Social distancing has meant you’ve probably already stopped wearing make-up, cut ties with your colourist and snipped yourself a new and slightly wonky fringe.
But the extra time at home is actually a great opportunity to pick up some new beauty habits, whether in the form of an easy self-care ritual or a chore that you’ve always put off (unclean make-up brushes, we’re looking at you).
Just think: you can perfect these little habits now, and then make them such an integral part of your routine that you carry them on long after you’re allowed back out into the world.
Embrace dry body brushing
Dry body brushing is one of those things you know you should be doing, but rarely actually do. In fact, you probably have a brush already, at the back of a drawer in the depths of your bathroom. Well, go and find it – lockdown is the perfect time in which to make it a habit. “Body brushing is one of the cheapest and simplest favours you can do for yourself, and brings great returns on little effort,” says Kate Shapland, founder of Legology.
“The bristles activate the lymph, which is the network of vessels that flow just beneath the surface of your skin and remove waste from the body. The problem with the lymph is, it only moves when you move.” So if you’re spending a lot of the day sat down – thanks, WFH lifestyle – the lymph can become sluggish, triggering issues such as fluid retention, slowed digestion and poor skin health. Think of body brushing as a way to jolt it back to life.
“All you need to do is flick the brush over your skin, upwards towards your heart – feet to thighs and hands to shoulders – for a minute,” Shapland says. “Do it in the bathroom, before, during or after your shower or bath, or after a workout. Sometimes I add a couple of drops of Legology Cellu-Lite oil to the bristles and do a quick brush after my shower; it saves time, the oil absorbs more quickly and you smell gorgeous!”
Get to grips with retinol
There has never been a better time to bite the bullet and get onboard with a great retinol. Despite it being an anti-ageing powerhouse capable of boosting collagen production, improving texture and evening out skin tone, retinol’s reputation for requiring “downtime” means many of us have put off making it a part of our routines. And it’s true, it can take a little time for your skin to build a tolerance to retinol, but that’s why a lockdown is a good time to start.
Elizabeth Arden’s Retinol Ceramide Capsules ensure you use just the right amount of product every time, with moisture-boosting ceramides to offset any dryness caused by the retinol. Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment is another great choice, offering quick but reliable results and a comfortable formula. Begin by using it just a couple of evenings a week, before building up to more regular use. And remember – even if you feel as though you never leave your sofa at present – to follow up with a good SPF every morning, since retinol makes skin more sensitive to sun damage.
Make time for your scalp
Many of us have used the extra time at home to turn bathing or showering from a hurried chore into an enjoyable ritual – and frankly we’re not willing to give that up once lockdown ends.
Celebrity hairstylist George Northwood, the man behind many of Meghan Markle, Alexa Chung and Alicia Vikander’s best styles, says that a weekly scalp scrub is an easy way to transform your hair routine.
“There’s something about that extra bit of TLC once a week, taking the time to really exfoliate your scalp and then following up with a great mask. Particularly if you can sit in the bath and let the steam from the water really get everything working,” he says. And it doesn’t have to mean buying new products, either.
“Personally I’ve been mixing a little bit of Aesop Redemption Body Scrub with my shampoo, as it’s already on the side of the bath – everyone has an exfoliator lying around – or there are plenty of scalp scrubs out there,” he advises. “The same goes for the mask – just use what you’ve got at home. If you don’t have a favourite hair mask already you can also use avocado, or coconut oil from the kitchen. Most of all it’s about creating a nice ritual, but with the bonus of benefitting your hair and scalp at the same time.”
Panicking about sandal season, with your pedicure appointments cancelled for the foreseeable? This is actually the perfect time to get your at-home foot maintenance routine down to an art.
The product for the job: Footner Exfoliating Socks. You may already have tried them, you’ve probably seen a slightly harrowing YouTube video of someone’s peeling feet and you’ve almost definitely got a friend who swears by them – these plastic “socks” contain a blend of exfoliating acids that, after 60 minutes of wear, begin the process of “peeling” your feet into a baby-soft state.
Yes, you’ll find flakes of foot skin in your socks or on the floor for a good week (we did tell you a lockdown was a good time to do this), but whilst it’s a little stomach-turning, the results are next-level, leaving feet soft, smooth and exfoliated.
For pedi-perfect results, follow up with a couple of coats of polish on your toes. Chanel’s new Le Vernis in Daydream is a chic choice for spring days, but really any hue that will cheer you up and give you something new to look at will do nicely.
Finally start washing your make-up brushes
Washing your make-up brushes is a bit of a chore, we know, but the benefits far outweigh the cost. Aside from the fact that good hygiene feels especially pressing right now (applying bronzer with a brush still caked in four-week-old powder? Always gross, now horrifying), washing your brushes makes them last longer and helps you to apply make-up more effectively, too.
“When it comes to my personal brushes, I give them a wipe over once a week with Bobbi Brown’s Brush Cleaning Spray. But I love to give them a good deep cleanse with a mild baby shampoo twice a month,” says Amy Conway, Bobbi Brown senior pro artist. She recommends putting a little shampoo into your palm, swirling your wet brushes around in it until they lather, then rinsing and repeating until the water runs clear. Afterwards, smooth the brush hairs back into shape, and place on a towel with the bristles hanging over the side of a counter or table. “This will help the air get all around the brush head and ventilate the brush hairs for quicker drying,” Conway explains.