With so many of us spending more time at home than ever, and businesses like salons and spas closed or operating with adjusted safety protocols, our wardrobes and beauty routines have inevitably changed.
Some people are using this time of quarantine and social distancing to take a break from wearing makeup every day and focusing on skin care. Others are letting their hair (both on their head and the rest of their body) do its thing. Above all, people are re-evaluating their relationship with beauty, questioning how much they do for themselves and how much they do because of what others or society expects of them.
Below, people break down their pre- and post-pandemic beauty routines.
Patrice Grell Yursik, writer and creator of Afrobella in Chicago
“I was raised to think of makeup as a daily necessity. I didn’t go to the supermarket without at least a light beat ― foundation, setting powder, eyeliner, mascara, lipstick. And if you’ve gone and done all of that, then why not blush or bronzer or highlighter? It used to take me a long time to get ready before going out. Now if I do go somewhere, which isn’t often, I’m wearing a mask. So who needs a whole face of makeup to do a parking lot pickup of an online purchase? Not this woman.
“Being at home so consistently has really made me step up my skin care and hair care routines. Now I’m more likely to do elaborate skin care routines, to use my serums and essences daily, and I’m perfectly happy working from home all day with a face glazed with an occlusive, instead of a full face of makeup. I think this pandemic has revealed that makeup isn’t as essential to me as I thought it was, so I see myself taking a less is more approach.”
Amena Azeez, plus-size fashion blogger, body positive influencer, freelance writer and content creator in Mumbai, India
“When India had a nationwide lockdown, I ran out of most of my skin care products in a few weeks. As time passed and I did not see any significant damage from lack of use of skin serum, moisturizer, day cream or night cream, I stopped missing them. I used to be paranoid about dark circles and apply under-eye cream religiously. Once I ran out, it finally hit me that the cream was not doing any real work. I was so conditioned to think it was that I kept spending an exorbitant amount of money on it.
“Pre-pandemic, I was extremely particular about having my arms and legs waxed and my eyebrows shaped by a professional. Once the lockdown happened I could not get either done. Initially, I used to pluck my brows but after a point I stopped doing that. When it came to my arms and legs, I was in panic mode. My skin can’t take shaving or epilators and I don’t like hair removal cream, so I could not do anything other than let my hair grow. At first I hated it. I was not used to so much hair on my arms and legs. I used to wear long-sleeved tops at home! After a point, I made peace with it. Even though salons are open now I still haven’t gotten my hands and legs waxed.”
Melanie Sutrathada, on-air host, content creator and actor in New York City
“The first photo was snapped pre-pandemic, right before I went to set for one of the shows I host, after spending an hour in front of the mirror putting on a full face and carefully curling my hair. I’m a huge fan of the no-makeup makeup look, but it can take forever to make it all look effortless. There was so much time and money spent going to salons for manicures, highlights and facials. Nowadays, I’m much more relaxed and laid-back, like in my second photo where I’m wearing almost no makeup. I am more low maintenance now than I ever expected when it comes to my beauty routine and I’m really loving it!
“I’ve spent most of 2020 without any makeup on and I feel more confident than I ever have. Before, it was pretty rare for me to leave the house without at least a little concealer or a tinted moisturizer, even if I was just going to the grocery store. Now, I am almost always completely bare-faced with the exception of a little mascara and eyeliner; 2020 has definitely changed my relationship with beauty because I now focus more on my skin care routine, eating healthy foods that fuel me, and getting my body moving every single day. The more I focus on really taking care of myself, the less I feel the need to wear makeup to cover up.”
“I used to be an all-natural eye look kinda girl, but now with masks and face coverings I’ve been playing up my eyes since it’s the only visible thing. I’ve been experimenting a lot with more colors and glitters, halo eyes, cut creases and really going out of my comfort zone and I’m loving it!
“I hardly wear glosses anymore due to masks. I’m all about matte liquid lips these days. Another trick I picked up during the pandemic was setting my entire face with translucent setting powder. I felt like it made a big difference for me in stopping my foundation from transferring to my mask as much. It creates a little barrier from my skin to the mask which keeps me from having those crazy lines and wiping off my foundation.
“The pandemic and working from home has made me realize how much I truly love makeup. Even if I’m working from home in sweats, doing my makeup makes me feel refreshed, awake, and is good for my mental health. I feel more productive and get more things done!”
Victoria Harrington, executive assistant in Philadelphia
“I’ve become a lot more self-aware about my relationship with beauty than at any other time in my life. I started wearing makeup daily when I was a senior in high school, and caring about my hair and skin in my mid-20s. The pandemic has forced me to take an inward look at myself and my habits. My truth is that I care more about my hair than about makeup. Every once in a while I’ll do a fun and wild look but for every day, it’s just not me.
“I found that I care about my hair in more ways than the products I use. I have much more fun expressing myself through trying different styles on it. I’m teaching myself how to Dutch braid curly hair and I’ll tell you, it’s harder than I already thought it’d be. But I’m having a blast trying! I’ve also learned that I’m better off styling my hair at night, air drying it, sleeping on a silk pillowcase, then touching it up in the morning.”
Danielle James, fashion and beauty journalist, founder of Model Citizen and co-host of Safe Space in New York City
“I pay more attention to my eye makeup now and less on lipstick because it’s annoying when it gets on my mask. Eyes are the window to the soul and I’m decorating these panes! Since we’re all masked up, I love to do fun eye looks to show off my personality since people can’t see my smile.
“I’ve impressed myself with my hair routine. I’ve never been great at achieving protective styles on my natural hair. I tried Senegalese twists using the rubber band method with help from my mom, and even though it took 10 hours (!!!), I felt so accomplished. I’ve been playing with my natural hair more in quarantine instead of relying on a stylist.
“I take more time with my beauty routine. I incorporate more steps and wait 10 minutes in between applying products. When I was rushing into an office in the morning, I never had this kind of time, but now that I’m working from home, I’m able to spread my beauty routine throughout the morning. My beauty routine has become therapeutic and self-soothing to me. The world may be chaotic, so I control what I can, and right now, that’s my moisturizer.”
Gina Quinn, stay-at-home mom in New York City
“I used to look forward to getting my mani/pedi every few weeks. It was one of those things I chose to do when I needed ‘mommy time.’ I’d put my earbuds in and relax without the sound of my littles calling my name every second. Now my mommy time includes my 3-year-old daughter picking my nail polish color and doing my nails on her ’Frozen’ vanity! I just started painting her nails, and it’s a great bonding time for us ― lots of laughs and a huge mess.
“Being a stay-at-home mom, my daily ‘fit was always leggings and a tee. I only really got ‘beautified’ when I went out with my girls or date night with the hubby (boy, do I miss our day dates). Both of those things are very limited right now, so there are lots of leggings and sweats happening now.”
Amanda Lauren, design expert and host in Los Angeles
“Some people are born with Disney Princess hair. I am not one of those people. I’ve always struggled to get my hair to look satisfactory. Even mediocre hair is a lot of effort for me. My hair is naturally wavy and desert dry, which isn’t a great combination. At the beginning of the pandemic, I lived in top knots most of the time. I let my blonde fade into a natural brunette. But I missed being blonde, so I went back to it as soon as it was legal and wore blonde clip-in extensions for filming.
“A few months into the pandemic, I discovered Olaplex. I also found a purple shampoo by Moroccanoil that actually worked. As a result, my hair was less brassy and broken looking. I got a Brazilian blowout and cut off the dead ends, and it was life-changing. My hair no longer feels like straw and it’s far less unruly. It looks so pretty even with minimal effort. During the pandemic, I’ve realized that it’s not red-carpet glamour or nothing at all. Styling my hair a little bit or putting on some makeup even if I’m just staying home or going to the farmers’ market makes me feel good.”
Nickee Plaksen, editorial assistant and copyeditor in Philadelphia
“Pre-corona, I never would have left the house without foundation, eyeliner, mascara and styled hair. Even if I was just running some errands, I would put on mascara at the very least. Leaving the house without some sort of makeup on my eyes made me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t like the way I looked, and I felt embarrassed to go out in public without that safety cushion. Once masks became the new makeup, I quickly stopped worrying about it. I have since felt a lot more comfortable in my own, natural skin and for me that’s one of those odd silver linings that came from a global pandemic.
“I have wavy, curly hair and pre-pandemic, I was straightening it, using a wand to curl over my natural curls. I always kept my hair very short and loved to change it up in funky ways. Since March, I have grown it out to avoid getting monthly haircuts and I keep it much more natural. I use a hairdryer with a diffuser, but I have not used my straightener or wand in months, which has resulted in healthier hair and more defined natural curls.”
Diego Raul Hernandez, graphic designer and photographer in Philadelphia
“I wear makeup less often and my skin care routine has become more, well, routine. Before the pandemic, I would try to moisturize and do a face mask as often as I could with a busy work schedule. Now, I find myself wanting to end each workday with a nice face mask and do face peels more frequently during the day. Now that we have a mask on whenever we leave the house, I make sure my face is washed more frequently to avoid any buildup.
“Since I have more time on my hands (as I am working from home and no longer have an hour commute every day), I find myself trying more makeup products and experimenting with my style. Before the pandemic, I would normally just wear a tinted moisturizer for everyday use. These days, I’m buying more makeup palettes to play with. My current favorite is Lady Gaga’s Stupid Love eyeshadow palette.”
Jenny Henny/Ryan Hennessey, drag queen by night and administrative assistant by day in Philadelphia
“I don’t normally wear makeup on a daily basis, but my skin care routine has definitely been enhanced since I have more time on my hands. Due to the pandemic, I have not been able to perform in drag as much. Instead of getting ready for several shows each week, I film multiple performances for digital shows.
“When I film digital content for my drag, I have more time to get ready and experiment with my looks. Before the pandemic I would sometimes only have around two hours to get ready for a show after work. Now I can start getting ready whenever and film in advance for a show or performance. I hope that now that I’ve had more time to refine my skills it will take me less time to get ready for quicker showtimes.”
“My beauty routine as far as makeup hasn’t really changed that much. I still like to wear makeup, as it is part of my job, however I have become more focused on eye makeup. When I look back at my looks from before the pandemic and now, I feel like my eye makeup skills have improved and I’ve been more daring with colors and textures.
“I’ve also been more focused on skin care and hair health. Before the pandemic, I was definitely using way too many products with active ingredients in them. I now focus on what works for me and not what social media says I need to use. Even though I don’t see many people anymore, I still want to be happy with the way I look and feel about myself.”