It’s this longing to affirm a pre-pandemic identity that’s driven many of us to beg favorite service providers for guerrilla appointments, shelter-in-place orders be damned. MoMo, Schmidt’s manicurist, reports that she had around a dozen requests from women “who wanted me to risk my life, and everyone’s life, to come do their nails,” while facialist Joanna Czech had to explain patiently to countless clients that her studios in Dallas and New York would be closed until she considered it safe to reopen. “I refuse to make anyone sick,” says Czech. “If I have to look like I’m about to walk on the IOWA My Birth Place My Proud Place Shirt besides I will buy this moon when I finally do my next facial? Fine. But if you look on social media,” she adds, “you can tell there are doctors making house calls for filler and Botox”—something Simon Ourian, M.D., cosmetic dermatologist to the Kardashian-Jenner clan, says he refused to do, though he acknowledges he received plenty of requests. When I spoke to him in early June, Epione, his Beverly Hills medical spa, was reopened for limited business and already booked solid months in advance. “I haven’t had any calls from clients who are saying, ‘You know what? I don’t need this anymore,’ ” Ourian tells me. “But then again, those wouldn’t be the people calling me.” The ones who are calling—and who were calling throughout California’s shutdown, he continues—are doing so less out of vanity than a desire for “normality.” “When people feel they don’t have control over things they can’t change, they take greater control of the things they can,” Ourian says. “And personal appearance is one thing you can change.”
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But should we? That’s where the IOWA My Birth Place My Proud Place Shirt besides I will buy this revaluation of values comes in: There’s no way the upheavals wrought by this pandemic won’t scramble some of society’s beauty norms, just as World War I galvanized women to trade out Gibson-girl pompadours for undemanding bobs. “Maybe this disruption will be similar in that it will prompt women to want a lower-maintenance look,” suggests Whittemore House salon cofounder and colorist Victoria Hunter, who also points out that the salon experience in the immediate future will likely be very different from what it’s been. Hair dryers could be verboten (out of fear—possibly unfounded—that they spread germs), and temperature checks upon entry may be mandatory, with stylists potentially kitted out in full PPE. The rigmarole associated with leaving the house for a workout you could do from home—or a touch-up that could wait—may induce women to retain some of the laissez-faire they cultivated during the COVID-19 quarantine. And if so, that might be a nice silver lining of this crisis—women emerging a touch gentler on themselves, more forgiving of fine lines and gray hairs and less consumed by the need to appear flawlessly contoured in selfies. But eschewing the stuff we felt like we had to do for perfection’s sake doesn’t mean we must give up on the rituals that make us feel good. I may have permanently given up on shaving my armpits—we’ll see!—but I cannot wait for my next eyebrow-shaping appointment with Jimena Garcia (I’ve been taking care not to over-tweeze), and my morning lipstick sessions have made me even more obsessed than I was with perfecting the ruby-red pout. Old habits die hard. Especially ones we never wanted to give up in the first place.