Is Your “Pandemic” Hair Getting in the Way of Your On-Camera Performance?

By June 15, 2020blog

When is the last time you went to the hair salon or barber shop — some time before the coronavirus shutdowns, perhaps?

Businesses may be reopening, but if you’re like me, getting an appointment for a bit of personal grooming is still hard to come by with long waiting lists, shorter hours, and social distancing protocols slowing things to a crawl. It could be weeks (or longer) before you get in for a trim, a bit of styling, or a touch up. In the meantime, you’ve got an important job interview in a couple of days, or an important online presentation to make— and you’re feeling pretty shaggy.

Regardless of difficulties getting in to see your favorite stylist, the reality is that your hair and how it looks and behaves (because, yes, it can take on a life of its own) are important to how your on-camera performance is received.

Let’s take a quick look at some on-camera hair best practices.

  1. First of all, while people might say they don’t care about how your hair looks when you’re on screen, in my experience that’s far from the truth. Years ago, I used to sport medium length hair until, on a whim, I decided to chop it off in favor of a short, modified pixie style. When I first went on the air with my new coif, the phones lit up at the station. It seemed everyone wanted to weigh in on my new ’do. Thankfully, the comments were mostly positive, but it was an eye-opener. My mane and how I managed it was apparently quite important to viewers. Hair matters!
  2. While the way your hair looks look should not be more important than your message, if your hair style is so distracting that it runs contrary to audience expectations, the power of your words will be muted. For example, showing up with unruly hair can give the impression, intended or not, that you’re not all that interested in what you have to say. Viewers wonder if you bothered to look (or cared to look) in the mirror before your appearance. Don’t let your message be lost because viewers are distracted by the bangs over your eyes, the tuft sticking up in the back, or the wings escaping from behind your ears. Tame those unruly tresses!
  3. Hairspray can be a potent 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.
  4. If you have long locks, 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! If the length of your hair allows, consider pulling it 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Whatever your hairstyle and whatever your ability at present to get into the salon or barber shop for a bit of grooming self-care, your number one on-camera goal is for your message to be heard. Do what it takes to tame your coif so that the power of your words is not muffled by unruly curls.

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.