Right now is my favourite time of year: Michael Bublé is tucked away until next December; Christmas sweaters are back in wardrobes; Christmas trees are still twinkling for a few more weeks; everybody is relaxed; nobody knows what day it is; and NYE is right around the corner. The time between Christmas and New Year is sacred – it’s a time for true R&R. With the chaos of Christmas over and out for another year, this period is dedicated to the art of winding down, but is still studded with excitement, joy and hope for the new year. For me, it offers the perfect opportunity to reset and recharge by planning my fave January activity ever: beautifying. Spend the next few nights curled up on the sofa as you book your very first 2023 beauty treats, and then revel in the anticipatory excitement.
You might think it obvious, but these four simple things will make the world of difference to your sluggish, post-Christmas mood. This is what beauty is all about! It should boost confidence and enable you to just have fun – never masking or hiding, but instead enhancing and elevating mood. I’m not joking when I say that my favourite part of a night “out out” is getting ready. I never, ever want to suggest that you need makeup, skincare or treatments to feel a certain way, but for me, these things bring me joy, and there’s no better way to lift the January blues than to play with new makeup or to treat yourself to a new haircut.
In fact, indulging in a New Year spruce-up is precisely what the doctor (*cough*, me) ordered. The busy party season sees us through late nights and copious amounts of cheese, crackers, chocolates and alcohol – all things that can leave us feeling the worse for wear when consumed beyond the realm of moderation. Whether you’re feeling fatigued, sporting some shadowy under-eyes à la Wednesday Addams, or aching from all the partying, this list will have you feeling refreshed, confident, and ready to tackle whatever the year brings – so that you can welcome 2023 as your best self yet.
You absolutely cannot begin 2023 without a nail appointment to lift you out of the Chrimbo limbo. Everyone loves a fresh set, and there’s nothing like a crisp mani to have you feeling prepped to parry any problems that 2023 might bring. A waggle of your perfectly manicured fingers will instantly elevate your mood, no matter the issue at hand. Add a touch of nail art (do we even do plain colours anymore?) for extra “I have my life together” vibes.
My salon of choice is Ginza, which is somewhat of a hidden treasure, tucked away on the first floor of Al Barsha Mall. They specialise in nail art using Japanese techniques, which result in crisp, artistic lines and barely-there cuticles without running the risk of nicking your skin (they use a custom-made drill to gently remove excess skin and get everything looking flush). Celeb clients include the likes of model Lana Al Beik, and if it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me.
Keep your manicure looking fresh for as long as possible by treating your cuticles to a nourishing oil. It doesn’t have to be a cuticle oil specifically – a good facial oil will do the trick. I’m obsessed with Augustinus Bader’s Face Oil, Dhs1,020, though if that’s understandably outside of your budget, Sunday Riley is the authority in all things oil.
Whether you’re curly, coily or poker-straight, your hair deserves some TLC to help ring in the new year. There’s nothing like a sassy hair flick as you strut your way into the office for the first time of 2023, knowing that your hair is hypnotising all as you walk past. I jest, but as a colour chameleon myself, (my hair has been pink, green, grey, blonde, brown, black – you name it), I can personally attest to the transformative properties of a good colour and cut. Your hair is an extension of you, and you can use it to express yourself – it’ll always grow out if you don’t like it! Whether you fancy an overhaul via extensions, a big chop or a big colour change, Pastels Salon is the one for you. After the hassle and chaos of the festive season, why not opt for something low maintenance? A soft mix of balayage and highlights will instantly have you feeling like a new person, without needing too much upkeep.
To keep the fun and festive spirit going, I actually like to get myself some hair tinsel in January. I know what you’re thinking: “Why would I get hair tinsel after Christmas and New Year?”, but – and stay with me here – this post is all about boosting mood and confidence post-party season, and honestly, nothing lifts the spirits like a glimmer of glitter in your hair! It ignites your inner child-like joy, and with the resurgence of Y2K trends, hair tinsel is more wearable than ever.
To unpack this, I spoke to Samantha Cusick of Samantha Cusick London, and she revealed, “Every year our hair tinsel gets more and more popular. I think the Y2K resurgence has prompted more people to try it. I love that it can be quite subtle until it catches the light. It’s so pretty in low-lit places like bars and is perfect for evenings out. I can’t even tell you the amount of people that have stopped me in the street to ask me what it is and where to get it done.”
And hair tinsel isn’t just for winter! “Hair tinsel is super popular for festival season too. For Christmas the gold and silver is most popular for extra seasonal sparkle, but in the summer, pinks, purples and blues look super-cool shimmering in the sun.” However, if you have curly or coily hair, hair tinsel might not work for you: “The tinsel is straight – I have yet to find a curly version of it – so if your hair is super curly our textured it wouldn’t blend very well. You can incorporate it into braided styles though, or if curly girls like to blow-dry their hair smoother sometimes it’s a good option then too.”
If you can’t make it over to Samantha Cusick’s eponymous London-based salon (which I would highly recommend if you’re ever in that neck of the woods), you can get your hair tinsel here in the Middle East at Tips & Toes for Dhs10 per strand.
I am a sucker for fluttery, over-the-top lashes, but I think that’s because I’m a hairy beast with very thick lashes to begin with. Nevertheless, whether you’re a full-Russian kinda gal or prefer a more subtle look, lash extensions are akin to magic when it comes to making you feel good. They give you that real *I woke up like this* energy, and they don’t smudge or move in the heat. Check this article to see where to get them in Dubai.
Lash extensions are such a treat that it’s important to know how to keep them in tip-top condition – you don’t want them falling out before they’re ready! Zellal Dogan of Feis London recommends washing them with a mild shampoo (like baby shampoo) when you’re in the shower. “You want to keep them dry for the first 48 hours after application, but then you want to keep them clean of debris and makeup, which is why you should cleanse them gently in the shower. You also never want to let them come into contact with oils, so avoid cleansing oils or facial oils while you’re wearing them. Also remember to keep them brushed through with a clean spoolie.”
I actually don’t touch my brow hairs often – and certainly never with a pair of tweezers or wax. Despite being a beauty writer, I’m actually quite lazy when it comes to beauty upkeep. Therefore, the only time my brows see the inside of a salon is when I fancy a lamination. My salon of choice? Shape THAT by brau, located in the depths of THAT Concept Store in the Mall of the Emirates, and boasting a deliciously captivating interior with an eclectic mix of modern shapes and bright, serotonin-boosting colours. Their lamination service makes brows look thicker, using a lifting balm to encourage your brows to stay in one direction, then using a volumising solution to hydrate each individual hair, and a custom-blended tint to give depth and colour to the overall look. Your technician will finish the look by removing any stray hairs (though I opt to skip this step) and adding a nourishing serum.
Zellal Dogan is the queen of lamination aftercare, and she says to keep your brows hydrated at all costs. In fact, she goes so far as to make a cocktail of Olaplex’s No.7 Bonding Oil with other nourishing oils, which she gives to each of her clients to take home. “Brow lamination aftercare is pretty much the opposite of lash extension aftercare”, Zellal says. “You want to apply oil with a spoolie to hydrate your brows every day, but you still need to give them a 48-hour breathing period after your appointment. You should also apply hair conditioner to your eyebrows like a mask while you’re in the shower, then gently wipe it off with a damp cotton pad in the direction of your lamination. Essentially, a lamination is like a perm, so you want to make sure you don’t damage your brows. Hair oil is great, but the conditioner is going to make a real difference because it can penetrate the hair better – it’ll help your lamination to last.”
While chatting to Zellal, she spilled the tea on those at-home lamination kits that I see all over my Instagram and TikTok ads. “They’re actually really damaging because they’re made to be quick and easy, but their pH levels are all out of whack, which can really dry out your hair and even cause irritation.”