Every Tedious, Embarrassing, and Annoying Beauty Experiment We Tried This Summer

When shelter-in-place orders began, many of us who were able to work from home used the extra time in our lives to bake banana bread or log into Zoom workout classes (the goal always being self-care). As weeks grew into months, some even learned how to cut their own hair or do their own nails because they weren't exactly sure when they'd be able to get back into the salon. All those lessons are important to learn, but you know what I'm most interested in? The not-so-cute and not-so-speedy beauty trials we attempted not just because we suddenly have the time but because we aren't seeing people.

Now is the time to grow out your body hair and learn how to give yourself a wax or embrace your hair in its natural state. Maybe it's the time you eased out of chemical-filled deodorants and found a natural one that could keep up with your, umm, natural odors. These are just a few of the experiments I attempted myself, so I knew if I was getting up to something, my coworkers at Who What Wear would be as well. So I asked seven of them what beauty trial they embarked on this summer. Not only are their results so good (are you even surprised, really?), but they also shared with me the products they used and their tips for anyone interested in attempting the same endeavors. Some may even surprise you. (CBD, anyone?)

What trial or experiment did you attempt?

I’ve been trying to get my hair to grow for years (literally) and nothing ever seemed to work. Being at home more often has inspired me to try again and experiment with more natural ways to retain length, so I decided to start a hair-growth regimen.

What products did you use?

I took Hum hair vitamins twice a day, and I sprayed my hair with a homemade rice-water protein treatment and aloe juice every other day.

How long did you commit to the trial?

I’ve been doing it since April, so about four months so far, and I plan on continuing for as long as I can because it works wonders.

Was it successful?

Absolutely! My hair is stronger, longer, and more moisturized than ever.

Do you have tips for someone interested in the same trial?

I would suggest adding an essential oil to your rice-water spray bottle because the smell is terrible. Be sure to massage it into your scalp and leave it in your hair for about 30 mins, and then make sure to rinse all of it out of your hair before leaving the house (unless you want to be smelling funky at the grocery store). The smell can truly linger.

Also, be sure to drink a lot of water when taking the vitamins if you have acne-prone skin because too much biotin can make you break out. (Or maybe it’s just me).

What trial or experiment did you attempt?

Figuring out the secrets to air-dried hair.

How long did you commit to the trial?

Since April.

Was it successful?

I think there's been a big improvement in how my hair looks. My waves are more defined, and I have less frizz. No hate on frizz, but I personally prefer a sleeker look.

Do you have tips for someone interested in the same trial?

So many tips! This is an obvious one, but for anyone who hasn't heard this yet, you don't want to brush your hair at all after you get out of the shower because it will break up your beautiful natural hair pattern. I brush it before I get in the shower so it's as knot-free as possible. This will cut down on frizz significantly.

Post shower, I'll spritz my hair with some Evolvh volumizing product, which is clean and helps with one of the main issues with air drying, lack of volume.

Now on to the air-drying part: Ideally, you just let your hair naturally dry and don't touch it all. The only problem with this is if you have medium-length to long hair, you'll have a sopping wet mass of hair dripping down your back, making your clothes wet for a couple of uncomfortable hours. Enter the microfiber hair turban. I'm really not sure what took me so long to purchase one, as I've heard great things for years. You just flip your wet head over into the towel (I think the hair community refers to this by the glamorous term "micro plopping"—the micro stands for microfiber), twist it up like a turban, and secure it in the front with the attached button. Then, leave on the towel for 15 to 20 minutes. I like to put on my morning skincare and any makeup at this time. When you release your hair, it will be much drier (cutting air-dry time by hours) without disrupting your curl pattern. PSA: A normal towel will not have the same effect, as the friction encourages frizz.

What trial or experiment did you attempt?

I've been trying to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle and produce less waste overall, and I realized that shelter-at-home was the perfect opportunity to change some of the habits I've been avoiding letting go of. In lieu of my usual bottled shampoo and conditioner, I finally took the plunge and got shampoo and conditioner bars from a local zero-waste store.

How long did you commit to the trial?

I've been using these for about a month.

Was it successful?

I was actually pretty shocked to see how well the bars work. Color me impressed! At first, the lathering took some getting used to, but I love how bouncy and light my hair feels! It's definitely comparable to brands at much higher price points. On days when I don't wash my hair, I've been trying out Act+Acre's new dry shampoo, and so far, I've been liking the way these products work together.

Do you have tips for someone interested in the same trial?

Using a bar over bottled shampoo and conditioner is definitely a personal choice, but I can attest to these products 100%. I don't think I'll go back to plastic bottles anytime soon.

What trial or experiment did you attempt?

I was used to getting my eyebrows waxed and tinted every four weeks, so you guessed it: I had to start tinting my brows myself once safer-at-home orders were put in place. I don't trust myself to ever wax my own brows, though.

How long did you commit to the trial?

I started in May and have been doing it every four-ish weeks.

Was it successful?

I'm actually surprised how successful it has been. The first time I used it, I kept the dye on for a short amount of time, but now I leave it on for longer than the directions even say to because I'm wild like that.

Do you have tips for someone interested in the same trial?

If your brows could use some grooming, I'd do that beforehand. Then just make sure you read the instructions all the way through before starting. Also, it's helpful to have a few Q-Tips on your vanity, so you can wipe any excess dye that gets on your skin and kind of shape everything.

What trial or experiment did you attempt? 

I've used retinol in the past but was committed to incorporating it into my consistent nighttime routine during quarantine. 

How long did you commit to the trial? 

I started using one to two times a week a few months ago, and now I use it every other night.

Was it successful? 

Yes! It took my skin a little getting used to, with some dryness at the beginning, but I have noticed significant improvements in my skin texture and an evening of my skin tone. Not that I have been wearing much makeup at home anyway, but I really haven't felt the need to since my skin has improved (which is always the goal).

Do you have tips for someone interested in the same trial? 

Start slow. If you have sensitive skin don't be afraid to try! My mom has very sensitive skin and loves this gentle alternative.

What trial or experiment did you attempt?

Natural deodorant.

How long did you commit to the trial?

I've been wearing it since we started working from home. It was just an impulse purchase I added on to our Amazon order.

Was it successful?

I expected to maybe need an upgrade over summer when things got sweatier, but we're almost through August and so far so good!

What trial or experiment did you attempt?

After listening to so many friends sing the praises of CBD for years now, I finally decided it was time to try a routine of my own. Actually, it was well overdue. Staying home almost 24/7 in such unprecedented times has definitely resulted in increased anxiety and decreased sleep for me.

What products did you use?

I tried three different products from Equilibria, a female-founded brand that grows premium cannabis on a farm in Colorado. My favorite thing about this company is that when you purchase from it, you are set up with a dosage specialist who will talk you through an ideal routine based on your needs and lifestyle.

My routine went as follows: First, I take a 10 mg soft gel with breakfast every morning. (It's best absorbed by the body when eaten with a "good" fat like avocado or nut butter.) Then, I'll incorporate the drops throughout the day as needed and about an hour before bed. I was advised to take a half droplet (5 mg) and then another after 20 minutes if I wasn't feeling the calming effects. The last product I use is the relief cream, which helps with muscle soreness. I mainly used this at night on my feet (TMI?) on days when I did a lot of walking.

How long did you commit to the trial?

I've been doing this routine for about two weeks straight now.

Was it successful?

Yes! My main goal was to feel more relaxed at night because my mind usually races before bed. The CBD has definitely had a positive effect on that, but I also can't believe how much better I've been feeling throughout the day now. It's like I'm floating through my nine-to-five instead of driving up an unpaved road. Am I making any sense?

Do you have tips for someone interested in the same trial?

If possible, talk to a professional to help get you started on the right routine for you. Trial and error are key. If you're not feeling the benefits of CBD right away, don't be afraid to increase your dosage or frequency.

What trial or experiment did you attempt?

I am kind of a freak about maximizing time, so if I'm home for a long period, I need to feel like I'm taking advantage of it. Which means I take on a lot, to the chagrin of my boyfriend, who says "a lot" equals "too much." 

Since safer-at-home orders were put in place, I have attempted to commit to a natural deodorant that actually works for me; like Molly, incorporate a retinol into my p.m. routine; revive my dead ends; and wax my body hair. For full transparency, some of these experiments are not new to my life—I have been waxing my own armpits for years now and struggling in the search for any kind of deodorant that works for me for even longer—but while sheltering in place, I really feel like I've honed in on what works for me. 

How long did you commit to the trial?

I've seriously been on the hunt for a natural deodorant since 2017. I couldn't begin to count how many I've tried and how many dollars I've spent. (I've considered getting my sweat glands clipped. IDK what's wrong with my pits—sorry.) I've been using this one from Myro for almost a full month now.

Was it successful?

Yes! Okay, I really love the scent I picked for this deodorant (which is a combination of cucumber, jasmine, and spearmint). I won't say I get to smell it hours into the day, but the important thing is that I don't smell myself hours into the day—even on a recent camping trip in 100° weather and during beach days.

Do you have tips for someone interested in the same trial?

I think part of the natural-deodorant journey is making sure your armpits are really clean. And I don't just mean a good scrub in the bathroom clean. Once a month or so I use a detoxifying mask on my pits after getting out of the shower, and I really think it helps, especially if you're easing out of using artificial deodorants.

How long did you commit to the trial?

I started using this gentle retinol serum in May, applying it once a week after cleansing and before moisturizing. Over the last two weeks, I've increased to using it every other day.

Was it successful?

It really is, especially now that I'm using it more often. The place I noticed the biggest difference, surprisingly, is between my brows where I furrow, but I'm also noticing changes on my forehead and the fine lines that got started under my eyes.

Do you have tips for someone interested in the same trial?

I have insanely sensitive skin, so I knew I wasn't going to mess around with anything stronger than this serum that I'd heard such good things about. And like Mollie said, I think the best approach is to start slow. Attempting to see results fast is not worth creating new problems like redness and bumps.

How long did you commit to the trial?

Since I haven't gotten a haircut since even before the pandemic started, I've decided I needed to give the ends of my hair a little pick me up. Since May, I've been using this mask every other week.

Was it successful?

Very much so! Not only does it make my ends look so much more healthy and shiny, but it also helps reduce tangling, which has been increasingly necessary the longer my hair gets.

Do you have tips for someone interested in the same trial?

Increase or decrease the frequency with which you use this mask based on your hair's health. You can also adjust how long you leave it in your hair before rinsing, depending on how much life you need to breathe into it. Finally, I always use the time I have the mask in to shave my legs. See? Always multitasking.

Oh, and BTW, I use this shampoo before the mask so I can make sure my hair and scalp are squeaky clean before getting loaded with the deep conditioner, which can be a little heavy for thinner hair like mine.

How long did you commit to the trial?

As I mentioned earlier, I've been waxing my armpits for years, but I hadn't ever waxed my bikini line myself. Since summer started, I knew I'd have to tackle it so I could feel confident in my bikinis. I waxed about a month ago before going on a camping trip near a river.

Was it successful?

I've tried a lot of strips and hot waxes, and hardly ever care for what I've used. I especially knew I wasn't going to use a hot wax on my bikini line on my own accord. I bought these strips once years ago, and they're the only brand I ever return to. It wasn't the easiest or painless wax I've ever had, but they worked!

Do you have tips for someone interested in the same trial?

Trim. Your. Hair. You do not want to wax months-long hair—it will hurt, and chances, are your hair won't budge and you'll just have a sticky mess on your hands. Also, cut the strips into smaller pieces that fit the hairline you want to remove. Lastly, follow the instructions and rub the strips between your hands to warm up the wax. It'll make the process easier!

It's always best to use an ingrown-hair serum after getting out of the shower, especially since at-home waxing is never as seamless as when a professional does it. I love this product from Fur. I truly use it every day.

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