he pandemic may have slowed down the pace of life, but for a lot of people this has translated into a time for indulgent self-care that fits in perfectly with the narrative of personal empowerment. The general idea that you can create yourself may have seemed narcissistic once, but it has been recalibrated as an act of self-care. Whether it’s your face, body or personality, this is self-improvement 2.0—sliced and diced to cope with a post-pandemic world. And with technology, there’s no longer any need to tolerate at least physical imperfection.

“Contrary to expectations, months of virtual house arrest and the possibility of masked glory do not seem to have deterred the vanity brigade. In fact, we were getting advance bookings even before we reopened the clinic,” says Dr Simal Soin, founder of AAYNA, a cosmetic and skincare clinic in New Delhi’s Mehrauli.

“The world has never witnessed such a long period of inactivity before the pandemic and that has changed human behaviour overnight,” says Dr Priyanka Reddy, a cosmetologist and the founder of DNA Skin Clinic, Bengaluru. “Simple maintenance activities which were taken for granted, like a haircut, getting your eyebrows groomed or waxing, have become restricted activities.” So people have started focusing more on skin, health and general wellness. Also, they have started exploring longer lasting alternatives to beauty treatments and make-up.

Microblading is one such current trend in cosmetic dermatology. With fuller eyebrows in vogue, microblading is a semi-permanent tattoo technique in which a small handheld tool of tiny needles is used to add pigment to the skin, thereby creating the illusion of thicker eyebrows.

For milder skin woes, there’s always teledermatology—Manna from heaven for all those who have reserved face-to-face consultations for a safer time. Simply sharing pictures of the affected skin area on an online platform (various apps help connect professional practitioners and patients) allows patients to get consultation at their fingertips. “Ever since the lockdown began, our online teledermatology consultations have seen a definite pick-up. After the Covid pandemic, a lot of professionals have started discussing these issues on social media. As a result, there is a lot of social awareness regarding cosmetology and teledermatology,” says Dr Reddy.

Similar is the case of women opting for permanent hair removal in place of regular waxing. Staying at home for extended periods has also made people put on extra weight. “We have started noticing an increase in patients for liposuction and weight-loss treatments. According to my research, the Indian cosmeceutical market is currently valued at $6.6 billion (about Rs 48,480 crore) and is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 22 per cent by 2025,” adds Dr Reddy.

Dr Reddy says contrary to common assumption that beauty is a woman’s obsession, “we find there has been a rise in men’s aesthetic surgery as well. For men, rhinoplasty, hair restoration and body contouring top the list of procedures. Research indicates that men choose cosmetic surgery to look better and gain an edge in their professional life.”