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Though so many things are uncertain, the comfort we derive from our beauty routine is not.
For me, quarantine meant a return to something I loved deeply but didn’t always have the time for: beauty.
I reached out to some of my favorite beauty founders to find out how their beauty routines have changed while in quarantine, and how they’re thinking about self-care in this often stressful time.
Though so many things are uncertain, the comfort I derive from my beauty routine is not.
The founders in this article share some of their favorite products, which are linked below. Although many of these products are on the pricey side, you can find lower-cost alternatives that provide similar results.
Dr. Barbara Sturm is an internationally renowned specialist in aesthetic medicine. Her brand is known for wrinkle and anti-aging treatments that rejuvenate the skin.
When it comes to beauty at home, Sturm is very clear. “As your screen time skyrockets, understand the hidden danger and protect yourself from the high energy visible (HEV) rays that are produced by your flat screen TV’s, computers, tablets, and mobile phones,” says Sturm.
You can use a sunscreen to block harmful blue light rays, infrared radiation, and pollution at the same time.
“Second, keep your skin hydrated and your skin barrier function, that serves as your armor against the world, in top shape,” she says. “You can do this by using high concentration hyaluronic acid.”
“I’ve really been enjoying taking more milk baths… It’s an easy, DIY skin fix that costs about $4. You can also add honey, which contains amino acids, antioxidants, and antibacterial properties, to add an extra hydrating and calming effect,” says Sturm.
Try your own milk bath by adding liquid or powdered milk to warm water in your bathtub. They can help replenish lost moisture to dry skin.
Simple skin care
“I’m busier than ever, and so I still need my skin care routine to be simple,” says Sturm.
“The main differences are that I am using my face mask more frequently and leaving it on longer, and I’m using my Anti-Pollution Drops and Anti-Pollution Food more religiously because of the heightened exposure to HEV rays from digital screens,” she says.
For her Zoom calls and Instagram Lives with the likes of Hailey Bieber and other celebrities, Sturm uses Glow Drops instead of makeup.
“Not counting the face mask, my entire routine takes only 2 minutes,” says Sturm.
Nécessaire co-founder Randi Christiansen links her simple beauty rituals to her Scandinavian heritage.
“My motto has always been: Buy less, buy better,” Christiansen says. “I buy a few good beauty products. The products I use have not changed. What has changed, however, is my relationship with self-care.”
Christiansen is now valuing the time and the products she has more. Like many of us, she’s on Zoom every day.
“I don’t overdo it, but I also don’t underdo it, if that makes sense,” she says.
Water as ritual
Christiansen is finding ways to add in end-of-day rituals. “I like to end the day with a water ritual now,” she says. “A shower. A bath (if I’m lucky).”
Christiansen believes these are simple moments that will stay with her forever. “[It’s] a special ritual I have come to love,” she says.
Peach & Lily founder Alicia Yoon is taking her routine seriously in quarantine.
“When you’re working and living in the same space, the things you do ritualistically can help demarcate the start and end of your workday,” she says.
Food has played a big role in keeping things structured. “This moment has really raised my awareness about how much food is a part of your health because we’re now being intentional about what we eat and how we prepare it,” she says.
“As an aesthetician, I know nutrition shows up on your skin, but practicing it more mindfully day-to-day has turned eating into more of a precious time,” says Yoon.
When in the office, Yoon is almost always makeup-free. While at home, she’s been keeping busy with Instagram lives. This means she’s breaking out the styling tools.
“When I was going into the office, I would just throw it in a bun,” says Yoon. “On the days when I’m meeting with our community, I’m blow-drying it or straightening.”
More tools mean drier hair, so Yoon has been investing in products to help bring back moisture.
Yoon is usually lowkey about her nails. Not now.
“I’m working from home and every little thing — even my nails being done — somehow makes me feel more pulled together for work,” she says.
“I’ve made this little ritual after dinner when we’re watching TV, laying out my whole nail care system. Cutting, filing, buffing, managing my cuticles, doing my base layer, color, topcoat… it stays for the whole week,” Yoon says.
Sarah Gibson Tuttle, founder of Beverly Hills nail salon Olive & June, is a self-proclaimed “mani-obsessee.”
It’s no surprise that Gibson Tuttle paints her nails twice a week while at home.
“This is versus once a week prior to the pandemic — because it really serves as a moment for me to relax and makes me feel totally pulled together, even in a pretty chaotic life moment,” she says.
Low maintenance makeup
Other than her nails, Gibson Tuttle’s routine hasn’t changed much.
She’s a fan of facialist Shani Darden and uses her retinol nightly.
Desiree Verdejo created Hyper Skin after struggling with hormonal breakouts during pregnancy. On a normal morning, Verdejo rushes to prepare her kids for their day. In quarantine, things are different.
“My family’s mornings have started later without the crazy drop-off routine, but I’ve been waking up at the same time to sneak in alone time which might be for a quick Peloton workout or an extensive skin care routine,” says Verdejo.
These unique times have shed light on the fact that Verdejo is not a DIY queen.
“I’ve worn my hair in box braids for at least a decade and have never thought to do them myself,” she says. “Let’s just say I’m not a natural and it’s a good thing that I won’t be seeing anyone this month.”
Skin care over makeup
“I’ve basically ditched makeup in the last few weeks,” she says. “I’ve been really focused on skin care. I have very congested skin and usually get a facial every month.”
Verdejo has been diligent with her skin care routine, masking a bit more, and has even ordered a light therapy mask that she’s planning to work into her regimen.
Even inside, Verdejo still emphasizes sun protection.
“I use SPF even when I’m not heading outside because my apartment is very bright. I’m currently using Unseen Sunscreen by Supergoop.” Verdejo also likes to lather on a lip treatment by Laneige throughout the day.
Dr. Nina S. Naidu is a board certiﬁed plastic and reconstructive surgeon. Her company, Anokha, offers environmental ingredients that create clinical results.
Naidu has kept the same routines in quarantine, but finally has the time to mask more regularly.
“I’m also not rushing through them, which is a refreshing change,” she says. “I don’t scroll through my phone while masking; I lie down and relax. The ‘care’ in skin care has taken on a new meaning.”
She’s using her own Anokha blue clay clarifying masque.
Staying grounded with routine
“I do my hair, skin care, and makeup to make myself feel good,” says Naidu. “Having a routine and rituals can be very grounding during this time.”
De-cluttering and de-stressing
Naidu has plenty of products in her cabinet to choose from, so quarantine has given her a chance to clear out what she isn’t using.
“One new addition has been a spot treatment for breakouts, a direct consequence of living with so much stress,” Naidu says.
Naidu is finding other ways to cope with added challenges.
“Relaxation is a critical part of my beauty routine, so I finish the evening with 30 minutes of reading in bed before I sleep,” she says.
Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton is founder of New York’s SoHo massage and manicure destination, Chillhouse.
During quarantine, this mother-to-be is skipping the mascara and eyeshadow.
“I don’t reapply lipstick throughout the day like I used to,” she says. “I’m just using what I think will make me feel good on a day-to-day basis.”
Ramirez-Fulton has given her styling tools a rest.
“My hair has just been on air dry mode every day and it hasn’t been looking very cute, which I’m bummed about,” she says. “I’ve been very natural, which has been nice too because it has been months since I’ve been pared down and letting my skin and hair breathe.”
“Face tools are so important because we all need something that’s going to make us feel like we have an at-home spa experience,” says Ramirez-Fulton.
Ramirez-Fulton is bringing that same experience to Chillhouse’s IG Lives. “All of the IG Lives I’m doing for the brand have helped me find new ways to upgrade my self-care practices,” she says.
Karissa Bodnar has been having fun masking while her Thrive Causemetics team meets. In meetings, she encourages everyone to wear the brand’s Overnight Sensation Brightening Sleep Mask for an instant glow and spa vibes.
“With increased handwashing, I’ve been incorporating my facial skin care routine on other areas of my body,” says Bodnar. “For example, twice a day, I apply our Liquid Light Therapy All-in-One Face Serum to my hands and then layer on our Defying Gravity Transforming Moisturizer.”
Let the skin breathe
Bodnar keeps her makeup routine minimal for video conferences to let the skin breathe.
“I’ll apply a light layer of the Buildable Blur CC Cream all over my face and set it with the Filtered Effects Soft Focus HD Setting Powder to eliminate any shine from my bright lights,” she says. “I’ll then apply our Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara in Crystal… Then I just brush my brows up and I’m ready to go.”
As a teen, while many were busy lusting over the Backstreet Boys, Bodnar was making formulas in her kitchen.
“Creating new beauty products at home is a very grounding experience for me,” she says. “Right now, I’m tinkering with a brightening [and] smoothing body serum, so I’m trying out different levels of hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, vegan lactic acid, and more.”
Cat Chen is founder of Skylar, an LA-based clean and conscious fragrance and body care brand. She’s keeping it simple while at home.
“In the morning, I’m only washing my face with water and not soap, and I’m not washing my hair every day like I used to,” she says.
“I have video conference calls almost every day, but to be honest, I don’t really do much to ‘get ready’ for these calls other than changing out of my pajamas,” Chen says.
Work from home pains
Like many of us, Chen has invested in lots of bath salts and bath bombs. She’s also branched out to new tools.
“This one is more for wellness and self-care than beauty, but I also just bought a massage gun because my neck and back really hurt from not having good posture at home — too much working from my bed,” she admits.
All about the skin
Chen is using almost no makeup except for tinted lip balm. She’s taking advantage of having a fresh face by masking often.
“For my face, I use a gentle hyaluronic acid face wash by Hada Labo, the SK-II facial treatment essence, followed by a lot of Drunk Elephant products,” she says. “I’ve been using the Peloton almost every day, which helps me sweat and drink more water — all good stuff for skin.”
Rea Ann Silva went from celebrity makeup artist to founder of the makeup staple, Beautyblender.
At home, Silva’s routine is simpler because she doesn’t have the added step of removing or applying makeup on a regular basis.
“For my hands and nails, I purchased a couple of nutritional repair hand creams and cuticle oil,” Silva says. “[I’ve been] filing my nails down and letting them breath and rejuvenate. I’ve never not had my nails done, so this is a true treat.”
Stick with what works
Silva is a creature of habit. She claims she hasn’t changed since 1970.
“I believe if you find something that works, stick with it,” she says. “I still try everything, and I am fortunate to be gifted many skin care products. There’s a lot that’s good out there, but I always come back to my favorites.”
Wash, rinse, repeat
Silva is focused on taking care of her skin during quarantine, and loves to double cleanse.
She then goes on to a foaming cleaner. “I use the Special Cleansing Gel from Dermalogica because it’s super gentle and I have sensitive skin. Then I go and put more oil into my skin.”
Indie Lee’s namesake is a pioneer of toxin-free, sustainable beauty. Her skin care routine hasn’t changed much, but she’s added more wellness-focused products into her AM and PM rituals.
“I’ll tack on an extra 10 minutes of meditation to my standard 20 minutes,” she says. “At night, I’m using our Pillow Mist to help prep me for a restful sleep. I’m trying to take more time to be mindful with these small practices.”
Wellness products are huge for Lee during this stressful time.
“Our I-Recover Mind & Body Gel is almost always with me, and the past few weeks are no exception,” she says. “It’s packed with thermogenic properties that are so soothing and really help to ease any discomfort and tension. The scent helps to provide a small sense of calm during crazier days.”
Lee is also loving the Meditation Facial Mist as a quick refresh during the day to help promote a sense of calm.
Keeping it professional
Lee is trying to make her video conference calls feel more official by doing her hair and putting on a little mascara.
“If there are days I am not going to have meetings or be seeing people virtually, I tend to give myself a break and stick with my skin care routine,” she says. “Luckily as a skin care founder, I have access to all my skin care needs.”
Deep skin care
“I’ve always been a lotion and potions girl so the length of my routine hasn’t really changed,” says Lee. “However, now that all of my kids are home, there are definitely some mornings that are more rushed than others.”
“It allows me to be mindful and present while I apply my skin care,” says Lee.
In addition to founding MUTHA, Hope Smith is also an aesthetician. At home, she’s more dedicated to her skin care routine than ever before.
“I’m taking the time to put my needs [first] and I can see a difference in my mind and spirit because of it,” she says.
“For video calls, it’s all about clean skin. So, my skin care remains the same, but I do wear tinted moisturizer, brows, lashes, bronzer, and some sort of lip mask,” says Smith. “If I only have calls and computer work, I am all about letting my skin breathe and heal and build my routine around what my skin needs that day. I love a good midday mask!”
“I crave milky cleansers that are creamy or balm-like,” she says. “I always follow with my Biologique Recherche P50 after cleansing in the morning.”
Then it’s on to nourishing.
“Our MUTHA lab made the best vitamin C serum I’ve ever used and I’m still using samples from our lab on my face and chest. Following this, I’ll add an eye balm and then a lighter moisturizer for daytime and I’ll follow with Elta MD sunscreen,” Smith says.
Allison McNamara of MARA doesn’t style her hair often and rarely wears makeup, so things haven’t changed much.
“I have been braiding my day-two hair… and I’m loving the wavy texture it creates without using heat tools,” she says.
McNamara is also focusing on comfort.
“To be honest, I am buying more sweat suits and lounge outfits than I am skin care. I basically only had workout clothes prior and now I am a proud owner of many a sweat suit,” she says. “I do my best work when I like my outfit, so the sweat suits allow me to be cozy and cool.”
Masks, masks, and more masks
McNamara’s core products have stayed the same, but she’s been adding in lots of masks.
These beauty founders have a few things in common when it comes to maintaining their routines in lockdown.
Not only is skin care a high priority, but so is simply enjoying the process. Making skin care a ritual emerges as a trend across the board.
Whatever way you choose to do it, your beauty routine can be a source of comfort, confidence, and inspiration, even when you’re home.
Faith Cummings is an ecommerce expert and contributor to ELLE, Vogue, InStyle, and Teen Vogue, among countless other publications. Though she spends a great deal of her time crafting copy and strategy, and reporting on the latest beauty, fashion, and lifestyle news, she always makes time for her family and friends, the ballet, traveling the world, and her film obsession.