Five Ways to Be Kind to Yourself If You’re in Self-Isolation

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Never have we had so much time to turn our attention inwards – here’s how to capitalise on some much needed self-care in a strange time

There’s a disconcerting dichotomy at play during this time of self-isolation. On one hand: “Great! Finally I have the time to do all those things I ‘never have time to do’. Like read all those old issues of the New Yorker, get to the bottom of my laundry basket and start writing a novel.” On the other, there’s tumbleweed: without an expiration date on this surfeit of free time to spend at home, I feel at a loss at where to begin and how to pace all this exhilaratingly limitless potential. Thus it would seem the best idea is to take it all step-by-step, and be a little more kind to myself in this unprecedented time of civil disquiet. Here’s how: I’m adding a little extra self-care time to my ablutions – think of it merely as capitalising on the time you’d typically spend beautifying for a day at the office (and unbeautifying at the end of it). Here are a few DIY tips to try to maximise your skin health (and clear out some nearly empties) while we're stuck at home.

Teach yourself facial massage

The transformative power of facial massage was proved to me a few years ago during a life-changing face and body sculpting treatment at the Dior Institut at Hotel Plaza Athénée, Paris. The technician worked her furious fingers over one half of my face, with specific attention paid to releasing the tension in my brows and de-puffing my jaw – when she showed me a mirror I was flabbergasted by the difference between the two sides. On one: a high, arched brow, a sculpted cheekbone and a sharp jawline. On the other: well, it was just my usual face. Sad. I’ve since vowed to massage my face at every opportunity, which, it turns out, is not that often. But now is our time to shine! Grab your favourite facial oil – extra points if you can finish a dawdler from the back of your cabinet and start studying. If you have one of her trusty tools (or any for that matter) celebrity pummeller Joanna Czech’s tutorial is great and this vid by make-up maestro Lisa Eldridge is an oldie but a goodie (its usefulness is timeless – the Mighty Boosh references less so). A crystal Gua Sha tool is excellent for acupressure relief and improving blood flow – if you can bear the woo-woo ‘third eye’ stuff, Odacite’s mini-tutorial offers a good introduction (YouTube is a mine for others) and there’s also this iconic This Morning segment if you’re in the mood for some facial yoga. Once you’ve mastered the art – hey presto, you have a new skill – this can be done in front of the TV, even post-isolation if you can imagine such a time. 


Your laundry is spinning as you type emails, you’re fitting a live-stream yoga class into your lunch break and tonight’s beans (inspired by chef Laila Gohar) are boiling on the hob while you finish that next presentation on Google Slides. You are peak multitasking. What about throwing some multi-masking in there too? As I write, I’m wearing one of Joanna Vargas’ exfoliating Dawn sheet masks and Nanette de Gaspe’s creepy but effective dry masking gloves, but I’ve also vowed to use up all those neck and decollete masks I’ve left ignored in my cupboard. And hey, guess what? Now’s the time to try those revoltingly appealing Baby Foot booties (preferably on a video conference call) that see the dead skin shedding in sheets from your feet over a period of two weeks – because no one bar your poor self-isolating housemates, or in my case my cat and husband, are going to see it (and it is actually really pleasing to see).

Austrian organic skincare empress Susanne Kaufmann recommends using multiple cream masks at once: “The different zones on our faces often have very different needs, which a single mask cannot satisfy,” she explains. I also see this as an opportunity to get to the bottom of some of those lingering jars in the cupboard too. For combination skin, try a detoxing or clarifying mask on your T-zone, and choose a plumping or hydrating mask for cheeks and around the eyes. For dryer skins, layer an eye mask beneath a hydrating or brightening sheet mask, and pop a rich sleeping night mask (like one of Sisley’s) on top afterwards to seal it all in. Always mask after a thorough cleanse and exfoliation for optimum glow. 


I haven’t done my own toenails for about eight years. This isn’t because I think I’m too fabulous, or because I always have beautifully groomed talons. Oh no. They are mostly just bare as a result of pure laziness. However, since I had to cancel last week’s special-treat pedicure, I think now’s the time to do it myself. Even though the podiatry supremo Margaret Dabbs swears that ‘wet’ mani/pedis are bad for you, I am made of weaker stuff (and don’t have the sandblasting tools). I will be pedicuring post-bath. I’m taking my trusty Walmart Ped Egg to my heels (thankfully they’re not in bad nick after a winter of socks) and after trimming, cuticle-pushing and a bit of buffing, I’ll be slicking on a couple of coats of the new quick-drying ExprEssie polish in a chic invisible shade called Crop Top N Roll. This way, if I make any mistakes, I won’t be able to see them down there. On the brightside, I won’t be going anywhere before they’re perfectly dry, so smudging is minimised. 


I don’t know about you but my hands are dry. AF. I’m still wearing those aforementioned funny gloves but it won’t be enough. Usually terrible at applying hand lotion anywhere other than when sat at my office desk, I’ve made a new policy of applying a rich hand cream before I do any housework. Pulling on a pair of rubber gloves helps it sweat in – the same thinking applies to sheet masks – and I’m plastering on the Aquaphor before bed to give it plenty of washing-free time to get working. 

Protect yourself from screens

If it were possible, we’re likely increasing our screen time quite dramatically at present, so reduced travel and time outdoors doesn’t necessarily mean we’re living pollution-free right now. As Dr Barbara Sturm explains: “The dangerous HEV rays from computer, mobile phone and tablet screens penetrate the skin twice as deeply as UV rays, causing premature aging and other skin dysfunctions.” So don’t ditch your protective anti-pollution products just because you’re not leaving the house.

You never know, we could emerge from this Corona-chrysalis as soft, shimmering beings with a little more zen in our daily lives.