Seven mind-over-virus beauty hacks to try at home

— by Vicci Bentley

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As the lockdown bites, do we really have time on our hands? When we’ve de-crusted the oven, hoovered the fridge, purged our wardrobes of moths, visibly mended the damage, primped the garden to Chelseaness and closed the book on Hilary Mantel, those of us who aren’t kiddie-wrangling, crocheting loo rolls or (heaven protect us) converting the spare room into an infirmary might just wonder what’s next.

So how are we looking?  A tad frayed at the edges? If you’re like me, you’re still in shock. In the face of such grave adversity, lockdown beauty advice could easily sound trite, until you consider the very powerful role grooming plays in our morale and so ultimately, our immunity.

Throughout my long career as a beauty editor, I never lost sight of the importance of the first psycho-immunological studies from the 1980s that showed how a lick of lipstick or a hair brush heralds the ascent from illness and depression; or how a gesture as basic as applying face cream can encourage the elderly and infirm especially to stand that bit taller and walk with more confidence. When we look better, we feel stronger – simple as that. And the best news?  It doesn’t take much.

Call me a turncoat, but I know I’m not the only one who thinks hyper-aquisitive, high-maintenance Insta-perfection had already reached its tipping point before the virus hit – and no bad thing. What Covid-19 is teaching me, is a waste not, want not approach to keeping up appearances. Fair enough, I’m still in post-move clear out mode, but my guess is we all have forgotten resources, both product and practise-wise to tide us over. Meanwhile, these mind-over-virus boosters might help to keep you going:


Mindful moisturising. Touch releases endorphins, feel-good chemicals stored in skin. While we’re short on hugs but large on time, do a five-minute facial massage focusing on tension points (always the jaw for me). Good to know you can use your regular moisturiser or night cream as a face mask – slap on extra and relax for 10 or 20 minutes, especially in the bath.

Spa soaking. Get the Epsom Salts out and sprinkle frankincense oil (relaxing, lung-strengthening) in the bath water, too. Twenty blissful minutes should soothe muscles and mind, Prosecco optional.

Hand and foot relief. Oh, I know. When’s the last time you painted yours nails yourself? Might take practise, but you know the drill – soak first, clean up cuticles, blot dry then polish. Multi-tone nails are trending, so do a different colour on each, keeping in the same spectrum for a look that’s definite, not daft. Now, there’s a job for those bottles that never get used…

Root routine. Crunch point, now salons have closed: should you grey or try to stay? Friends with highlights face a particular dilemma, since DIY tinting is virtually impossible. On the bright side, highlights help hide white, even if roots are longer. I used Colour Wow Root Cover Up , £28.50, until my own roots were too long to bother – then I just went cold turkey. A change of style helps – time for an up-do?

Makeup bag management. When’s the last time you cleaned your brushes? Professionals use ethanol, but chances are pharmacies have run out in the wake of DIY sanitisers. Shampoo and condition them, massaging and squeezing the base to loosen old colour. Rinse well, tweak into shape and air-dry upright in a glass. Clean your bag, tubes and nozzles with antiseptic wipes and feel virtuous.

Customised colours. Most of us have a core of daily go-to’s, while the rest of your slap collection languishes. Those lippies you weren’t sure about? Wear a different one each day just because. Or mix them on the back of your hand until you like what you see. Same goes for eyeshadows – have a play while no-one’s looking.

Sensual workout. How often do we really smell a perfume, actually listen to music, or appreciate how a sensual texture like cashmere can manipulate our mood? Our brains are wired up to interlink sensations, which is why we can sometimes ‘see’ or ‘hear’ perfume in colour and music. I’m having fun exercising synesthesia by matching old CDs to favourite fragrances and loving how they intensify each other. Try it when you’re wearing a super-comfy jumper, say. The effect can be profoundly calming or uplifting – a security blanket when you’re down.



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As the lockdown bites, do we really have time on our hands? When we’ve de-crusted the oven, hoovered the fridge, purged our wardrobes of moths, visibly mended the damage, primped the garden to Chels…