A survival guide for freelance beauty professionals during COVID-19 lockdown

A sustainability guide for freelance beauty professionals.

Updated: 27 March 2020

We are facing an unprecedented time in our history. It’s a time where each and every one of us needs to do our part to prevent the spread of this viral disease. As beauty professionals, many of us are freelancers who fall under the sole trader tax bracket. This means that our ability to earn will have been directly affected because of this outbreak and there is still a lot of confusion and uncertainty about what support we might be entitled too – certainly here in the UK. Our mental health and wellbeing are also likely to be confronted with challenges. Lastly, our creative outlet will be limited – but by no means placated.

I hope this guide provides practical and insightful ideas to help you through this trying period of change.

NB: We cannot and do not offer legal, financial, medical or psychological advice – but have provided links to places and organisations that can support you with this.


Right now, we are need to mitigate the spread of the the virus.

Things are changing rapidly, so please make sure you are well informed from a reputable source.


Brushes down!

If you haven’t already, whether by choice or force – taking on more close contact work is in no uncertain terms, irresponsible. As beauty professionals, we are no strangers to good hygiene practices, and right now, the most hygienic thing we can do is stop working altogether. 


If you’re on the fence about whether it is really important enough or not, here is an excellent article on – based on the math.


Stay at home!

Depending on your personality type, and your living situation, this will be easier for some than others. But it’s the most important thing you can do right now unless you’re also a part-time worker in essential services and hair and makeup is just your side hustle?

The current UK government advice is that we should all be social distancing unless you’re presenting symptoms (7 days), or someone in your household is presenting symptoms (14 days), and then you need to be self-isolating.

In case anyone is unsure of what the definitions mean, here is a breakdown of the advice from Public Health England.


  • Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough
  •  Avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible
  • Work from home, where possible.
  • Avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs. Keep at least 2m between you and others.
  • Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
  • Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.
  • Do not able to leave your home under any circumstance for the duration of the prescribed quarantine. 7 days if you’re showing symptoms and live alone or 14 days if anyone in your household is showing symptoms.
  • Staying in your room – away from other people in your household if possible.
  • Avoid sharing plates, mugs and utensils with others, and if possible, bathrooms.


Take a moment

We are going through a period of mass change. As a species, we struggle with change because of how our brains work. In short, our brains are wired to see change as a warning sign, so we naturally resist or avoid it. We are also grieving…for the life we knew and fear of the unknown. 

Our brains are letting go of ingrained habits, and that means we will be hit with an onslaught of emotions. So take a moment to accept that we are in a transitional period. Be gentle with yourself and rest assured, that right now, there is no need to compare yourself to anyone else’s perceived success. We are all in the same boat right now. 

Planning Ahead

There’s a lot of research and advice around the importance of maintaining a routine during periods of isolation. So, once you have taken a moment to acknowledge and accept that we are in a time of flux, now is your time to get back on the proverbial horse, and ensure your daily routine is happening (as much as is possible of course). That will include exercise, eating well, virtual social time for friends and family and down/relaxation time.


Get back into your groove

Get organised! Use this time get ahead of the curve for when things do start getting busy again.


As beauty professionals, our “work” doesn’t simply start and end at the physical act of applying beauty products to people. As freelancers, we are micro-businesses, often having to do the same jobs as it would take many people would do in a company.

So, while we are at home, be sure to “go to work” every day, by doing some of the following:

  • Going through your emails and putting a client list together
  • Getting a grip on your taxes and getting ahead of the game (this will also be important if you need to apply for financial assistance, but more on that later).
  • Sorting through your papers and clearing out physical and virtual clutter
  • Updating your website
  • Researching and reaching out to collaborators you would like to work with
  • Go through your bank statements and see if there are any services that you are paying for that may no longer be serving you. You are likely to find little bits of saving here and there can really help the monthly outgoings.
  • Do a kit audit. Understand what you have, what you need to get rid of, and what needs replacing. Read Lou Dartford’s brilliant guide to recycling your beauty products correctly.
  • Audit your social media feeds. Get rid of accounts that don’t serve to support you in the right ways, and follow accounts that bring joy and inspiration.
  • Research brands that you feel would improve the sustainability of your kit.
  • Start mood boards for editorial ideas for when you can go back to work. Untainted Magazine accepts submissions.
  • Read Tahira’s guide on how to have a more sustainable practice for makeup artists who work in film and television.


Sustainable practice is the backbone of CBU.


Sustainable hygiene habits

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised that proper hand-washing (for a minimum of 20 seconds, using soap and water) is the most effective way to limit the spread of the virus. If you do not have access to soap and water, then using an alcohol-based hand santiser will also help kill the viruses and bacteria that may be on your hands.

  • Choosing a bar soap will save on on unnecessary plastic packaging – and is safe to use, provided you rinse the soap before you lather it on your hands and also let it dry out between uses. Here is an excellent guide to effective hand washing. If you’re insist on liquid soap, then be sure to buy in bulk and refill your existing containers. It’s both cost-effective and environmentally responsible. For bulk buying, we love Dr Bronner’sFaith in Nature and Bio-D.
  • It’s also essential that we remember that we are facing water scarcity in many cities – large and small, around the world – certainly here in London and the South East of England. A running tap uses 15 litres of water per minute on average, so PLEASE switch off the tap while you’re washing your hands… saving water and money! It goes without saying if you have access to clean, running water at this time, you are in a better position than billions of people around the world. 


Sustainable Practices

Of course, when it comes to maintaining a sustainable working practice when we are able to go back to work, maintaining rigorous hygiene practices is imperative. While the current situation sees us unable to work, the full containment of the virus could take up to 18 months!

There will be times when we have to use single-use items rather than reusables – but we can certainly avoid single-use plastics in things like earbuds, makeup wipes, cotton pads, etc. There are plenty of alternatives that are better for the environment.

This is what conscious beauty means. Being mindful of when, where, how and why we make decisions. 


Aside from the very understandable health concerns, the financial insecurity of this pandemic will also have a direct impact on our stress levels.


Financial Support

Here in the UK, several support services can assist and support you through this period. The support will depend on your own circumstances, but here are some places you can start looking into.

In March 26, 2020, Rishi Sunak announce unprecedented measures to help support freelancers in the UK. Most – but not – of us will be eligible for up to 80% of our average monthly earnings, up to £2500.

That does not mean that everyone will get £2500 per month, but rather, our yearly earnings over the past three years (or two, or one, depending on how many self assessments you have submitted) will be divided by 12 (to get the average monthly income) and then 80% of that is what you are likely to receive. 

The funds will be available in June and will be back dated from March (so that’s three months worth of support, as it currently stands). You do not need to contact HMRC. If you qualify, you will receive a letter from them. 

If you need money immediately, you can find my information and support from these wonderful organisations. 


If you have a mortgage, you can apply for a mortgage holiday – but be sure to check the fine print of your bank, as you may incur additional interest later down the line.

The government has said that private renters cannot be evicted for the next three months. Check details by contacting your local authority.


Manage your mental health

We are all process stress differently, and we all have to take responsibility for managing our mental health at this incredibly challenging time. If that means limiting how often you read the news or going on social media, that’s what you need to do. 

Do reach out to friends, family and your wider community – but also respect that they are going through their own hardships, so don’t take it personally if they cannot support you at any given moment. 

In Conclusion

It goes without saying there will be people better off than some and worse off than you right now. Most of us are in the middle. Remember, you’re not alone. If you can be a support to anyone, in any way right now, let them know.

Please follow the advice of your government, local wards, doctors and experts. Be responsible and avoid any unnecessary contact with others.

Remember to follow us on IG and get involved in the conversation.

At CBU, our mission is to build a global community of beauty professionals who care about sustaining creativity and work, while also caring for people, animals and the Planet.

Stay safe.

Khandiz and the CBU team

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