The best things we’ve learnt about health, wellbeing and beauty in 2020

In a strange year, our collective focus well and truly turned to our health and wellbeing. And some unexpected trends emerged in beauty, too.

With COVID-19 changing the way we live, work and play, interest around improving health and wellbeing has skyrocketed in 2020.

More of us are putting a greater focus on staying healthy and maintaining our wellbeing, while even beauty trends have been influenced by the coronavirus pandemic.

Take a look at just some of health, beauty and wellbeing-related news, topics and trends that have come to light this year.

wellbeing trends
2020 saw a slowing down of our busy schedules.

What we learnt about health and fitness

If ever there was a year to look after your health, it was 2020.

With coronavirus hitting our shores early in the year, Australians focused on health like never before.

Hand hygiene

Who knew washing your hands correctly would become so important?

Proper hand hygiene is one of the first lines of defence against the spread of bugs and disease, including coronavirus.

As the pandemic worsened, health experts urged people to get back to basics and wash hands thoroughly for 20-30 seconds.


Boosting immunity naturally also became a hot topic amid both the pandemic and annual cold and flu season.

Nutritionists recommended sticking to a healthy diet and upping intakes of immune-boosting nutrients, foods and drinks. They said vitamins A, C, D and E, and the mineral zinc were particularly helpful for immune support.


The coronavirus pandemic also changed the way we exercise.

During the peak of lockdowns, one of the few permitted reasons to leave home was for outdoor exercise. Studies showed getting outside protected against a range of issues including depression, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and more.

Meanwhile modern technology allowed many of us to keep up our fitness routines via virtual workouts, with the popularity of workout apps and YouTube channels booming.

Fitness experts believe the convenience of at-home or online workouts will see many people stick with them long after the pandemic.

And that is just as well, because the World Health Organization’s new physical activity guidelines revealed our sedentary lifestyles were doing us serious damage.

In releasing its guidelines in November, it said physical activity of any type and duration can improve health and wellbeing and combat the harmful effects of sedentary behaviour.

But it says we should be doing at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate aerobic activity at week, and muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week.

Weight gain and loss

More time at home meant easy access to the fridge, pantry and wine rack – which subsequently boosted interest in how to lose those “corona kilos”.

Experts recommended getting into a good morning routine, finding other ways to manage your emotions such as connecting with friends and family, avoiding mindless snacking, limiting booze and exercising to shed excess weight gained during the pandemic.

But if you can’t seem to keep kilos off, no matter how hard you try, give yourself a break – you could be predisposed to a weight “set point”.

Blue light

It’s been linked to everything from disturbed sleep to eye strain and even retinal damage, but experts are still divided on whether blue light emitted by electronic devices is really so bad.

Debate this year turned to blue light-filtering glasses, after a new US study suggested they could help improve sleep.

But the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists remains unconvinced that blue light-blocking glasses improve eye health or sleep.

The take out? One thing experts can agree on is that taking regular screen breaks and avoiding digital screens a couple of hours before bedtime is best.

hand washing trend
There was also an increased focus on hand washing as a first line defence against viruses.

What we learnt about wellbeing

COVID-19 also put a spotlight on our wellness habits – and holding on to some of them may deliver huge benefits.

Slowing down

The pandemic thrust us all into a new way of living, from spending most of our time at home to only seeing family and friends virtually and slowing down our busy schedules.

Putting a pause on our usually busy lives highlighted the importance of embracing moments of quiet and stillness.

Mental health

Keeping an eye on our own mental health was a must, with experts advising to watch for red flags including ignoring emotions, withdrawing from others and feeling disconnected.

Other signs of potential problems – within ourselves or others – included not exercising, overindulging in alcohol and sleep issues.

Finding ways to stay connected to family and friends proved vital.


The struggle for a good night’s sleep had many of us twisting and turning this year.

And that’s where the unexpected trend of bedtime stories for grown-ups came in.

A growing number of adults are soothing themselves to sleep with audio bedtime stories via digital apps.

The twist? They’re designed to be so dull that they literally put you to sleep.

Thermal wellness

Thermal wellness emerged as one of the next big things in wellness.

The practice involves using temperature strategically to enhance the body’s natural processes.

Aficionados say thermal wellness works with that natural process by strategically exposing the body to extreme heat or extreme cold, both of which trigger a physical response.

diy beauty
With beauty salons closed for much of 2020, at-home beauty treatments became big business.

What we learnt about beauty

DIY beauty

You may not have always been able to visit your favourite beauty therapist or hairdresser, but that didn’t mean you had to live without your must-have treatments.

Turns out self-isolating does have some advantages, including more time for beauty treatments that relax, rejuvenate and replenish.

DIY beauty treatments were big this year, with facials and man-pedis proving particularly popular.


With trips to the hairdressers off the agenda for many, people embraced their natural colours – including grey.

The “gronde” hair trend –  a hybrid of grey and blonde –  saw women embracing their inner grey/blonde goddess.

People embraced hair au natural during COVID, with “grey hair, don’t care” trending across the globe.

Many others transitioned to low-maintenance hairstyles that were easier to manage, such as going shorter or living with “grown out” long hair.


Across Australia, spending on cosmetics categories like face masks and skincare tools grew more than 60 per cent in the first half of 2020.

But skincare routines did have to adapt to deal with some coronavirus-specific issues.

In Victoria, the requirement to wear a face mask led to skin problems from some.

Skin care experts while face coverings provided crucial protection against the virus, they could also give rise to skin issues like breakouts, which some dermatologists dubbed “maskne”.

They said wearing a face mask causes exhaled air and moisture to build up on the skin, which could lead to breakouts and irritation around the mouth and chin area.

Meanwhile K-beauty continued to provide inspiration in skincare, with skin ampoules – pea-sized capsules that contain a super-concentrated serum – shooting up trend watch lists in 2020.


The return of makeup on post-iso skin also brought new considerations.

Makeup artists advised people to go easy on base products and try simplifying their routine – such as using a tinted moisturiser layered with an SPF and luminizer.

Other trends making waves in beauty circles were the “dolphin skin” makeup look – taking inspiration from the smooth and shiny exterior of a dolphin – and filter-inspired complexions.

And our renewed focus on hygiene extended to beauty, with experts emphasising the importance of cleaning and storing makeup and skincare products properly.

Written by Bianca Carmona.