How will the pandemic change the face of beauty
Free of make-up during the lockdown, have women finally begun to feel comfortable in their own skin?
“Because eyeshadow is too mainstream,” said Kareena Kapoor Khan in the caption of a recent Instagram post that showed her minus make-up. Free of cosmetics, her face showed minor imperfections. But her skin glowed and she looked completely the diva she is.
Right now, at this time of lockdown, anyone who appears on your feed with full make-up is bound to look out of place; you might also believe that such pictures show bad taste. But will this low-key look continue once the lockdown has been lifted?
The sudden pause that the lockdown has created in our lives has also made us think about how we treat nature and so a move towards clean beauty is almost predictable. All global reports have shown that while sales of many beauty products have taken a hit during lockdown, the sales of clean beauty products have been on the upswing in the past few weeks. India, with its tradition of Ayurveda, has an in-built affinity towards herbs, flora and fauna in beauty rituals.
Jessica Jayne, who runs the clean beauty brand Pahadi Local, has noted an uptake in clean beauty products as well as everything associated with wellness. Customers have been happy to make prepaid purchases despite knowing there could be considerable delay in delivery, she observes.
The fragrance market has been “strongly” impacted by this trend towards natural products. Bengaluru-based Ally Matthan, a leading Indian perfumer, points out, “There is a perceived consumer shift from ‘wellness’ to ‘well-being’ and our offering must reflect these values. Fragrance has always played a critical role and in these times, the instant lift a good perfume offers is deeply appreciated. Of the roughly 3,000 fragrance ingredients available, our palate must be reduced to non-volatile compounds. Volatile compounds may cause instant gratification but they are also hazardous to your health in the long-term – they cause respiratory problems and skin issues apart from being subtle hormone disruptors as they are as toxic as car fumes.”
The lockdown has not only turned us into chefs, it has also turned us into kitchen beauticians. This is not surprising, given that we have a centuries-old tradition of elaborate home remedies for skincare and we have the time to practice them.
The luxury of time will, of course, ebb as we go back to “a new normal,” so Delhi-based Dr Kiran Lohia, who runs the skin, aesthetic and wellness clinic, Isyaderm, is ready for her clients “to come back in droves.” She says #nofilter will be in demand now that laser hair removal is one of the most missed treatments and she also believes that invasive treatments like botox and fillers will take the backseat for now and “high performance skincare and home care devices will definitely be preferred over expensive cosmetics.”
Most beauty experts agree that, going forward, mascara and kajal (Colorbar’s Modi points out that already 94 per cent of Indian women use kajal) will play an important role. But women are not going to turn their back on rosy lips. “I don’t think women will stop wearing lipsticks,” says Soni. “But I do think eyeliners and soft kohl eyes will make an entrance. Someone should invent a transparent mask and all the women will wear the lip colours they love.”
With Zoom calls becoming part of every working woman’s life, we will want that coat of lippy, but perhaps colours will be more subtle. Soni believes some of the important make-up products to use right now are the ones with skin benefits, like primers and tinted moisturisers. Influencer Scherezade Shroff sees masks becoming a bit like socks – we will match them to our looks. The mask will just become an extension of the make-up ritual.
What makes the 2020 different from 1929 is that we were already marching towards a more natural look before the pandemic. According to Colorbar, 37 per cent of women in west India, 16 per cent in the south, 28 per cent in the north and 33 per cent in the east were already looking for natural make-up. Says Shroff, “Having been make-up free for so long it will be hard to go back to a full face Kim K sort of vibe.”
So there will be a new balance and, of course, the whole point of make-up is to be able to play around with looks – when in the mood, there is nothing wrong with getting your Lady Gaga on!
Shroff, in fact, coloured both her own and her mom’s hair with an at-home kit “out of boredom,” so perhaps a niche set of women will express joy through their tresses. As they say, hair always grows out.