How to Look Good on Zoom

how to look good on zoom

Wondering how to look good on Zoom? First of all, and I actually interviewed a high-end business coach about this, the main thing everyone needs to look like a human being on Zoom is to elevate your camera/phone/laptop so that it’s more or less directly across from your head, rather than on your lap or desk — generally a foot or so below your chin.

Do you have any favorite photographs taken from that vantage point? Of course not — they’re all taken from slightly above. I feel like everyone knows this but also, based on my last 300 Zoom calls, that nobody does this. I don’t do it because ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

My personal biggest key to Zoom success is that I sit perpendicular to a window with quite a lot of sunshine — so there’s a nice sense of sun falling across my face, rather than backlighting myself (unpleasant for viewers) or staring into the sun (unpleasant for me). Also, after staring at my own jowls for seven weeks, a friend taught me my number-one trick for not only how to look good on Zoom but for emotional well-being as well: the invaluable act of turning off my view of myselfwhich keeps your camera on for others but saves you from staring at your pores for somewhere between 15 and 90 minutes.

Now I love this meme:

But I’m not sure it’s true anymore! In my experience, Zoom grooming has decreased — which is to say “got amazing” – over the past eight weeks. I had my first Zoom call on Day 1 of the shutdown in New York City, and the half-dozen people on the call wore neat tops, looked presentable, for the most part wore makeup and jewelry, positioned their laptops so that they were neatly framed by a background. What happens when you stop being polite — and start getting real? At least on Zoom, it looks like a half-dozen people’s chins, or black screens, or the ceiling, or the sides of their heads. Nobody gives af anymore! There are no rules!

At least that’s my experience. Every once in a while, though, I’m on a Zoom call where I have to look presentable, and here’s my exact skincare, hair care, and makeup routine. It’s minimalist. “Nobody cares what anyone looks like on Zoom” is the smallest, truest about life in 2020, so let’s take that directly to heart.

– I don’t do anything special to my hair except wash it the night before and wrap it loosely into a bun, which is of course the key to a loosely wavy, “Parisian-girl” style. I always prep with Olaplex #3 (full commentary here) and use Hairstory New Wash (full review here), which is heaven-sent for its ability to decrease tangling and breakage. Then I’ll apply a small amount of Hairstory’s Hair Balm, which for me provides the same beachy-waves situation as a wave spray but without the drying effects of salt. That’s it — my hair routine is extremely low-key. As long as it’s not breaking off in pieces, I’m happy. One thing about Zoom is that I find it much more forgiving on hair than, like, jowls, so I don’t worry about it much.

– The morning of my Zoom call, I’ll wash either with Tatcha’s rice polish (full review here) or its Camellia facial oil (full review here), depending on how grimy/oily my skin feels — the more out of shape it is, the more likely I am to use the washing grains, which provides an extremely gentle exfoliation.

Right before my Zoom call, I might apply Tatcha’s Water Cream (full review here), which has a beautifully matte-ifying but unhappily short-lived effect.

Now: Literally depending on what time of day it is, I may or may not finish with Glossier’s Futuredew (full review here). I wore this on a Zoom call at night (so with only minimal light sources), and it looked amazing: glow-y, warm, everything you want it to be. But then I wore it on a Zoom call in the middle of the afternoon, in front of the very sunny window I already mentioned, and it looked like I’d just dipped my face in cooking oil — slightly too shiny: I find the appeal of Futuredew almost entirely dependent on outside factors, as I absolutely believe your face can look too “dewy”. If I’m not using Futuredew, because it’s daylight, I’m definitely using Sunday Riley’s Good Genes (full review here), which I think evens out skin tone better than anything else I have. I’ve been slightly off it since I accidentally applied it twice in one day, which I found extremely irritating, but I still love it.

I’m not looking to be anyone’s lover on Zoom (lol), so I’ll finish with the lightest of all makeup applications: Generally I’ll just add some Glossier Cloud Paint in Puff — the universally flattering shade that I think is to 2020 what Benefit was to 2013.