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After a year of changes, routine has helped give Sasha Mei strength and structure

A day in the life of a fashion and beauty influencer during lockdown

After a year of changes, routine has helped give Sasha Mei strength and structure

In a year of turbulent change that turned the influencer industry on its head—no more travelling for press trips or attending exclusive brand events—Sasha Mei took a leap.

Though her feed is typically filled with high fashion looks, lately Sasha Mei posts her fair share of sweatsuit pictures.Sasha Mei/The Globe and Mail

Last summer, the creative consultant left her public relations job in Montreal to pursue a full-time career as a content creator in her hometown of Toronto.

Lately, Mei’s Instagram account alternates between styled shots of her new home, glamorous fashion and beauty inspo and some very relatable sweats-on-sweats outfits. Mei’s slow, deliberate approach to home décor is a natural extension of the curated fashion sense and refined beauty looks that has made her a creator to watch. On Instagram, the Canadian influencer is known for her classic, minimalist style. Instead of chasing trends, Mei prefers timeless staples that she’ll be able to wear five years from now. Her feed feels perfectly curated, filled with aspirational outfits and dreamy aesthetic inspiration.

Oversharing or getting real? An era of authenticity on Instagram

But navigating both career and life changes against the backdrop of a pandemic brought on stress and an intense acne flare-up, which persisted until late last year. Mei was left with a choice: Hide behind a façade of filters, or be honest with her audience in the hopes that they might relate and feel a little less alone. She opened up about her struggles by sharing unedited, no-makeup photos of her skin on social media. “Maybe it’s sharing too much,” she jokes, but she notes that the transparency resonated with her 75,000-plus followers, many of whom thanked her for her honesty on a platform where beauty filters are the norm. The interactions also helped her deal with the mental funk she’d found herself in. Mei saved the candid photos and unfiltered conversations about her skin journey in a highlight on her profile so others could come back to the content as needed.

Trying new things and treating yourself to new products are ways of lifting yourself up during dark times, says Mei.Sasha Mei/The Globe and Mail

To get out of that self-conscious state, Mei turns to fashion and beauty, two spaces she loves to play in. She puts on nice dresses even if she’s spending the day in her living room; she does her makeup, experimenting with new products. And lately, instead of leaning on filters, Mei turns to Crest Whitening Emulsions to give her smile a boost, too. The product comes in a minty formula that can be applied directly onto your teeth and doesn’t require any rinsing or brushing, making it easy for Mei to incorporate the Emulsions into her existing daily routine. “I’m not a pro with whitening, but this is just like brushing your teeth,” she says. “It’s foolproof and you see very quick results.”

As a way of coping with her own feelings of isolation, Mei took up watercolour painting so she could create stationary to keep in touch with friends. “I am by no means a painter. I’ll just blob colours on a card. It helps me not think, which I’m [otherwise] not very good at doing,” she says. “I’ve never been good at meditating. I’ve tried watching the Headspace documentary and listening to Calm. Painting has really helped relieve any stress or anxiety.”

As a way of coping with her own feelings of isolation, Mei took up watercolour painting.Sasha Mei/The Globe and Mail

Daily routines offer structure and stability to otherwise isolated creators

Structure has been vital in helping Mei find her footing in this new freelance life. She’s implemented rituals and routines like regular morning workouts and dressing up for work each day. After sporting sweatpants for the majority of 2020, she noticed that it was affecting her self-esteem. “I feel put together, and get more done,” she says. “It’s nice to feel [a sense of] purpose. The minute I started putting together outfits again, my mood was so much better.”

She also uses her beauty routine to create consistency day after day. “The more time I take to care for my skin, the more I have a sense of control, and [I also carve out more] time for me,” Mei says. In light of her recent struggles with acne, she’s implemented a strict skincare regimen and edited down the products that she uses. These days, she’s focused on having a healthy skin barrier. She still loves wearing makeup which, like dressing up, helps give her a sense of normalcy.

Taking long afternoon walks has become another regular part of Mei’s routine, both for relaxation and for her work. If she doesn’t have meetings scheduled, she’s sourcing visual inspiration for herself or the brands she works with, through gallery archives, on Pinterest, in books and digital publications as well as outdoors. “I scout locations, inspiration, and discover new pockets of the city. I consider the time I invest in this [part of my day] as making up for typical work commute times.”

Mei easily introduced Crest Whitening Emulsions into aspects of her regular routine, like long walks outside in the afternoons.Sasha Mei/The Globe and Mail

The walks have also become the ideal time for Mei to wear Crest Whitening Emulsions. “It can be worn on the go, which is fantastic!” Mei says. Since there’s no wait time like with other at-home whitening products, she applies it right before walking out the door. “You put it on and you head out. It’s simple and way easier to apply [than whitening strips].”

Mei’s walks have given her the chance to slowly rediscover Toronto. “I feel like I haven’t been in the city for a while, so it feels new to me in a way, even though I grew up here,” she says. Exploring on foot has been both a mood booster and a chance to reflect during a year that’s been filled with change and uncertainty. “I love walking with people but walking alone has been really helpful for lifting my spirits, especially when it’s sunny outside. There’s no one else to distract you from your thoughts. Once you’re out there, you know it’s not too bad and you can handle it.”

Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with Crest. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.