The Changing Face of Beauty Standards Under Quarantine

In the midst of strategizing how to keep their businesses profitable, female founders are embracing a more relaxed version of their typical beauty routine. Some are relishing the freedom that comes with graying roots and bare nails, while others are testing out innovative home solutions.

By Zoe Schaeffer

Is it atrocious to care about gray roots during the worst global crisis of our time? Or how to keep our complexions glowy when hospitals are being overrun with the sick? It’s hard to find bright moments during the current shelter in place mandate, but entertaining beauty videos have offered some much-needed levity. One of the most widely circulated, from actress and comedian Chelsea Peretti, features one of her now-famous lessons: “I’m gonna do a makeup tutorial with this Anastasia palette and you just put all your fingers in it and go like this (smears it all over her face) and it doesn’t matter ‘cause you’re never leaving the hoooouuuse.” Sure, the underlying message is dark, but she’s also tapping into the big #stayhome question of late: How do we manage our beauty regimes while we quarantine?

 

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this is part 1 of 8💄 of my makeup tutorial

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Last week Amy Nelson, founder of The Riveter, a chain of shared workspaces for women, asked this very question on Twitter, opening up a discussion for at-home hair color suggestions. She was met with a flurry of responses—some practical, and others emotional. “Professional hair color is best and a great way to support businesses in need when the time comes to open!” offered one woman. “Box dye will make you cry,” offered another. Many recommended the cultish color-in-a-box product from Madison Reed, noting the importance of supporting female-founded brands. (Others also feel that “@AmyErrett is epic”).

Similarly, Terri Burns, a VC and international speaker, tweeted about wanting to start a black women’s support group for hair during the quarantine, and joked that while everyone is hoarding toilet paper, she’s headed for the castor oil aisle. What followed was an honest and witty flood of comments. “This is real! My passion twists are on their last strands,” someone declared, while another admitted that everyone is now used to her pink, velvet turban in video calls. In a helpful effort, someone else announced that her company, @MyavanaHairCare would be hosting a virtual hair coaching session the following day, along with a link to connect.

Katya Libin, co-founder of HeyMama, an empowerment eco-system for working mothers, mentioned that her family started taking note of her own, slow transformation. “My daughter began pointing out how much gray hair I have and my boyfriend offered to do my nails—which I guess is pretty great!” Her medicine cabinet is stocked with brands like Wander Beauty, Honor MD and Sara Happ to keep her skincare on point while she’s home, but for things that require in-person appointments, she’s embracing all things natural. Babba Rivera of ByBabba, a New York based marketing agency, also faces hair dilemmas – but not of the gray variety. “My main hurdle is not being able to cut my bangs, so I’m opting for headbands to sweep overgrown pieces out of my face,” she says. “And since I live for my gel manicure, I’ve been forced to master regular polish, which unfortunately, doesn’t last more than a few days.” As for skin, she’s been sticking to specific products from female founders who are in the clean beauty biz. “I’m using Saie’s Glowy Super Gel and Tinted Brow Butter, and I’ll dab on some of Tata Harper’s ‘Very Popular’ Lip and Cheek Tint if I need an extra boost.”

Kodi Kitchen, founder of Equipt Movement, which makes artful fitness equipment, has been getting creative by substituting her every-so-often facials with “on-the verge-of-bad” mashed apple and nutmeg face masks that she makes with her sixth grader. Naturally she keeps her own vegan leather ankle weights attached to her ankles at all times—“so even when I’m losing my mind, my buns will look good.” She’s supporting her friend Jana’s company, Captain Blankenship, known for their golden beachy wave sprays, using only these products in her daily hair routine. And in the absence of being able to see her favorite local manicurist, Jenny Galluzzo, co-founder of The Second Shift, a tech platform for freelancing moms, is getting polish tutorials from Tenoverten’s Nadine Abramcyk, who founded the cult New York nail salon. When it comes to lending support, she’s keeping it close to home by buying stylish sweats from NoLiTa’s Warm boutique, as owner Winnie Beattie is her neighbor and social distance walking partner.

“My daughter began pointing out how much gray hair I have.”

In a time of quarantine, it makes sense that women are bonding over universal concerns like hair maintenance—for many, it’s less about vanity and more about staying connected to female friends during isolation. The concept of beauty-as-community is nothing new—women have always turned to one another for derm resources and product recommendations. Glossier is built on this very idea—that beauty can create a sisterhood, so to speak. The brand often takes online surveys and asks readers how they can make current products better. Call it a massive focus group that meets on a regular basis.

Like many restaurants that are now pivoting to delivery and take-out, many beauty experts are trying to serve their clients (and beyond) with special services. Kristie Streicher, brow guru and co-founder of the sister-run beauty temple Striiike, polled her followers for interest in an at-home brow-trimming lesson, while celebrity hairstylist Tracey Cunningham is making “color kits” for clients who simply want to feel pulled together behind closed doors (she was called “an angel on earth” in the comments section). Dr. Barbara Sturm, the legendary German skincare guru, filmed a live stream video discussing how to maintain glowing skin (an anti-inflammatory lifestyle!) and finally, Gucci Westman, the makeup artist behind Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon’s ethereal red carpet looks, is a steady flow of IG info for how to freshen your look after so much Groundhog Day makeup-free monotony. One of her followers declared that her skin is glowing because she’s been “masking like crazy” while sitting around the house. And in another, more poignant comment, someone said that she and her daughter have been watching and re-watching Gucci’s tutorials because “it lets us drift away and forget the horror that’s unfolding all around.” Who would have thought that blending foundation would provide such escapism?

Still, for many, this is the moment to embrace split ends, take a break from skin-suffocating foundation, and forego those cornea-wrecking lash extensions. Gwyneth Paltrow, the larger-than-life female founder of lifestyle brand Goop, has been championing the au naturale look for years (at her company’s recent dinner party, she required guests arrive only having used her GoopGlow skincare products). And it seems that she might have ignited a movement before its time. With the help of other typically-glammed celebs like Julia Roberts, Kelly Ripa, and Jessica Alba posting their gray roots and bare-faced selfies, the trend of least resistance is also effortless. Marika Frumes, founder of Her USA, a global community of female leaders, is onboard the natural train, too. “I’m taking this moment to go au naturale in all ways—a detox for my skin, hair, and mental health,” she said. “In the morning, I’m only using toner and I’m not doing nail polish—let those fingers breathe!”

The less-is-more approach is definitely prevalent among many female founders in Los Angeles. “No makeup and gray hair,” proclaimed Joanna August, founder of Design Arts Agency, a group that represents interior designers. “When I notice I’ve been in sweats for two days, I’ll wash and give myself a blowout just to boost morale, but makeup has been the last thing on my mind.” Same, says Jodi Guber of the celebrated workout brand Beyond Yoga. “I don’t have the bandwidth to color my hair at home so I’m just letting it go. I do have a brown colored spray in case it gets really bad though—I guess we’ll find out soon enough!” Finally, Sophie Pierce, founder of Sophie Dance, a branch of dance studios in Los Angeles, is one of many Angelinos who rely on lash extensions for a little dose of daily glamour. “But since I can’t have my lashes done, I’m going to finally try that all-natural serum that I’ve been hearing about,” she says, with a suggestion of self-liberation.

In the end, most women seem to be feeling good about embracing a more relaxed version of their typical routine, perhaps swapping their boardroom blow-out for a sleek pony. So the real question is, will we return to the workplace feeling more comfortable in our own skin? Will less makeup and a little more frizz fly in front of investors? Is authority rooted in looking pristine? Should lockdown test this narrative, we won’t know the outcome for a while. But as we move into a new world and into our new selves, perhaps we’ll just start to embrace what we were given.


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