Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photo: Salt Queen
As a quarantine-era Twitch streamer, I’ve spent the past year and a half immersing myself in the world of gaming — and with it, the nitty-gritty of equipment required for streaming an average of five hours a day, three days a week. From game-capture cards to professional microphones, there’s a laundry list of items to consider when creating a streaming setup, but one of the most important areas to look into is lighting.
High-quality lighting is one of the most effective ways for anyone, not just a Twitch streamer, to elevate the look and feel of their camera feed. And considering how many of us are still working remotely these days, it’s not a bad idea to have a decent lighting setup for the next time you actually have to show your face during a conference call — or if you simply want a low-effort way to make your same-old WFH space a little more fun.
But what equipment eliminates shadows, flatters the face, and maybe even adds a bit of personality? To answer this question — and streamline your shopping list — I reached out to those who know best: fellow Twitch streamers, who are no strangers to being live on-camera for hours on end, as well as the tech-obsessed gamers of my Discord community (think Slack but for communicating with friends). See all our best products and tips for looking your most well lit ahead.
A gateway for many into the world of LED lights, adhesive strip lights are the fastest way to transform your setup. Nintendo streamer jujube lines Cozylady Music LED Strip Lights along the back side of a display unit, silhouetting her Pokémon plushie collection in a cool-blue glow. “I love these strip lights because they offer nice ambient lighting for my stream setup,” she says. The 66-foot length ensures you don’t have to worry about running out of material halfway through lining your ceiling, but the strip comes with points you can cut in case it’s too long.
FirebenderFreddy, a streamer and moderator for creators on the platform, recommends the Philips Hue Bluetooth Lightstrips, which teens and other smart-light-savvy people have suggested to us before. Ideally paired with the Philips Hue Smart Hub for seamless control, these Bluetooth light strips are worth the initial investment for the ease they provide in the long run, he says: “I use Hue Lightstrips, a Hue Bloom lamp, and controllable Wemo smart plugs throughout my apartment, which I can turn on just using my voice through Google Assistant. It’s so convenient to walk into my stream room and say ‘Turn on the stream-room lights’ and be ready to go.”
Among our pool of gamers, this key light comes highly recommended thanks to its sleek but sturdy design and customizable output. “The main thing I want from a light is control; being able to adjust the brightness and temperature is the reason I bought my Elgato key lights,” says Nintendo streamer SaltQueenHD of this light’s versatile settings, which can be controlled via Wi-Fi from your phone, PC, or stream deck. Despite its powerful brightness, it remains comfortably low heat, and the multilayer diffusion technology keeps it (literally) easy on the eyes. I can personally attest to this model’s younger sibling, the Key Light Air, for those looking for a smaller, more affordable option with the same quality.
Many streamers also use ring lights for an all-around, beauty-portrait effect. Variety streamer and cosplayer AlexNorimaki speaks to the multipurpose nature of her ring lights. “I use my ring lights not only to light my streams but also to create other content across different platforms,” she says. This particular model, which comes with a tripod stand and phone holder, makes it easy to capture Instagram photos or record TikTok videos.
The geometric shape of the Nanoleaf lights allows streamers to get creative with custom layouts and put panels together like puzzle pieces. For popular “Just Chatting” streamer bbjess, a mosaic of Nanoleaf Shapes goes beyond simple décor, adding an interactive element to her streams. “The selling point for me was that I could integrate them with my stream using Lumia Stream,” she says. “Any time viewers interact with the stream, the Nanoleaf lights react with customized light designs I’ve created in the phone app.”
To fill the background of his room with a wash of color, full-time content creator The4thGenGamer angles one of his multiple GLW floodlights up toward his back wall. Two additional floodlights, which he keeps affixed on opposite sides of the room, allow for even more creative lighting options. “I have one for each side of my face so I can mix and match colors to give off the look of a single hue, like pairing red and blue to make purple,” he says. “I enjoy the flexibility that floodlights give me, especially having more than one.”
A galaxy projector is a clever way to turn a nondescript space or blank wall into a mesmerizing display with little hassle. “With the touch of a button, I can transform my small apartment into a cozy gamer cave,” says adribabies, a New York City–based gaming and music streamer. With different lighting modes and adjustable brightness, the rotating projector allows her to switch up the mood of the room often and with ease. “I’ll change the colors to mix things up between streams, and I like that I don’t have to deal with a ton of wires or installation that might damage my walls,” she says.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.