The Power of Lighting

Improper, inefficient lighting can negatively impact the general attitudes of your clientele and staff. However, a well-designed lighting system can greatly improve productivity and create a more positive impression. With that in mind, it is important to give the lighting in your spa the detailed attention it deserves.

 Ohm Spa in New York City uses natural light to brighten up the massage rooms.
Ohm Spa in New York City uses natural light to brighten up the massage rooms.

In general, there are five recognized types of lighting you should consider installing in your spa. Ambient light is the overall lighting used to fill general space to average light levels. Examples are cove lighting, pendant-mounted direct/indirect fixtures, and recessed fluorescents. To highlight artwork, architectural features, and retail products, accent lighting, such as directionally adjustable track or recessed lighting, is used. Task lighting, such as magnification lamps or pendant-mounted fixtures, help your staff see the minute details involved in their jobs, such as analyzing a client's skin. Chandeliers and large direct/indirect pendant fixtures are decorative lighting options that can help beautify your spa. They offer unique lighting features that serve both as architectural enhancements and contribute to overall ambient lighting levels. Finally, in select areas, natural lighting should be allowed to fill common spaces where color rendition is important, such as makeup or hair color application areas. Skylights, sun tubes, and windows are reliable energy-efficient solutions.

Accent light is used to call attention to the spa's retail displays.
Accent light is used to call attention to the spa's retail displays.

 

Light System Components

 

A combination of lamps, light fixtures, and lighting controls are available to help you achieve the atmosphere you desire in your spa's treatment areas, workspaces, and more. In some cases, one or two fixture types in a space can serve the needs of four of the electrical lighting categories described above with the incorporation of appropriate lighting controls. These lighting components make up your overall lighting system:

1. Lamps Lamp selection is more significant than fixture selection when considering the appearance of your space. You have a variety of lamps from which to choose, including incandescent 'screw-in' type bulbs, specialty halogen, High Intensity Discharge (HID), fluorescent lamps, Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), and fiber optic lighting. Below are some important things to consider when selecting lamps for your spa.

The pedicure area at Bocu Salon and Day Spa in Commack, NY, features a decorative wall sconce.
The pedicure area at Bocu Salon and Day Spa in Commack, NY, features a decorative wall sconce.
  • Color Color temperature is how lamps are rated for the color of light they produce. This scale is measured in degrees Kelvin (K). A warmer reddish lamp ranges from 3,100K to 3,500K. A cooler bluish lamp is about 4,100K. Natural or 'day' lighting ranges from 5,000K to 6,500K to emulate the color of light given off by the sun.
  • CRI The 'Color Rendering Index' (CRI) is used to specify how colors of objects are reflected to the eye from a given lamp. This is measured on a scale of 1 to 100. For more accurate color rendering, you should select lamps that have a higher CRI.
  • Heat In some cases, it is important to avoid lamps that produce too much heat, such as halogen lamps. These can damage or burn nearby objects. Hot lamps directed at humans can cause discomfort to both staff and clients.
  • Ultraviolet Rays MR-16 type lamps produce UV rays that can actually burn the skin. MR-16s are small two-inch diameter reflectors often found in modern track lighting. These types of fixtures should only be used for highlighting products or other non-organic surfaces. If you want to use these fixtures to light areas where clients will be, you need to ensure that either the fixture or the lamps provide a UV shielding lens to eliminate potentially damaging rays.
  • Energy Efficiency Energy efficiency is important to keeping your energy costs down. Wherever lights do not need to be dimmed, fluorescent lighting solutions are recommended. Today's technology allows you to choose any color bulb (cool, warm, etc.). Also, these newer bulbs last up to 20,000 hours versus 2,000 to 4,000 hours for the average incandescent bulb. Utilizing fluorescents will also reduce your energy needs for air conditioning because these types of bulbs burn much cooler than incandescent types.

 

2. Light Fixtures A light fixture can be a device as simple as a ceramic pull-chain fixture, like one you might find in a basement or utility area, or more elaborate, such as a chandelier with multiple lamps. A fixture may redirect or disperse the path of the light exiting the bulb for the purpose of reducing glare, which you want to avoid for the comfort of your clients and staff. To do so, eliminate the direct light path from the lamp to the eyes. The most preferred design should consist of direct/indirect lighting, wall washing, and the ability to dim overhead task lighting for workstations. Up light and wall-wash type fixtures make a space appear brighter and more spacious.

A chandelier serves as a decorative lighting option for the foyer at La Carezza Salon Dã Spa in Southhampton, NY.
A chandelier serves as a decorative lighting option for the foyer at La Carezza Salon Dã Spa in Southhampton, NY.

3. Lighting Controls Lighting controls are used to adjust the amount of light coming from the fixtures. Some examples include dimmers, motion detectors, on/off switches, photometric sensors, and timers. Lighting controls let you adjust the amount of light needed to illuminate a space for various applications. Be sure controls in each workspace are conveniently located for technicians. For instance, in facial rooms, dimmer controls are best located behind the treatment table so the lighting can be easily adjusted without interrupting a treatment in progress.

Suggested Solutions
Suggested Solutions

Proper lighting is key to creating a warm, welcoming environment. Although lighting surrounds us in our every day routines, we rarely think about its actual utilization and how it impacts our clients and employees. There's no time like the present to take a look at the lighting in your spa to ensure it's not only functional but also creating the ambience you want to convey.

With a wealth of lighting experience, Jack W. Cornell is spa design captain for Architainment/ Dembling + Dembling Architects, in Albany, NY. Prior to that, Cornell was senior designer for Touch America, Takara Belmont, and SpaElegance.com. Cornell can be contacted at [email protected].

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