August is truly the cruelest month for hair. So it seems appropriate that we tackle the silly and superficial, but oddly crucial, issue of on-camera hair.
We all know that your appearance on camera, whether it’s for TV or online video, is vital to making a good quick impression on your viewer and building your personal brand.
Looking put together sets the tone, give you credibility, and lets your viewers focus on what you are saying, not just what you look like. So unless you are making a video about what your life when you’ve just rolled out of bed, your hair should not look that way. Ladies, there’s no need for an anchorwoman helmet of hair. And guys, you don’t need to aspire to John Edwards’ mop. But you do need to battle your hair’s #1 on-camera enemy: FRIZZ. (Unless you are bald, in which case, please scroll down)
Frizz makes you look harried and mentally frazzled. It’s especially bad if you are filming in a bright studio, where every out-of-place strand will be in the spotlight. Fly-away hair can also ruin a green screen effect (when the background is inserted in post-production). The bottom line is men and women should aim for smooth hair that has some shape. Here’s how:
For short hair, hand lotion works great as a quick fix. Just rub a bit in your hands, then run your hands through your hair. Texturizing pomade is a bit stronger and can give very short or very thick hair some style, stopping it from just sticking straight up or out. Stay away from gel—it can look too slick and make you come across as untrustworthy. Also, if you have thinning hair, nix the comb-over. It will do you no favors.
Straight, smooth hair that hits somewhere between your chin and shoulders usually works best for women on camera. With a little volume on top, it will frame your face nicely.While long hair is lovely, it does take extra time to tame and can look strange during a close-up, if the ends are out of the shot.
I admit that I am a big fan of the salon “blow out”. I can never get it as straight and smooth as a professional stylist can. Here in New York, the blow out seems to have replaced the weekly shampoo-and-set of the fifties. If you have a special on-camera event, it can be worth the expense.
If you are bald or nearly so, you’ll need to treat your head like you do your face and beware of shine! Come prepared to any video session with either translucent powder or blotting papers. Paper towels can also do the job. Press down, don’t rub, to remove oil and sweat.
Commit. Either go all the way with the moustache or beard or don’t do it at all. I think that the stubble look, aka 5 o’clock shadow, only works for men under a certain age or in a certain industry. Think George Michael or the guy on Lost or David Beckham. You get the picture.
As always, let me know if I missed anything and please refer to my previous posts on makeup (for men too). While I usually prefer to address more substantial topics, superficial issues must be dealt with when it comes to video.
Manoush’s on-camera expertise comes from years of reporting and producing for BBC News and Reuters Television. Check out her ebook Camera Ready: How to Prepare Your Best Self & Ideas On Air and Online and follow her on Twitter @manoushz.