Are we looking to beauty products for a sense of routine and structure in the pandemic?

2 months ago 29

During a year in which nothing felt ‘normal’, a skincare brand has found that 28% of beauty consumers in a study have been spending more on beauty items because it helps normalise their routines.

StriVectin say that on average monthly beauty expenditure has increased by £15.67 per person, with it rising to £28.17 when looking at Londoners.

Though it’s not just about vanity, as consumers seem to be turning to their beauty routines for something deeper.

When outside circumstances are in limbo, what creams, serums, and colours go on your face and body is one small thing you can control and find structure in.

Dr Roberta Babb, psychologist and co-founder of The Hanover Centre, tells Metro.co.uk that the desire to look for certainty through a routine is healthy and common.

‘The pandemic has radically changed a lot of people’s routines outside and inside the home.

‘This unexpected, unplanned and unwanted experience has made it more difficult to deal with stress, anxiety and the constant changes which are well known and experienced hallmarks of the pandemic.

‘Routines, by definition are characterised by the known which is predictable and containing.

‘Routines also provide adaptive anticipatory responses to which can help us manage future uncertainty.

‘The thing about routines is that when they are developed they are adaptive responses to maladaptive situations,’ she says.

Things like beauty products, which vary in price point and are accessible to most, are easy to make a routine out of.

The study found that almost one in three under 45 year olds are likely to seek ‘reassurance’ through a beauty routine, while it’s one in five for those over retirement age.

It’s not just about owning a routine either – Instagram has over 15.3million posts under #skincareroutine, as we love to watch others go about their own too.

Dr Babb says that routines ‘serve us in emotional ways’ because it’s as much about the end result as it is the act of doing.

‘We can derive a lot of satisfaction and pleasure and a sense of accomplishment from completing things.

‘This experience has been absent for much of the pandemic, and the lack of endings and sense of incompletion can feel draining, demoralising and depressing.’

She adds that feeling more in control can ‘help us be more efficient with our time’ because of that sense of completion and check-listing.

Of the beauty consumers indulging in cosmetic routine, it’s the 18-34 year old bracket that have typically spent the most.

Tash, 25, identifies with this and tells Metro.co.uk she has ‘more disposable income to spend on [beauty] because I’m not going anywhere’, and has become more invested in skincare specifically.

Her skincare routine anchors either side of her day, and at night she has a daily alarm set up to signify that it’s time to do her second round.

‘I know that whatever happens today I’m going to get up and put on moisturiser and SPF, then before going to bed I’m going to cleanse and do my night time routine.

‘Anything could happen and I could have a really bad day, but I’ll always do my skincare routine,’ she says.

Skincare has become the ultimate way to instill a sense of order for many, though with that we’re seeing an increased level of self-critique.

Zoom has been held partially responsible for the rise in Botox demand, plus conditions such as compulsive skin picking have worsened for sufferers in the last year according to research.

Routine can be helpful, so long as it doesn’t veer into obsession.

Dr Babb says: ‘Material items, like beauty can be a good way to instil a routine.

‘However, it is important to hold in mind that the function and goal of the beauty task is to create a self-care ritual, which creates space in your life and time for mindful activity, rather than a perfect idea of beauty.

‘That can have a counterproductive impact on the effectiveness of the beauty routine and paradoxically contribute to more anxiety, distress and stress.’

StriVectin found that 24% of people are more aware of their wrinkles now thanks to video calls, and have even gone as far as to change their hairstyles to cover them up.

Separately, the emphasis on our eyes due to mask wearing has made people invest more in this part of the face.

But somewhat more positively, 25% of under 55 year olds are now more in tune with blue light damage and have added products to their roster to specifically to protect against this.

Many have used the spare time in lockdown to consume content on beauty, whether it’s to better educate themselves on ingredients or perfect winged eye liner using TikTok tutorials.

And it’s not just women – 31% of men surveyed have started to embrace a beauty routine since the pandemic began.

It’s no surprise so many people have taken up a new or improved regimen because they are comforting to us. For example, Tash says her beauty products have the power to help her ‘wind down’ and ‘transition’ to face or close the day.

There’s also the potential to use material items, like beauty products, as a crutch for difficult times.

‘When we are stressed, we are very good at doing more of the same to cope, and that is when helpful experiences, like treating yourself to a new beauty item, may become unhelpful as the spending becomes more frequent as the stress relief the activity offers is temporary and lasts for shorter and shorter times,’ Dr Babb explains.

Like with everything, balance is the key.

And while life feels still out of kilter, looking to beauty products to add formality to the day can be a helpful way forward.

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