One of the legacies of living through a pandemic hasn’t just been a more diligent attitude to hygiene, but the way in which our approach to beauty has changed. No longer simply a perfunctory part of our lives, in the face of COVID chaos our beauty routines have become increasingly holistic, catering more to our emotional wellbeing than ever. “The realisation that looking after ourselves is key to soothing our mental state has become the focus of consumers, brands and the industry as a whole,” notes Georgie Cleeve, Founder of OSKIA. “The focus has turned from vanity and glamour to an almost type of mindfulness – the need to connect with our selves, to look after ourselves and the need to improve skin health for better selfcare.”
Taking an Emotional Approach
Although wellbeing has been a booming trend over the last few years, its connection to our beauty routines has never been quite so explicit. Amongst a rise in health consciousness and products that promised to boost our immunity, online retailers reported an increase in beauty products sales, with John Lewis recording a 234% increase in sales of skincare, body and hair products in 2020. No doubt a reaction to increased screen time, blurred boundaries between work and home and carrying the weight of considerable stress on our shoulders, beauty came to signify calm amidst the chaos. “I personally missed touch a lot during lockdowns,” says Arabella Preston, Co-founder of Votary. “Being able to give myself a wonderful facial or learn some self-massage techniques, kept me calm and centred when things were falling apart.”
Spotlight on Self-care
While we’ve all discovered more about individual self-care priorities, there are products that lend them themselves naturally to slowing down. Top of that list are cleansers and whether you prefer a balm, oil or foam formula, it’s easy to see why sales of cleansers rose by 66% in 2020. “Taking off the stress of the day [and] giving yourself a really beautiful, clear base for your skincare [is] elevating a mundane task to something altogether more luxurious and sensuous,” says Preston. An easy route into not just cleaner skin but a calmer headspace too, the act of removing the day’s makeup, dirt and stress can be a deeply therapeutic one. “Touch has such a vital effect on human emotion and in a year where many of us have been alone and left anxious, the simple feeling of massaging a cleanser into your skin can help release endorphins,” adds Cleeve. Tools are another part of our beauty regimes with mood-boosting abilities. Once viewed as slightly superfluous, gadgets like LED masks symbolised opportunities to enforce ten minutes of total shut down, while the humble Gua Sha became more about soothing the stresses of the day than simply lymphatic drainage.It wasn’t just beauty products that we took more seriously, even our mundane pre pandemic habits took on more significance. “During the first lock down whilst home-schooling three small children and running the business from our kitchen table, baths were my only form of escape,” says Cleeve. “Long, hot, deep and full of delicious salts and oils. I honestly think it was the only thing that got me through it and as a result, we bottled it up and sent some out a gift with all orders.” Unsurprisingly she’s not alone. Thanks to the solace that a soak in the tub offers, more UK adults than ever – over a fifth – are now regularly taking baths.
The Future is Bright
The revelation that beauty is not just about highlighting our outer selves but nurturing our inner selves too, has been a powerful one and a more emotional approach is a trend that experts agree will continue, despite the world returning to normality. “I think the emotional connection with beauty or more importantly, self-care, will be the primary focus,” agrees Cleeve. “The Western world has always been in a hurry, and I feel that we have realised that we need to slow down.”