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Keeping up appearances: how to look after yourself during the lockdown

Now that hair salons and beauty parlours have closed to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, Stephanie Bell asks the experts for their top tips for raising your spirits by maintaining your routine at home.

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Stephanie Bell asks the experts for their top tips for raising your spirits by maintaining your routine at home

Stephanie Bell asks the experts for their top tips for raising your spirits by maintaining your routine at home

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Family support: Lynsey Bennett (right) with sisters Leah White (left) and Sarah-Louise White run The Secret Day Spa in east Belfast

Family support: Lynsey Bennett (right) with sisters Leah White (left) and Sarah-Louise White run The Secret Day Spa in east Belfast

Nail technician: Ingrid Graham

Nail technician: Ingrid Graham

Mental boost: make-up artist Paddy McGurgan

Mental boost: make-up artist Paddy McGurgan

Cutting edge: Keris Weir at work in her salon

Cutting edge: Keris Weir at work in her salon

Stephanie Bell asks the experts for their top tips for raising your spirits by maintaining your routine at home

It might not appear to be a top priority right now but maintaining a regular beauty routine at home can help keep spirits up during the tough days of isolation ahead. As hair, nail and beauty salons pull down the shutters to help fight coronavirus, theirs is yet another service which will be missed by many.

Self-care is one of the best things we can do for ourselves while on lockdown and there is much you can do at home to keep up your regular beauty routine.

If you are worried about your roots showing, your tan fading or your skin suffering, then take heart from these brilliant tips shared today by some of the best known faces in the beauty industry in Northern Ireland.

'Self-tanning is one of the easiest things to do at home'

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Family support: Lynsey Bennett (right) with sisters Leah White (left) and Sarah-Louise White run The Secret Day Spa in east Belfast

Family support: Lynsey Bennett (right) with sisters Leah White (left) and Sarah-Louise White run The Secret Day Spa in east Belfast

Family support: Lynsey Bennett (right) with sisters Leah White (left) and Sarah-Louise White run The Secret Day Spa in east Belfast

Lynsey Bennett (42) is one of three local sisters who helped develop the luxury self-tanning range Lusso Tan and who together run The Secret Day Spa in east Belfast.

Lynsey, who lives with her husband Wayne (45), a project manager, and their twin daughters Scarlett and Sophia (8), has many clients who are weekly visitors to the salon. Already, she is thinking of ways she can help them to continue their tanning rituals at home via demonstrations on social media.

"It is really important that people keep up a routine to look after their make-up and hair as it will make them feel so much better and also it is a pleasurable thing to do as well," she says.

"For me getting through the next few months, I will be keeping up my tanning routine and the things that help make me look better even though no one is going to see me."

Lynsey has some great advice for people who will no longer be able to pop into their local salon for a spray tan. Tanning at home, she says, is easy to achieve by following some basic rules.

"Self-tanning is one of the easiest things you can do at home and it will help make you feel a bit more human while stuck in the house," she says.

"It can also be an enjoyable ritual.

"Less is more when it comes to self-tanning as it is easier to put more on than take it off if you put too much on to start with. A good tan starts with good skincare. It doesn't matter what tanning product you use, if your skin isn't right your tan won't look right.

"Start by exfoliating every week and then remove all of your old tan to give you a blank canvas to work on.

"An important step then is to hydrate your skin using a primer. Don't moisturise as this can block your tan.

"Always wear mitts to protect your palms and, when applying your tan, work your way up your body from your legs with long even strokes, one leg at a time."

The no-moisturiser rule does not however apply to the face, neck and feet which Lynsey advises should be moisturised to avoid tan going on too heavily in these areas.

A great tip for applying tan on the face, hands and feet is to use a make-up brush and really blend the tan in especially at the neck and chest.

"To do your hands, skim the tan lightly over the fingers but avoid the side of the hands and between the fingers," Lynsey adds.

"On the face, use self-tan as you would a foundation and for the feet skim over the top and the toes, avoiding the sides of the feet."

'You can use this time to grow nails naturally and beautifully'

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Nail technician: Ingrid Graham

Nail technician: Ingrid Graham

Nail technician: Ingrid Graham

People who get their gel nails done regularly will be wondering how to maintain them over the next few months at home.

The advice from award-winning nail expert Ingrid Graham from Banbridge, who is a nail technician educator and who runs her own company, Sugar Coating Nails, is to stay clear of nail gels which are readily available online.

Ingrid, who is married to Jonny, an Ulster Rugby coach, with two children, Rory (8) and Hollie (3), also has a handy step-by-step guide on how to remove your gel polish and advises that until nail salons reopen you should only be putting polish on your nails.

"Gel polishes are chemicals and many of those available online will not be safe to use," she says.

"They can cause all sorts of issues from making the nail lift off, fungal infections and even dermatitis.

"I would challenge people to use this time to grow their nails naturally and beautifully."

Removing our professionally applied gel polish is the first step. Ingrid advises some basic equipment to achieve this - acetone, make-up remover pads, tinfoil, a nail buffer, an orange stick, a high-grit nail file and cuticle oil.

"Everyone is going to be biting their nails off because they can't get to their salons but please try not to do this as it is easy to remove them at home," she urges.

"Firstly buff the nails to take the shine off as this will allow the acetone to penetrate the polish.

"Cut the make-up pad in half and soak in acetone and wrap round the nail, then wrap again with tinfoil.

"Leave this for a couple of minutes and then, using an orange stick, peel off the softened polish.

"Put the pad and foil back on and repeat every few minutes until the gel polish is fully removed.

"The gel polish should come off really easily. Once it has, then lightly buff the nails and apply cuticle oil.

"Cuticle oil will hydrate your nails and will help keep them in good condition and should be applied frequently."

Ingrid will be posting regular advice on her Instagram page. There, she already practices 'self-care Monday' when she shares details of her own efforts to look after herself.

"Self-care is even more important at the moment and it can involve anything from putting your make-up on, polishing your nails or even just having a relaxing bath or a hot cup of cocoa," she says.

You can follow Ingrid on Instagram at Ingrid_Graham1

'This is a chance to be creative and play with different looks'

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Mental boost: make-up artist Paddy McGurgan

Mental boost: make-up artist Paddy McGurgan

Mental boost: make-up artist Paddy McGurgan

Make-up artist and Belfast Telegraph columnist Paddy McGurgan believes putting our make-up on as usual every day will give us a mental boost as we go through the tough months ahead.

Paddy (39), who runs the Make-Up Pro Store in Belfast, says this is the time to be creative and experiment with your make-up in ways you never had the time to do before.

And he advises on maintaining a good skincare routine, especially as we will be spending most of our time indoors.

"People wear make-up every day because it makes them feel good and to suddenly abandon that ritual would not be good for us.

"Sitting down to do your make-up can in itself be calming and help reduce anxiety.

"This is a chance to play about with different looks and because you are not leaving home, if it doesn't work out, then it doesn't matter.

"It is a distressing time, but also can be a time to be more artistic and be a bit more creative.

"People shouldn't suddenly stop wearing make-up because they are not going out."

Paddy advises to make sure you have a good pair of tweezers and continue to maintain some structure to your eyebrows.

Being indoors so much will take its toll on the skin and Paddy suggests weekly mini-facials to cheer yourself up and maintain your complexion.

And to keep your skin in top notch condition, he has some top tips.

"Facial steams are a great way to open up the pores and keep the complexion clear," he says.

"If you have some eucalyptus oil, put a few drops into a bowl of boiling water and with a towel around your head, lean over the steam for a minute and then take a break. Do this two or three times at least and repeat once a week. And also apply a mask if you have one, or your normal moisturiser."

'YouTube will be a great source of advice in the coming weeks'

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Cutting edge: Keris Weir at work in her salon

Cutting edge: Keris Weir at work in her salon

Cutting edge: Keris Weir at work in her salon

Keris Weir, Belfast Telegraph columnist and owner of Keris Weir Salon in Lurgan, has some top tips on how to style your hair at home.

While most of us will be worried about our roots showing and keeping our hair in good condition, Keris (39), who has a daughter, Sienna (5), is encouraging people to be patient and take time with their hair.

"There are loads of videos on YouTube which show you how to style your hair and these are going to become a great source of advice for many in the coming weeks," she says.

"Many of these videos will cover the basics on how to blowdry which many people struggle with. Colour is a different issue and if you do go for a box dye to cover up roots, then my advice is to make sure you do a patch test first.

"Root cover-up sprays are a great way to hide root growth and my advice would be to go online and order a couple now to see you through the next few months."

As coronavirus can cling to the hair as well as clothes, Keris advises washing your hair as soon as you get home if you have to go out. "Healthcare workers in particular who are working in close contact with people will need to wash their hair more often," she says.

"This goes against my usual advice not to wash your hair too often, but it is necessary at the present time. Make sure you are using a good shampoo and conditioner as this will help limit the damage from repeated washing."

For those with naturally frizzy hair which is hard to blowdry, Keris doesn't advise letting the hair dry naturally. Even if you rely on a hairdresser to tame it, you can try to reduce the volume at home.

"Keep your hair in a towel for about 15 minutes to get a lot of the excess water out," she says.

"Then apply a serum and, using a medium to cool heat and with your hairdryer pointing down, gently blowdry your hair.

"Leaving it to dry on its own will only encourage it to expand and frizz up."

Finally, for those who rely on regular treatments to keep their hair in good condition, Keris advises a simple mask you can do at home using coconut oil.

"Use a coconut oil mask on your hair overnight to keep it hydrated - and this will help keep it in good condition until your salon opens for business again."

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