could, on some level your audience knows that you choose to look bad.

While we may have to juggle the needs of the people we share our homes with (partners, room mates, children, pets) the truth of it is that it is our choice where you will take a video call and so it’s your choice what will be behind you. However even when you’ve found just the right bookcase or cosy corner, few of us are lucky enough to have really good lighting in the same place where there is a good background layout.

This is where a ring light can be your saviour – for a relatively low price (the recommendations here start at £13.99) you can ensure that no matter where you take your call, you can be seen on screen.

I got a ring light for Christmas (don’t judge me, it was on my Wishlist) and while I already had pretty good lighting with my desk set up, the ring light illuminates my entire face and gets rid of the odd shadow I had on the side of my chin. It does make me look a little pale, but I should admit I wasn’t wearing make-up when I took these example shots and I think if I had my usual foundation, blush etc I wouldn’t look quite so goth chic.

Screenshot showing presenter without ring light (left) and with (right)

Most ring lights offer different colour options – mine has options for white and yellow toned lights. For my skintone, white light is clearly better than yellow which makes me look slightly jaundiced.

Screenshot showing presenter with white light (left) and yellow light (right)

It’s also worth noting that the ring light only illuminates your face. The room I present in has dark blue walls, quite close in colour to the blue shirt I’m wearing. But with the ring light on the blue walls appear black. I started out taking these pictures in a black shirt and quickly realised that wasn’t going to be a good look for me on camera (black shirt plus dark walls equals creepy floating head effect), so swapped to blue. I’m now going to have to try out my entire work wardrobe to find the right tops to take advantage of my new lighting set up.

Screenshot showing presenter in black shirt (left) and blue shirt (right)

One final note for glasses wearers. While the world is using ring lights, those of us with spectacles need to be sure to position our lights above our heads and angled down, rather than directly in front of us or around a camera phone – the reflected circle of the ring light was very clear in my glasses when I had it at head height, and even when I shifted it higher, you can still see it when I tilt my head up.

Ring light reflection in glasses

Obviously with any sort of add on technology you get what you pay for, so I heartily advise you to do your own research about which type of ring light would be best for you. Now I’m off to try every outfit I own out on this thing!


Main image credit: Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

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