The Most Flattering Light Bulb Casts You in Lovely Pink

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It all started with a simple pair of pants. We posted about this suspiciously flattering pair a little while back and the response was so enthusiastic, it got us thinking: Why not sniff out the most flattering things across a bevy of categories, from the most skin-enhancing light bulb to the brightening eye drops to the shapewear designed for all sizes? Welcome to Flattering Week on the Strategist.

Looking around the main room of my apartment the other night, I realized something odd: no fewer than four lamps had red shades. This had happened gradually, but weird as it was, I couldn’t help but think how cozy and appealing the end result was.

It’s true, this isn’t exactly what you’d call “task lighting” — unless the task is being a madam in 19th-century New Orleans. Reading is tricky; any detail work — say, removing a splinter — is out of the question. But the effect is so flattering: You and your guests look like late-career Joan Crawford shot through a particularly Vaseline-y lens. If I’m completely honest, I think the fixation with rosy lighting design dates back to my childhood copy of A Little Princess. In the Tasha Tudor illustration, Sara Crewe’s transformed garret features a red-shaded lamp; and as an adult, I’ve always kept my eyes open for well-priced red-silk shades. (I have used this one on several lamps.)

If you’re not willing to go full bordello, an easy and time-honored trick for softening light is the pink light bulb. I think I first read this tip in Dorothy Draper’s Entertaining is Fun, in which the grande dame recommends swapping out regular bulbs when you have guests over. The effect is quite similar to a red lamp shade, though slightly more muted (rosy rather than red). It gives me and anyone who happens to come over just a hint of warm color, like we’ve just come in from the cold. While pink bulbs can be a bit hard to find (my source just closed, and I’ve started ordering them by the box online), the inside-a-shell vibe is well worth seeking out.

A final warning: Don’t rely on the pink light while applying makeup. I’ve been fooled more than once by the glow of my living room into thinking I looked radiant, only to catch a glimpse of an ashen wraith in the cold light of day.

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The Most Flattering Light Bulb Casts You in Lovely Pink