President Trump blamed energy-saving bulbs for making him look orange. Experts say probably not

Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press/File/Associated Press

While the Democratic presidential debates were underway Thursday, President Trump was addressing House Republicans at a policy retreat in Baltimore. In between bashing the candidates in Houston and going over a list of what he considered GOP triumphs, Trump said energy-saving light bulbs make him look orange.

His exact remarks were:

‘‘The light bulb. People said what’s with the light bulb? I said here’s the story. And I looked at it, the bulb that we’re being forced to use, number one to me, most importantly, the light’s no good. I always look orange. And so do you. The light is the worst.’’


The comment drew laughs from the audience, though it was not immediately clear whether the president meant it in jest or in earnest. The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Trump’s characteristic golden hue has spawned a range of derisive nicknames, from the oft-used ‘‘President Cheeto’’ to Dana Carvey’s more obscure ‘‘Tangerine Tornado’’ on ‘‘Saturday Night Live.’’ The president has reportedly complained that his complexion appears too yellow on screen, though, a

According to professional photographers, energy-saving light bulbs are probably not to blame.

It is true that bulbs have different light temperatures, but the effect that this has on someone’s complexion is not typically very significant, said Jocelyn Augustino, a D.C.-based freelance photographer.

‘‘When you go into a family’s house, just because there are tungsten lights, I don’t think you look around the room and think everyone looks orange,’’ said Augustino.

In situations when the president is being photographed or filmed, professional photographers will know to adjust the white balance so that it is accurate to what is being seen in person, she added. ‘‘It’s video or photo 101.’’

Tamzin Smith, a portrait photographer in Rockville, Md., pointed out that the president’s orange complexion is visible even when he is photographed against white backgrounds.


If bulbs were responsible for casting a warm glow, anything white in a photo of the president — including his background, a white shirt, or even his teeth — should also be orange.

‘‘You can see that even when his teeth are white, his skin is orangey-red,’’ Smith said. ‘‘It’s definitely not the lighting.’’

The president’s skin tone, said makeup artist Jason Kelly, is more likely the result of artificial tanning and an over-application of bronzer — a type of powder or cream designed to give a tanned look.

Kelly, 45, was the official makeup artist for the Republican National Conference held in Cleveland in 2016. When then-candidate Trump came into the makeup room, he already had his hair and makeup done, Kelly said, and was sporting a thick layer of bronzer. Kelly applied a layer of loose powder on Trump, but according to the makeup artist, ‘‘he came in, and he said he thinks he already looks pretty good.’’

According to the New York Times, aides close to the president have reported similar experiences: The president tends to prefer to do his makeup in private.