The global COVID-19 outbreak has forced many of our daily habits to change drastically, some maybe forever. Where will we be this time next year? Will we still be spritzing hand sanitiser every time we step into a store? Will we instinctively recoil if someone enters our 2 metre radius? Will post-work drinks be a zoom session after a day spent WFH? Many businesses have had to swiftly move to online practices, beauty brands included. How do beauty consultants provide skincare advice and makeovers without the face to face interaction at their in-store counters? Online consultations have taken over, where you can book a free 30-minute appointment with a beauty expert over the phone or via video chat. I test some of these online consultations to see if you can receive the same level of expert advice as in-store, but from the comfort of your own home.
Best for: an ingredients lesson
One of my favourite organic, cruelty-free and vegan skincare brands, Evolve offer a Zoom chat with their skincare experts to assist in your product choices. I was able to book as early as 8am the next day which works well if your work schedule doesn’t allow for a 9 to 5 Zoom session. I was delighted to find that Violaine, Evolve’s Head of Product responsible for developing new formulas, would be my skincare expert for the session. I’d met her previously at a launch event so the chat felt very relaxed and once again not pushy at all. I discussed my two main skin concerns, hormonal acne and pigmentation. Violaine recommended retinol to treat breakouts and Glycolic Acid and vitamin C – which I’ve been using with Boots’ Vitamin C brightening range – to tackle pigmentation, leading the conversation with ingredients rather than products. She also mentioned face mapping as a useful way to target specific areas on the face with tailored products. Evolve also offer 10% off your next purchase in the follow up email with links to the products discussed.
Key takeout: you need to consistently use a skincare product for at least 8 weeks to see results
Best for: a friendly chat
I discovered Pai’s skincare consultation when I interviewed founder Sarah Brown. Sensitive skin specialist Pai offers certified organic, cruelty-free and vegan skincare that I’ve always found agrees with my skin, so I booked in for a free and confidential phone consultation. I talked through my skin type and current beauty routine with the lovely advisor Holly, who recommended reducing mechanical exfoliation so as not to irritate skin, and introducing an AHA mask to control breakouts. Of course the end goal of these consultations is to sell you products, so the fact that this exchange didn’t feel at all pushy was refreshing. Holly even recommended not washing my face every morning and just using water to avoid stripping skin of its natural oils, which made her product recommendations feel genuine. I received a follow up email detailing the two recommended products as well as 10% off my next purchase.
Key takeout: skin doesn’t always need to be cleansed twice a day
Best for: visual props
Anyone who’s a regular FRESH BEAUTY FIX reader will know that I’m a Caudalie fan, so when I discovered they offered skincare consultations I immediately booked in via their Facebook page. The advisor Laura was friendly and chatty, asking about the products I use in my skincare routine and recommending targeted and complimentary products. What I liked most about this session? Laura had set up her spare room with a mini Caudalie display area, and as you can FaceTime or WhatsApp video chat, you can see exactly what products the advisor is referring to. Laura was also great at applying the product on the back of her hand so that you can check out the texture too. This is probably as close as you’ll get to an in-store experience.
Key takeout: use products from the same range as they are designed to work together for maximum effectiveness
Best for: a sleek experience
It’s been a while since I’ve used No7 products but I’m tempted to delve back into their skincare after this very sleek consultation. This is one of the only services that offered weekend slots, taking place in the form of a 20-minute phone call. You can choose from skincare, cosmetics, or a combination of both. I picked the latter, and after describing my two main skincare concerns, Lee the beauty advisor recommended two skin pastes dubbed ‘the next generation of masks’ as well as a dark spot corrector. In terms of makeup I was looking for a quick eye makeup look and a summery option, both of which came back as a trio eyeshadow palette in nude for the first and a more bronze nude for the second. Not an adventurous recommendation but probably reflective of the typical No7 customer. I’m keen to test No7’s on counter matchmaking tool which can find the perfect shade of foundation concealer, blusher, lipstick, bronzer and eye shadow for your skin tone. The follow up email was the most detailed one, providing a step by step skincare routine with the products discussed.
Key takeout: review your foundation shade in winter and summer to adapt to your changing skin tone
Best for: advice from the pro
After reading an article about this luxury plant-based skincare brand in a Sunday supplement I was looking forward to discovering more about Votary and its natural products. You might struggle to find this service on the website as it’s a one-liner featured right at the bottom of the homepage with an email address. But it’s worth the hunt. Co-Founder Arabella Preston shared with me so many personalised tips and recommendations:
- A cleansing oil will be less congesting than a balm cleanser, but more effective at removing makeup than a wash-off cleanser
- You don’t need two different products for an effective double cleanse
- It sounds counter-intuitive, but if a spot starts to form, massage oil into the area
- Use a muslin cloth daily for gentle exfoliation rather than a mechanical exfoliator which scratches skin
- Use a physical rather than chemical SPF to guard against further sun damage. You can switch between the two depending on the day ahead: chemical SPF is fine for a short outing, for a full day in the sun reach for the physical SPF (the one that makes you look like a ghost)
The follow up email included a summary of products recommended and a 15% discount off my next purchase.
Key takeout: if you suffer from pigmentation, wear a sunhat!
Best for: an olfactory education
Settle in for a full immersion into the Kilian universe with this incredible olfactory journey. Global Education Manager Angel organised a Zoom session to introduce me to a selection of fragrances he thought would be most suited to my personality. But how do you convey an olfactory message through words? First I described my lifestyle, then talked through the signature fragrances that represented key life stages and how I wear them, from Lolita Lempicka’s gourmand perfume to Miller Harris’ smokey Tea Tonique. And what was I looking for now? My answer: a distinctive but not overwhelming scent. Angel then presented four fragrances, each with a different profile (floral, exotic, gourmand, woody), accompanied by the inspiration behind each scent. His passionate narrative transports you to each story, so by the end of the session I wanted to try all four scents. Next step? Go for a build-your-own discovery set of five minis, redeemable against the purchase of a full size product, or dive straight in with the 10% discount offered in the follow up email.
Key takeout: spray your everyday perfume as a cocooning veil and your more sensual perfume on pulse points
Will our entire lives be conducted online from now on? I hope there is still a place for face to face interactions, but in the meantime any beauty queries can be answered by brand advisors through these tailored online chats. Have you tried online beauty consultations? Please leave a comment below to let me know.