The COVID lockdown turned our daily routines upside down. Along with all the other significant repercussions, we’ve also changed our beauty regimens, often prompting new standards and views of beauty itself. As a naturopathic doctor who focuses on treating skin, I’ve seen some surprising new relationships with selves emerge from the experience. Here’s how “natural beauty” is taking on new meaning.
“I don’t think I appreciated how much effort goes into getting ready each morning,” Patrick, a courtroom lawyer, tells me. “Without external motivators driving me to do it, it feels like an immense chore or burden.” Patrick’s not alone. Many of my patients have discussed their new stripped-down grooming: along with time efficiency often comes feelings of liberation.
Jen, who manages a skin care company, says, “For the first time since I can remember, I went for days without wearing any makeup. It was very freeing and gave me the chance to look at my skin in a different way, to take care of it, and just let it be.”
While many are skipping full makeup, they’re choosing to focus on healthy skin. Self-proclaimed beauty enthusiast Alison says, “Staying at home, I haven’t been wearing makeup, just focusing on great hydrating skin care. My skin feels so much more hydrated and calmer.”
Samantha, a Toronto loungewear designer, agrees with Alison. With the onset of COVID, she too “started spending more time on skin care and at-home treatments, rather than makeup and stuff like that.”
Lockdown has also inspired us to take beauty into our own hands—and it’s been empowering.
“In a funny way,” says Samantha, “this moment has actually made me want to be a bit more indulgent and adventurous in how I use beauty in my daily life. I’m trying to teach myself to French braid my hair (which I’ve never been able to do), playing around with DIY treatments …”
Patrick likens it to the recent baking craze. “The pandemic has forced me to expand my skills into new areas, like cutting my spouse’s hair. Like the folks making sourdough bread, I enjoy the satisfaction of doing it myself.”
High-skill treatments have been hard to replicate. “I definitely miss my micro-needling sessions,” says Alison. “For it to work effectively, you have to go regularly … I was getting great results. It’s also expensive, so you just want to make sure to go consistently to get the most out of your investment.”
Beyond their skills, we may miss our beauty providers themselves. Sandi, a makeup artist and esthetician, says, “These appointments were just as much about self-care as they were about beauty. I also have longstanding friendships with all the women who care for <me> in this way. I miss them … [and] as a makeup artist, I miss serving others.”
The new beauty normal
As things began to reopen, many of my patients talked about wanting to continue their more self-loving, relaxed beauty approach. This may become easier for many, as a lot of companies announce that remote working will stick after the pandemic.
Samantha already understands this: “I transitioned into working from home about six years ago, so I’ve already had the pleasure of experiencing what it’s like to relax my grooming and style routine for a casual, at-home work life. It’s actually a huge part of why I started my (loungewear) brand Soft Focus.”
“Not brushing your hair and wearing old PJs all day definitely loses its lustre. And I still want to feel like the best version of myself.”
But it’s not only about doing less, it’s also about reimagining how beauty can work for us and the new life we want to live. Says Samantha, “You know what’s such a treat? Doing a face mask or taking a shower midday. I’m so into that!”
Amen to that.
Sun exposure can help eczema and other skin conditions. One month into lockdown, I began to get patient reports of mystery rashes and eczema flares. Most were not getting outdoor time every day and realized their skin was aided by UV rays.
Baking became big during lockdown, but moderating sugar intake may help our skin from the inside out. Excess glucose in our bloodstream prompts skin tissue damage and aging through a process called glycation.
It’s too easy to get sedentary when holed up at home, but healthy circulation feeds and oxygenates our skin. It’s also important for normalizing our circadian rhythms and sleep cycles, which keep us feeling and looking refreshed.
Try a protein-packed egg white mask. Simply apply the white of one egg to clean skin. Let dry (15 minutes) and rinse off. Enjoy rejuvenated skin.
|All-round beauty supplements||How?||Why?|
|collagen||Sourced from ground fish, chicken, cow, and pig tissues; may improve skin’s elasticity and perhaps even reduce wrinkles.|
|essential fatty acids||capsules, liquids||Researchers suspect that DHA (docosahexaenoic acid found in fish oil) and evening primrose oil may help those with eczema.|
|hyaluronic acid||creams, serums, mists, cleansers, and other skin care products||Hyaluronic acid is thought to help skin remain hydrated and supple; lubricate and cushion our joints; help with wound healing, including for those with diabetes; protect cells by acting as a powerful antioxidant; and help with ear infections.|
|NAC (N-acetylcysteine)||liquids, powders, capsules||NAC is an antioxidant that may help support skin antiaging and wound healing and help clear inflammatory acne. NAC is generally safe and well-tolerated.|
|probiotics||capsules, pills, powders, liquids||Scientists and dermatologists have found some potential benefits of healthy bacteria to help rebuild the skin barrier, treat dermatitis, fight acne, and heal wounds.|