Expert Tips for At-Home Self-Care
The quarantine may have us raising the bar on our communication skills, but many of us are struggling in the self-care department. Pedicures and root touch-ups have fallen by the wayside, and massages may be a pipe dream until the pandemic subsides. So, what can we do to follow the safer-at-home rules and still get through this thing without looking like a hot mess? Here are some expert beauty tips to keep yourself together until you can get back into your favorite salon, spa or self-care facility.
Perfect your skincare routine.
With no need to rush out the door every morning, you can take your time and develop a skincare routine that works for you. “You should always follow a dedicated skincare routine designed for your specific skin type,” says Ashley Randall, business manager at Ashtoria Aesthetics & Wellness in Memphis. “With extra time on your hands, this is an excellent opportunity to perfect your morning and evening routines.” She explains it’s best to start with a pH-balanced cleanser, followed by an eye cream and products such as acne or rosacea treatments, and then a moisturizer. She also tells us daytime routines should end with a broad-spectrum SPF 30 (or higher) for protection from premature aging and skin cancer. “Think of your routine as a pampering instead of a chore,” she suggests, “and you’ll begin to appreciate both the mental and physical benefits you get from dedicating that time to yourself!”
Help clear up your skin by cleaning your makeup brushes.
Cleaning our cosmetic brushes is one of those tasks that tends to get lost in the shuffle or take a back seat, but the benefits of frequent brush cleanings are greater than you may realize. “Many of us forget to — or simply dread — cleaning our cosmetic accessories,” says Ashley. “It’s important to know dead skin and product buildup on brushes can cause acne and other irritations on the skin or in the eyes. Not to mention, dirty brushes don’t apply makeup as smoothly as clean brushes.”
Her method for cleaning at home is simple:
- Apply a pea-sized amount of facial cleanser in your palm.
- Wet your brush under warm water and swirl the brush head in your palm, in a circular motion, for several seconds.
- Rinse your brush under warm water again and massage the brush bristles between your fingers to thoroughly wash out all of the suds.
Ashley recommends repeating the process if your brushes have excess buildup or if it has been a long time since you last cleaned them. When you’ve finished, simply lay them flat on a towel to air dry before putting them away.
Purge your makeup drawer.
There’s never been a better time for spring cleaning, so sort through that makeup drawer and get rid of all the impulse purchases you’ve ignored for months (or years!). If you need additional help on what to keep and what to get rid of, James Cole of Nashville-based Daniel Cole Collection is setting up FaceTime appointments to help you figure it all out. Happy cleaning!
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Shed winter skin.
More time at home means more time to work on rejuvenating our skin. An at-home peel can do just that, smoothing out wrinkles, treating scars and blemishes, and giving that glow we can flaunt once we’re allowed to paint the town red again. Maria Miller, partner at Memphis-based The Well by Pavo, recommends the ZO® Skin Health Radical Night Repair, suggesting you first consult your skincare specialist for instructions.
Try a face mask.
With time on your hands, why not give your face a little extra attention? Cosmetic Market’s Mary Kathryn says, “Since we can’t get our regular facials, masking once or twice every week makes a huge difference.” She recommends Therapy Systems Energizing Enzyme Peel followed by Therapy Systems Micro-Exfoliating Cream for a quick at-home facial treatment.
Don’t forget to use SPF.
Maria reminds us to wear SPF even if we’re staying indoors because the blue light from our computers and cell phones can be damaging to the skin. And with all of our added virtual communication, it’s worth taking into consideration. She highly recommends the Colorescience® Sunforgettable Brush-on Sunscreen, which helps protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays and blue lights. It can be used on its own or over makeup.
Maintain your brows.
Our eyebrows are one feature that can quickly get out of hand … and no one wants to walk away from quarantine looking like Frida Kahlo. James, of Daniel Cole Collection, offers this beauty tip: “Brush up and over with a brow brush. Then, using a magnifying mirror if necessary, pluck the strays from below your brow line and between brows. Don’t try to shape them! Just maintain until you can get them done professionally.”
Robin Haney of Apropos Day Spa in Nashville adds, “Reshaping brows is just never a good idea to do on your own. Only tweeze the crazies between the brows and the strays below your brow that would interfere with where you would apply eye shadow.” If you have long, curly or unruly brows, she recommends using small scissors to trim the hairs that are most out of line. She warns it can be tricky, however, and advises you to make sure you’re trimming with the growth of the hair rather than against it.
If you have gray or white brow hairs, Robin suggests leaving them alone until your next brow tint unless they’re really coarse and running amok. “Instead of tweezing,” she says, “use a colored brow gel to cover the hairs, or a shadow that matches your brow color or hair color, then follow with a clear brow gel to hold them in place. A little hairspray on a brow brush can work, too.” Keep in mind some hairsprays or hair gels can cause breakouts, depending on your sensitivity level, so be sure to use them sparingly.
When it comes to how much time we should invest in cleaning up the strays, James recommends you don’t spend more than five minutes per eye. Too much time and attention often leads to over-plucking. The good news? If you do manage to overdo it or you mess up your brow line, you’ve got time to let it grow back out. He suggests refraining from at-home waxing, as it leaves more room for mistakes. If you’re in the market for proper plucking tools, he says the Tweezerman slanted tweezers are your best bet.
Get rid of unwanted facial hair.
For those who rely on Dermaplane to remove unwanted peach fuzz, esthetician Maria of Pavo Salon says it’s acceptable to use a Tinkle razor during this time. While it isn’t an equivalent to Dermaplane, and only removes fine hairs rather than dead skin, it offers a temporary fix until you can get in to see your esthetician.
For the Hair
Prolong your hair color.
The stylist team at Escape Day Spa + Salon in Nashville recommends taking a break from damaging heat styling and acclimating your hair to not shampooing as often. The result? Your hair doesn’t dry out as easily, and your color won’t fade as quickly. They also recommend a good dry shampoo, such as Kérastase’s Fresh Affair, to help extend your time between washes.
If you need a quick color fix, try a powdered, temporary color for your roots. Woo Caroland, owner of Woo Skincare + Cosmetics says, “I am spraying Oribe root touch-up on my grey roots. It works very well, and it brightens my day not seeing the grey!”
Mary Kathryn Yeiser, of Cosmetic Market, agrees. “We love Oribe, R& Co., and Kevin Murphy,” she tells us. “Temporary color hair glazes also keep hair shiny and help some with color — Moroccan Oil and Bumble and Bumble have great ones.”
Hydrate your hair.
Tami Sprintz Hall, owner of Escape Day Spa + Salon, emphasizes the importance of hydrating your locks. “We are loving the Kérastase 8H Magic Night Hair Serum. Apply it to towel-dried hair three times a week to restore and add moisture overnight. Your hair will look and feel so healthy, and it will love you for it!”
Try out new hairstyles.
We’re not suggesting you go for neon pink streaks, but some mild experimentation might be in order. Maria of The Well by Pavo says, “Try different styles with your hair. Have a little fun with hair accessories or headbands! This is one time that ‘lived-in’ color works in your favor.” She also offers us an important reminder that home hair color often winds up needing costly corrections by a professional stylist down the road, so now is the time to rock our roots and natural color. “When this is all over,” she says, “you will need your stylist as much as your stylist will need you. Do yourself a favor and just be patient.”
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For the Body
Do daily stretches
Movement has become even more essential now that we’re mostly home-bound and unable to go to our typical exercise facilities. The Escape Day Spa massage team recommends trying some simple stretches to help your body stay relaxed and limber and to keep it from getting too stiff during this time of quarantine. Here’s how to do an easy pectoral stretch, using a doorway:
- Stand in a doorway, on the outside — the side without the door hinges.
- Put your hands and forearms on the doorframe while standing straight up, then lean forward, allowing your head and torso to go through the doorway while your feet and arms stay behind it. She offers the following visualization: You’ve got muddy shoes on and don’t want to step inside, but you need to lean into the doorway to see what’s inside, so you grab the doorframe with your feet outside and peek around the corner.
- Do this three times, holding for 30 seconds each time.
- To open up your spine, do forward bends. Try to touch your toes, though you don’t have to actually touch them. Let gravity pull your fingers toward your toes while staying relaxed.
- Roll your head, using its natural range of motion — right to left and back again.
Get some sleep.
Woo, of Woo’s Skincare + Cosmetics, advises us not to underestimate the importance of using this time to get some rest. “Get your beauty sleep!” she says. She also suggests trying This Works Pillow Spray for an added level of relaxation.
For the Nails
Treat your nails right.
If you go to the salon for frequent manicures and pedicures, you’re likely in a mild state of panic over how best to take care of your nails — particularly if you have gels or dips. Robin, of Apropos Day Spa, offers the following beauty tips:
- File your nails from the outside to the center — not back and forth, as that can separate the layers. The correct file to avoid nail damage is one that’s not too coarse.
- Don’t cut your cuticles. Instead, soak them in warm soapy water for five minutes, wrap cotton around an orangewood stick, and gently push them back.
- Don’t pick at dips or shellacs, which will weaken your nailbed. Instead, soak some cotton balls in acetone and wrap them around your nails to soften the product. Be patient, as it may take 20 minutes or so to remove the polish effectively. Once the material is soft, you can use an orangewood stick to gently scrape off the residue, followed by a light file-buffing. Clean everything off with alcohol and cotton.
Mary Kathryn, of Cosmetic Market, adds, “Make sure you soak your nails with 100% acetone and foil. Then use something to strengthen in this downtime, like OPI Nail Envy.”
If you’ve been sporting dark polish and you’re nails are stained, Robin also offers a solution for getting them back to their natural state. She suggests making a paste using 1 T. peroxide and 2 1/4 tsp. baking soda and letting it sit on your nails for five minutes. After that, the slate should essentially be wiped clean.
For the Teeth
According to Dr. J. Paul Koch at Koch Aesthetic Dentistry in Birmingham, this is a great time to commit to flossing every day since most of us can’t use the excuse that we don’t have enough time on our hands. If you have stains between your teeth, he suggests putting a little toothpaste on your floss and working it up and down for added assistance. He also recommends using this time to whiten your teeth. Over-the-counter whitening systems and whitening toothpaste are available at most pharmacies; just be sure to follow instructions carefully to minimize sensitivity and get the best results possible. Finally, he reminds those of us who wear retainers to use this time wisely. He says, “If it has been a while since you’ve worn one, you can use this time to wear it around the clock to move your teeth back into their original straight position — much like invisible aligners.”
Sometimes the best way to feel beautiful in the midst of the madness is simply letting go and embracing the journey. Your gel polish may chip, and the gray hair might peek through, but you’re rising up during a challenging time. Positivity will do a lot for your beauty, too! As Paige Simmons of Nashville’s Paige Simmons Salon says, “I think this is a time when it’s okay not to have to worry about what we look like or getting all dolled up — to be thankful we have a home to be safe in.”
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so don’t forget to give yourself some grace and patience.