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The one certainty in uncertain times is that we’re finding comfort in the simplicity of familiar ritual and routine — and our skin is reaping the benefits

Self-care. It may have started off as an annoying marketing term but it has stubbornly stuck for a reason. We all need a panacea for the roller coaster of ever-new new-normals and we’ve turned to the familiar comforts of our skincare routines to fulfil it. Face masks are outselling lipsticks (a third of men are now reportedly using them, too, since lockdowns) and it’s the skincare index that has held true with sales of hi-tech tools and skincare products increasing.

Lancôme Hypnôse Doll Eyes Palette in Bleu Hypnôtique, £42.50 . NARS High Pigment Longwear Liner in Ocean Drive, £19. Laura Mercier Crème Cheek Colour in Canyon, £24

‘My skincare kit is much bigger this season and more tailored to the individuals I’m working with,’ says make-up artist Lynsey Alexander, who created these looks. ‘There’s an emotional layer that demands we slow things down, whether on set or at home.’

Lancôme Le Lip Liner in Pourquoi Pas, £19; Rénergie Yeux Multi Lift Ultra Lifting Filler Eye Cream, £49.50. YSL Mascara Volume Effect Faux Cils The Curler, £28

Where once make-up commanded all our attention — contouring cheekbones being a six-step skill in itself, depending on which YouTube tutorial you watch — it is now reserved for treating and prepping skin. Facial massage, sheet masks, serum layering and energising tools such as jade face rollers or the quartz gua sha, the traditional Chinese technique of scraping the skin’s surface for an energising effect, are all on the menu.

Revive Masque de Radiance, £115. Skinceuticals Phyto Corrective Masque, £60

Digital retailer Cult Beauty identifies this new focus as ‘skincare as therapy’, suggesting that lockdown has prompted a more intuitive understanding of the emotional benefits of treating our skin. This fusion of beauty and well-being is reflected in advances in skin-boosting supplements and formulas that nurture the skin’s microbiome of beneficial bacteria. Pre-biotics, probiotics and even post-biotics (watch this space) are a key focus for overall well-being when taken internally, and skin health when applied topically, with stand-out serums such as Lancôme’s Advanced Génifique.

But it’s not all prep and no play. New foundation-serum hybrids and skin-finishing balms and glosses show off the complexion, while an uplifting calamine liner, pure peach lip or easy glitter eye are pared-back yet empowering. ‘It’s a fun gesture,’ says Alexander. ‘A light dab of colour over eyes or balm pressed against cheekbones: the antithesis of contour and sculpting.’ The trick is to be mindful without thinking too much.

Photographs by Jesse Laitinen Beauty Direction by Rose Beer
Make-up by Lynsey Alexander
Styled by Jessica Skeete-Cross
Words by Evie Leatham