I remember the first few days in hospital after giving birth to my daughter. I had to have a caesarean, so a shower was out of the question until the following day, and when I could finally manage to tear my eyes away from my sleeping babe, the mere thought of slathering on some body wash had me in raptures. I was obviously uncomfortable and in pain, but post-cleanse I did a complete 360. At this stage I also had those crazy good I’ve-just-made-a-human hormones (don’t you just wish you could bottle them?) so despite the sleep deprivation, I felt like a million dollars.
Fast-forward two weeks, and even now eight months later, I’ve unfortunately said sayonara to those hormones, and on many a day still haven’t lost the general feeling of yuckiness. You know, when the baby has decided to use you as their own personal chew toy, or maybe they’ve started waking again for early AM feeds but you definitely stopped that months ago. Your hair feels greasy even though you just washed it, and don’t even start on dull, dehydrated skin, no matter how much moisturiser you slap on.
Ring any bells? Thought so. And while beauty products and self-care may be on the bottom of your to-do list whilst you’re rearing your young, I’ve rounded up a few favourite buys that may help to make you feel a tiny bit human again.
The 8 beauty buys to save your tired mum face
1. A HYDRATING SERUM
My once ‘normal’ complexion veered straight into dry territory within days of giving birth. Hormonal changes, helped on by the fact that I was breastfeeding, likely not drinking enough water and had added caffeine, albeit decaf, back into my diet, moisturiser alone just wasn’t cutting it. If this sounds like you, try adding a gentle hydrating facial serum into your skincare regimen. If you haven’t used a serum before, think of it like a highly concentrated treatment product—it’s designed to be layered under your moisturiser and cater to your main skin concerns (whether it be pigmentation, uneven skin tone etc). From speaking to other mamas, dryness seems to be the most popular complaint, so search for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which is a naturally occurring substance in your skin that works to trap and lock in moisture—it actually retains up to 1000 times its weight in water. You can find it in Neutrogena Hydro Boost Serum ($19.59; Priceline)
2. DRY SHAMPOO
If you haven’t yet used this Godsend of a product, take a trip down the aisle at Priceline, stat—it’s ideal for those days when you and the baby can barely make it out of your pajamas, but Great Aunt Anne is dropping in for a visit. Designed to soak up excess oil and grease from your scalp, with one application you can easily stretch out hair washing by an extra day or two. Mist it about 20cm from your roots section by section, both underneath and on top of your crown, then use your fingers to massage it in. It can also give grit and body to your ends, creating that I-just-woke-up-like-this texture. Which, in fact, is probably quite close to the truth. Try the best-selling Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo With Oat Milk ($15: Priceline).
3. FACE MASK
Pre-baby I applied a face mask every Sunday night, a ritual which has long since gone by the wayside. While I’ve always been partial to the sheet mask variety—the one where you’ll look like a much cuter version of Hannibal Lector—they can be fiddly, particularly with a baby in tow. Fortunately a cream or gel formulation does the same job. Your skin actually goes into repair mode at night, so it’s the perfect time to infuse it with hardworking and hydrating ingredients—just smooth it on before bed, then leave it on overnight so that your thirsty complexion has the opportunity to soak up all the goodness it has to offer. Try The Body Shop Vitamin E Sink-In Moisture Sleeping Mask ($25; The Body Shop)—with a lightweight gel texture, it won’t feel heavy or oily on your skin, and also contains nourishing and calming vitamin E.
You’re not alone if you think you need the equivalent of a Spakfiller to hide those pesky under-eye circles, fine lines, redness and hormonal spots. The trick is to find a concealer that does the aforementioned work without looking like you’re wearing anything at all, and sticks around without the need for multiple touch-ups. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Try It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Anti-Aging Concealer ($38; Sephora). It has a slightly thicker consistency than creamy formulas, so you only need a tiny amount to get the job done. Better still, the tube will really last you in the long run.
I don’t know about you, but I feel virtually naked when I don’t apply mascara. One swipe can make you instantly feel alive, and depending on the formula, can also add volume and even curl your lashes, helping you look that much more awake. The even better news is that it’s one item you don’t need to splurge on—a trip to your local pharmacy will do just the trick. Try Maybelline Great Lash Mascara ($12.95; Priceline) —this iconic mascara not only boosts volume, it deposits an rich black tint without any smudging.
6. HARD-WORKING BASE
With a new baby or even toddler, there’s little time to painstakingly apply foundation with a brush or sponge, and often no need for a heavy, full-coverage foundation finish. In all honesty, it would likely end up smeared all over your child’s face anyway. Enter tinted moisturiser, or a CC Cream. With a lightweight, liquid consistency, they typically offer a sheer to medium coverage, added skincare benefits and also SPF, which is an absolute must. They are also best applied using your fingers (a quick, easy application method) and when combined with a hint of the aforementioned concealer, you’re good to go. Try Bobbi Brown Nude Finish Tinted Moisturizer SPF15 ($65; David Jones). With the aim to keep your skin still looking like your skin and not a mask, it’s enriched with jojoba oil to boost moisture, and it’s available in a spectrum of shades so you’re sure to find a perfect match.
7. FACE MIST
Be sure to apply moisturiser both morning and night to keep your skin as supple as possible, but if you need a quick pick-me-up throughout the day, always keep a facial mist within arm’s reach. I love Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist ($35; David Jones)—aloe vera soothes your complexion, while the rose provides intense hydration. As an added bonus, it smells divine.
8. HAND CREAM
Constantly washing your hands, or giving the antibacterial hand sanitiser a thorough workout during those multiple nappy changes? Cue poor mitts that are likely feeling dry and cracked. The simple act of massaging a rich hand cream into your skin twice a day can make a big difference. Keep on by your bedside or in the baby bag so you don’t forget to apply it—try Sephora Collection Moisturizing Hand Cream ($9; Sephora). Delicately scented, it’s rich but non-greasy, and you’ll see and feel instant results.