How a year in lockdown changed beauty forever - by Ateh Jewel

Covid -19, BLM, and WFH has changed the world and transformed our perceptions of beauty, and its about time says our beauty columnist.

beauty industry

As we approach 12 full months since we first went into lockdown, what has changed? A better question might be what hasn't. Daily life this past year has felt more like a sci- fi thriller, where a hug or even going to the supermarket could mean death for you and your loved ones. We were forced to be more mindful, less distracted, to listen more and to lean in further. The world looked on from lockdown as the BLM movement exploded and the quiet, toxic invisible gas of 21st racism was called out and finally recognised. Who knows if the message would have spread so widely had we been in the midst of our old busy lives instead of collectively at home watching as the multiple stories of police brutality unfolded and we were unable to escape the reality of systematic racism.

Millions of white allies across the world - protesters and consumers alike began demanding more from our politicians and beauty brands. Consumers voted with their wallets and beauty brands knew they had to do better and become more accountable when it came to diversity and inclusivity.

It wasn't the only issue that gained global recognition on a new scale. Sustainability and ethics were headline news as we witnessed sweatshops exposed busily making products for our high streets. Even climate change deniers were forced to confront the difference to our surroundings as planes stopped flying, streets fell silent, our air became cleaner and birdsong returned to busy cities across the world as life was put on pause.

I have always found beauty to be a place of healing, meditation, ritual, fun, play and power. Lockdown forced (and even freed) everyone to look inwards and to recognise that skincare is self care, that beauty is not the superficial ‘Mad Men' 1950s patriarchal siren call many have been led to believe. Bathing rituals, facial massage using Gua Sha tools like Hayo’u Rose Quartz Body Restorer, £38 from The Hayo Method and embracing your natural textured hair and curls became part of the beauty landscape.

With beauty salons and hair stylists closed down we learnt to care for our natural texture and colour ourselves. When it came to coils and curls an explosion of deep treatments from brands like Trepadora, Shea Moisture, Cantu, Aveda, Charlotte Mensah and Manta meant people fell in love with their textured hair for the first time.

2020 was the year supplements exploded and people invested in their wellness from brands such as Wild Nutrition, Votary London, Aurelia and Equazen as people understood health and protecting your immunity is everything.

Lockdown meant all the old rules went out of the window and it was truly a liberation for me. I had been hiding for decades in the beauty industry, feeling I was too black, too curvy, being me was just too much.

As a result I wore muted make up, greys and blacks. During the lockdown I whipped out Charlotte Tilbury's Matte Revolution Lipstick in Red Carpet Red, £25. I slicked on pink eyeshadow and bright colours and palettes like Huda Beauty's Naughty Nude Eyeshadow Palette, £58. I literally crowned myself by wearing headbands and created my The Kamala headband in honour of the nee US VP Kamala Harris - not only the first woman to hold this office but the first African American and South Asian woman to do it. We saw Amanda Gorman, eloquent, posed in her braids and charming the world as little girls like my 9 year old twin daughters looked proudly on. Trump’s hateful and divisive America passed away (almost) like a bad dream.

Yes 2020 was a year of destruction with people losing their livelihoods, businesses and love ones but it was also a year of rebirth. 2021 is about new rituals, habits, gratitude and values with game changing beauty attitudes and brands at the forefront. So to celebrate, here are the new generation beauty brands embracing the new normal that I'm loving and you will do. Enjoy....

Lockdown has meant many people have learnt to finally care and love their natural texture. My 4C coils love the Trepadora Coconut Almond Smoothing Conditioner 200ml, £23 as it's protein free, light weight and can be used as a detangling rinse out conditioner or co-wash for juicy coils and curls.

Ren has championed sustainability and have made a Zero Waste by 2021 Pledge. Arnaud Meysselle CEO for REN Clean Skincare, explains “ Our pledge means upgrading all our product packaging so it is recyclable, recycled or reusable we are currently at 60%. We are tackling packaging first because 70% of the beauty industries waste comes from it. We continue to work closely with our partners Surfrider and Planet Patrol to combat plastic pollution through cleanups and education”. REN Clean Skincare's Brightening Dark Circle Eye Cream, £42. uses the new sustainable infinity pack which allows for complete regeneration of waste plastic that would otherwise end up in landfill. It can be endlessly recycled.

Trinny London BFF Eye Serum Concealer in Ola, £26, helps firm and tone the skin with peptide complex, hyaluronic acid and vitamin C for radiant glowing skin . Trinny London has really leaned into the skincare meets make up concept especially during lockdown. As lipsticks sales have fallen for the first time ever more of use are looking to hybrid products. Trinny’s latest launch is what happens when a eye serum and a concealer have a baby, a skin loving concealer in 12 diverse stretchable shades perfect for your zoom calls.

Evolve Hyaluronic Serum 200, £30, I love using this hydrating serum laced with hyaluronic acid, organic pomegranate and organic rosewater to help keep the skin looking plump and juicy.

Evolve is the world’s first climate positive beauty brand. Working with Earthly, Evolve has already offset 110% of their measured emissions by supporting the platform’s BAM project in the Amazon Rainforest to prevent deforestation and avoid producing carbon. Founder and CEO Laura Rudoe says, “By 2023, we aim to achieve a climate positive business and supply chain where we will have reduced our emissions as much as possible, gone net zero and contributed to restoring our planet through offsetting with Earthly”.

Wild Nutrition Daily Essentials for Women, £79 and the Wild Nutrition Daily Essentials for Men, £79 are in plastic free, recyclable chic sachets and filled with your daily intake of omega 3, vitamin D3 and award winning multi nutrient to help support the immune system and health. Wild Nutrition founder and Nutritionist Henrietta Norton. “I created our Food-Grown®, Daily Essential Pack for this very reason, to curate the perfect supplement foundation for you. Our Daily Multi Nutrient provides the essential vitamins and minerals to support energy along with stress-supporting botanicals”.

Self care Sundays have exploded during lockdown where everyone sees the mental benefit of the ritual of the bath. The L’Occitane Lavender Foaming Bath Refill 500ml, £18.50. creates a rich foaming bath will whisk you away to Provence. L’Occitance has been continuing their refill revolution during lockdown offering more eco- refills helping to reduce plastic consumption. To date they have collected over 60,700 pieces of empty packaging the equivalent of the weight of 3 Citroen cars.

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Ateh Jewel

Dr Ateh Jewel is a multi-award-winning beauty journalist, influencer, broadcaster and diversity advocate. She's a regular presenter on this morning and social commentator on Good Morning Britain and CNN. She has been in the industry for 20 years specialising in beauty, social commentary and campaigning for more diversity in the Beauty industry. Ateh is launching her own beauty range Ateh Jewel Beauty in 2023. Please follow her @atehjewel on Instagram.