A local salon e-mailed this week to let me know they plan to reopen in mid-May. Would I like to book something? I replied at once, curious whether they knew something undisclosed about the (UK) lockdown's end or some staffer was just going stir crazy (totally understandable: I'd been building the Dubai skyline from Lego all afternoon myself).
They replied with a list of hygiene and reorganisation measures they'd undertaken to make customers feel more secure if the business were cleared to open by mid-month but also admitting appointments would be cancelled if they weren't. Fortune favours the prepared. Beauty services are definitely high on my list of things to get out for when the lockdown ends.
Beyond missing the results, the sector's been totally hamstrung and will need lots of support. Uplifting home-treatments and nail art are still some of my favourite ways to keep busy in the interim. You never know when you'll have to Zoom.
Vitamin D helps with existential despair in the mornings but it does not brighten the skin like gold-stabilised Vitamin C, the cracking complex at the heart of Murad's new Environmental Shield Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum, €84 at debenhams.ie.
Vitamin C is a stellar antioxidant that stimulates collagen production, softening lines and fading dark spots and red marks. Two things make it a diva to work with: light sensitivity (Vitamin C products are most effective at night) and a natural volatility that makes it difficult to stabilise in a high enough concentration to benefit the skin.
Murad caters to both with a tinted pump-bottle and a shot of real gold, which the brand claims not only stabilises the two forms of Vitamin C in the formula but makes the strain that skin absorbs more easily (pure L-Ascorbic Acid) extra potent.
The bottle contains two chambers, one filled with the Vitamin C blend and the other with glycolic acid, an exfoliant that helps to maximise the vitamin's effects on skin. A single pump mixes the contents of both. Skin is noticeably clearer and brighter after your first use.
If you already use retinol, potent Vitamin C formulas are best used on alternate days. Glycolic acid is the second most prevalent ingredient in this serum so it is extremely important to avoid applying it around the eyes and to follow up with broad-spectrum sun protection.
Boston-based beauty brand Patchology gives the sheet mask trend a 'wellness' twist with their Mood Patches. All are saturated with fast-acting, soothing ingredients. I recommend the Happy Place Tea-Infused Eye Gels, €15 at spacenk.com, a ten-minute brightening treatment for tired eyes.
These tear-shaped patches are enriched with coconut, hibiscus and lotus flower extracts, all of which help to soften and condition delicate skin. The residue can be patted in afterwards to make a glowing base for eye makeup.
On the subject of quick boosts, Charlotte Tilbury's new Magic Serum Crystal Elixir, €72 at brownthomas.com and arnotts.ie (in main pic above), is just the thing to smooth on before taking a video call. Ms Tilbury's skincare is always aims to be all things to all women: a mix of makeup and well-established antioxidants that incorporates crystal therapy and cutting-edge peptide research.
For example, this serum's crystalline powder creates an instant, flaw-blurring effect but the formula is also extremely high in Vitamin C, E and reparative niacinamide. It offers the therapeutic benefits of five different crystals (including amethyst and ruby, which are relatively rare in beauty), as well as an anti-ageing peptide blend.
The serum's texture is light and non-greasy but moisturises with hyaluronic acid, rosehip, camellia, aloe vera and shea butter. There seems to be too little of each in the dropper-topped bottle to truly hydrate dry skin but this is a wonderful perfecting base with genuine antioxidant benefits.
Fans of the marvellous Marian Keyes will know that brightly-coloured nails lift her spirits, she even wrote about her Chanel "nail-varnish museum" for The Sunday Times. She first discovered the happy-making power of nail lacquer during a trip to New York when Chanel Le Vernis in ‘Nouvelle Vague,’ a limited-edition blue-green, helped to ease a nasty bout of depression.
A little nail colour also makes you more mindful of your hands, which you are more likely to keep away from your face if they are flashing. This week I have been wearing Nailberry’s multiple award-winning L’Oxygéné Oxygenated Nail Lacquer, €17.22 at nailberry.co.uk, in ‘Golden Hour,’ the newest shade. L’Oxygéné is a patented, toxin-free, water-permeable formula that allows the nail enamel to breath and remain healthy while coated with colour.