Beyond the mask: re-evaluating the role of makeup

One of the many effects of lockdowns and social distancing is that we’re re-evaluating the role of makeup. Less is more, discovers ELSA KRÜGER, but we all want a splash of colour.

Beyond the mask: re-evaluating the role of makeup

Is there a restless spring butterfly in your cocoon, itching to break out and splash the world with colour? Tired of being locked in, locked out, wiped out and, thanks to loadshedding, blacked out? For those who love colour, the news is bright. Although we have scaled down dramatically on makeup during the pandemic, spring and summer 2021 promise a return of the bold and brilliant, especially for lips and nails. Think lush watermelon, golden mango, bright strawberry, rich raspberry, ruby-red pomegranate. 

Covid-19 has undoubtedly changed people’s relationship to beauty. There was a 22% decline in makeup sales in the first quarter of this year compared to a year ago, say McKinsey analysts, and they anticipate “an even steeper drop if working from home and mask-wearing remain commonplace”. However, many women confess to being tired of seeing themselves in their own small bubbles without makeup – except when they doll up for Zoom calls – and they feel ready to have fun again with makeup. International style forecasters like Cosmoprof predict that, besides dramatic, strong eye makeup to emphasise eyes above masks, pastel shades like soft lilac and blue will return as the coronavirus trauma subsides because we all crave renewed optimism and tranquillity. Colour affects our mood, sense of well-being and, of course, how we look. 

Owing to the pandemic, consumers are adopting a ‘less is more’ mentality that is reflected in simplified beauty regimens in terms of both the number of steps and amount of product used.

“We’ve all learnt how to live with less,” says makeup guru Bobbi Brown, who recently founded Jones Road Beauty. She tells bustle.com that she believes the increased popularity of multitasking products has a lot to do with the rising trend of ‘skinimalism’ or streamlined routines. All that stuff we put on our faces – who is it for if no one sees us?

What’s in and what’s out? 

For young women, the palette is about neon pink and fuchsia, intense post-box red and bright orange. But, suggests South African makeup expert Ryno Mulder, ‘it’ colours are for young people. “I don’t believe anyone except teenagers should pay too much attention to changing fashions. Unique style is far more interesting. Take note of trends and adapt them to your own style.

“We use up lip colour and eye shadow too slowly to replace them every year with the latest trendy product. It is far more important to know and understand what suits your unique features rather than to slavishly follow and try to perfect the latest Instagram look.”

Most experts agree, however, that the days of the hectic Kardashian eyebrows are gone. Very dark and perfectly precise eyebrows are making room for lighter and softer brows with texture; they shouldn’t appear drawn on with a Koki pen. Also gone is the matte and powdered-to-death complexion; the skin should appear blooming and glowing, not like a mask. You can discard intricate contour products and brushes.

On the other hand, big lashes are still in but now magnetic false lashes are easier to apply and safer than those that need glue. That’s great news for women like me who could never master false lashes. The only time I tried them, I found one doing breaststroke in my champagne glass.

Yes, brown is a colour

Brown is back! In another trending throwback to the ’90s, brown makeup is queen among all the brights and pastels. As a neutral shade it is very easy to work with, as well as the secret to a natural look. You just have to experiment and find which shades of brown are right for your skin tone and features.

There are hundreds of different hues in the brown spectrum, so there are sure to be some that will work for you. Warm neutrals – from nude eye shadow to chocolate eye liner – suit most skin tones, while a brownish pink lip colour complements almost all looks. Universally, whether your skin is white, brown or black, brown is the easiest of all colours to play with for eyes, lips and complexion.

HOT TIP: brown eye shadow with a slight reddish pigment can make green and hazel eyes pop; blue eyes, though, look tired and reddish.

Makeup artists often prefer using bronzer instead of blusher and eye shadow. The trick is not to use anything that glitters as it can distort features on screen. Dab a little bronzer everywhere the sun would hit your face, with a very light touch around the hairline to add extra life. 

Trendy textures

In one word, balm. Or at greater length, multitasking makeup balm. Now flooding the beauty market, one product can do it all: cheeks, eyes, lips and contouring. The creamy texture, whether in a jar or roll-on wand, lends skin a sought-after glow and plays nicely with masks and Zoom screens. 

Bobbi suggests choosing a makeup balm formula that multitasks as skincare. Look for ingredients that soothe and feed skin, such as jojoba seed oil, vitamin E and argan oil. 

The monochromatic look is a big trend at the moment and wearing balm makes it easy to achieve, with one shade from lips to eyes. 

The one-balm-does-it-all trend is effortless because you don’t need an array of brushes; just your fingers. The trick is to not rub the balm, but gently pat it on. If you prefer wearing foundation, use the balm on cheekbones, eyelids and lips after applying the foundation.

Luscious lips

The lips are where you can, and should, go bold with colour. Although masks and limited social interaction have made lipstick almost obsolete, some women simply feel naked without lip co-lour. So how do we wear it without smearing it inside our masks or having the colour migrate to our noses and chins? 

The darker and brighter the lipstick, the bigger the mask mess, says Ryno. “Use neutral shades or if you prefer bright colours, choose long-stay lipstick. Wet-look lacquers and gloss will make matters worse. 

The best bet is matte lip crayons, liquid lipstick and lip stains. Your lips must be well moisturised before application, because these products are unflattering on dry lips. Lip stains give you the look of having sucked on a bright red lollipop: natural, soft and flattering. You can also try a tinted lip balm to make lips moist and soft with a bit of natural colour.”

After its heyday in the ’90s, lip liner is making a strong return, but in a different slant from the dark and obvious liners that eventually made the trend fizzle out. Choose a lip liner in the same colour family as your lipstick; deep brown on light beige pink is so ’90s.

Beyond the mask: re-evaluating the role of makeup

Shape shift

Not happy with the shape and look of your lips? That’s what needles and aesthetic practitioners are for. The number of people receiving dermal fillers in the USA dropped from 3.8 million in 2019 to 3.4 million in 2020. But, says fashion website The Zoe Report, pandemic or not, there are still a lot of injections being done and many leading dermatologists and plastic surgeons feel busier than ever, despite social distancing limitations. 

Aesthetic doctors in South Africa are not complaining; they talk about ‘the Zoom factor’ filling their waiting rooms. People do not wear masks while in Zoom meetings and when they feel unhappy about the look of their mouth or lack of lip volume, dermal fillers are an instant answer. If there’s a bit of swelling or redness after the procedure, well … mask on, of course! 

Hyaluronic acid fillers like Juvaderm or Restylane are the most popular options for areas like the lips, cheeks and jaw. According to Pretoria aesthetic practitioner Dr Chris Giezinger, women are very specific now that they don’t want to look unnatural. The trout pout is out.

“Women are wanting less of the rubbery and overdone look and more of a softer feel and subtle shaping,” says Chris. Symmetry and balance are also important in making the mouth look younger. Lip look trends these days are less about volume and more about shape.

And colour, of course.