The New Beauty Normal: How Lockdown Overhauled Our Beauty Routines

Featuring elevated skincare, low-maintenance hair and minimal makeup

From Zoom meetings to workout wear becoming legitimate (home) office attire, a lot has changed in our day-to-day during the 2020 lockdown. But no-one could have guessed how abruptly our beauty routines would do an about-face. Cut off from our favourite beauty professionals, we said goodbye to the blow-dries, manicures and colour appointments we’d relied on and started fending for ourselves with DIY beauty treatments. And for many of us, our new-found beauty hacks and rituals became more than just skin deep. With nowhere to go and nothing but FaceTime calls to tap us back into our social networks, 15 minutes under a sheet mask or waiting for a hair treatment to soak into our strands became a way to feel better amid a global crisis. As we settle into our new routines, we talk to the experts to find out just how different our beauty future looks.

Skin Is In

If lockdown did anything positive for us, it was gifting us the time to think about (and act on) our skin issues.

With skin clinics closed, we had to literally take things into our own hands to keep our complexion issues in check. “Working from home has given many of us an extra hour or two in the day to look into what we’re putting on our skin,” says Dr Scott Ellis, aesthetic physician at The Doctor’s Studio in Melbourne. “We’re seeing more people ask about scientific evidence and wanting to be confident their products are truly making a difference.”

But we were seeking more than just clever formulations. To deliver the best results, we were also enlisting DIY gadgetry to emulate the professional tech we were missing. “[People] have been changing up their skin rituals and routines and trialling at-home devices to re-create the results of their usual professional treatments,” says Marita Burke, creative director at Mecca Brands. “[At-home tech] allows in-salon results with the convenience of being in your own home.”

But for some of us, the pressure of lockdown and all those extra hours indoors brought on complexion problems such as breakouts and dryness. “These issues are caused largely from stress, spending too much time indoors and not enough vitamin D,” says Dr Michael Zacharia, a leading facial plastic surgeon and ear, nose and throat specialist in Sydney. That may have been why we were buying more skincare products. “Facial serums grew in popularity during isolation,” says Susie Bearzi, head of beauty at Priceline Pharmacy. “Customers are specifically investing in hyaluronic acid and zinc serums,” she adds, with increases of 85 per cent and 115 per cent respectively at the pharmacy chain. Similarly, at Net-a-Porter, we were adding more skincare than any other beauty category to our carts. “In particular serums, moisturisers and masks,” says Newby Hands, Net-a-Porter’s global beauty director.

Behind the Mask

Masks do slow the spread of germs, but some can also cause congestion. “Wearing masks changes the microenvironment,” says Ellis. “The increased humidity impairs the skin barrier and changes the skin microbiome, which can become a significant problem.” To avoid this, Ellis advises diligent skin cleansing. And be sure to wash your mask. “You must clean re-usable masks often if you want to avoid congestion,” says facialist Jocelyn Petroni. This super-comfortable, pure-silk face covering from Slip is backed with cotton for extra breathability.

Slip Silk Face Mask

TRY: SLIP Double-Sided Silk Face Covering in Kiss, $45;

Treating In

During lockdown, many of us splashed the cash on devices that promise to bring the salon into our homes. Add these to your virtual shopping basket.

Tripollar Stop Vx

TRIPOLLAR Stop Vx (approx $1000; is a radio-frequency collagen stimulator that can help tighten and firm skin from the inside out.

Dr Dennis Gross Spectralite Faceware Pro

DR DENNIS GROSS’ Spectralite Faceware Pro ($696; aims to do it all, from smoothing wrinkles to clearing acne.

BeautyBio GloPro Facial Microneedling Regeneration Tool

The BEAUTYBIO GloPro Facial Microneedling Regeneration Tool ($319; can boost collagen production and give any serum impressive added penetration.

Angela Caglia Rose Quartz Eye Mask

ANGELA CAGLIA’s Rose Quartz Eye Mask ($224; calms puffiness, reduces dark circles and deeply relaxes you while you use it.

All Praise Our Hair Experts

One of the lessons of lockdown has been that we shouldn’t take our hair professionals for granted. Here’s the long and the short of what went down.

With no hairdressers to call, our roots grew out, our greys started to show and split ends became an issue. Some of us got desperate and snipped our own hair (even if only for the Insta Reels). But for many of us, it was a return to our natural texture and longer lengths. “We’ve seen more and more women learn to embrace their natural hair colour and cuts,” says Leigh Dole, founder of The Blow Bar Co, which has increased its offering of styles that embrace our hair’s natural movement.“We’ve brought back [into our menu of looks] hair tools such as the diffuser, which enhances the natural curl.”

When it came to colour, we weren’t afraid to try DIY. “We saw people get adventurous with bright and experimental colours,” says Bearzi, adding that semi-permanent hair colour sales more than doubled from 2019. “Colours with significant growth were turquoise, pink, purple and lilac.” For the rest of us, the focus was on making colour last. “To allow for more time between sessions, I’ve been doing a lot of natural-looking colour that takes longer to grow out,” says Simon Bright, colourist at Jonny + June. He cites the root shadow technique, which involves applying a darker shade at the root for a natural grown-out vibe.

Dyson Supersonic

TRY: DYSON Supersonic Hairdryer with Diffuser, $549;

R+Co Balloon Dry Volume Spray

TRY: R+CO Balloon Dry Volume Spray, $44;

Brite Vegan Hair Colour Pastel Pink

TRY: BRITE ORGANIX Semi Permanent Colour in Pastel Pink, $10.99;

Jonny + June Purple Shampoo

TRY: JONNY + JUNE Original Purple Shampoo, $29.95;

Nips and Tucks

While the health of our skin may have improved, those ubiquitous Zoom calls provided an (sometimes confronting) insight into how we look when we talk to others. For many of us, it led to a desire to improve things on a deeper level. “Patients had more time to look in the mirror or see themselves on video calls, so skin tightening treatments are definitely on the rise across all age groups,” says Dr Zacharia, who has seen an increase in demand for tightening around the brows, eyelids and, in particular, the neck.

Zacharia’s signature neck lift is a popular surgical procedure to tighten up the jawline but if you’re not ready to go under the knife, he recommends the Ultraformer laser treatment (from $2500). “It’s a non-surgical, preventative treatment that can treat the face, neck and body.”

Nailed It

With manicures missing in action, many of us had nude nails for the first time in a long while. “I have noticed fewer gel polish manicures and a growing understanding of the importance of the integrity and health of the nails,” says Petroni, who is also an official Chanel manicurist. “People have more time to research and understand the elements of their nail care routine; they’re looking for less of a quick fix.” Petroni has seen increased demand for the Naked Manicure at her Sydney salon, which uses keratin to generate shine. “It treats and repairs nails without any polish at all,” she says. If you want a current hue, Petroni suggests a shimmery metallic. “The new Chanel Le Vernis in Chaînes D’Or is my absolute favourite for summer.”

Mavala Scientifique K+

TRY: MAVALA Scientifique Penetrating Nail Hardener, $19.95;

Chanel Le Vernis Chaine D'Ors

TRY: CHANEL Le Vernis in Chaînes D’Or, $42;

Makeup Pare-Back

There is that saying that during a crisis, lipsticks sales rise. But the theory doesn’t necessarily hold for a pandemic in which masks are a requirement. In fact, even the most ardent makeup wearer saw the opportunity to take on a low-key look. “Face masks are changing the way people use makeup,” says Hands, who adds that there has been a definite shift towards focusing on the parts of the face we can see, namely the eyes. “Lip balms, eye shadows, foundations, lash treatments and mascara have been popular [on Net-a-Porter],” she says.

It seems we’re also snapping up any products that will help us glow. “[We’re seeking] pared back and super-natural makeup with glassy skin, laminated brows and even faux freckles,” says Tony Baumann, head of artistry at Mecca. “Masking, exfoliating and at-home skin care devices really had a moment this year.”

Now, months on, colour is back. Statement bright lipstick – even if just for a Zoom call – paired with crystal-clear skin is our newest beauty goal. “Brighter shades have taken over safe neutrals,” says Baumann. “[People] want to make a statement with colour.”

Morphe Hint Hint Skin Tint

TRY: MORPHE Hint Hint Skin Tint, $26;

Barbara Sturm Glow Drops

TRY: DR. BARBARA STURM Glow Drops, $222;

Clarins Lip Comfort Oil

TRY: CLARINS Lip Comfort Oil in Candy, $35;

Lanolips 101 Ointment

TRY: LANOLIPS The Original 101 Ointment Multipurpose Superbalm, $16.95;

Wellness Warriors

These two newcomers to the Australian market tackle both inner health and outer glow.

Moon Juice

The ultimate in self-care, this brand is all about function and unadulterated, traceable ingredients.

Moon Juice Plump Jelly

TRY: MOON JUICE Plump Jelly Hydrating Serum, $93;

Goop Beauty

The brainchild of actor and businesswoman Gwyneth Paltrow, this Cali brand offers clean ingredients and can-do skincare.

Goop Goop Glow 15% Glycolic Acid Overnight Glow Peel

TRY: GOOP BEAUTY GoopGlow 15% Glycolic Acid + Fruit Extracts Overnight Glow Peel, $72 for four;

This story originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of marie claire.

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