HTSI editor’s letter: what is beautiful now?
It is a truism attributed to Estée Lauder heir Leonard Lauder that sales of lipstick go up during a recession. Lauder identified the so‑called “lipstick index” in 2001, at a time of major economic upheaval. But those days were a blip compared with the financial recovery we must undertake now. Who wears lipstick under a mask? (The deputy editor of How to Spend It, since you ask.)
While lipstick may not be quite so reliable an economic marker in 2020, the beauty industry has nonetheless remained resilient during a pandemic that has left many sectors struggling to survive. As the surge in sales of meditation apps, bathing products, home fragrances and tanning mists has proved, in times of great uncertainty, we still value our self-care. Some beauty brands have seen astonishing hikes in trading since the start of March.
I have been fascinated to know what trends the pandemic has shifted to the fore. Not only as a consumer but within the broader context of a multibillion business that touches every generation and people from all walks of life. What are people buying? Will antibacterials become a bestselling ingredient? Is “clean” beauty – for so long the buzzword of the business – still poised to tidy up? And what of the salons? The experience of lockdown has turned many of us into DIY manicurists, depilatorists and barbers. Will we continue to embrace the at-home beauty spa?
Baya Simons has answered many of these questions, and reported on other new trends due to impact the industry, in “The future of the beauty business”. It’s a gripping read – even if the only tip you take away is which brands to invest in. Meanwhile, Maria Fitzpatrick has become mistress of the DIY self-tan, savoured an apothecary’s worth of wellness supplements – designed to stimulate everything from hair growth to immunity – and spent weeks chasing down lipsticks, eyeliners, gels and bronzers to furnish our beauty shoot. Photographed by Antoine Harinthe, with his partner Sophie Martynova as model and stylist, at their house in France, the story was completed while in quarantine and produced entirely on the hoof. In many ways, the resulting looks reflect our own experiences with make-up: playful experiments in the bathroom mirror, a chance to lift the mood.
The gardens featured in “How to grow a mood-boosting garden” are also very radiant, but Clare Coulson’s piece focuses on their value as a space in which to heal. The idea of a physic garden is well-known, but I was intrigued to hear a news report recently suggesting that so significant are the restorative benefits of green spaces, patients have been found to recover faster after surgery even if they only have a view of one. Clare spoke to doctors, mental-health practitioners and gardeners to find out more about these palliative powers, and celebrates some of the most healing gardens in the world.
Lastly, I am very grateful to Lucinda Baring, a former editor at How To Spend It, for sharing a personal account of her son Alfie’s diagnosis with brain cancer and his treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital, the specialist London landmark in which he spent too much of his short life (“How to give it... to Great Ormond Street Hospital”). One of the top three children’s hospitals in the world, GOSH receives around 600 children for treatment each day. But it is currently facing a catastrophic shortfall in funding due to the pandemic, which has seen its philanthropic efforts stalled. As Lucinda writes: “While the NHS covers the hospital’s running costs… philanthropy funds the state-of‑the-art theatre where Alfie had his operation; the well-stocked playroom where we idled away the hours; the play specialist who prepared him for surgery, helping a four-year-old to fathom what lay ahead... and most importantly, to my mind… the hospital’s pioneering research into new and kinder treatments and cures.”
It’s impossible to read Lucinda’s story without feeling the tragedy of a life lost far too young. It also reminds us of the pioneering surgery and personalities we can help support. By donating money to GOSH, you are funding research that could one day see cancers such as Alfie’s made curable – and that would be the most beautiful thing of all.