Remember when we would get ready to go out? Carefully curating our outfit for the night, setting aside enough hours for the beauty routine, makeup, and hairstyling rituals before the Uber arrives? Suffice to say we’re all a little bit out of practice when it comes to the usual performance. But instead of mourning what is lost, we have embraced a chance to try something new when it comes to beauty – and, arguably, we have elevated our beauty routines to new heights.

This year, beauty is all about true self-empowerment.

A new beginning for beauty

The last twelve months saw a huge reset for many of our “normal” routines. Many people found this challenging, especially at the beginning of the pandemic when salons, hairdressers, and other sacred houses of beauty shut their doors for the first time. After a while, however, many of us leaned into this new way of doing things; lockdown haircuts reigned supreme – after analysing Google search data, we can see that searches for “how to cut your hair” rocketed in late March – and people took the opportunity to become home manicure experts. This shift away from sole reliance on others for our beauty needs has brought with it a certain sense of empowerment. Lockdown also served as a great time to mix up your beauty routine and try something a little different.

The definition of ‘unique’

Lockdown has given us all time for self-reflection and, joyously, we’ve realised what we once branded as ‘imperfections’ are simply what makes us unique. Now begins the slow process of truly embracing that and undoing a lifetime of learned self-deprecation. Easier said than done, of course, but lockdown has given people everywhere an opportunity to give the makeup a break and get used to feeling good in their own skin. Fashion and beauty Instagrammer, @mynameisbekki put it well in a recent post, when she said:

“These days, applying makeup has become a self-care step, savoured for the days where I need a motivational boost on another morning of working from home. However, I’ve learnt to love my skin with product and without – barefaced with all of my bumps, blemishes, and blotchiness for the world (ok, colleagues on Zoom) to see.”

It’s difficult to find a silver lining to the storm cloud over us all right now, but perhaps it is fair to say that the pandemic has given us the time to re-evaluate the meaning of beauty. Through this, many people are not only learning to accept their flaws but coming to love them. Like Bekki, people everywhere are embracing the world of beauty through a new lens, one that allows people to experiment with makeup and beauty, finding what works for them and engaging with beauty practices not because it will look good to others, but because it will feel great for themselves.

Beauty is positivity

Beauty is about so much more than just looking good. The routine when it comes to skincare, makeup, hair treatments, and even picking out an outfit for the day ahead can, for many, become a form of mindfulness. During a year when pretty much everything else that we consider ‘normal’ has been flipped upside down, the stable routine of beauty has been incredibly grounding for many. This applies to both old beauty routines and new ones – comfort can be found in performing your regular beauty routines at the same time each day, while empowerment and enjoyment can be found in trying something new. For many, beauty routines offer an element of self-control and can make a huge difference in how they mentally prepare for the day ahead.

“I think beauty and skin-care routines are a form of mindfulness for many of us and give us the experience of getting in touch with the moment,” says dermatologist and psychiatrist Evan Rieder, MD. “So much of what we do has been lost due to the pandemic, so beauty self-reliability, while born out of necessity, gives us a sense of control over our lives, a greater sense of purpose, and the power to know that we are capable of providing these well-being promoting activities on our own.” For people everywhere, this mindfulness has been more necessary than ever while navigating 2020.

Our concept of beauty has evolved into something far more beneficial to us all. Hopefully, we can take these lessons of empowerment and self-acceptance forward, feeling comfortable in our own skin enough to go out into the world without makeup or pick the designer bikini that we really want to wear, not the one that we think we should wear for others. Empowerment, positivity, and self-love are the main feelings that we should be taking away from our relationship with beauty during the pandemic.