12 January 2018

Zooming in on our flaws?

How video conferencing can make us want to change how we look

Video conferencing calls have become the new normal. With so many of us now communicating with family, friends and colleagues via video calls and apps such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Face Time, we’re spending more time than ever looking at – and scrutinising – ourselves.  

Seeing our faces on screen day in and day out as lockdown and working from home continues means many of us are also honing in on our so-called ‘flaws’. Combine looking at ourselves from unattractive camera angles or under unflattering lighting, and now more than ever we’re picking out parts of our faces we want to change.  

Dr Asher Siddiqi, medical aesthetic expert at Transform, said, “Cameras are now the main way we’re communicating with loved ones and work colleagues, so people are looking at their own faces more now than ever before. It can be very disconcerting, particularly when we’re seeing our faces up close and know there may be a virtual meeting room full of people also looking at us in the same way.” 

He added, “We’re seeing more people booking in video consultations with us as a result. Many are saying that, during meetings, they can’t stop looking at their face on the screen or that they ‘didn’t realise their nose was so big’, that they ‘look so tired’ or that they ‘have so many wrinkles around the eyes’.”  

As one of the leading providers of medical aesthetics and cosmetic surgery in the UK, Transform has recently launched an online consultation service so that people can speak to qualified experts. The video platform is the same technology used by the NHS for giving secure medical examinations. However, for those who don’t want to chat via video, there’s also the option to speak to a professional by phone.  

The company has already seen a significant rise in consultations as lockdown continues (71% from April to May 2020), with increased numbers of people requesting procedures such as rhinoplasty (nose jobs). 

Dr Siddiqi added, “While we are here to advise patients on the best way forward if they are serious about wanting to make a change to their appearance, it’s also important that we highlight that seeing our faces on screens isn’t an exact reflection of our appearance in the ‘real world’, particularly when it can be easily distorted through an unflattering camera angle or poor lighting.

“We also must take into account people’s mental wellbeing. We need to manage their expectations and ensure there aren’t any other issues which have resulted in them wanting to change their appearance. This is such an important part of what we do, and we often request a letter from their GP or have patients undergo a psychological examination before moving forward.” 

7 top tips to a more flattering video call

  • Look at your lighting: Natural light is almost always the most flattering, but it’s important to know where it is hitting. The best position is to face a window, so the light hits your face. Try to avoid harsh spotlights where you can and if you’re calling in the evening, use a full light – lamps tend to only light half your face.   
  • Get the right angle: We’ve all experienced the horror at turning on the camera on your laptop or phone and seeing a screenful of chins. This is usually caused by your screen being too low, so try using some books or magazines to boost it up to eye level.  
  • Get a good night’s sleep: We all know that we don’t look and feel our best when we’ve not had enough sleep. Our skin can look grey and our eyes puffy or surrounded by dark rings from a build-up of fluid. Our bodies repair themselves when we they’re asleep, so it’s vital we get enough – the NHS recommends between six and nine hours. Not getting enough sleep can cause some skin conditions to worsen as it can cause a rise in cortisol, a stress related hormone which is also linked to inflammation and breakdown of collagen. It can cause conditions such as psoriasis and eczema to worsen, too. To prevent fluid from building up around your face, which can often give it a puffy appearance, try sleeping on your back with your head slightly elevated above your body. 
  • Don’t forget your SPF: There’s a myth that sunscreen should only be worn when you’re outside – but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Many people have skin concerns such as wrinkles and fine lines, which, while they’re brought on by the ageing process, are often accelerated due to sun exposure. Just because we’re spending a lot of time indoors at the moment doesn’t mean we’re protected from the sun, especially if we’re sitting close to windows, as the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate them. We recommend wearing a high factor such as SPF 50 or a minimum of SPF 30 to protect the skin and help stop premature skin ageing. 
  • Try to leave the house at least once a day: Leaving the house, if only for a quick walk, not only does wonders for our mental health but can help give our skin a boost too. That’s because we’re able to top up on vital Vitamin D which our body produces when it’s exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D helps us maintain healthy bones, teeth, muscles and skin and can also help our immune system which, in turn, will help us feel our best in our day-to-day lives. 
  • Have a well-balanced diet: A diet made up of all the food groups, vitamins and minerals we need will help boost our health and make our skin glow. While many people also often try to avoid fat in their diet if they’re watching their weight, it’s important to know that not all fats are bad for us. Essential fatty acids which are found in foods like oily fish, avocado and nuts can help contribute to the repair and moisture levels of our skin – so make sure you’re getting enough particularly if you’re prone to dry or flaky skin.  
  • Drink plenty of water: Making sure we are all staying well hydrated is essential, not only for the functioning of our bodies, but also to help our skin stay in a good condition. Our skin is the body’s largest organ and it is mostly made up of water, so without this vital fluid it can’t function at its best. It can become dry, dull, flaky, and even more prone to ageing. That’s because water helps keep the skin’s elasticity and helps it to remain plump, which in turn helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day – six to eight glasses as recommended by the NHS, or more if you’re doing at home workouts – is an easy step we can all take and one that your skin will really thank you for. 



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