Those overhead fluorescents aren’t going to cut it. You’re an artist, and you deserve better lighting.
But which is the best lamp for tattooing?
What qualifies as a professional tattoo light?
Let’s enlighten you today with everything you need to know about tattoo lamps.
What kind of lamp is best for tattooing?
It’s not about just having enough light to see details. It’s also crucial to view the actual color of the ink and the skin.
Natural daylight is best to reduce the strain on your eyes. It shows off the real tones to illuminate your art.
Neither bright white nor warm light provides accurate color feedback, although they might give you enough lighting for intricate work.
Therefore, a daylight color temperature lamp is best for inking the skin. For example, daylight LED bulbs are 5000K.
Let me explain the differences between CFL and LED lamps, as well as color ratings.
The differences between LED and CFL lighting
Since incandescent light bulbs have been phased out, the choice is now between CFL and LED bulbs.
I prefer LED for tattooing, and I’ll tell you why. For one, each bulb lasts for years without growing dimmer. They are rated for 20,000 to 50,000 hours of service. It’s certainly worth it to spend a little extra to buy LEDs just for that reason (1).
Next, LEDs stay cool to the touch and don’t flicker. They light up immediately – there’s no warm-up time like there is with CFL. Also, you can use some kinds of LEDs with a dimmer switch.
You can get LED bulbs in daylight, bright white, and warm colors. The only downside is that the light is directional instead of spreading over a large area as CFLs do. In reality, this is a bonus for tattooing because it concentrates the light where it’s needed.
Moreover, LED lights aren’t toxic if they shatter. Compare that to CFLs that contain mercury, a hazardous heavy metal.
CFLs are less expensive than LEDs, but they take time to warm up to their full power. They aren’t compatible with a dimmer switch. But they are available in warm and bright white hues.
What type of lamp is best for tattooing?
Between floor lamps, desk lamps, clip-on lamps, and headlamps, which is best for tattooing?
I can’t tell you because it’s a personal choice. It depends on how you prefer to work and how your shop is set up. If it were me, I would get different types of lamps to see which is most comfortable to use.
However, it’s easy to tell you which color lamp to get. I recommend daylight bulbs, which are rated at 5000K to 6500K (2).
If you’re curious, soft white is 2700K to 3000K, and cool white is 3500K to 4100K. Either of these colors will alter the appearance of skin tone and the ink you’re using.
Daylight lamps are excellent for revealing intricate details and contrast for shading.
But what about lumens or brightness?
If you’re familiar with incandescent light bulbs, here are some numbers to help you decide how many lumens you need.
One 100W incandescent bulb is equal to 1600 lumens, or lm. A 75W bulb is about 1100 lm. And a 60 W bulb is equivalent to 800 lm (3).
Once again, it’s a matter of personal choice how bright you want your work light to be. As for me, I wouldn’t go below 800 lm for close-up work. I prefer a dimmer light that can go up to 1600 lm.
But wait, sometimes you might see watts listed instead of lumens. Here are some figures to help you translate.
For an LED bulb, 1600 lm is about 20 W. Then, 1100 lm is 15 Watts, and 800 lm is 12 W.
Best Lamp for Tattooing
Okay, now you’re ready to go shopping. Use the reviews below to help you find the best lamps for your tattoo shop.
Verilux SmartLight Full-Spectrum LED Modern Floor Lamp
One of my favorite floor lamps for tattooing isn’t just a daylight lamp. It features three adjustable modes to change its color.
You can choose from bright white daylight (5000K), cool blue (4000K), or warm light (3000K). There are also eight intensity settings to make it brighter or dimmer.
In any case, the bulb is flicker-free and has an Optix lens that reduces glare and eyestrain. Move the light up and down on the gooseneck to keep it close to where you’re working.
Furthermore, there is a USB charging port so you can top off your phone or the spare battery for your tattoo machine.
The manufacturer includes a one-year warranty.
Miroco LED Floor Lamp with 4 Settings
Mirocco makes two popular LED tattoo floor lamps. This one offers four brightness levels and four color temperatures.
The colors include candle, warm white, natural white, and cool white. Natural white is daylight.
It has a 10W LED mounted on a rotatable gooseneck. If you have good ambient light and need a spot lamp, this is decent for the money.
It comes with an 18-month after-sales service promise.
Miroco LED Floor Lamp with 5 Settings
This LED lamp puts out 12W for a total of 1815 lumens, so it’s brighter than the lamp above.
It features three colors: cool white, natural white, and warm white. In total, you end up with 15 different lighting settings by mix and matching.
But what’s interesting about this lamp is that you can set it on the floor or use it on a table. The stand’s adjustable and has a flexible head.
There’s even a timer that will turn it off after 60 minutes if needed.
OttLite 18W WingShade Adjustable Floor Lamp
This is a floor lamp that emits bright, natural daylight from a patented energy-saving bulb. It reveals colors and details with spectacular clarity. At the same time, it guards against eyestrain and glare.
Each light bulb is good for 10,000 hours. That’s more than a year of round-the-clock use. In a tattoo studio, it should last about 5 years before it needs to be replaced. (That’s 50 weeks of 40 hours a week use).
TaoTronics TT-DL072 LED Floor Lamp
Instead of a single bulb, the head of this lamp is embedded with dozens of LEDs. It’s a 10 W lamp that emits 1000 lux or 450 lm.
It offers four color temperatures and four brightness levels. The colors range from 3000K to 6000K, which includes warm ambient to bright daylight and beyond.
Simply adjust the 360° neck to focus the lamp where you need it. It also helps that the power cord is close to 6 feet long.
Estheticians and tattoo artists love this floor lamp for a variety of reasons. First, it outputs 950 lumens with only 12W of energy. Use the built-in dimmer if you don’t need it at maximum power.
The light it emits is 6000K, like a bright summer day. You’ll see every detail with it.
It has a weighted base and an adjustable gooseneck. There’s also a soft orange nightlight setting for safety.
It comes with a 3-year product warranty.
Daylight Company LLC UN1530 Daylight Duo Floor Lamp
Here’s a floor lamp with an intriguing design. You can leave the head completely extended or fold it to focus on a smaller area.
Moreover, you can convert it from a floor lamp to a table lamp or clamp lamp. It has a generous 68.9-inch power cord, too.
Either way, it emits 6000K bright daylight. If you measure the maximum brightness one foot from the lamp head, it’s rated for 2090 lux.
Translation: it’s plenty bright. And even as brilliant as it is, it only uses 10W of energy.
Lavish Home (72-0890) Sunlight Floor Lamp
When they say “sunlight” floor lamp, they really mean it. The temperature is 6500K, with a brightness rating of 1300 lumens. What’s shocking is that the bulb is a 27W CFL, not an LED. It should last up to 5000 hours.
Use the gooseneck to focus it where you need it. It’s so powerful it can illuminate a 350 ft.² room or grow plants in the wintertime.
It comes with a 55-inch cord and a simple on/off switch.
Brightech Litespan 2 in 1 Lamp, LED
This versatile device converts between a desk lamp and a floor lamp. It has a removable 3-foot section.
As a floor lamp, it stands 56-inches tall. On a table, it’s 20 inches in height. It has a compact base that’s 8-inches in diameter and a flexible neck.
I’ve seen enthusiastic reviews from lash techs and other estheticians as well as tattoo artists. They like how customizable it is. It has a built-in touch dimmer, plus three colors of light, from cool white to warm white.
The manufacturer offers a 3-year product warranty that includes replacement parts or a new product if needed.
Brightech LightView Pro Rolling Base Magnifying Floor Lamp
Here’s one of the best ring lights for tattooing. It has a stable base mounted on six wheels to move in any direction.
It’s adjustable between 24 and 55 inches in height – just remove part of the pole to shorten it. If you purchase the extra base, it can clamp onto the edge of a table. The segmented body gives it a 29-inch reach.
On the head, you’ll find the power switch. Tap the touch sensor to dim light or change the color temperature. The black arrows make the light a cooler hue, and the red makes it warmer.
The maximum output of the 9W LED bulb is 800 lumens. At its brightest, it reaches daylight color, 6000K. You’ll probably never have to replace it as it has a 20-year lifespan.
The bulb goes around the ring, which has a magnifying lens in the center. The diopter glass lens has a 4 and a half inch diameter. It magnifies up to 1.75 times. If you’d rather not use the magnifier, you can close the dust cover on top.
Magnifying Floor Lamp with Rolling Base by LANCOSC
This rolling floor lamp is extremely bright and powerful. It’s no wonder that it’s beloved by tattoo artists and cosmetologists.
The 24W LED bulb puts out 1500 lm of clear 6000K light. It has an anticipated lifetime of up to 20 years.
But you don’t have to use it at full power all the time. It’s dimmable.
The 5x magnifying lens in the center of the ring is 7 inches in diameter. The ring itself is mounted on a 21-inch swivel arm that allows you to pull it on top of where you’re working.
If you don’t want to use the rolling base, you can modify it into a clamp lamp. It comes with the needed tool and clamp base. It can grip a surface up to 2.5-inches thick.
The company provides a 3-year after-sales service with 3-months of unconditional returns or exchanges.
TOMSOO 3-in-1 Magnifying Glass Floor Lamp with Clamp
Artists on a budget will appreciate this versatile floor lamp that converts to a clamp lamp. It has a smaller ring light with a 2.25x magnifying lens.
The rain is studded with 60 SMD LEDs for a total brightness of 960 lm. You can choose between a warm hue or clear daylight color.
Ultra Bright CREE LED Headlamp
The best headlamp for tattooing needs to be bright, comfortable, and versatile. This one fits the bill as it outputs 160 lumens for close-up work or long-range illumination. (It’s visible for up to 262 feet.) You can switch between bright and soft modes, as well as strobe and red lights for emergencies.
The lamp runs on three AAA batteries so that there’s no downtime for recharging. The battery life is good for days of use.
The stretchy adjustable headband is padded with non-slip rubber so that it stays put even if you get sweaty. It fits kids and adults, and it weighs only 2.6 ounces with the batteries on board. Furthermore, it’s IPX 6 water-resistant, and that lets you sanitize it.
It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 1-year warranty.
Everyone is eager to get the tattoo machines and ink. But the light you use is crucial for your art.
Don’t skimp. Get yourself the best lamp for tattooing that you can afford.
Bring the bright daylight into your studio. Then, you and your client will better appreciate the fine details of your work.
1. https://www.thesimpledollar.com/save-money/the-light-bulb-showdown-leds-vs-cfls-vs-incandescent-bulbs-whats-the-best-deal-now-and-in-the-future/ by Holly Johnson, published April 12, 2020, accessed October 29, 2020
2. https://www.batteriesplus.com/blog/lighting/seeing-things-in-a-different-light by David Neubert – updated on 7/26/2017