Pandemic Beauty Aids And Habits

Pretty much here to stay

Beauty routines formed and products used in the past year have become part of the new normal

In ways big and small, last year's circuit breaker impacted the lives of many people, including beauty lovers.

In the first few weeks after it went into effect on April 7, 2020, I found myself enjoying going make-up-free and working from my bedroom in a sheet mask. So did many others, according to their Instagram Stories.

Soon, more long-term changes took place. Out went the lipsticks, heavy-eyeshadow looks and rouge. Even the most frequently dolled up swopped their daily make-up routines for simple skincare.

New concerns emerged - dry hands from over-sanitising, dull skin from excessive screen time - and so did new habits.

Some beauty brands were quick to adapt, launching products tailored to this new indoor lifestyle.

One year on, some of these habits and product categories have become part and parcel of the new normal - even as people return to their daily routines outdoors.

The Straits Times takes a look at the beauty products which are here to stay.

Face masks

If there was one silver lining in the initial mandatory shift to working from home, it was being able to mask any time, anywhere.

Formerly a treat reserved for night-time at the end of a long day, sheet and face masks were suddenly socially acceptable even in the daytime.

Typing out a proposal? Do it in a sheet mask. Sending a passive-aggressive e-mail to an obtuse colleague? Let a clay mask draw out the toxins in both your skin and your mood.

If your eyes start to feel strained from too much screen use, a de-puffing under-eye mask works wonders.

For those gradually returning to the office, daytime masking will be missed.


•  Sigi Skin Tea-Tox Sheet Mask, $32 for four sheets

• Shiseido Vital Perfection Uplifting and Firming Express Eye Mask, $120 for 12 pairs

• Est. Lab Optimalift A+ Eye Contour Mask, $96 for six sheets

• AHC Premium Cica 3 Complex Skin Fit Mask, $34.50 for five sheets

Anti-blue light products

A topic of rising interest in the beauty industry pre-pandemic, blue light and its potential harmful effects shot to the forefront of skincare concerns last year.

Stuck indoors with digital devices, consumers were confronted with excessive screen usage.

New research suggests that long-term exposure to blue light can speed up the ageing process, accelerating pigmentation, wrinkles, and loss of skin elasticity.

These days, every sunscreen comes with added blue-light protection (forget the ones that guard against ultraviolet rays only). Increasingly, complexion products are doing the same too.

You might also find more brands advertising "anti-blue light" or "anti-pollution" ingredients in their formulas.


• Nars Soft Matte Complete Foundation, $62

• Yours Sunny Side Up Sunscreen Mist SPF 30, $45

• Laneige Neo Cushion Matte, $62

Bougie hand sanitisers

Germaphobes, once mocked for always porting around hand sanitisers, have the last laugh as the rest of the world quickly caught on to hand hygiene.

Beauty brands have adapted accordingly to provide consumers with stylish options that are no less protective.

You can now find on the market decorative hand sanitisers that double as bag accessories and those with sleek spray options.

Many also include soothing ingredients to offset the harshness of sanitising alcohol - think botanicals such as tea tree (in the Ollie Hand Sanitizer Spray); and ceramides and hyaluronic acid.

Skin Inc's Hand Serum & Sanitizer Duo even comes with a hand serum to moisturise dry hands.


• Aesop Resurrection Rinse-Free Hand Mist, $16

• Chantecaille Rose Geranium and Basil Hand Sanitizer, $20

• Skin Inc Hand Serum & Sanitizer Duo, $35

• Ollie Hand Sanitizer Spray, $7

Salon-grade haircare

With less frequent trips to the salon and more me-time at home, consumers are leaning into all avenues of home pampering - hair included.

This has been the year of the extravagant hair masks and leave-in keratin treatments - the good stuff you usually get only during a wash and blow - to maintain locks at home.

Scalp care has also been on the rise, with more haircare brands prioritising consumer education on scalp treatment and exfoliation. After all, the skin on your scalp deserves just as much love as that on your face.


• Shiseido Professional Sublimic Luminoforce Mask, $66

• Jung Beauty Leave-In Keratin Hair Treatment, $34

• Virtue Labs Refresh Exfoliating Scalp Treatment, $68

Beauty devices

Now that home care is a new priority for many, the beauty device market has never been more popular. And brands are capitalising on this with timely new releases - going beyond bog-standard cleansing devices with LED light therapy, microcurrent technology and other tech once reserved for a trip to the dermatologist.

From the comfort of your own home, you can get a quick LED light therapy fix after cleansing (Osim's uGlow Cleanse), lift and tone your face (Foreo's firming facial device Bear) or massage dark circles away via micro-vibrations (Porcelain's eye massager RevitalEyes Concentrate).

Doing skincare with just your hands seems almost mediaeval now.


• Porcelain RevitalEyes Concentrate, $135

• Foreo Bear, $469

• Osim uGlow Cleanse, $169

• LG Pra.L Ultrasonic Cleanser, $299

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2021, with the headline 'Pretty much here to stay'. Subscribe