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Look Good, Feel Good: Keeping Up Your Beauty Routine As Self-Care

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Let's face it - life can feel messy and confusing at the moment. So many of us are counting on the little things to get us through the day - a spritz of perfume, fixing your hair - if you can even get that far. For some of us, it could simply be keeping up with our morning shower. For Kathleen Hou, beauty director for the website The Cut, beauty and grooming can be a simple way to reset. She joins us now from New York to talk about that. Welcome to the program.

KATHLEEN HOU: Thank you for having me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So you've written about whether or not you should wear sunscreen indoors because we're not really going outside very much at the moment, or how to motivate yourself to moisturize. Some may ask, is this really a time to worry about your nails, for example? What does taking care of your grooming do psychologically for people staying at home, do you think?

HOU: Well, obviously, this is not a normal time right now. It's a little bit strange. And a lot of times with beauty, it's very reflective of what's going on in your life right now. And so it brings up maybe some questions or thoughts that maybe you haven't had before. So, for example, should I wear SPF indoors? How do I cut my hair? And beauty by its very nature relies on personal touch. So I think it's a good time to redefine what it means to you and - deciding whether or not you want to do them. But it can also be a way to take a few moments for yourself. Or it could be a time to do a fun beauty experiment. But you can also choose to do nothing, which is also totally fine.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What are your top tips for people now? Because it is true that even though we may not be putting on makeup or moisturizing or getting mani-pedis, we do need to feel good, right? We do need to feel like we are taking care of ourselves at this time.

HOU: For sure. Obviously, we're not supposed to touch very many things right now outside of our home. But a lot of us are very tense and kind of nervous about what's going on in the world. And giving yourself, like, a little massage to kind of release the tension - whether it be in your face or in your scalp, which has a ton of nerve endings - it's kind of an easy way to relax. Or if you're lucky enough to have someone that they can do it for you in your home, that's a nice thing to do for each other. I think, also, people are taking time to experiment with their hair. We did a story recently where we found out that because hair salons are obviously closed, they've been trying out shaving their head. Some people were just like, I wanted to see what my head looked like. I never had the chance before, so now I do.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: A time to experiment, sure. But we should also remember that hair and nail salons, barbers have all had to close. And they are hurting financially. What are you hearing from those that you talk to?

HOU: Going back to what you said before, I think another reason why it's good to talk about beauty is because there are millions of people that are employed by the beauty industry. And they're out of work right now, and they're hurting. And I've heard from a lot of small business owners that they've had to lay off all their employees. And they're not even sure if they're going to be able to reopen after this. And so I think a nice thing I've been seeing people doing is paying for gift cards at their favorite neighborhood salon or neighborhood barbershop. This just gives them a little bit of income at a time when they're not getting any.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I also gather that you're working on getting hospital workers some beauty supplies.

HOU: We are. It's a grassroots thing that kind of has grown incredibly. It was a donation project. It's called Donate Beauty, started by three other writer friends and I. We're putting together beauty care packages for hospital workers. My friend - she's a former nurse. She's heard from a lot of her colleagues that as a result of having to wear the masks all day long, their skin is incredibly dry and just, like, very chapped. And there are lots of red marks. And I'm not talking about, like, a normal amount of dryness. Like, you can actually see the imprints of where the masks are, like, in their skin. It's really interesting because a lot of the nurses will email us. And one of them wrote to me and said that they're not trying to be beautiful right now, but it's more about morale and also a way to restore a sense of normalcy.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was Kathleen Hou, beauty director for the website The Cut. Thank you very much.

HOU: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: April 5, 2020 at 12:00 AM EDT
A previous Web introduction to this report incorrectly spelled Kathleen Huo's last name as Hou.