It’d be much too premature to announce that we’ve emerged completely onto the other side of this pandemic, and it seems that sadly the road back to life as we knew it is - a lot - bumpier than we’d first anticipated. But making baby steps seems to be the easiest way to ease ourselves into our ‘new normal’ (whatever that means) - and as with some many things in my life, beauty is the lens through which I digest the world, so tweaking my routine was the obvious place to start.

I’d been pretty consistent with my beauty regime throughout lockdown – the simple action of painting my nails every week bringing a comforting sense of normalcy throughout those weird few months –  but even I recognised that I probably had to dial up the beauty notch when social events started cropping up in my diary again.

Scrub up

Lockdown in the southern hemisphere happily coincided with the onset of winter; and while that made staying indoors all the easier, it meant that the already fairly low motivation to adhere to a proper body skincare routine might have evaporated completely. It’s time to change that. I love a body scrub at the best of times and have been particularly obsessive in my use recently. Soap & Glory do fabulous ones that I have sworn by for years (their Breakfast Scrub is a perennial favourite in my bathroom). They’re fairly priced, smell deliciously dessert-y, and (most importantly) exfoliate beautifully. A new addition to their line up is the Magnificoco Body Scrub, a divinely coconut scented concoction.

Jo Malone’s body care selection is pretty spectacular and their Vitamin E Body Scrub is certainly no exception. A hydrating and exfoliating treatment in one, it leaves skin incredibly soft. It boasts a headily sweet fragrance, so if you like your products to smell like desserts, you will love; I’d suggest that fans of fresher, less gourmand scents try their equally beautiful Geranium & Walnut Body Scrub.

Air Your Hair

It seems that we’ve found ourselves in a sort of weird beauty limbo, suspended in a place where the very high maintenance beauty routines we subjected ourselves to pre-lockdown seem wrong, but where it’s no longer socially acceptable to do no grooming at all. Fortunately, there’s been a recent trend of embracing, not resisting, our hair’s own texture, and just lightly enhancing how your hair behaves by itself (e.g. resisting the urge to render your natural curls poker straight, for instance) which occupies a happy medium between no and too much effort.

In this vein, I’ve been enjoying letting my hair air dry and skipping heat styling, but employing a clutch of clever products designed for this very purpose. I use Living Proof’s Perfect Hair Day post-conditioner in the shower, and rinse lightly, while Bumble & Bumble’s Don’t Blow It and Kristin Ess’s Air Dry Crème are both to be brushed through towel-dried locks. All give a little weightless texture and nix frizz for a more groomed finish than your airdried strands might normally assume.

Body talk

It’s always seemed a little strange to me that even the most ardent skincare obsessives can dedicate so little time and effort to the skin on the rest of their body. But if you happened to pick up the very good practice of moisturising your body daily during lockdown, I have some great recommendations to upgrade that habit even further.

An exfoliating body lotion is an on-point addition to any body care regime: I initially became interested in the category to treat my Keratosis Pilaris or ‘chicken skin’, but find that these products also help produce gorgeously smooth skin all over. I’ve been reaching for Lancer’s Body Nourish: it boasts 10% glycolic acid to slough off dead skin cells and leave skin silky and hydrated.

Undo Skin Sins

If you’ve been less than angelic with adhering to your regular skincare routine during the thick of the pandemic, a few simple tweaks might help get you back into the swing of things. I’d suggest opting for a high-quality serum and treatment duo. My suggestions? My skin has been enjoying the cult Copper Amino Isolate Serum 2:1 from NIOD, dubbed ‘CAIS’ by its devotees. Coming from the same company behind skincare powerhouse The Ordinary, you can think of this as a souped-up version of many of that brand’s ingredient-focused offerings: this serum contains 2% GHK copper peptides, helping up collagen production – which  translates as a fresher, more youthful complexion.

A face mask is an easy and effective boost for both skin and mood; I’ve been enjoying Charlotte Tilbury’s Instant Magic Facial Dry Sheet Mask of late. As the name suggests, this isn’t the serum-drenched mask you might be familiar with –  it’s dry to the touch, and it comes equipped with quite comical holes to hook it over your ears so it sticks to your face. The mask operates via a biomimetic vector system: in layman’s terms, the ingredients embedded in the fabric are activated by heat and movement when it comes in contact with the skin (even better if you lightly massage it in on application). This in turn creates a comforted and hydrated skin, sans stickiness.

Story by Tess de Vivie de Régie. Holding shot of Stephanie Seymour for ELLE France in 1988, by Antoine Verglas.

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