Shops and restaurants closing for weeks at a time, working from home for who knows how long, frequent handwashing, public mask-wearing… The COVID-19 crisis has turned our everyday lives upside down. As we see-saw between various levels of imposed confinement, the repercussions of this new reality have reached all the way to our cosmetics cases. The first change to be noticed in the beauty industry? An increased interest in comforting self-care products and products that pamper skin damaged by enhanced health measures. “We’ve observed a considerable jump in the sales of facial cleansers and of hand moisturizers, as our hands have been affected by repetitive washing,’’ says Samantha Daude Di Nacera, vice-president and chief marketing officer for L’Oréal Canada. However, products like perfume and makeup have registered significant losses despite the explosion of e-commerce. So, what does the future hold?’’Beauty is and always will be a way to feel good,” notes Daude Di Nacera. “This crisis has accelerated the rise of ‘digital beauty’ in a phenomenal way, but the desire for expert knowledge, human exchanges and sensorial in-store experiences will always be present.”
As a direct consequence of social distancing, makeup sales have decreased by 22 percent compared to this time last year, according to market-research company NPD Group. “Masks and makeup don’t play well together,” says Dr. Gautier Doat, medical director for Ducray in France. “Lipstick sticks to fabric, while heavy foundations combined with the humidity trapped underneath our masks block pores.” As their usual markets slowed down, many companies took the opportunity to contribute to the battle against COVID-19. “For instance, L’Oréal Canada redirected its factories to manufacture hydroalcoholic gel, which we offered to Canadian hospitals,” says Daude Di Nacera. More recently, however, consumers have been reaching for their cosmetics and brushes again. Do we owe this development to the prevalence of Zoom parties and virtual get-togethers? Or to the growing popularity of #maskmakeup tutorials online? One thing’s for sure: Many have been following the advice of famous makeup artists like Maybelline’s Erin Parsons and YouTubers like Ssunzy by experimenting with colourful and eccentric looks that showcase the eyes. More than ever, makeup has become a way to express ourselves. “With masks on, we now communicate with our eyes,” says Doat. “The trick is to wear tinted moisturizer and have fun adorning your lids and lashes!”
In a cruel twist of irony, it was when we could finally leave the house again that our skin started feeling stressed. “The air we breathe out is 10 times wetter than the air we breathe in,” explains Doat. “The humidity trapped beneath our masks can cause irritation where fabric touches the face, and it can worsen pre-existing issues like acne and rosacea.” It’s best to listen to our skin and temporarily set aside irritating cleansers, exfoliators, essential oils and retinol, all of which can damage the skin’s hydrolipid film. According to Doat, our new approach should simply be to cleanse and protect. “To reinforce the skin’s natural barrier, eliminate impurities with a gentle cleanser and apply an emollient cream morning and night as well as half an hour to an hour before putting on a mask,” he says. “To treat irritations, a repairing cream is essential. Most importantly, disinfect your hands with soap or hand sanitizer before putting on a mask and after manipulating it.”
As our visible roots and split ends clearly demonstrate, the pandemic forced the hair industry to a complete halt for many, many weeks. “With salons closed and distributors shut down, all new collection launches were postponed,” says Catherine Allard, international artist for Redken. Deprived of our beloved hairstylists’ magic hands, many of us reached out to experts via social media for some much-needed advice on root touch-ups, haircuts at home and temporary colouring. The pros were unanimous in their advice: Put away the hot-styling tools for a little while to give your hair a rest and indulge in a myriad of nourishing treatments. “The popularity of hair-care products motivated many salons to start selling them online,” adds Allard. “Some hairdressers even delivered products to their customers’ balconies!” Styling-wise, she predicts that we’ll be tying up our hair more often this winter to make mask-wearing a little easier. Rest assured this won’t hamper our style in any way if we follow Allard’s advice. “I’ve lengthened my masks’ elastics so that I can attach them to my hairdo rather than behind my ears,” she says. “I cover the elastics with a drop of hair serum to make sure they don’t damage my hair, and then I cross them over each side of my topknot or low bun. You can also use hair clips to keep everything in place—and pretty!”
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