WE ARE STILL LIVING IN STRANGE TIMES.
We were all asked to practice social distancing and quarantine in our homes in the middle of March, which meant you were entirely responsible for your own grooming. Some Provinces and city gradually reopened, enabling you to visit salons if you wear a face mask and followed the guidelines. However, case numbers are now skyrocketing, and states are rethinking their openings. You shouldn’t leave your house if you’ve been sick, are at high risk, or live with someone who is at high risk.
Look forward to our new guidelines but in the meantime, here are a few hints to help you get by before the lockdown is lifted.
You’re probably doing a lot of hand washing right now (and you should!). However, since that might dry out your skin, you can use a moisturizer afterward. Footlogix’s is not only great for you feet but also your hands. Footlogix DD Cream mouse or very dry formulae which is a favorite with some All My Nails staffers.
De-Stress With a Manicure
With all that extra time spent on your hands, don’t forget about your nails. There is no shortage of prepackaged manicure tool kits, but you probably don’t need them. They often include a bunch of products you likely won’t use. Instead, get yourself the basic tools:
Nail clippers: These are sharp, durable, and long-lasting. Look for one that has a built-in tool for cleaning under your nails, or a basic nail brush will suffice.
Tropical Shine and Beauty Secrets nail files: These are two emery boards that aren’t too costly. Crystal or metal files are easier to wipe, according to skilled nail technicians. Like this ASP file, I prefer crystal.
Tropical Shine buffers: Buffers smooth and shine your nails, but don’t use them more than once a month or you might accidentally wear them down.
I understand how tempting it is to cut and push those cuticles, but you should avoid doing so because you risk introducing bacteria and infecting yourself. To stop cracking, use cuticle oil and keep your hands moisturized.
If you’re looking for a manicure in a package, Olive and June Mani Kits have all the polishes and equipment you’ll need without the extras.
You’ll get a nail clipper, file, buffer, nail polish remover, thin nail brush, cuticle serum, polish, and a universal polish bottle handle, depending on which choice you choose. As nice as it is to have a freshly painted manicure, nail polish chips. Nail stickers don’t.
We use Dashing Diva; they’re easy to put on—just use the included file at the edge of your nail to remove and smooth out the excess—and they come in a lot of fun prints. You won’t have to worry about chipping or waiting for your nails to dry with this sticker manicure, which should last for at least a week. Most importantly, they don’t look like stickers.
Try Nail Art
If your polish collection is lacking, you don’t have to go out and buy every Essie color there is (at $9 a pop, it adds up quickly). As long as you’ve got one or two base colors, look for design polishes with a long, fine brush like these. They make it easy to do line designs or to add a pop of color to otherwise basic nails.
If you’ve already got a solid collection of colors, opt for thin nail polish brushes instead. Just be sure to clean the polish off the brush immediately so the bristles don’t dry up. Dotting pens make it easy to draw flowers and polka dots. If you want to go all-in, you can get a nail art set that includes brushes, dotting pens, glitter, sequins, and anything else you could possibly want to put on your nails. We haven’t tried this one, but it has great reviews.
When it comes to nail art, you have to be willing to try and try again, no matter how many times you mess up (and you will mess up). If there ever was a time to learn, it’s right now, as no one will see them.
Sheet masks are useful for short-term issues, such as when the skin is in dire need of hydration. They’re better used as part of a routine, but they’re also enjoyable and soothing on their own.. Here are a few of our favorites
Soap and Glory’s Miracle Moisture Mask: This hydrogel sheet mask is cooling and gives you an instantly plump look.
Farmacy’s Coconut Gel Mask: This hydrating sheet mask is infused with coconut water, and it’s good for all skin types.
Dr. Jart Sheet Masks: There are several to choose from, including one made for especially dry and damaged skin.
Cicapair Calming Mask: This is a 5-pack of masks for sensitive skin.
Zitsticka Press Refresh Mask: These masks are overpriced, but they really did shrink some intense breakouts in our testing.
Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Hydrating Mask: This is a good overnight option if you have particularly dry skin.
Ordinary’s AHA Peeling Solution: This is a good chemical exfoliant, but if your skin isn’t used to acids, proceed with caution. Using it no more than once a week, and then for a few minutes at first. If you have a little more money to spare, I recommend Foreo’s UFO Smart Mask Device. It’s a 90-second spa treatment that combines fire, cryotherapy, vibrations, and LED light, so you don’t have to sit with a mask for 20 minutes.
A jade face roller is not going to change your appearance, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel nice to use.
There’s a lot of bad skin-care advice out there, and we all have different skin types, so what works for us won’t necessarily work for you. You should take this downtime to do your own research and ask questions. Skinclasshero, Tiara Willis, and LaBeautyologist are some of my favorite experts to follow, because they offer legitimate advice for everyone, not just those with extra money to spend. There’s also a fantastic subreddit, SkincareAddiction, which is overflowing with advice.
The best thing you can do for your skin is moisturize and use SPF everyday—yes, even if you’re inside. And you still need to moisturize and hydrate even if you’re oily. My favorite for dry skin is Tatcha’s Dewy Skin Cream, but at $68 it’s a splurge if there ever was one. Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Water Gel is a good moisturizer.
The other types of face masks we’ve been using could be damaging to your skin. We’re talking about mascne, also known as mask acne. We have a separate guide about what causes it and how to prevent and handle it, but the short version is that you should wash your masks regularly, stop wearing makeup in places that the mask covers, stay hydrated, and try pimple patches. Certain pimple patches are Mighty Patch and Starface. ZitSticka microdart patches work well for deep cystic acne, but they’re expensive.
Moisturize Your Lips Too
Lips are often forgotten when it comes to skin care, at least until they suddenly become painfully chapped.
This lip exfoliator can help slough off dead skin, leaving your lips soft and creating a good base for moisturizing products—like the Fresh sugar balms we like. Three Ships’ exfoliator smells great, is made with simple vegan ingredients, and it works well to prevent mask-related chapping. If your lips have already found their way into painfully chapped territory, this overnight lip mask from Victoria’s Secret has saved my lips many a time.
Your hair, like your skin and nails, needs attention. Online tutorials can help you on how to cut and dye your own hair can save you time and money. I began using a complete Olaplex regimen and am amazed at how much smoother my normally coarse hair has become. I use the Intensive Bond Building Hair Treatment for now till I can visit my salon again..
Olaplex products are expensive, though, so you can look for trial-sized kits first. There are cheaper options out there, too, like Pantene’s Intense Rescue Shots. Or, if you have a bottle of mayonnaise (yes, mayonnaise) in your fridge already, slather it on wet hair for a DIY softening treatment.
A shampoo brush is always a worthwhile addition as well; they help scrub your scalp clean, especially if there’s a lot of product buildup hiding among your roots.
If you normally get monthly waxes, you might be feeling a little off right now, but you can keep your hair under control at home with these options. If you’ve never used wax before, carefully follow the directions. Pre-waxed eyebrow strips, including those built to resemble an eyebrow shape, give me the creeps. There’s just too much space for mistakes. Use a precision wax applicator, such as Parissa’s Waxing Pen, instead. It makes it easier to add wax just where you like it. Start slowly and note that it’s preferable to finish with tweezers than to remove too much.
Nair’s Leg Masks simple to use and leave your legs feeling silky smooth, but they have the distinct Nair odor. Glee’s pre-waxed strips come highly recommended if you want longer-term results and are strong-willed enough to tear a wax strip off your own leg.
If you’re ready to permanently reduce hair growth, the HoMedics Duo Lite IPL device works wonders. Intense-pulsed-light (IPL) devices such as this target the hair root, causing it to fall out and greatly reduce regrowth over time.
Since self-care and relaxation go hand in hand, there’s some overlap between this guide and our guide to staying calm during quarantine, particularly when it comes to easing the aches and pains your human suit has to deal with.
My favorite method is taking an epsom salt bath at the end of the day (or sometimes in the middle of the afternoon) to fully relax. Over the last few months, I’ve found other ways to keep my muscles happy. When we tried the new Theragun percussive therapy devices, I felt like I was treating myself daily to a mini-massage. No muscle knot can stand up to the 60 pounds of pressure those machines can produce. The biggest downside is that they’re all quite expensive. From the $400 Elite that was our favorite overall to the $200 Mini, a Theragun is an investment.
For a less expensive (though still not cheap) method of relaxation, I’ve been lying on a Bed of Nails acupressure mat for 10 to 20 minutes every few days. Acupressure is similar to acupuncture, but instead of needles, the mats and pillow are equipped with round plastic plates (or “nails”). The pressure of those nails against your body is said to release endorphins—and it doesn’t hurt, I promise. I’ve been using it when I notice my back is starting to ache from slouching over the computer, and while I can’t say it scientifically helps my body, anecdotally it feels like a nice body reset.
If face masks and grooming aren’t your thing right now, find a way to unwind in whatever way suits you best, whether it’s two bubble baths a day or playing Animal Crossing. You might also use a weighted blanket. I understand how difficult it is to feel as if the world is ending, and people on the internet are discussing ways to stay optimistic throughout the pandemic. However, any time you set aside for peace will help your mind (maybe log off Twitter for a bit). You don’t have to exercise every day, write the next great American novel, or learn a new skill to be effective. Allow yourself to be at ease.