Hayley Hashemi, 28, just bought her first-ever foundation at Sephora. The New York City-based talent agent barely wore makeup in pre-COVID times, but a flood of wedding invitations meant it was time to invest in something to get camera-ready for all the photos that would undoubtedly wind up online. “I never wore foundation. Never,” Hashemi says (unless she got her makeup done professionally).
The pandemic changed that. The extra time at home helped Hashemi figure out which brands and products she liked. Her new, lengthier makeup routine includes the Ilia True Skin Serum Concealer, Charlotte Tilbury highlighter, Elizabeth Arden mascara, and Benefit Cosmetics eyebrow pencils and clear brow gel (she started getting monthly tints, too).
“My eyebrows are my big thing right now,” Hashemi quips. She just walked out of Sephora with a bottle of Armani Beauty’s Luminous Silk Foundation, the liquid-to-powder Ilia Liquid Powder Chromatic Eye Tint, and the Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Oil.
Christina Esposito, a nanny and former hairstylist from Astoria, Queens, found ways to enhance her eyes last year because it’s the only part of her face visible in a mask. Concealer and mascara were staples, but she now wears eyeliner (on her upper and lower lash lines) and eye shadow, too.
Esposito, 39, plans to stick with the new additions and even applies makeup if she’s home (“I have to do it up for myself,” she says). She bought a Sephora Collection eyeliner but says Nars is her go-to for makeup.
Hashemi and Esposito are a few of the many who picked up new beauty habits (and plenty of products) over the last two years. Skin-care sales soared while millions quarantined and social-distanced, but a return to social gatherings, offices, events, and parties has given many a reason to want to wear makeup again.
According to The NPD Group, U.S. prestige makeup sales between April and June were $1.7 billion, a 71 percent increase from the same period in 2020. Compared to pre-pandemic times, probably a more accurate indicator, sales for U.S. prestige beauty products overall (inclusive of skin care, makeup, fragrance, and hair) from April to June of 2020 were six percent higher than the same period in 2019.