On social media, as in life, two distinct attitudes towards lockdown have emerged. On the one hand, there are those of us who’ve seized the chance to wind back our beauty regimens and embrace the brave new world of minimal make-up and maximum comfort.
On the other, there are the women putting on a full face of make-up for their daily coffee run.
(The Times recently dubbed this trend ‘Team Blowout vs Team Growout’.)
Here at PRIMER, our beauty editor Lucy Adams surprised everyone when she announced she’d joined ‘Team Growout’ and had abandoned make-up completely. Meanwhile, the usually minimalist Fliss confessed that she was coping with lockdown by applying a full smokey eye at 9am and assiduously tending to her roots – totally ‘Team Blowout’ behaviour.
Here, we both explain our reasons why.
Team Growout: Lucy Adams, beauty editor
‘I realised I don’t need a ‘game face’ in a pandemic’
As a working mum with three young kids, I should have been well-placed to cope with Covid-19. Juggling is nothing new to me, but lockdown has basically turned my life into a circus act with extra balls chucked in from the crowd. In between schooling, crafting, fort building, toilet training and keeping the peace between siblings, there are zoom meetings, virtual launches and deadlines, plus 150 different snacks and meals a day to prepare for the circus animals.
My job in beauty requires that I look groomed and polished. I’m very rarely without a base, concealer, some sort of eyeshadow, cheek colour, mascara and lippy – all of which I can apply in under four minutes.
Nevertheless, within a week of lockdown I had surrendered completely, let go and relaxed a lot.
I just stopped feeling like I should look like I was going to work, or apply an ‘I’ve got this’ or ‘I’m ready for today’ game face. Perhaps it was the realisation that I didn’t actually need a game face in a pandemic, or maybe it was something that felt more rational: What’s the point? I’m not going anywhere or seeing anyone, apart from small people who really don’t appreciate a flawless make-up look.
It wasn’t until a group chat with Anna, Fliss and Sherine, where I was explaining my ‘anti-make-up in isolation’ stance that I realised I’d actually found myself part of a new trend: ‘Skin-fasting’.
The idea is that a minimalist beauty routine (some dermatologists suggest even skipping all products completely) enables your skin to reset and then function at its optimum, without the assistance of the ingredients added to our skincare.
Eliminating make-up is one thing, but fasting completely from skincare is another (and not something I wanted to try). My skincare routine is already quite minimalist, but my skin is a lot happier since giving up make-up – calmer, clearer and less red. While I haven’t changed any of my normal products, I have amped up my vitamin C (SkinCeuticals Serum 10 AOX+ ) in the morning to help me look a little fresher and I’ve switched to a nightly retinol (instead of twice weekly) with The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane, which seems to be doing the trick.
I realised I was part of a new trend: Skin-fasting
Meanwhile, my hair is… OK. Until my scheduled colour appointment I’m disguising my roots with loose buns and low ponytails.
Coincidentally, I’d tried the Goldwell Kerasilk Control Professional Keratin Treatment two weeks before lockdown started (you’ll read my full review on Primer soon) and it has been a game-changer. My otherwise slightly frizzy hair is now wash ’n’ go straight and smooth. Even if I’m bare faced, at least I look as though I’ve made the effort to do my hair.
Will I stay make-up free forever? Absolutely not! And I’m really looking forward to having my hair cut and coloured when restrictions ease. But right now, it feels more truthful to expose my vulnerabilities – my wrinkles, dark circles and regrowth – and present an honest, authentic face to the world.
Team Blowout: Felicity Robinson, PRIMER co-founder
‘Make-up makes me feel in control’
Last Friday, I enjoyed a taste of normality with a visit to the hair salon. The experience certainly wasn’t the same as usual – the colourist wore a mask and I was at least four metres from the next client – but then neither was my hair style. In fact, I emerged three hours later with a cut 10 centimetres shorter and a few shades darker than normal, and it felt exhilarating.
So many of us have learned about more ourselves during lockdown, or at least our needs and desires have been brought into sharper focus.
For the past five weeks I’ve been working from home while home-schooling the kids, the eldest of whom is very keen to adhere to the school’s daily schedule. There is no room for spontaneity right now. At least one small person accompanies me wherever I go. And while life was never very free for me – it’s not as if I could take off for a weekend on a whim – I’ve remembered once again how much I need just a small degree of autonomy and at least a little change.
Ever since lockdown started, then, I’ve been switching it up in one of the only ways available to me right now: my hair and make-up. Every morning, I’ve been conducting experiments with eye-shadow and lipstick during the 20 minutes I would usually have spent on the school run.
One day, I might apply Clarin’s Instant Poreless primer as base for matt skin and add a super-bright lip; the next I’ll apply Tatcha’s The Dewy Skin Cream for fresher-looking skin with a cream blush. As I write this I’m wearing a full smoky eye and Chantecaille lipstick (in Narcissia) at 3pm in the afternoon. Earlier, I straightened my hair into a silky bob.
No one other than the kids and my husband see me, and – like Lucy’s family – they don’t really notice my not-so-subtle new looks.
I’ve been switching up my hair and make-up every day
It doesn’t matter, though, because the make-up is entirely for me. Occasionally, I wince at the thought that other people are spending lockdown learning languages and reading all the books, while I’m playing round with lipgloss and curling my lashes (it’s possible the pandemic has revealed the essential vacuity of my inner self). But it’s fun and indulgent, and I feel better for it.
I wonder, too, if putting on a full face of make-up is a way for me to feel in control in a situation where I have so little. Of course, control is always illusory, but lockdown really forces us to confront that fact. As we’ve all discovered, everything can change in an instant and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it. One day we’re catching a crowded tram to meet friends for dinner; the next, we’re condemned to spend almost every waking hour in our homes, consuming too much wine and takeout.
But hey, at least I look good while doing it.