This past year has obviously been significant for a multitude of reasons. It was, of course, entirely unprecedented from start to finish thanks to the global pandemic, but 2020 also heralded a whole lot of upheaval that wasn’t directly tied to COVID-19. Amidst the many virus-related changes that shook the beauty industry – forced salon closures across the globe, businesses collapsing under financial strain, countless job losses – we also began to reflect on the injustices that thrived in the sector.
That isn’t to say the industry was entirely devoid of goodwill this year, but social distancing increased our time on social media which in turn allowed important and long-overdue conversations to be pushed to the forefront. We had a lot of fun too, experimenting with our looks in isolation by becoming amateur hairstylists and facialists, or embracing a naked face for perhaps the first time.
We won’t say it was the most enjoyable year, but it was certainly an impactful one. So without further ado, let’s take a look at a few of the biggest moments in beauty in 2020.
WE FINALLY STARTED TALKING ABOUT THE BEAUTY INDUSTRY’S INCLUSIVITY ISSUE
The tragic death of George Floyd back in May will be remembered as the monumental moment that conversations around racism were amplified tenfold. While the world mourned Floyd’s passing, we began to scrutinise how the principles of white supremacy seep into every aspect of the Western world, and the beauty industry is no exception. Companies were called out for their performative activism, dismal shade ranges and out-and-out exclusionary practices.
Locally, hairstylist Chrissy Zemura began a petition to see better afro and textured hair education for budding cutters and colourists, while English model and trans activist Munroe Bergdorf took on L’Oreal before becoming a diversity and inclusivity consultant for the cosmetics giant. Conversations are far from over and further change is still sorely required in all facets, but we made prolonged, painful progress this year and are indebted to to the activists and educators that worked tirelessly to get us here.
WE ALL BECAME AMATEUR HAIR STYLISTS
With salons sadly closing their doors to stop the spread of coronavirus, we were left to our own devices – to varying results. Some of us, such as Dua Lipa, fearlessly dove into highlighter-hued hair dye, with others fell victim to packet-dye disasters.
The increased downtime somehow resulted in a feverish need to cut bangs, particularly in the wake of several popular streaming series – Normal People and The Queen’s Gambit, we’re looking at you – which inspired thousands of amateur chops. Bella Hadid and Rosalia were among the many celebrities who cut their own bangs in lockdown, and honestly? They looked pretty damn good.
WE BECAME EVEN MORE OBSESSED SKINCARE
If sales are any indication, skincare became a salve for many during a year of unrest and uncertainty. The category boomed globally as we settled into our morning and evening routines with more fervour than ever.
Some, such as Kendall Jenner, attempted to eschew delayed shipping times by creating their own skincare concoctions while in isolation. Jenner chose to make hers out of avocado, honey and oatmeal, which sounds more like a balanced breakfast than a skin soother but hey, ain’t nothing wrong with au naturale.
OUR SKIN GRAPPLED WITH THE OTHER TYPE OF FACE MASK
First it was ‘iso skin’, then as (fabric) face masks began to be strongly advised, we also noticed an uptick in our blemishes. As a result of wearing the essential item, we saw a phenomenon emerge that would become known as ‘maskne’.
Experts dispensed advice left and right about clearing it up, but one thing that could be agreed on? Washing our masks on the regular, which is not only important for blitzing causing bacteria but also helps to, you know, stop the spread of COVID-19.
WE DID OUR MAKEUP FOR ZOOM (OR OPTED OUT ALTOGETHER)
Although makeup sales did drop throughout global lockdowns, for many a daily makeup routine brought joy and a sense of normality throughout days that often blended into one. Celebrities shared their routines online, with the likes of Hailey Bieber and Miley Cyrus doing Instagram Lives to showcase their everyday looks.
While some missed the rituals of daily application, others ditched makeup altogether and embraced their bare skin. It’s comforting to know that although the turmoil of 2020 was at least a small step towards self-acceptance for many – even if it just meant stashing the foundation for the foreseeable future.