We are living in very weird times. It’s been a little more than a month since we’ve all been asked to practice social distancing and quarantine in our homes, which means the responsibility of grooming yourself has fallen completely into your hands—no more trips to the salon.
I’ve always been a huge proponent of at-home self-care (mostly because trips to the salon requires some serious cash), so here are a few ways you can treat yourself from the comfort of your home, from practicing nail art to trying on new face masks (the other kind). Throw on a robe, start a bath, and play that next episode of The Sopranos.
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Taking Care of Your Hands and Nails
You’re probably washing your hands excessively right now (you should be!). That might be drying out your skin though, so you should follow up with a moisturizer. Neutrogena’s Norwegian Formula Hand Cream is a favorite among some WIRED staffers.
De-Stress With a Manicure
With all that extra time spent on your hands, don’t forget about your nails. There are a lot of pre-packaged manicure tool kits you can get to keep your nails looking clean—but you probably don’t need them. They often include a bunch of products you likely won’t use. Instead, get yourself the basic tools: clippers, a file, and a buffer.
I know it’s tempting to cut and push those cuticles, but you should refrain from it as you can introduce bacteria and get it infected. Try a cuticle oil and keep your hands moisturized to avoid cracking.
If you’re set on a manicure in a box, try one of the Olive and June Mani Kits. They offer polishes and the high-quality tools you need without all the extra junk in other kits. Depending on which option you go with, you’ll get a nail clipper, file, buffer, nail polish remover, thin nail brush, cuticle serum, polish, and universal polish bottle handle that helps keep you steady.
I’m a huge fan of the Green Bell G-1008 clippers because they’re sharp, sturdy, and will last a long time. The only downside: there’s no built-in tool for cleaning out under your nails if they get grimy. A simple nail brush will do the trick.
As far as files go, an emery board is the most common and they’re pretty cheap. These ones from Tropical Shine and Beauty Secrets should suffice. Professional nail techs recommend crystal or metal files since they are easier to clean, so if you want an upgrade pick, I like Sephora’s crystal nail file.
Lastly, buffers smooth your nails and make them shiny, which is a nice touch to an at-home manicure. I like this one from Tropical Shine, but try to only use it once a month so you don’t accidentally wear down your nails.
False Nail Fix
If you typically wear acrylic or other false nails, you might need to fill in the gap from where your nails have grown.
We really like Kiss’ fill kits if you feel comfortable doing your own nails (there are endless instructions you can follow along on YouTube). Unfortunately, they’re selling out fast so if you can’t find them online, try looking for them when you’re out shopping for other essentials like food and toilet paper. You can also try Kiss’ dip kits, which might be an easier interim solution.
If you’re not feeling confident enough to try your hand at a DIY professional manicure, now’s a good time to give your nails a break and let your natural nails strengthen up. Kiss also makes easy-to-use, affordable Soak-Off Kits. All you need to do is pop the included caps on your nails and wait a few minutes. The layers of polish, acrylic, and glue will come right off, allowing your natural nails to breathe.
Press-on nail kits are also good alternatives, too. I (Louryn) swear by Kiss’ false nail sets—a manicure using them lasts me about 10 days—but ImPress nails are also great for temporary wear. Other brands we like include Static Nails and NailHur.
Try Nail Art
I had a horrible nail-biting habit for the first half of my life. The only thing that stopped it was when my college roommates and I got really into nail art. Pinterest has tons of fantastic ideas and it’ll become your new best friend for all things nail art.
If your polish collection is lacking, you don’t have to go out and buy every Essie color there is (at $9 a pop, it adds up quickly). As long as you’ve got one or two base colors, look for design polishes with a long, fine brush like this 24-pack from Amazon. They make it easy to do line designs or to add a pop of color to otherwise basic nails.
If you’ve already got a solid collection of colors, opt for thin nail polish brushes, just be sure to clean the polish off the brush immediately so they don’t dry up. Dotting pens are another cheap tool that make it easy to draw flowers and polka dots. If you want to go all-in, you can go for a set that includes brushes, dotting pens, glitter, sequins, and anything else you could possibly want to put on your nails. I haven’t tried this brush set from Amazon, but it has great reviews.
When it comes to nail art, you have to be willing to try and try again no matter how many times you mess up (and you will mess up). If there ever was a time to learn, it’s while you’re social distancing as no one will see them.
Relax With a Beauty Mask
Sheet masks are good for temporary problems, like when my skin is desperately in need of extra hydration. They’re usually best used as a part of a regimen but they’re also just plain fun and relaxing. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Farmacy’s Coconut Gel Mask
- Dr. Jart Sheet Masks
- Cicapair Calming Mask
- Soap and Glory’s Miracle Moisture Mask
- Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Hydrating Mask: This is a good overnight option if you have particularly dry skin.
- Ordinary’s AHA Peeling Solution: I like this for serious exfoliation. You have to be careful and go slowly with acids if your skin isn’t used to them.
If you can spend a little more, I’m a fan of Foreo’s UFO Smart Mask Device. It looks like a facial cleansing brush, but it’s actually a 90 second spa treatment that uses heat, cryotherapy, vibrations, and LED light so you don’t need to sit around with a mask for 20 minutes. I’m always surprised at just how much better my skin feels after using it over a typical sheet mask, but it costs a pretty penny.
There’s a lot of bad skincare advice out there and unfortunately, we all have different skin types, so what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. You should take this downtime to do your own research and ask questions. Skinclasshero, LaBeautyologist, and HeyApril are some of my favorite experts to follow because they offer legitimate advice.
If you don’t plan on using a mask at all, at least remember to moisturize your skin. Even if you’re oily, you still need to moisturize and hydrate. My favorite for my dry skin is Tatcha’s Dewy Skin Cream, but at $68 it’s a splurge if there ever was one. Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Water Gel is my default moisturizer.
Don’t Forget Hair Care
Just like your skin and nails, your hair needs some love. If you’re feeling the need to cut or dye your hair during this lockdown, WIRED writer Louryn Strampe is working on a guide to help if you don’t mind waiting.
I recently got a Briogeo duo as a birthday gift from Sephora. It included the Scalp Revival Charcoal and Coconut Oil Micro-exfoliating Shampoo and the Don’t Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask. These particular products are expensive on their own, so look for kits or sample sizes if you want to try them, but there are a ton of great options out there like Pantene’s Intense Rescue Shots. Or, if you have a bottle of mayonnaise (yes, mayonnaise) in your fridge already, slather it on wet hair for a DIY softening treatment.
Olaplex, an in-salon system that works on a molecular level to restore hair’s broken bonds, has gained popularity in the hair community these last few years, but you can try out its hair perfector and bond maintenance shampoo and conditioner for at home use. A WIRED photo editor told me to buy the perfector and to “never not use it. It will change your hair life.”
A shampoo brush is always a worthwhile addition as well; they help scrub your scalp clean, especially if there’s a lot of product buildup.
I’ve been waxing my eyebrows since middle school, and you can take care of it yourself too, I promise. If you’ve never used wax before, carefully follow the directions and do a patch test first.
Pre-waxed strips make me nervous, even ones designed to mimic an eyebrow shape. There’s just too much room for error. Instead, try a precision applicator like Parissa’s Waxing Pen. It helps you apply the wax only where you want it. Start slow, and remember: it’s better to finish up with tweezers than to take off too much.
Though I don’t recommend having a non-professional go near your sensitive bits with hot wax, you can wax your face, legs, and arms at home relatively simply. I’m not strong-willed enough to go through the agony of ripping a strip off my own leg, so if you’re quarantined with someone you love, you may want to ask them to join you in this bonding experience. Parissa also makes strips of different sizes designed for specific areas of the body, but Sally Hansen is an affordable brand I like.
Find Peace for Yourself
If grooming and face masks aren’t what you need right now, try to find some time to relax in whatever way works for you, whether that’s two bubble baths a day or 12 hours spent playing Animal Crossing. You can even try a weighted blanket—I love curling into my bed and pulling 20 pounds over me. WIRED writer Jess Grey likes this one from Casper, which stays cool compared to other models she tried.
I know it’s hard when it feels like the world is ending, and people on the internet are talking about ways to be productive during this pandemic. But your mind will benefit from any time you put aside for peace (and maybe turn off Tiger King). You don’t need to work out every day, write the next great American novel, or learn a new craft. Just let yourself be ok.
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