Skincare saviours during lockdown: The brands and clinics offering virtual consultation services

Louise Whitbread
If you're missing your normal facial appointment or have experienced breakouts during lockdown, look to these services: iStock

The ongoing lockdown has meant many of us have spent the last couple of months make-up free, with a newly low-maintenance beauty routine.

While it's not the top priority in the middle of a pandemic, how your skin looks plays an important part in how you feel. A pared-back routine may have left you expecting a fresh, clear complexion and instead you may have encountered breakouts, increased dryness and exacerbated conditions such as eczema and rosacea.

According to Dr Susan Mayou, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic, there are a number of reasons why people might be experiencing skin breakouts right now, including an increase in anxiety.

Speaking previously to The Independent, she said: “Stress is a recognised trigger for inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne, so it’s unsurprising that more people are reporting breakouts at this uncertain and very stressful time,” adding that mindfulness, meditation and exercise are all great ways to relax and refocus.

Dr Sam Bunting, skincare expert and founder of Dr Sam’s Skincare also agreed, explaining that “evening rewards” such as sweet treats and alcohol are also likely to contribute to flare-ups.

Pre-pandemic, finding help was a clear route – you could get expert advice at skincare counters in shops and book facials with dermatologists and aestheticians. That kind of up-close-and-personal consultation is out of the question for now, but if you are struggling to manage your skin while in lockdown and are looking for answers, we’ve found an alternative.

Many brands, facialists and skincare clinics have pivoted to bespoke virtual consultations, some are free and some are fee-paying, but all can be accessed with just your phone or laptop. Ahead are of some of our top picks.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

#AskINKEY by The Inkey List

Cost: Free

Knowledge is your most powerful ingredient, so say The Inkey List, who in April launched its #AskINKEY platform. The skincare brand is known for its affordable products that make advanced ingredients accessible to all.

Its team of digital skincare advisors are on hand to answer every question you may have from what order to use your products and ingredients you need to clear up problem skin to what you might be doing wrong.

It’s a free service available through its website, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook messenger and email (hey@beforbeauty.co.uk). Simply drop the brand a line with your questions and start chatting.

Visit The Inkey List now

Deciem

Cost: Free

The company behind high-performing products at low price points, The Ordinary, Deciem has launched Deciem at home, providing virtual consultations via video, text or over the phone from its team of experts.

You can access the service via its website here where it will put you in touch with a Deciem ambassador at your local store, so if you’re a frequent shopper you may even recognise them.

While launched during the pandemic, it’s a service that will be a permanent fixture from the brand, and it encourages you to bring your current skincare routine to your consultations to discuss your regimen and how you could improve it.

Visit Deciem now

Caudalie

Cost: Free

If your skin is struggling to adjust to your new normal, put your concerns to an expert from Caudalie in one of its complimentary 20-minute consultations.

You can book via its Facebook page and discuss with a pro the products worth trying, have a tailor-made routine designed for you and learn how to apply products to get the best results.

Offering targeted advice, it’s ideal if you’re already a fan of the brand or are dipping your toes into curating a skincare routine for the first time.

Visit Caudalie now

Lush

Cost: Free

While all Lush stores remain closed for now, its Oxford Street and Birmingham Spa stores have started offering one-on-one virtual product consultations.

You can book for a video or phone meeting with a member on the team between Monday and Friday, 10am-5pm, through this form.

When you book, you can let Lush know about anything specific you’d like to talk about in your 25-minute slot where they will recommend products, and during the video sessions, demonstrate how they work based on what you need.

Visit Lush now

Mortar and Milk

Cost: £200-£250

This Fulham-based clinic is founded and run by clinical aesthetician Pamela Marshall, who is a fountain of knowledge on all things skin.

Its new virtual consultation service is the next best thing if your usual go-to for fixing problematic skin is with a facial.

Once you’ve booked in, you’ll be contacted by one of the clinic’s four therapists (including Pamela) to arrange a date and time to speak, where they’ll discuss with you recommendations for your routine and changes to your lifestyle to combat skin issues.

Visit Mortar and Milk now

Phillip Kingsley

Cost: From £150

For anyone in need of some hair-related advice, choose this option. The Philip Kingsley trichological clinic has began offering telephone and video consultations to help you to seek advice from one of the Philip Kingsley trichologists, an expert on scalp on hair.

A session will last 30-45 minutes and one of its experts will assess the condition of your hair and scalp, your family and medical history, stress levels, diet and lifestyle and current hair care routine in order to advise on what steps you can take to improve your hair health.

It asks that you send photographs of your hair and scalp 48 hours before your appointment in order for an in-depth analysis to be made by its on-hand trichologists.

Visit the Philip Kingsley trichological clinic now

Westroom Aesthetics by Dija Ayodele

Cost: £95

Aesthetician, CEO of Westroom Aesthetics and founder of the Black Skin Directory, Dija Ayodele specialises in treatments for people of colour.

Through her clinic, she is providing one-hour appointments (or 45 minutes via video call) to discuss ingredients, products, treatment benefits and how to achieve your skincare goals, by looking at your lifestyle and skin history.

Following your appointment, you’ll receive an email recapping your consultation with product recommendations and instructions on how to use them.

Visit Westroom Aesthetics now

Liz Earle

Cost: Free

Naturally inspired skincare brand Liz Earle, and the minds behind the cult-favourite hot cloth cleanse and polish cleanser, has also started offering complimentary 30-minute long video consultations.

Led by its skincare advisors, there are four services available; "beautiful skin" helps explain how to properly cleanse, tone and moisturise; "top to toe radiance" helps people who are looking to extend their skincare routine from their face to their body; "brighter eyes" is best for those looking to perk up tired peepers and "personal skincare solutions" is designed to help customers tailor their routine to address specific needs.

Be quick to book though, as slots are in high demand, so make sure you don't miss out.

Visit Liz Earle now

Read more

Skincare glossary: Every ingredient explained, from retinol to SPF

How to cut your own hair at home during lockdown

Ultimate guide to sunscreen: Everything you need to know