In a nutshell

  • A face reveal is when a previously anonymous online creator shows their face on camera for the first time
  • People are naturally curious, so fans can sometimes pressure creators to do a face reveal
  • You don’t need to show your face to succeed online

As a YouTuber, Twitch streamer or other type of online creator, you might choose to hide your face for any number of reasons. Privacy is a big concern online, so some hide their face to keep their identity secret. Others might just feel more comfortable talking to the audience from off camera. The type of content you make might be another factor. If you make animations, gaming playthroughs or video essays, you might decide that showing your face will distract from the content you want to share. Whatever your reason for hiding your face, every face reveal starts with a face concealed.

But what is a face reveal, and why are they such a big deal for creators and fans alike?

What is a face reveal?

A face reveal occurs when a creator decides to show their face on camera for the first time. Usually, creators will do a face reveal after they’ve already been creating content for a while — sometimes years. Face reveals are most dramatic when you have a large audience already invested in your content. Let’s look at a recent example.

“hi, I’m Dream”

Dream had been on YouTube for eight years and amassed more than 30 million subscribers when he decided to finally reveal his face in October 2022. Up until that point, Dream had concealed his face from everyone outside his closest inner circle. Even friends he had streamed and gamed with for years had no idea what he looked like. His face was always hidden behind his signature round smiley face mask.

This drove fans crazy. As he mentions in his face reveal video, Dream was at a point where he was “bunkered up” to prevent people from getting a glimpse. Being one of the most watched YouTubers on the platform, it was becoming nearly impossible for Dream to continue keeping his identity a secret. He decided to finally let everyone see what he looks like. Dream says in the video that revealing his face on his own terms will free him up to work on other kinds of content and be more involved in the creator community.

Building hype

Before revealing his face to his audience, Dream built anticipation by video chatting with friends and fellow creators. Those creators recorded and uploaded their reactions to his face ahead of the “hi, I’m Dream” YouTube Premiere. This gave his friends an exclusive preview of his appearance while also serving as a clever marketing strategy to build hype and reach more viewers.

Mixed reactions

After Dream’s face reveal premiered, most fans lauded his bravery and many commented on his surprising good looks. However, there was also backlash and harsh comments about his appearance, along with a slew of parodies and reaction videos. Dream’s reveal video has been viewed 45 million times as of this writing; that’s an overwhelming number of opinions to deal with as one creator, even if most of them are positive.

Why do people care?

So, why did Dream feel so much pressure to do a face reveal, and why did so many people have such strong opinions afterward? Here’s one possible answer: Humans are naturally curious. When something is intentionally hidden, it makes sense that viewers will be drawn to its reveal. That’s one reason viewers care about face reveals, but there is another deeper reason face reveals are so intriguing to fans.

We can’t talk about face reveals without touching on the concept of parasocial relationships, the one-sided relationship between the audience and a performer. It’s common for viewers to form a bond with their favorite creators, but it is impossible for the creator to reciprocate that bond with thousands or millions of fans. Nonetheless, viewers often feel like they know the creator on a personal level. In this case, fans may feel entitled to see what their favorite creator looks like.

Why are face reveals a big deal for creators?

It might not seem like a big deal to show your face on camera when so many creators show their faces by default. But if you’ve never let your audience see your face before, it can feel like a big change. Plus, the longer you’ve kept your face hidden, the more attention you’ll attract when you do finally show your face. It might even feel risky to expose yourself in that way. You are revealing a part of yourself that you have intentionally kept private. What if people think you look weird? What if seeing your face changes how they see your content? As the reactions to Dream’s face reveal prove, creators doing face reveals will need to brace themselves against all the possible reactions, both positive and negative.

If you’re considering doing a face reveal, know that you don’t have to give in to pressure from fans if you aren’t comfortable losing your anonymity. Only reveal what you’re comfortable with; you don’t need to show your face to be successful online.