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(Australian Associated Press)
The COVID-19 lockdown has accelerated beauty trends in Australia, prompting the ditching of heavy makeup for a more natural look.
The realities of working from home and social distancing, coupled with the closure of beauticians, hair and nail salons saw beauty routines upended and sales of do-it-yourself solutions skyrocket.
DIY nail polish kit sales rose 237 per cent at retailer Priceline during lockdown compared to the same time last year, while semi-permanent hair colours jumped 124 per cent and hair removal sales almost doubled.
Online retailer Adore Beauty saw a 113 per cent increase in sales of tools typically used by beauticians including dermal rollers, while face masks were up 63 per cent and oils 41 per cent.
“People are spending a lot of time at home, not going out and not wearing as much makeup,” Adore Beauty’s Danielle Chee told AAP.
“There has also been a lot of experimentation, trying to replicate an in-salon experience.”
As restrictions loosen, Ms Chee said customers are favouring products like CC creams, which provide both coverage and skincare benefits, instead of foundation as well as eyelash and eyebrow serums.
“There’s this renewed view that we’ve lived without makeup for a couple of months, so we can start to weave that back into our routine but in a much more subtle and natural way,” Ms Chee said.
The shift away from heavily made-up looks, however, predates the pandemic.
For several years, cosmetic companies experienced a boom as Kardashian-inspired face contouring, liquid lipsticks and heavy eye makeup trended.
At the same time, YouTube made household names out of makeup bloggers like Jeffree Star, Nikkie de Jager and Australians Chloe Morello and Lauren Curtis.
“It was all about more is more, the contouring, the heavy eye makeup with full lashes, HD brows. It was very glam,” celebrity makeup artist Jade Kisnorbo said.
Since peaking in 2017, makeup sales have slowed, the emphasis turning to a more low-maintenance and natural look with clear, clean skin.
“People are still wearing makeup but it’s less serious, a pop of colour on the eyes or lips and then beautiful, fresh, glowy skin,” Ms Kisnorbo said, describing a swipe of red lipstick before a Zoom meeting as an instant pick-me-up.
“It’s all about enhancing features now, rather than masking flaws.”
That’s not to say the natural look is entirely that. Expensive, invasive skin treatments and cosmetic procedures, such as dermal fillers and botox, have made it possible to achieve a look almost impossible to distinguish from an Instagram filter.
Cosmetic surgeon Daniel Lanzer said looking natural is a top patient concern.
“A lot of my clients are doing less invasive procedures at the moment, they’re wanting to look natural and have a youthful glow,” Dr Lanzer told AAP.
“Using fillers to create full lips is the big trend at the moment but there are also skin rejuvenation techniques such as erbium laser skin resurfacing, ultherapy and fractional laser resurfacing.”
The Butterfly Foundation’s national prevention services manager Danni Rowlands said it’s becoming harder to distinguish what is real and what is not, particularly on social media.
“While there may not be a filter, they may not be airbrushing the photos they’re putting up on social media, people are in real-time looking photoshopped,” she told AAP.
“We don’t really know what real skin looks like anymore, I think it’s adding an element of confusing things further. I guess the knee-jerk reaction is ‘It’s easy to achieve, I’ll go and buy stuff to look like that’.”