“No Travel” Tales #4: The Bathroom

The bathroom has rather lost its USP in lockdown since incessant hand washing is a norm elsewhere in the house and unkempt appearances are now in vogue. The room has instead transformed into a work of conceptual art, left in the same state as pre-lockdown days – a kindred spirit to Tracey Emin’s installations. 

Beauty products protrude from an untouched makeup bag lingering on the sink, a bronzer brush shimmering with dust while saline solution mocks you with its “suitable for flying” tagline. Dry shampoo, the powdery godsend for overslept weekdays, has also become obsolete. The desire for luscious locks has been surpassed by a competition for the greasiest mop, with friends curious to finally discover whether the myth that hair eventually cleans itself with natural oils is truth or scare. Still, Batiste has an important role for some in lockdown, the spray’s powdery residues a useful excuse for grey roots.

It’s become commonplace to invent new purposes for such products. Can micellar water for “sensitive skin” instead heal a sensitive soul? Does aromatherapy oil have the credentials to administer CBT? Beauty giants will undoubtedly be working on marketing products with lockdown in mind – care for a crisis concealer, a highlighter to hide hysterics or a positivity primer?

Lockdown means that we’re possibly more vain than ever, quarantined with me, myself and I, and yet Instagram filters and Zoom airbrushing tools have relieved make-up of its beautifying duty. You can now attend virtual socials with bold black lashes, a touch of lippy and even a fedora if you’re feeling particularly fancy, saving you from waking up with gloopy mascara and smudged lipstick on your pillow. 

Others will use this time to be more adventurous with their self-care regimes, amassing mini toiletries from boutique hotels, flight amenity kits and unopened gift sets for a home beauty counter. Perhaps we should finally attempt the art of smoky eyes or contouring, safe in the knowledge that inevitable make-up disasters will be confined within the bathroom walls. Eyebrows ought to be left alone though, their unruly appearance a rather fitting reflection of life.

The more pampered among us may choose to convert the bathroom into a home spa, a sanctuary from the stresses of the outside world. Out-of-date Lush bath bombs will finally come in handy, as will the countless scented candles you’ve received over the years. It’s the age-old cucumber slices on the eyes, however, that will really prove that you’ve mastered life. 

Along with its still life attributes, the bathroom has also become a musical stage; the shower cubicle doubling as a recording studio. Acoustics offer a soulful echo, water jets add percussion, and you’ll finally hit those soprano notes when the water unexpectedly goes ice cold – thanks to the housemate washing their hands for 20 seconds.  

The prospect of a future career as a soloist falls flat once you realise that the extractor fan neither recreates the wind machines of 90s music videos nor prevents the fire alarm from going off mid-bop. Scurrying to wave a towel at the alarm, prune-like from a lengthy soak, is a stark reminder that you aren’t quite the millennial generation’s answer to Whitney Houston. 

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