As an industry dependent on human touch, how has beauty adapted to changes forced by Covid-19?

The changing face of beauty. Image via Getty
The changing face of beauty. Image via Getty

Consumers have taken on DIY beauty treatments as professional services have come to a halt, but what does the future of this industry look like?

About two weeks before we went into lockdown (hardly knowing what it would entail or how long it would be), we warned about the dangers of resuming with beauty treatments and makeup testing in stores, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases was starting to become a threat in South Africa.  

READ MORE: Vanity in the time of Covid-19: Should we hold back on beauty treatments and makeup shopping for now? 

In this article, an accompanying New York Times article about the new processes beauty brands have put in place, was referenced. 

"Coty created a 'global response team' that meets daily to actively monitor the situation very closely.' Sephora has its employees wiping down front door handles with Clorox wipes hourly, though early this week consultants in at least one store were still applying makeup from common testers to customers. The company has canceled an annual convention, Sephoria, and said in a statement, in part: 'At Sephora, the health and safety of our clients, employees and their families is our first priority. We are monitoring the global Covid-19 outbreak very closely, following the guidance recommended by our government, health officials and local leadership'," the article noted.

Sephora has since unceremoniously laid off 3 000 of its U.S. employees via conference call. 

But what have local cosmetics brands done since Covid-19 hit us in a way we've never imagined nor experienced? 

While many have adopted new beauty habits in the form of DIY hair care, nail upkeep and overall skin treatments, a number of top skin and cosmetics brands loved locally, have also taken it upon themselves to adapt for the benefit of the consumer. 

READ MORE: 6 DIY hair and beauty treatment skills you shouldn't be intimidated to master during lockdown  

Placecol and Skinderm

The beauty industry may be changing, but the ethos of the Placecol and Skinderm brands has not changed. During this time, Esna Colyn, CEO of Imbalie Beauty, has recognised the need to focus on what is really important and what is within the organisation’s control.

The intention is to find the best way of empowering salon owners and their therapists to stay connected to their customers, while also helping them through a changing management process to adapt to a ‘new way of working’ during this challenging lockdown period. 

With over 70 Placecol, Dream Nails and Perfect 10 Studios nationally, the Imbalie Beauty group has already completed more than 90 comprehensive virtual training sessions with owners and therapists, covering all aspects of the professional online skin care consultation process, including tools to conduct the consultations, and all to the highest consistent standards of excellence.

READ MORE: Women-owned businesses hit by Covid-19 look forward to financial aid SA government didn't provide

“Feedback from therapists who have received the training has been so positive” says Lisa Leibov, Principal Educator of the Imbalie Beauty Training Academy. “It has addressed one of their main concerns which was that of not having contact with their regular customers or being able to give them advice on their skin care routines during lock down, to prevent long term damage to their skin." 

You'll also be glad to know that the Imbalie Beauty group is introducing the online skin care consultation at a lockdown launch price of just R50, and even this is redeemable against any products purchased from their brands to the value of R500 or more.

After lockdown the group anticipates that online consultations will become a standard offering, as it is also the perfect platform for busy women to have access to a skin care professional at a time that suits them, and to discuss their skin concerns one on one, in the comfort of their own living room. 

Bookings for the online skincare consultations can be made via their toll-free number on 0861 11 22 22 or by emailing 


It's become inevitable that brands have had to tighten their digital strategies, which have most likely compelled them to increase their online presence and consumer interaction. Optiphi, has therefore not rested on its digital laurels. Stephnie-Anne Dickinson, Head of Training at Optiphi, says they have become very active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. "We feel strongly about educating the public while promoting our products and our industry alike. You will always learn something new about your skin or products when reading our posts," she says.  

Similarly to Placecol and Skinderm, Stephnie-Anne also explains that they've launched an online store as well as a professional treatment kit that consumers can use to do their own professional facial at home. The uniqueness of this, is that an appointment with the Optiphi salon or therapist is still booked where qualified therapists virtually assist each consumer through the at-home professional treatment procedure.  

READ MORE: The extraordinary lengths these hairstylists go to keep businesses open amid coronavirus


As we have alluded earlier in this article, it's as clear as well-treated skin that the professional skin care industry is eagerly seeking guidance on how to reopen safely. 

Dermalogica, which advanced the industry in 1983 by providing post-graduate education to licensed skin therapists, takes the lead today, boldly announcing new measures to help salon owners and professional skin therapists to reopen their businesses for retail sales only in line with government legislation where possible, as of 1 May 2020. 

Developed in accordance with Dermalogica’s professional-grade standards, and with the safety of staff and consumers as top priority, the new measures include the following steps once government allows skin centers to open for treatments: 

1. Dermalogica Principles for Enhanced Service Safety

A set of directives such as maintaining physical distancing by staggering appointments and limiting entrance, wearing masks in common areas and masks and face shields during treatments, hand sanitisation, handwashing, and sterilisation; as well as requirements for laundering and retail testers.  

2. Detailed safety protocols that address specific touchpoints

This entails pre-appointment screening, client arrival and departure, retail and common area floor services, treatment room sanitation, protective wear, and more. 

3. Clean Touch Certification

This is awarded to skin therapists who complete free online training on the key principles and enhanced protocols. Upon completion, skin therapists will earn a certificate recognising them as Clean Touch Certified, which they can display in their skin center, treatment room, or website. These certificates will also be displayed in Dermalogica concept stores.

how beauty industry has adapted to covid-19
Image sourced from Dermalogica 

Want to be Clean Touch Certified? Start here

The brand's global CEO adds that “what counts is that we have defined the most appropriate steps now so that the industry can embark on the changes necessary to make facial skin care services a reality. With big business focused on digital or sitting it out, Skin Therapists are not willing to give up on the important industry of human touch and connection." 

The future 

"As science progresses, we will surely need to loosen or tighten the safety precautions,” states Dermalogica Global CEO Aurelian Lis. 

Optiphi's Stephnie-Anne Dickinson says, "We are very positive that our brand will flourish even through these difficult times" - a rare, yet reassuring sentiment during a time when multiple economies feel threatened by the global health crisis. 

How has your skicare routine being affected by Covid-19? Tell us about it here.

Additional information provided by the brands featured in this article.

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