Lockdown has taken its toll on our beauty routines. From ditching the makeup products to barely brushing our hair some days, a stripped-back approach has been embraced.
Our skin has taken a hit too. Dr Susan Mayou, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic, previously spoke to The Independent about why many people have seen an increase in dryness and spots.
“Stress is a recognised trigger for inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne, so it’s unsurprising that more people are reporting breakouts at this uncertain and very stressful time,” she says, adding that mindfulness, meditation and exercise are all great ways to relax and refocus.
Pre lockdown, you might have booked in a facial, where an expert can personalise treatments for you and identify what your skin needs.
However as we slowly emerge from lockdown and hairdressers, pubs, restaurants, cinemas and art galleries reopen, beauty salons have only just been allowed to open too, from 13 July.
However, there are many restrictions in place still, with no treatments on the face allowed. This includes; face waxing, sugaring or threading services, facial treatments, advanced facial technicals (electrical or mechanical), eyelash treatments, make-up application, dermarolling, dermaplaning, microblading, electrolysis on the face and eyebrow treatments.
Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, explained that these measures in place are ‘reversible’ and are dependent on local spikes in coronavirus cases.
It’s a decision that has been described as sexist as while only treatments below the neck are permitted, beard trims are allowed. Especially as many beauty salons already practice hygiene, cleanliness, preparation and sterilisation.
The British Beauty Council has written an open letter to Boris Johnson calling to ‘Bring All Beauty Back’, as thousands of beauty businesses have been greatly affected by the lockdown and frustrated with the lack of certainty provided for when facial treatments may resume.
While we continue to wait for salons to reopen, you can also book a virtual consultation with aestheticians and skincare brands, some free and some fee-paying, so you can put your questions to the experts.
But for a little TLC in your own bathroom, give yourself an at-home facial using a selection of expert-approved products and tools.
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Set the scene
“Before you even start applying any products, for a really wonderful home facial, create a relaxing, calm atmosphere,” says Andrea Pfeffer, founder of skincare clinic Pfeffer Sal.
She recommends playing some chilled music, getting into your comfiest clothes and lighting a scented candle, small steps that will put you in the best mindset for a relaxing treatment that will take care of you inside and out.
As heated pools and massage tables aren’t possible, lighting a candle like this Jo Malone London orange blossom candle (Jo Malone London, £48) can make all the difference in lifting your mood. Every time you do light it, you can enjoy the scents of water lily, clementine flower and balsamic vetiver.
When you’re finished with it, you can clean it out and use it as a makeup brush holder.
To keep your hair out of your face, use this Face Halo accessories pack (lookfantastic, £11.55) with a customisable, stretch headband and accompanying washbag.
Worn around the hairline, it’ll also ensure that no product ends up in your hair, which could make it greasy, not to mention a mess. Other than the toggle on the bag, it’s plastic-free too and an easy way to cut down on your consumption.
Whether you’re wearing make-up or are bare-faced, to begin with, a cleanser is the first step. Pfeffer advocates using two, an oil cleanser first to dissolve debris from the day including makeup, SPF, or excess oil on the skin.
“The second cleanse will really clean the skin so it’s a blank canvas for your products to follow,” she says.
For a brightening agent in your cleanser, the Super Facialist Vitamin C + brighten skin renew cleansing oil (Feel Unique, £7.30) is superb for a dose of vitamin C that’s inexpensive yet feels a lot more luxurious than the price tag suggests.
Apply to dry skin and remove using a warm flannel or reusable cotton pad.
She recommends using the Botane whipped cleanser (Pfeffer Sal, £54) for the second cleanse, a lightweight gel texture that will suit sensitive or congested skin.
Once your skin is clean and dry, sloughing off dead skin cells is the recommended next step.
“An exfoliator is fantastic at smoothing the skin texture and nibbling away at dead skin cells that can leave skin feeling rough and a little lacklustre; every skin type is different and requires a different form of exfoliation,” explains Pfeffer.
She advises using alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) if pigmentation, dullness and texture is your primary concern and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) for oilier, acne-prone skin.
It contains salicylic acid which fights blemishes, brightening niacinamide and it’s signature Hungarian thermal water to soothe and hydrate.
We also loved the Kate Somerville liquid exfoliKate triple acid resurfacing treatment (Kate Somerville, £50), an AHA based product infused with papaya, pineapple and pumpkin enzymes alongside lactic, phytic and glycolic acid.
According to our reviewers, this is particularly good for problematic skin texture and there was no dryness post-application. Ditch the cotton pads for this and instead apply directly onto your skin so it can soak up every last drop.
“Exfoliation leaves the skin very responsive afterwards so it’s the perfect time to follow on with your facial mask,” reveals celebrity facialist Michaella Bolder.
While a face mask won’t solve all your problems, as much as we wish it could, having a glowing complexion will certainly make you feel better. We’ll be reaching for the Charlotte Tilbury goddess skin clay mask (Space NK, £38).
The clay mask is luxuriously soft, creamy and smells delightfully spa-like, with a blend of Spanish clay, sweet almond oil and vitamin C that delivered instant radiant results as the winner of our IndyBest review of face masks.
It’s not cheap (none of Tilbury’s products are), but it’s worth every penny and lasts longer than you think it will.
To round off your facial, apply oil and massage into the skin, which according to Pfeffer helps remove toxins, release tension and boost circulation to leave with a glowing complexion.
The Elemis superfood facial oil (Elemis, £45) came top in our IndyBest review of face oils. It is rich in antioxidants, flaxseed, carrot, rosemary and nut oils that will leave you with plump and glowy skin come morning and is perfect for an evening facial.
Bolder recommends squeezing five to six drops onto your palms and rub together to warm the oil. “Bending your fingers on both hands, using your index and middle finger knuckles pinch your jaw and slide outwards from the chin to behind the ear 30 times each side using a firm pressure.”
Then she says, place your palms over your cheekbone starting at the nose, sweep the heel of your hand outwards and upwards (underneath the cheekbone) towards the ears using a firm pressure to lift the cheek. Repeat this six times on each side.
“Slide up to the forehead, again using your palms one at a time to work from the centre and glide outwards to the temple applying a firm pressure to stretch the forehead, repeat this 30 times,” she says.
To finish, she advises to bring your hands back down to your cheekbones, make a fist and place your finger knuckles directly underneath your cheekbones and lean down onto your hands pressing deeply inwards and upwards. “Hold for 10 seconds then repeat six times.
According to Pfeffer, incorporating tools into your massage can amplify the results of your products and help bring life back to dull complexions to give you that post-facial glow.
One of our favourites is the MZ Skin tone and lift germanium contouring facial roller (MZ Skin, £59), launched by Dr. Maryam Zamani, a highly respected and leading facial aesthetics doctor.
The wand has small, sturdy stones along it, which when rolled over your face in an upward direction for 30-60 seconds has an instant de-puffing effect, will improve circulation and shift blockages in the lymphatic system.
Once you’ve treated and massaged skin, apply a luxurious lip balm before you head to bed, as a treat and to keep dry, chapped lips at bay.
We’d recommend the new Huda Beauty silk balm (Cult Beauty, £18) which is packaged in a lip-gloss style tube with a doe-foot applicator.
It saves you from getting sticky fingers as you would with a salve in a pot, and has a blush pink sheer tint which leaves a gloss-like shine without the stickiness.
The soybean and liquorice extract enriched formulas will keep your lips looking and feeling smooth until morning.