Nicole’s Favourite Things: The Pandemic Beauty Edition

All of the Zoom meetings, and Houseparty virtual wine evenings, and Facetime conversations have reminded me of a conversation I had a few years ago with an older, female member of my husband’s family. Someone had introduced her to the concept of the selfie, and so in an attempt to join in to Selfie Land, she merely flipped her camera and snapped a photo. Just snapped a photo, no lighting, no angles, just a photo taken close-up as she looked down at the phone. MERCY.

This woman told me how depressed and sad she was after viewing the photo; she had been quite a looker in her youth, and to see herself in such a state, well. I reassured her that NO ONE looks like that, and in order not to spiral into depression about one’s appearance, one must NEVER look at the camera in the way she did. Shoot from above, for the love of god, shoot from above.

As a digression, a while back – weeks? who knows, time has no meaning – Suzanne (HI SUZANNE) asked how to tell if the Facial Hair Situation needs to be Dealt With and I can say that there are two ways: the first is as described above, an unflattering, close-up, harshly lit, unfiltered selfie. The other way is not for the faint-hearted, and that is to buy a 10x magnifying mirror with a “daylight setting.” If you do take this course of action, it’s helpful to remember a) that no one ACTUALLY sees you in 10x magnification with ultra-bright lighting, and b) to look at your face dispassionately section by section, rather than as a whole. Those two tips will help you from spiraling into sadness after viewing your previously-just-fine face which has been revealed to have woolly, errant eyebrows and uneven skin tone, not to mention imperfections and blemishes you didn’t know you had. Well, as my friend Carmen (HI CARMEN) once said about her junior-high lip synch and dance routine to Opposites Attract captured forever on VHS, it keeps you humble.

Anyway, back to the accidental selfie. I have been thinking about that interaction a lot these days when having my virtual meetings/ wine parties/ coffee dates, as I adjust my phone and tablet constantly to get a good angle, and the right lighting, and still, sometimes, I look at my face staring back at me and it’s like I’m looking at the Crypt Keeper. Is that what I look like, Jesus take the wheel. I know some of us have been using this Pandemic and Time of Isolation to Throw Off The Shackles Of Modern Beauty Standards, but I find I have been the opposite. Which means it’s time for…

Nicole’s Favourite Things: The Pandemic Beauty Edition

As a note, with one exception, I purchased all of these items on my weekly shop to Superstore; and of course, no one is paying me to write about these things, I just love them.


With the wearing of masks, mascara has taken on much greater importance to me than before. Now that I’m not wearing lipstick to the stores, and, indeed, with my entire lower face covered, I want to make sure my Smizing is working for me. Longtime readers will know that I have long been a fan of The Falsies by Maybelline mascara, and I still am. Loyal to the core, that’s Taurean me. But near the beginning of the Pandemic, Superstore was OUT OF THE FALSIES. This was a one-off occurrence and it was back on the shelves the following week, but since it was the beginning of the Pandemic, I had the kind of mental spiral that we can all relate to, thinking that this was going to be one of those shortages no one talks about, and I would never get my mascara again. So I panic-bought The Falsies Lash Lift, and I will say it’s pretty good too.

Lash Lift is, cost-wise, 50% higher than The Falsies, which seems extreme from a percentage point of view, but in actual dollar terms it isn’t much; this is not an expensive mascara. The difference would be less than a cost of a latte, or around the value of my annual Child Benefit. I don’t think I’ll buy it again, though, I still prefer the less-expensive Falsies.

It is REALLY hard to take a photo of mascara without getting those Cora-From-Downton Crazy Eyes.

Wrinkle Fighting

With the wearing of masks, my forehead – the bane of my existence – has become front and centre, attention-wise. But let’s be clear, when one is in their mid-forties, one can expect some marionette lines, wrinkles around the eyes and forehead, and less elasticity than before, even for those of you with perfect skin. I love the Neutrogena Rapid Repair line; it contains Retinol and Hyaloronic Acid and other things that will make your skin tingle until you are used to them. The Rapid Tone Repair is great for uneven skin tone and wrinkles, and at night I use the Rapid Wrinkle Repair on my forehead and around my eyes. I think it actually is helping, but the economist and statistician in me think it’s impossible to tell without a control, etc., and every day that goes by ages us, so how can we ever tell, let’s just hope this works.

It’s that time of year when I’m outside for many hours in a day, and nothing, NOTHING, is so aging and wrinkle-inducing as the sun. If you, like me, derive great pleasure from the outdoors and turning your face to the sun, it is very prudent to have a good sunscreen, from a skin cancer prevention perspective, as well as a wrinkle prevention one.

I love this sunscreen because it doesn’t make me all shiny and greasy.

For the last couple of years, I have been using The Body Shop Chinese Ginseng and Rice mask twice a week. It’s exfoliating and brightening, and I love it. It also tingles when you wear it, and it looks ridiculous, but it really works. I am sure you can order this online, and sometimes The Body Shop has a Buy Three Get The Fourth For Free promotion, but that’s a pretty big gamble if you’ve never tried it before. I usually partake in their promotion in January of every year, and so I have a stockpile in my bathroom cupboard.

Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.

Don’t Despair About Your Hair

Ooooh, this is the big one. I feel fortunate in that I was Thinking About Growing Out My Hair for a long time, and this whole Quarantine and Isolation has really taken the decision out of my hands. I have written already about my hair colouring adventures, so I won’t bore you with it. Let’s just say I am THRILLED with the results and I honestly am not sure if I’ll ever go back to salon colouring.

Garnier Belle Colour is the brand I have been using, not for any particularly well-researched or thought out reason, but because when my mother called me, back in March, to tell me that salons would be closing and we talked about home hair colour, she said “That will probably be the NEXT thing that there will be a run on!” and people, I panicked. I panicked so much that, even though I had a few glasses of wine in me – it was a Friday – my husband drove me over to the neighbourhood Shopper’s and I literally ran in, scanning all the colours until I found one that pretty much matched me. Let me tell you, it is not that easy to match a red. This was one of the only reds on the shelf and so I grabbed a few boxes. I’ve been so happy with it, and I’m even more so today because yesterday I was at Superstore and not only was it on sale for $4.98 per box, I also got PC Optimum points for the purchase.

It’s super easy to use and non-drippy, and it also makes my hair feel so soft and full.

For the week before colouring, I love these spray root cover-ups. My darling friend Allison (HI ALLISON) sent me the one on the right years ago, but Shopper’s also had the one on the left in stock. Again, if you don’t have red hair it’s probably much easier to find a match, but these colours seem to be the Snuffalupagus of root sprays.

I generally wash my hair every other day – and bun it up on the non-wash days – but because of a few factors I now wash it three days a week. Wednesdays are grocery days and they are also the day that I am going two days between washing, and so I need a dry shampoo. I’ve tried a few but they all turn my hair GREY, which, why am I even colouring it if I’m going to have it grey, but this L’Oreal one does not. I think the one less shampoo probably helps with colour fade as well.

Tell me: do you have any beauty tips and tricks for this Pandemic time? Do tell. xo


  1. Angela Kelley says

    Your hair looks great! I am curious about how you create your curls, would you mind sharing details? What is your normal hair texture, what tools do you use? Thank you!

    • nicoleboyhouse says

      I love nothing more than chatting about frivolous things like my hair! Blog post coming right up 🙂

  2. I super wish you lived in Ottawa so you could come over and teach me how to take care of my skin and apply makeup like an actual grown up. But on the other hand, I am cheered to see that I actually do own that same face sunscreen…somewhere in the house…and I think I also bought one of the Nutrogena products last time you recommended them. So I resolve to at least dig out those two and try to be a real lady for a change. Also: your hair looks amazing!

  3. I’ve used the Maybelline mascara and liked it – but I have been loving L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise lately. My hair! Oh my gosh! It is far too long – although I’m not hating it, I am finding it annoying. As far as the gray, I’ve been putting off coloring it – but I’ve just scored a back up kit so I may be coloring tomorrow. Your hair, as always, look fabulous!

  4. I am not the person to ask for beauty tips. Really. I . . . (wait for it) . . . even sunbathe. I know, I know. But I do like my Olay complete all day moisturizer with sunscreen (only spf 15, I know, I know). I did so enjoy this post and might try the mascara, but really I have been thinking that I might not even go back to mascara. Might just do ‘this is me, take it or leave it.’ Time will tell.

    My favorite parts of this post include but are not limited to: ‘Mercy’ (should I not admit that I did not know to take a selfie from above? I don’t really do selfies but good to know), ‘Jesus take the wheel’ – had me howling, and I adore your warning and cautious tips about using a magnifying mirror. Pure gold, Nicole. And, as always, you look amazing. I probably should try some of your beauty tips, but I fear I am an au natural lost cause type.

  5. Luckily I have no Zoom meetings for either of my jobs because I can’t stand to watch myself on screen. When we FaceTime Beth’s mom I always hide behind everyone else.

  6. Yay! Thanks for the facial hair shout out!!! Also, I am a HUGE mascara addict, so I am delighted to be able to add your recommendation to my collection.

    Also can we please talk about your lip gloss?????? I must have it.

  7. bibliomama2 says

    “It keeps you humble” – HA HA HA. I have recently acquired a couple of Rodan and Fields products, more because I love the lady selling it than out of any faith that it works – much like you, I feel like it might be helping, but who the hell really knows between confirmation bias and my crap memory and the continuous aging process. I used the Falsies mascara for a while and liked it, but then I bought the Lights Camera Lashes mascara that Eve has from Sephora and I find the brush gives me better control. I have tried the spray dry shampoo but I prefer the powder one from Lush – I feel like the spray one makes my hair more greasy, not less, which is probably just perception, but it grosses me out. I LOVE your hair colour – if I were you I would seriously debate about getting it professionally done again too.

  8. Your hair does look fantastic and I’m so happy that you found such a great color/deal for it.
    I’m in between mascaras right now…time to try a new one too.
    I’m constantly outside so every morning after I brush my teeth, I slather on sunscreen; face, neck, arms and hands.
    I’ve found that using a retin on the tops of my hands at night has helped with the age spots; but you must wear lots of sunscreen to avoid burns.

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