How to Properly Look Your Best on Video Calls

With millions of people around the world now working from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, video chats and video conferencing are here to stay. If you’re not already, you'll likely be working from your home office, kitchen island, or couch through the holidays. That means swapping in-person meetings for video conferences on Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet, which can be daunting for many people. Looking at your image on a video call is more like looking at yourself through a fishbowl rather than an actual self-reflection. Blemishes look more pronounced and features seem distorted. But there are things you can do to look better on camera. Read on for how to look good on video calls.

How to Properly Look Your Best on Video Calls

Read up on these tips before your next Zoom call, Skype meeting, or virtual hangout to look instantly better on camera.

Spruce up your background

An interesting visual behind you during a video conference will ensure that the sole focus during the call isn’t on every single feature of your face. If you have a bold painting or pretty tapestry, park yourself there. Your background serves as a distraction from any insecurities you may have about yourself (like blemishes or unflattering angles).

Use eye drops

The camera picks up red and pink tones so if your eyes are even slightly red, you can end up looking tired or sick. Eye drops constrict the veins on the surface level of your eye, keeping them comfortable and looking white.

Apply concealer strategically

You don’t need a full face of makeup for a video call. Instead, prep your clean skin with eye cream and moisturizer. Then strategically apply concealer where needed, like dark under-eye circles, and any blemishes. Apply your concealer with your fingertips and gently press it into your skin, blending outward as you press.

Pay attention to your camera placement

The cameras on smartphones and webcams are wide-angle. These aren’t very flattering when you’re sitting up close. In fact, if you get too close to it, you will look distorted. The closer you are to a wide-angle, the more distorted you’ll look. Put the computer up on a stack of books so the camera is slightly higher than your head, say, about the top of your head. And then point it down into your eyes. Sit at least an arm’s length behind the camera. Have your eye level at the top third of your screen, with a small bit of open space above your head. Your armpits should be at the bottom of the screen. Ideally, you want to be centered in front of the camera..

Be freshly showered

A shower right before a video call can help you look more awake and instantly put together. But if you can’t shower, at least look like you just did. Use a sheet of blotting paper to soak up any sweaty sections of your skin, and dry shampoo to erase any oil in your hair. For tips on using dry shampoo, see our previous post on how to use dry shampoo. Shiny and greasy is never a good look over Skype or Zoom.

Bright solid colors show up best on camera

To look best on your video chat, choose a bold, solid-colored t-shirt, sweater or blouse, but avoid dark colors like brown and black. Dark colors, as well as things like stripes, florals, and animal prints don’t show up well on camera and can be very unflattering.

Find your good side

Studies show that everyone has a good side. And looking your best on video calls depends heavily on you putting that side to the camera. Not sure which side is your good side? Look at your favorite pictures of yourself. Which side are you facing toward the camera? That’s your good side. Of course, this works best if you’re taking calls on your phone. Handheld devices give you more flexibility for playing with angles. But even if you're sitting at a desktop, angle your body to put your good side in front, so you're not facing the camera dead-on.

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Photo by @hihoneysalon

Find your best lighting

It’s important to think about your light source when you’re participating in a video call. The brighter the light, the better. Dim lighting causes shadows. And avoid being backlit. Don't sit with a window or wall lighting behind your head. This creates shadows and can temporarily blind the other participants. Instead sit in front of a window. And before committing to your final spot, be sure to check that your internet connection is strong from there.

Or invest in a ring light

Natural light is good, but investing in a quality ring light can be a game-changer if you're video conferencing regularly. A ring light that works amazing and helps blur out imperfections. And as a bonus, it’ll up your social media selfie game.

Define your lashes and color your cheeks

The webcam isn’t very sharp on most devices so unless you use mascara, they’re not likely to show up, making you look unnecessarily tired. And a pale face can do the same. Use blush on the apples of your cheeks to give you a healthy, natural glow. 

Your hair makes the impression

When it comes to video calls, your hair makes the biggest impression. It's the main thing people on the other end will see. And while there’s nothing wrong with throwing your hair up in a topknot, there are certain hairstyles that look better on camera than others. Take a look below!

Easy Hair Hacks For Looking Good In Video Calls

These are the tips and tricks to try out before your next Zoom, Skype or virtual hangout.

Cover grays

If you have gray hairs you’re not ready to embrace yet, keep a root spray handy. Lean towards the darker side when picking out your color and just spray it on your roots. And if you need an instant fix, use any eye shadow that's close to your color and apply it generously to your roots.

Hide frizz

The easiest way to hide hair that won’t cooperate is with a low-bun. If you’re having an unruly hair day, smooth it down into a low-bun. Pull your hair back into a low ponytail and twist it clockwise until all the hair is gathered from the base to the ends. In that same direction, wrap the twisted pony at the base of the ponytail until you have the entire twisted pony wrapped. Adjust the tightness of the wrap to your liking and use bobby pins to secure it. For more tips on dealing with frizz see our previous post on How to Fix Frizzy Hair.

Style your hair overnight

If your conference call is scheduled for early in the morning, give yourself a few extra minutes of sleep and style your hair the night before. Start by washing and conditioning your hair in the shower. Then run a curling mousse through your damp strands. Part your hair down the middle and loosely braid each side before bed. When you wake up, let the braids loose and shake your fingers through your hair for perfectly tousled, heatless waves.

Add an accessory

Another easy hair hack for video-call-ready-hair is to always have a hair accessory close by. A scarf tied into a headband is ideal for hiding grown out roots. And bows, barrettes, or hair cuffs all up the ante on otherwise simple looks like top knots and buns.

Pump up the volume

On a video call, your image gets squashed. One of the simplest hacks to fix that is to amp up your hair's volume. Flip your hair and brush it from underneath to give your locks some extra oomph. If it still looks lackluster and flat shake a volumizing powder into your roots and rub it in with your fingers. Flip your head upside down again and voila — big hair!

Throw in a braid

A braid is an easy DIY hairstyle that’s perfect for any occasion, important Zoom and Skype meetings included. Braids can be low-key casual, yet look professional when they need to be. Braids are also a great way to deal with the static that’s common this time of year. For more on braids, see our previous article How To Braid Your Own Hair.

The coronavirus pandemic has made video chats and video conferencing the new norm. But swapping in-person meetings for Zoom and Skype sessions isn’t a reason to panic. Our tips and hacks will have you looking your best on your next video call.

by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor

cover photo by @amelia.edmondson

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