How Stress from the Pandemic Is Affecting Old Beauty Routines

Rigorous beauty routines fell away during the pandemic, and many women worked from the privacy of their homes and avoided public spaces. In many ways, masks became the accessory that replaced makeup. To many fashionistas, trading business suits for loungewear, abandoned heels for slippers, and bras for braless freedom were liberating.

After a year of liberation, some women say they’ve come to view makeup as a mask instead of a face tune-up.

Once removed from the high makeup standards put on women in the workforce, many more began to realize that polish and perfection consumed time they’d rather spend elsewhere. Unsurprisingly, they claim they won’t go back.

On the other hand, others say they miss the old beauty rituals and will resume at least some of their routines. With so many different perspectives as vaccinations make the return to schools and offices a reality, many people are wondering, will relaxed beauty standards become the new norm?

You know what they say: the proof is in the pudding. In this case, the proof is in the beauty market’s dismal 2020 sales. Consulting firm McKinsey & Co. predicted in December that 2021’s sales in the global beauty market would outstrip sales from 2019. This forecast came after the firm reported women spent less money on beauty products in a 2020 downturn that stunned cosmetic companies in the billion-dollar global industry.

Will this prediction live up to its hype? We’re not entirely sure. One thing is certain, though: the last year has had surprising effects on the beauty industry. Here are a few notable changes that came from a year in the life of a pandemic.

Call in the Wrinkle Treatments

Let’s face it; stress has a way of aging even those with the most diligent wrinkle preventative measures. It’s safe to say that the last year was especially stressful. Visible signs of stress-related aging could be the motivator that spurs many back to buying beauty products. One dermatologist sums it up nicely: “This pandemic has added years to my skin and hair.”

The main reason behind pandemic-related aging is because stress boosts the hormone cortisol. This pesky hormone leads to inflamed skin conditions such as acne and eczema, hair loss, and accelerated aging.

What’s more, is that the accumulation of cortisol over many months can even influence your dietary choices. Think about how you craved sugary foods over the last year (we’re talking to you, chocolate.) That stress-relieving glass of wine is also notorious for aging skin.

Stress also disrupts sleep and decreases the body’s production of melatonin at night, while increasing it during the day. In other words, stress makes you feel sleepy at all the wrong times. Since melatonin is also an antioxidant, it’s meant to keep your skin and cells healthy and vibrant. Tossing and turning at night, unable to sleep, cuts down the time collagen has to restore skin cells, leaving your eyes puffy and skin thinner, saggier, and wrinklier.

These are all classic signs of aging, and many are not having it. According to another skincare expert, “Constant prolonged periods of stress have been shown to accelerate aging. We’re coming up on a year now, and that’s a long time for someone to be in chronic stress.”

Those wanting to stay on top of their appearance are likely to start investing in anti-aging products to counter some of the effects of a year of Covid. Add wrinkle creams and botox to the list of beauty routines that are going to surge in response to a stressful year.

“Zoom Boom” in Plastic Surgery Will Continue

“Zoom Boom” is the latest buzzword across the plastic surgery industry, and it all started when plastic surgeons noticed a pandemic-fueled rush to get plastic surgery. Many specialists expect the uptick to continue.

What caused this spike in plastic surgery? Supposedly, it’s all because workers who attended Zoom meetings spent a lot of time looking at their faces and saw features they wanted to change.

Additionally, requests for upper eyelid lifts, brow lifts, and non-surgical neck lifts remained popular during the last year, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Plastic surgeons also saw increased demand for non-surgical procedures such as lip injections.

Of the treatments most requested during telemedicine appointments, 65 percent were for fillers such as Botox, Dysport, and Xeomin, while 37 percent were for soft tissue fillers such as Juvederm, Restylane, Radiesse, Belotero, and Sculptra, according to the ASPS.

Interest in plastic surgery wasn’t limited to facial enhancement, however. The ASPS says that two other procedures requested the most during telemedicine appointments were breast augmentation and liposuction.

Au Naturel Is Making a Come-Back

On a positive spin, the last year seemed to encourage cosmetic procedures aimed at a more natural approach. Plastic surgeons said their patients came in saying ‘I don’t want to look different, just better.’

One possible reason for this is because staying at home without wearing makeup allowed us to see ourselves au naturel. This positive spin on body image helped people stop comparing their looks to those around them because, well, there wasn’t anyone around them!

In the end, this allowed Zoom users to like what they saw, leading to the decision that they only needed to refresh their look. “We have all had time to sit and ponder life, and there is a shift in focus to taking care of ourselves now, instead of putting it off until a later date,” said one cosmetic plastic surgeon. Another added, “There’s this mentality of ‘I’m just going to do it. I’ve waited this long.’”

What Can You Do About Stress?

If you’re wondering what you can do about stress and its effect on your appearance, in short – it depends. The stressors of the past year will spur each of us on a very personal journey forward.

You might decide to continue to embrace the newly-relaxed beauty standards. You might abandon makeup as a mask and rely on skincare products for natural enhancement. You might seek out surgical or non-surgical procedures, or you might return to enjoying the art of cosmetics and face painting with a newfound zest.

As for reducing stress-related aging, the most basic approach to countering stress is adopting lifestyle changes that slow down aging and accelerate skin health. A lot of past stress can be countered in 2021 by turning attention to balancing stress-related hormones. Eating healthier, meditating, exercising, or practicing yoga are just a few things you can do to offset the damage and live a less stressful life.


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