In light of recent events regarding the coronavirus (a.k.a., COVID-19), many of you are at home and adjusting to your new routine, which includes social distancing, self-quarantine, and possibly working from home. We’re all looking for distractions or projects to occupy our time and mind, and to pump up our spirits. One great way to do that is to turn your attention to a little beauty self-care.
As Reviewed’s resident beauty expert, I spend a lot of time trying new products, organizing my stash, and looking for new, fun ways I can enhance my routine. To help you do the same, I put together a list of beauty products and projects—many of which don’t require you to spend much, if anything at all—that you can try for yourself. Because even in tough times, it helps to do something that makes you look and feel better.
1. Create a personalized face mask
If you’ve spent the bulk of your isolation time in the kitchen cheffing up meals or showering your family with baked goods, we’ve got the perfect beauty task for you. There are plenty of recipes for easy DIY facials available online—whether they do what they claim or not, there’s no harm in zoning out with a blend of honey, oats, and avocado on your face. Search for recipes using whatever ingredients you have lying around and you’re bound to find some hits.
Not much for experimentation? You can always buy a sheet mask to hydrate your skin or snag a clay mask to “detoxify” it. The much-loved Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask comes as a powder and requires you to mix it with water or apple cider vinegar before spreading it over your face, so you still get that hands-on experience.
2. Make a scrub for your face, lips, and body
While you’re in the kitchen making a face mask, why not whip up a scrub, too? The key to this spa-like treatment is creating one that’s gentle, lest you damage your skin. It’s as simple as adding ingredients you have at home, like granulated sugar or coffee grounds, to a liquid or creamy base like oil or avocado. Use the scrub to slough dead skin off of your lips, face, and body in the shower and follow up with a moisturizer to replenish the skin barrier.
3. Clean your makeup brushes
If you can’t remember the last time you washed your makeup brushes, (spoiler) it’s been too long. First off, the bristles hold onto your foundation or eyeshadow and potentially affect the look you’re going for when you use them, but also they can collect bacteria, which you’re then transferring to your face every time you use them.
Use a bar of gentle soap, like the Dove Sensitive Skin Unscented Beauty Bar Soap, and run the brushes over it under water—you’ll see the makeup’s pigment run off onto the soap bar. When it runs clean, that’s how you know you’re done sudsing. Some people also use their facial cleanser to clean brushes in a pinch, and there are tons of hacks for makeup brush cleansers on the internet using household ingredients. To help the process along, you can use your cleanser of choice to coat the brushes and rub them against a cleansing mat, like the popular Sigma one, that has grooves that create friction to break up the makeup in the brush. You can also find a mitt at Ulta that works similarly and is handheld and less expensive.
No matter your method, you’ll want to thoroughly rinse out your cleanser then lay your brushes flat or maneuver them to hang upside down so that the water doesn’t run toward the barrel, causing water to get trapped at the base of the bristles or warp the handle.
4. Oil train your hair
Did you know that you can “train” your hair to become less oily? The more you wash your hair and remove the oil from it, the more your scalp produces oil to overcompensate for the loss, just like your facial skin. If you’re shampooing every day yet notice scalp greasiness before your next shower, you’re among the many people who over-wash their hair, especially if you also notice that your ends feel dry and overstyled at the same time. There’s no better time than right now when you don’t have to go out in public, to get yourself down to the one to two washes per week recommended for healthy hair from root to tip.
Not sure where to start? Boston-based hair stylist Graziella Meola told us to gradually space out your washes over a couple of weeks—from every day to every other day, to every third day—and substitute with dry shampoo on the off days, or by rinsing with water and putting conditioner on the ends of your hair if you simply must “wash” your hair every day.
5. Deep condition your hair
Many people have (unofficially) reported to me that their hair is feeling dry and snarly from throwing it up in buns everyday in lieu of their usual styling routines. In some cases, it’s also a matter of unfortunate timing with now having to postpone a long-needed haircut. A hair mask can’t repair your dead ends, but it can give your hair a needed boost of hydration. If you’re looking to invest in one, try the fan-favorite Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask, which claims to replenish moisture and protect against future damage. If you want to save some cash, you can make your own using ingredient combinations like eggs and mayonnaise, banana and avocado, or yogurt and honey, according to blog recipes.
6. Declutter your makeup collection
Now that you’re spending more time at home, you may be taking inventory of any non-necessities cluttering up your space. Unlike clothes, books, or other home purging projects you may consider tackling, makeup doesn’t take up too much space, so it may not be top of mind when you’re sifting through belongings. If you sit down at your vanity, though, you’ll likely find at least one product you haven’t touched in awhile, or ones that are expired.
Most cosmetics have a small graphic depicting an open jar on the packaging with a number inside that indicates its shelf life in months. Go through your collection and toss anything that sits unused or you’re certain you bought longer ago than this suggested expiration. If you have unopened products that you don’t see yourself using, consider donating them to an organization like Project Beauty Share, which gives products to non-profit organizations “serving women and families overcoming abuse, addiction, homelessness and poverty to help restore hope and dignity in their lives.”
7. Re-organize your vanity
Let’s say you’ve already de-cluttered your vanity—or you don’t need to right now—you can still organize it! If your hair ties are mixed in with your makeup brushes and your magnifying mirror is sitting on top of all of it, it’s time to readjust. Take this time to figure out an organizational system that works for you and keep it tidy with repurposed kitchen containers or organizational caddies that fit your specific space or products—did you know they make containers designated for organizing lipsticks? Yep, it’s true.
8. Try self-tanning
You’re likely not having many face-to-face interactions these days and for those that happen over a video chat, your virtual appearance does not need to be top-notch. But if you’re someone who feels their best with the glow of a tan, don’t let the current news cycle discourage you from it. Or if you’re someone who wants to finally try self-tanning but you’ve always been afraid of it, now is the time to experiment.
For a popular-but-affordable pick, go with the Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Sunless Tanning Mousse, which reviewers say gives you a natural-looking, bronzed tan without making you look orange or streaky. The mousse dries within a minute and you don’t have to wash it off—just wear it until it gradually fades.
9. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure
You don’t have to be a professional nail technician to groom your fingers and toes—just some basic tools that you may already have at home, like a nail file and clippers. To keep it simple, clip the tips of your nails and file down any sharp edges to avoid snags in your clothes or scratches on your skin. Then, if you have one, paint a clear coat on your nails to make them look shiny and healthy. Repeat this process on your toes.
If you want to try your hand at a spa-like nail treatment, place your fingertips in a warm bowl of water to soften the skin, then clean up your cuticles using a cuticle pusher. From there, trim your tips with a clipper, shape the edges with a file, and buff out the tops of the nails with a nail buffer or an old, worn-down file that’s not too rough. Once you’ve completed these steps, wash your hands and proceed with a clear coat or a colorful polish that flashes your work. For your feet, you can do the same process but use a foot spa—or, in a pinch, a bucket filled with warm water—to prep your feet.
While you’re pampering your feet, you might as well stick ‘em in a “foot peel.” Don’t worry—it sounds scarier than it is. The popular Baby Foot Exfoliation Foot Peel claims to “rebirth” your feet using fruit acids that remove dead, callused, and cracked skin through exfoliation. Leave the booties on for 60 minutes and your feet will slowly peel over the next week or two—although, this may work better for some than others. You may want to avoid this treatment in the warmer months (who wants to see their feet peeling out of their sandal?) but it’s perfect right now, when you’re shuffling around the house.
11. Groom your eyebrows with care
Proceed with caution here—we are not trying to bring back the thin eyebrow trend of the early 2000s by accident. But if your wax or threading appointment is cancelled for the foreseeable future, you may want to clean up the stray hairs around your brows and trim any lengthy strands. It won’t keep you occupied for too long (if it does, you’re in the over-plucking danger zone), but it’s still a task you can do at home and it may even be a new beauty experiment for you.
The key to plucking is to pull with the grain, or in the direction that the hairs grow out from the skin, says Benefit Cosmetics’ Global Brow Expert, Jared Bailey. You also want to only pluck in a well-lit area or use a lighted makeup mirror and keep away from magnifying mirrors because you want to see the big picture of your face, not just focus in on a tiny section—zeroing in on a small section often leads to over-plucking. The safest bet is to pull clear outliers and not remove any hairs in the mainland of your brow. To trim long hairs, brush your brow up toward your hairline using a brow brush or spoolie and snip with small cosmetic scissors (erring on the side of keeping the hair long).
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.