If there’s a common thread to the pandemic experience, particularly when it comes to our grooming rituals, it might be called recalibrating our current new norm. A First World problem, admittedly, but we’ve had to forego our regular sprucing: mani/pedis, facials and waxing, haircuts and color. At home, comfort is king.
Staying at home has caused people to modify many of their basic routines, from diet and exercise to skincare, hair care and makeup. It’s forced many women, in particular, to reexamine the effort they put into their appearance. Why put on a made-up face, an elaborate outfit, a time-consumptive “do,” all part of an effort to maintain a costly façade?
Many of us have come to realize how outer-directed the whole appearance racket is, leaving us with little intrinsic pleasure. It begs the questions, if you put on a lipstick and there is no one to see it, is it worth leaving a stain on all your beverage glasses? In other words, why get all made up if there is nowhere to go?
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with changing out of sweats and putting on some sparkle, if it puts a little spring in your step. But the beauty of beauty-making in the time of corona is that we get to decide how we define looking beautiful—and who we want to look beautiful for.
A pandemic can shake us out of normal habits, allow for the disruption to bring in the new. It may even help us embrace a more natural version of ourselves. This doesn’t mean we have to stop dressing up. But if you do, let it be by choice, not because of cultural pressures.
Here’s how to dial down the image industrial complex and show your true colors, grays included.
Across the country, businesses such as hair salons and other beauty-related services closed their doors. One of my favorite early memes of the virus: “We are about three weeks away from knowing everyone’s true hair color.”
Whether to go gray gracefully has been at the root of many people’s appearance dilemmas. Handfuls of stars have publicly confessed to covering up their gray, then paved the way for embracing it. Now that salons are opening back up, some of us are unsure whether to resubmit ourselves to the tyranny of maintaining a certain color.
Explore: The timing couldn’t be better to experiment with wearing your natural hair color with pride. You don’t have to be wed to it. If you feel better with some color, but don’t want to treat your hair so harshly, another option is to experiment with less toxic hair dyes, such as brands that don’t contain ammonia. You can bring your own hair dye to your hairdresser or do it yourself at home.
In the pandemic lockdown, shelter in place and safer at home, many people have quit their morning makeup regimens cold turkey. Makeup might be one of those upended by Covid that may lose some of its luster as we move on. Home confinement means many women are less interested in spending time in front of the mirror.
The Business Journals reports “one survey found only a quarter of us are keeping up makeup routines.” Sales reports support this downward trend: According to the New York Times, “In late March, E.L.F. Beauty said it saw a “significant decline” in retail sales in the last two weeks of that month. The company’s stock is down 40 percent since mid-February.”
Although drooping sales have been exacerbated by Covid, Covid is not the only cause for decline. Again, from the New York Times, “since peaking in 2017, sales of makeup have slowed.” Larissa Jensen, vice president and beauty industry analyst with NPD Group, recently said that “skincare sales recently eclipsed makeup sales for the first time.”
Leading the no-makeup movement is younger generations, but it has a ripple effect. Embracing a more natural look, which prioritizes glowing skin over contouring mastery makes sense in our culture’s newfound wellness orientation.
Experiment: Try focusing on skin care first. Scrubs, moisturizers, masks and serums can all give your skin a natural glow. If you do want to wear a little makeup, even if it’s just for a stroll, try a brand that steers clear of parabens and phthalates.
Consider condensing your routine to a swipe of lipstick, a coat of mascara and a quick dusting of powder. Or if you frequently wear a face mask in public, try playing up your eye makeup for heightened impact.