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Beware On-Camera Hair Hassles

By January 23, 2019Blog

To commemorate one of my anniversaries at a TV station where I was working at the time, my colleagues put together a montage of all of my different hairstyles through the years. Of course, the results were a little horrifying. What I thought was cutting edge at the time looked terribly out of touch only a few years later. However, there was a common thread through all of my evolving looks: each style was camera friendly.

I realize that if you do not spend a significant amount of time in front of the camera, you are not likely to pick your hair style based on whether it flatters your appearance while on screen. However, while you may not be able to (or desire to) change your cut for your occasional video appearance, you will want to be aware of the need to mitigate potential problems.

Facing the Facts of Unruly Hair

Female newscasters have been often accused of wearing “helmet head” hairstyles, which seem to form a shell, similar to the plastic hair caps that can pop on and off of Lego characters. Mockery aside, those styles do serve a purpose: no one sporting one of those hairdos has ever had her hair fall over her face.

If your long locks have a laissez-faire attitude, you run the risk of having them invade your face and appear to swallow it on camera. While it may not be annoying to casually flip it away from your face when talking to someone in person, the repetitive movement on camera quickly wears out its welcome. If you are being shot shoulders up, imagine how exaggerated that motion would appear!

Hairstyles that frame the face can also cause problems. Most studio shoots involve multiple lights, not just a spotlight shining at you from the front. If you are being lit from the side, your hair can cast unwanted and unflattering shadows on your face. Additional lighting can help compensate for it but can’t always eliminate it.

Hair problems can also extend to audio issues if your hair extends beyond your shoulders. Lavaliere microphones are the most commonly used mics in corporate video. If your hair is long enough, it can inadvertently brush against that microphone. You may think your hair isn’t heavy enough to actually make noise, but often, mics are sensitive enough to pick it up.

Harness that Hair

So what do you do if your hairstyle is not of the helmet head variety?

If your length allows, consider pulling your hair back to avoid any potential problems. Eye contact is incredibly important in creating that connection with your audience, and you don’t want your hair to get in the way of that. Another option is to simply keep your hair behind your shoulders provided it won’t stray to the front in mid-performance. If your bangs are the issue, find a hairspray that will keep them in check and away from your eyes.

Hairspray can also be your best weapon when combatting flyaways. Blondes have more of a challenge than brunettes because the light has a tendency to play off the lighter strands. Make sure you have someone check in whatever monitor you are using for stray hairs sticking out in the wrong direction. Harness them with a hairspray that promises a flexible hold or use a smoothing serum to keep the flyaways grounded.

Your on-camera goal is for your message to be heard. Tame your coif so that the power of your words is not muffled by your unruly tresses.

Learn More: On-Camera Coach

If you found this information valuable, check out my book, On-Camera Coach: Tools and Techniques for Business Professionals in a Video-Driven World, now available from Wiley Publishing. On-Camera Coach aims to take the mystery out of communicating through the camera and provides specific tips and techniques that can make your message sing—and you, the messenger, feel confident in a job well done.