I woke up to 76 messages on one Whatsapp thread with friends this week. In a group of five, every person was bemoaning the way they felt. Fed up, frustrated, inexplicably emotional – we were all feeling the effects of lockdown, and not in a good way. As we started to share tips and advice as to how to overcome such feelings, one thing stood out: nearly all of us were relying on our beauty routine to provide some sort of solace. One friend admitted she actively looks forward to putting on some moisturiser in the evening.
You might think this sounds a bit nuts but it seems my friends and I are not alone. According to research by Mintel, one in five women have been spending longer on their beauty routines since lockdown. This ties in with last year's boom in the skincare market, as we all looked for products to help ourselves feel better. And while moisturiser won't, in fact, make all of our problems go away, any small thing which helps us get through the day can only be a positive thing.
It's also hardly surprising that we're looking for ways to feel better about ourselves, particularly as the last year has forced us all to stare at our own faces for an inordinate amount of time on Zoom. Sarah Chapman, one of the most sought-after facialists who has treated the likes of Victoria Beckham and Meghan Markle, agrees. 'I think firstly, with many of us working from home and not commuting, we have more time for our skincare regimes. If you are also spending several hours a day on video calls, you might be noticing the condition of your skin a little more, and seeking solutions for any concerns. Given how challenging the last year has been, I think there is a renewed focus on skincare as self-care – treating ourselves to a ritual that makes us feel good.'
Similarly, Luke Hersheson – who has styled the hair of Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller and the Duchess of Cambridge to name but a few – thinks it's the control a sense of routine gives us that makes us feel better. 'We are so out of our comfort zones in lockdown that the idea of a strong beauty routine gives us a feeling of control in a moment where we actually have little control over what’s going on in the world right now - hence we strive to do things that give us more of a purpose – routine provides that for us.'
For Eva Alexandrides, co-founder of 111Skin, it is the idea of ritual which has become so important over the past year. 'I believe that even during lockdown maintaining a strong beauty ritual, even if you’re not leaving the house, is a total necessity. I feel it reminds oneself that you’re not ‘letting it go’, and with that comes a feeling of positivity and productivity. Of course, a real bonus of WFH means that I can mask wherever, and whenever. Dependant on my skincare needs that day I use a different mask – they provide a moment of much-needed indulgence that really does boost your mood.'
Given that sales of skincare increased so significantly last year, however, a lot of women have found themselves inundated with products and feeling a bit lost at the same time. Rowan Hall-Farrise, facialist and head of international training at QMS, says she's had a lot of queries about how to use certain products, with a lot of people asking how they can decipher what's best for their skin.
'A lot of people are buying a lot of skincare without speaking to therapists, maybe because they've seen influencers using it and everything has been hyped up because we're on our screens all the time at the moment,' says Hall-Farrise. 'So it's just about getting to the right information and not just going for the products which look sparkly but which you don't know much about.'
So, how do you make sure your beauty routine is working for you? Here are some expert tips to help you along the way...
Don't Use All Of Your Skincare Products At Once
'Try not to overload the skin and be mindful if you're mixing brands,' says Hall-Farrise. 'It's really important to make sure you're not over-stimulating your skin. Different brands have different ways of exfoliating and stimulating, for example, so you may end up using several forms of glycolic acid or AHAs, all at the same time. I had a consultation the other day and the client was using two different retinol moisturisers, an AHA exfoliating serum, a BHA exfoliating day serum, a cleanser with AHAs in and her skin was just sore and red.'
Make Use Of Online Skin Consultations
'At QMS, we're offering free virtual consultations,' says Hall-Farrise 'What's amazing about this is that you're actually able to have your therapist in your bathroom with you, meaning you can show them exactly what you're using and your therapist can look up ingredients and see where you need to strip back and where you need to focus. Sometimes, it's just a case of rejigging your routine.'
Chapman also recommends online consultations (hers are £50 per session) to help navigate any skin concerns and to get the best advice on products. 'It’s important to observe your skin’s condition, rather than feeling locked into a specific ‘skin type’. Our complexions' needs are constantly changing in response to factors like weather, diet, stress levels and more – and given many of our lifestyles have changed drastically over the last year, it’s even more essential to regularly reassess these needs. Start by analysing any concerns (e.g. dryness or signs of ageing) and your skin goals (e.g. achieving a brighter complexion), and build a regime using products that address these factors.'
111 Skin also offers free consultations, which you can book here.
How Do You Treat Dull Skin?
Chapman says this is a major concern for many of her clients at the moment. 'When dry or dead cells build up on the skin’s surface, this layer of debris absorbs light, making your complexion look flat. Exfoliation will help with this – you could try using a potent serum like my Overnight Exfoliating Booster three times a week. For a professional-standard treatment, apply this formula, and then either take a hot bath or shower, or use my Pro Hydro-Mist Steamer – the steam particles will draw the serum deeper into the skin, for dramatic smoothing and brightening results.
Also, make sure you are moving around and getting some fresh air. While we are at home, it’s easy to spend much of the day sitting down. It’s really important for our skin, body and brain to keep active – movement stimulates respiration, which in turn oxygenates the skin, delivering a healthy glow.'
Try Supplements To Support Your Skin From The Inside
A good place to start is with QMS' Collagen Intravital Plus Nutritional Supplement, which Hall-Farrise describes as a 'wellness supplement. It's aimed at your body's immunity and your skin is the first point of contact with the outside world. So, keeping strong skin immunity is really important. And they're suitable for everyone.'
Don't Underestimate The Power Of A Good Hair Day
If there's one person who understands the difference a great hairstyle can make, especially right now as we can't visit our beloved salons, it's Hersheson.
'A great hairstyle is a real mood booster,' he says. 'For anyone struggling while they can't see their hairdresser, follow our in the closet videos where I try and give you easy tricks to lift your mood and make your hair feel and look better. We cover lots of little tricks like getting another day out of your hair before you have to wash it, how to get an undone lockdown wave into your hair and also how to give oomph to flat hair that’s desperate for a haircut!'