Right now, we need to social distance and self-quarantine to keep ourselves, those we love and strangers safe. All this newfound time at home, however, can cause idle hands. That coupled with stress and anxiety typically never, ever bodes well for our appearance.
During times like these, you might want to do something drastic, like change your hair color or get a life-changing bob. Salons aren’t open, though, and this means you may take matters into your own hands.
I know times are weird, but this is not the moment to run wild. Besides, our salons are going to need our business when this is all over. In the meantime, I’ve put together a list beauty treatments you can do at home, ones to be cautious of and things you should absolutely not do.
It’s a great idea to…
Nourish your hair
A hair mask or treatment is one of the most non-invasive beauty rituals you can do. On damp, towel-dried hair, run your favorite mask throughout your strands evenly. Massage it on from roots to tips and then comb it through with your fingers. To optimize its power, use a shower cap and leave the mask on while completing other tasks. You also can wrap a hot towel around your head, as the heat intensifies the mask. Leave the mask on for at least 15 minutes.
Experiment with makeup looks
If you’ve got time on your hands, try something you’ve always wanted. Put all those eyeshadow palettes with crazy colors to use. See if that lipstick stays on through eating and drinking.
Also, practice makes perfect. Always wanted to give fake lashes a whirl? Try it out. Perfect your winged liner. You may just find your new signature look.
Give your face a break
I’ve dispelled the myth before, but makeup should not cause your skin to break out. And if you’ve been properly cleansing, then you’ve probably been removing all of your makeup (I am a double-cleansing fan). However, it never hurts to allow your skin to breathe, so forgoing makeup for a few days while at home will help your skin.
Even if you’re not wearing makeup, though, you should still continue to do your skin care routine.
Be careful if you…
Start a retinoid
This is a great time to patch test any new product, especially that skin superhero, retinoids. Vitamin A derivatives — including retinol, retin-A, retinoic acid and tazaratene — are amazing for skin since they speed up cell turnover and target fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots to improve elasticity, texture, tone and firmness. They can help with everything from acne to anti-aging, but they also can cause sometimes unpleasant side effects, such as peeling, burning and dryness. These can last about a week, so do it while you’re quarantined. Just be smart — if it’s making your skin VERY angry, stop using it immediately.
Groom your brows
If you lived through the ’90s and ’00s, you know how easy it is to get carried away with tweezers. We’re definitely in-between services, but don’t go overboard cleaning up your brows. What I usually do is fill in my brows with a pencil like I do for my everyday look and then pluck the sparse hairs. I also usually focus on the bottom, leaving the top alone to maintain shape.
It’s a bad idea to…
Creat a DIY medi-spa
Even before a pandemic, I was skeeved out by at-home cosmetic dermatology procedures. Take microneedling, for example, which creates microscopic punctures in the skin with something similar to a tiny paint-roller covered in itsy-bitsy needles (I’m talking like 0.5 and 2.5 millimeters in diameter.) It can improve the look of scars, boost collagen and encourage hair growth when it’s done by a licensed cosmetic medical professional in a sterile doctor’s office or medi-spa.
There are at-home kits, however, and you should NOT roll tiny needles all over your face at home during the middle of a super contagious viral outbreak. I don’t care if you’ve done it before or how much Lysol you’ve stocked up on — you could seriously hurt yourself. Just wait and make an appointment when quarantine is over.
Mess with your hair
Unless you’re a stylist or have done it before successfully, this is not the time to do any at-home cuts or color.
While a bang trim mishap can turn into chic, indie girl jagged fringe, it most likey will end up looking like “My frenemy cut my hair in my sleep at the slumber party.” To be safe, a kitchen bang trim isn’t the move.
Furthermore, I know plenty of women who use box color and look amazing. However, as you’ve probably heard from your colorist, box color isn’t great for your hair thanks to all the junk they put in it to keep it preserved on the shelves.
In certain cases, it’s also very difficult to lift. If you plan on going back to your stylist once this is all over, I’d stay away from box color. And — for the love of God — no at-home bleaching. If you’re feeling very desperate, reach out to your stylist and see what they think you should do. They know your hair best.
Give yourself a bikini wax
Have you ever tried to give yourself a bikini wax? I did once. It was an actual disaster that involved me destroying my mother’s bathroom AND burning myself. I think it has something to do with the fact we’re not inclined to cause ourselves pain. I’d like to think I’m pretty well-versed in beauty treatments, but this can be a mess if you’re not a pro.
Leg and upper lip waxes with those meltable beads? That’s probably fine, but stay away from down there. Shave for now, remembering to exfoliate first and use a BHA after (Stridex pads work great) to curb razor burn. Our salons are going to need our business when this is all over. Again, if you’re feeling lost, reach out to your esthetician and see what they think you should do.
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT