Beauty Convos with Gad #3: What Are We Going to Take Forward After The Crisis?

I had the privilege of catching up with my good friend and beauty stylist to the stars, Gad Cohen.  I totally scrapped my intended “look” for the chat (a groovy headscarf) and played up the moment.  A few hours prior to our chat, I decided to wash my hair and then ran into a meeting that lasted much longer than anticipated.  I was left with only a few minutes to prep.  So I leaned into it.  I didn’t blow dry my hair but, instead, worked with the au natural waviness and fullness.

Why am I telling you all this?  Because it became the theme of our discussion: embracing the NOW.

Gad and I kicked off our chat discussing the New York Times article: What Is Beauty Now by Mara Altman.  Altman shares a number of different opinions around our responses to the beauty constraints during this crisis, and what’s going to happen when it’s all over.  She describes the sheer panic people are experiencing over their gray hairs and how they are jumping out of their seats in anticipation of salons opening up.  While others, she writes, are embracing their new-found liberation from beauty maintenance.  When it comes to the moment we can go back to normal living, the article shares the concern that beauty brands will shame us into trying to get plucked, primped and preened by pointing out how we’ve all gone to pot. But the article raises the opinions of others — like that of Gad — that we will be a lot more empathetic and embracing of others’  appearances.  And that we will all come out better from this experience.

I tend towards the “glass half full side of things” and agree with the last sentiment.  Given that Gad is part of the beauty industry that Altman refers to, I asked him if he agrees that people will be convinced that they will be crappy about themselves and succumb to the beauty industry’s call for transformation.  He said absolutely no.  First, he believes people will reject that type of marketing and even rebel against it.  Second, he, himself, looks forward to playing with the changes that we are all experiencing — the gray strands, the longer hair, the grown out eyebrows.  The opposite of using shame, he will greet people’s evolving beauty with love, excitement and creativity. 

This discussion led us to anticipate what’s going to change for HIM when people start coming back to his atelier.  Will he be doing anything differently given what he’s learned from this crisis? Of course he will continue to do what he’s always been doing, that is, truly understand his clients — their personalities, lifestyles, aspirations and dreams — in order to create the best styles for them.  But he believes that we will all be much more focused on the NOW, i.e., how we are feeling at that moment.  In the past, we may have asked our stylists for looks that will work in different future scenarios.  We would think about what will grow out well in the long run or what has versatility.  But our sense of the future is so unsure now.  Who would have expected to be stuck working from home for months on end?  Who would have thought travel was off limits?  Who would have thought we wouldn’t be socializing or that our major source of connection would be a small screen?  We are not saying that we won’t be planning for days ahead but we will have a greater appreciation for the NOW — what we need, feel, want, expect in this moment.

Boy, am I looking forward to that NOW moment

Beauty Convos with Gad Cohen: How Do I Get My Mojo Back?

As I’ve begun to settle into my ‘new-normal” state during this Covid era, I’m able to stop and take stock a bit.  The first few months I was working at a frenetic pace trying to manage increasing work, kids and home needs.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful that my family is healthy, I’m still gainfully employed and that the weather has been warm enough that I can get outside one a while.  But as I settle into my new routine, I’ve started bumming on the new beauty reality of social distancing.   How can I express my me-ness?  Can I share the part of me that’s associated with how I look and show up, my sense of fashion and beauty?  If my life consists of presenting on camera..how do I do that well?

Oh, yeah, what do I do when I have to give a speech at a “virtual” conference next month?  You see when I present, I see it as a performance of sorts.  Of course my content is the most important part of the experience.  But for my information to resonate, I do a lot to make it entertaining — including how I come across on stage.  I use videos, jokes and gestures to make my points.  And I try to present an image — one of intelligence, fun, AND glamour.  So what happens now that I’m relegated to giving a speech on a tiny screen?

Who do I turn to for some advice (and commiseration) on this topic?  My close friend and beauty stylist to the stars, Gad Cohen.   His response?  First, he totally sympathizes.  “We need responses from other ppl…that’s natural. We get dressed up for work and look for a reaction of some sort. And now we  don’t have that ‘audience’ anymore.”

Then we moved beyond the moping and when into solution-mode.  “We have to be creative in our confinement,” said Gad.  In addition to all the typical tricks we’ve been reading, e.g., make sure your background looks nice, ensure your sound works, or don’t just wear your PJ’s all day, Gad gave us some new tips.  Here are some:

1. It’s not enough to have a great background, but change it up!  It not only refreshes you but the folks that you tend to chat with virtually too.

2. Watch other ppl … you see what’s good and what’s not so good.

3. Think of your appearance on the computer camera like you would a portrait..only its a LIVE portrait.  Consider the framing, the composition and the lighting   Natural light is the most even.  Don’t get too close to the camera.  Make sure your heads and shoulders are in frame.  And sit at the right angle.  Maybe face on isn’t the best but at a slight tilt or angle changes everything

4. Be smart about hair and make up — you don’t want to look too done up.  “As long as we look fresh — fresh is the keyword — don’t look like you just got out of bed..a day time look.  Look polished.  Polish is key.  Add a little lipstick.  Give hair volume — freshly washed, blown out, velcro rollers.  Never ever cut it!”

And now I’m adding something:

 5.  Have fun with wigs and head scarves!  I never thought about this myself until I had a virtual birthday bash a few weeks ago and my friend came on the camera wearing a fun wig.  Instead of  panicking about your hair color, just dress up in a wig or scarf.  I ended up wearing a blonde pixie wig and then went online right after and bought myself a bright red wig for the next cocktail hour we have.

Yes, we may not be able to totally express our fashion sense or head to toe beauty during this era, but that doesn’t mean we can’t express it in different and even more creative ways.  And the even better news is that when things start to return, we will have the tips and tricks to make even the simple call as beautiful as possible!

For for the full video of our convo, check below: