May 12, 2020
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Pampering time: Parisians seek post-lockdown beauty upgrade

May 12, 2020

At a Sephora beauty store on the Champs Elysees in Paris, displays of Dior lipsticks and Lancome eye pencils are kept under cellophane wrappers, and the make-up bar where shoppers usually try out products is still off limits.

But a day after exiting an eight-week coronavirus lockdown, Parisians were already making their way back to cosmetics stores and beauty parlours on Tuesday, ready to glam up for the outside world again - even if under face masks.

“I needed some shaving cream, even if no-one can see my beard,” said Clement Giraud, a fashion worker restocking at Sephora.

Browsing in another aisle - close to rows of perfumes that can still be tried, but are then wiped down with disinfectant - 15-year-old Louise Hautbois said she was looking for under-eye concealer.

“We know we’re going to be going out again and seeing people,” she said.

Without the tourists that usually flock to see nearby monuments, crowds were thin at the beauty store and surrounding clothing shops.

But local clients were trialling set-ups such as a click-and-collect service, allowing them to buy online and pick-up goods at the shop door, said Sephora’s marketing head for France, Elisabeth Sehmer.

“We didn’t know quite what to expect, and we were pleasantly surprised,” Sehmer said.

“I think people are looking for that feelgood factor of doing something for themselves... and going back to the routines they maybe lost a bit in these past two months.”

As well as the cellophane wraps to discourage people from handling products and putting them back, tills were equipped with plexiglass screens, and store bags squirted with disinfectant before being handed to shoppers.

After non-essential stores reopened in France on Monday, many hairdressing salons said they were fully booked as people rushed back for a trim or touch-up.

Beauty parlours offering services such as waxing were also starting to see reservations pick up, said Vincent Fortun, who runs a salon in the south-east of Paris.

Operating in a district usually crammed with office workers who are still staying at home, his spa business was still a lot quieter than usual, though a few clients had come in for treatments and to buy hair oils and make-up.

“They’ve been stressed and needed to relax,” Fortun said.

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