Tips for new parents: augmenting your pre-baby beauty regimes

Guest post by Daisy Coles

Post author Daisy and her daughter.
The changes motherhood brings are many and unpredictable. One change motherhood brought to my life, though, was very predictable: a lack of time to devote to personal grooming. I knew that I’d probably be sacrificing a lot of what I previously held to be compulsory and would come to see as a luxury: regular leg waxes, the timely eradication of split ends, achieving a perfect smoky eye, taking a shower and so on.

This turned out to be true for me.

Today, however, I would like to publicly celebrate an unpredictable effect of that very predictable phenomenon: the way in which my beauty routine did not disappear at all as much as it mutated in strange and wonderful ways. It is now wholly different to what it previously was: it would be unrecognisable, probably, to my pre-parenthood self.

But, I venture to assure you, it’s quicker. It’s cheaper. Hell, it might even be better.

Many mothers are dealing with a lack of time or, indeed, opportunity to consult a full-length mirror. No resources to devote towards luxuries (sometimes even necessities). Conditions that render sleep unpleasant, if not impossible. Scheming Texans plotting how to manipulate the next Tribal Council to take us out of the game… well, perhaps not that last one, unless your relatives are from that part of the world and your family politics are thornier than most. But you get the picture.

Here are the main principles of my new regime.

1. Take your preening opportunities when and where you find ’em

Sure, spare half-hours, those rare wonders, are perfect for a virtuous vacuum or vigorous sorting-out of the onesie drawer. Spare minutes, though, will come your way more often, and they are perfect for eyebrow plucking. Did you know — bear with me here — that going through the whole depilatory process outside can be a lot easier, and a damn sight more satisfying? As my daughter splashes in her paddling pool, I sit on the grass beside her with my cold-wax strips and a bottle of almond oil. The sunlight, in contrast to the meagre and artificial light of my bathroom, means that the results are superior. And the whole process is so much more pleasant!

2. “Product” is not always all it’s cracked up to be

Since I became a mother, I’ve given up my daily application of product to tame my curly hair after a morning shower (to be strictly truthful: it’s often the morning shower itself that is skipped). Surprise of surprises, my hair is thriving for it. No more dried and flaky gel, irresistible to scratch out of my scalp during the day. No more having to coax my hair out of its ponytail form long after I’ve removed a hair tie. For years I’d been convinced I had to put something in there to keep my hair under control. Simply not true. Now I buy good product, and I use it for special occasions — or for very bad hair days.

3. Not everyone suits bright red lipstick

I spent my youth trying to achieve perfect fire-engine red lips. Is it a coincidence that it is only recently, since becoming a mum, that I finally realised they’re not for me? No — the lack of time and energy I have for experimenting with make-up have brought with them a few such home truths. The principle has wider application. Not all make-up looks — no matter how fashionable, no matter how great they look on Katy Perry — are going to suit your face. Stands to reason. Stop trying to make them work; work instead with what you’re blessed with. There’s no shame sticking to one look. At the moment I’m having an intimate relationship with some shiny lipgloss — in fact, I’m just about ready to declare us monogamous. Somehow, the gloss compliments my odd-shaped lips much better than bright red could ever do.

4. Almond oil: simple and lovely

Almond oil is completely natural, and completely pure. I first bought a bottle because I’d believed the hype about how wonderful it was for massaging your baby after her bath of an evening. It is that, of course, but it’s been months since my baby has reaped the benefits of this simple product: it’s too busy being applied to my face as a night-time moisturizer, or my dry elbows, or my legs. It’s cheap and versatile — add a few drops of essential oil for added fragrance or purpose: lavender oil to help you sleep, for example.

5. Let your hair get long

As a kid, I was always quite sure that as soon as I became a mother I’d get myself to a hairdresser and request the “mum cut” — short, practical, boring. Since becoming a mum, though, the thought has never even occurred to me. I like long hair, and I suit long hair. Since I haven’t had the time or the financial resources to devote to professional cuts, it’s become longer and longer. And I like it even more, and I suit it even more — or so I like to think. Since my daughter was born 22 months ago, I’ve had a few trims, and that bare minimum has more than sufficed.

6. Less alcohol, more coffee

I used to really appreciate a glass of wine or four with the girls. Now it’s more likely to be one glass, at most, with my husband over dinner. Because I’m still breastfeeding, I’d rather not overindulge, and anyway, these days my body’s more likely to yell “Stop, I beg you, or you won’t even be able to get up to turn off the TV!” after one glass of wine, rather than its previous catch-cry: the old “Woo, that was goood! Give us another one!” Instead, sleep deprivation has been obliging me to embrace caffeine, which stimulates rather than stultifies, and is arguably a little better for you.

7. Be prepared to crow and cringe about different things

I have a few more wrinkles, and my first grey hair. My butt and hips seem to have changed shape entirely, in a way that is more Beyoncé than Beyoncé herself would approve of. My belly button will never look the same. Nor will my breasts, of course. But, on the other hand, they’re smaller than they’ve been since I was fourteen, which is a treat for me. On the whole, I’m a healthier weight than I’ve been since before my pregnancy, because I’ve been breastfeeding the whole way through and burning energy at a rate I never have before. In short, if I’m bemoaning things I’ve never had to concern myself with before, I’m also loving aspects of my body I’ve never had cause to celebrate. And at the same time, inside, I’m still the same me I’ve always been: which makes me realise how irrelevant the surface stuff really is.

8. The ultimate truth: the only ones who matter think you’re awesome

In the past, and at various stages in my life, I worried about what my friends, my wider peer group, my colleagues, men I was involved with, men I wanted to be involved with, and even random people on the street would think of my appearance. Now, there’s only really a couple of people whose opinion when they look at me I really care about: my husband and my daughter, collectively the centre of my universe. My husband still finds me attractive. I hope. I’m still gettin’ some every now and then, anyway, so I’ll draw that conclusion.

When my daughter sees me, all she looks for is reassurance that she is secure, and safe, and loved. In return, she loves me back with a sweetness, a fierceness and a totality that has nothing to do with the stretch marks on my breasts or the split ends at the bottom of my (product-free) locks.

Ultimately beauty, for me, is in the eye of this little beholder.

Comments on Tips for new parents: augmenting your pre-baby beauty regimes

  1. Love this so much. As a first time mum to an almost 2 week old daughter this is lovely to read, so thanks 🙂 oh, and your hair and your daughters is stunning. I’m really hoping my daughter has her Daddy’s ringlets!

  2. Yes! on all of these, but especially 7 and 8. I basically abandoned my “beauty” routine aside from plucking my eyebrows and moisturizing my face. Then I saw myself in a mirror at work, and decided that I could at least give it a little bit of a try. So sometimes I curl my eyelashes, or blow dry my hair, and while it may not change my appearance much, it helps me feel better/forget about my fleshy tummy and misshapen hips and bum.

  3. It wasn’t until I had a baby with eczema that I discovered the wonders of Aquaphor. It’s miracle cream!! I use it all the time now.

  4. All I needed was to apply my black eye liner to feel WAY better when my son was first born. Now that he’s 18 months my son loves to watch me put on my makeup. He likes to stack it all and put it in and out of its makeup bag. He also likes to pretend to put some on too. It’s cute and he’s entertained while I get ready.

    • Both of my boys (3.5y & 14m) love to sit and watch me while I put on makeup. They may not even be paying attention to me, but when I go into my room to put it on, I always end up noticing them in the mirror behind me. Something about the process truly fascinates them.

      Unfortunately, the same does not apply for my hair. They have zero patience with me when trying to fix it, so I usually end up sporting a pony. That’s cool, though, because I look cute with one. 🙂 haha

  5. I use my baby’s nap to style my hair, paint my nails, or apply a face mask while catching up on TV. I used to try to cook or clean during this time, but it’s tremendously restorative to spend a little time on myself.

  6. I LOVE this!!! Such a great article full of wonderful truths. Oh how things change when we become moms – and it’s definitely all for better 😉

  7. I think a really important thing to remember is to also take time for yourself. As a first time mom I forgot this important balance issue. Sometimes making the time to take care of yourself can be SO important. So don’t feel guilty of taking the time to put on lipstick and hair gel if it makes you feel better <3

  8. May I recommend the headband to curl your hair? (for those with straight or wavy hair, btw) It’s so easy and fast. It makes me feel so much better about myself when I leave the house with my hair styled. I don’t need make up, just not crazy hair and I’m ready to take on the day! : )

  9. I had my daughter two years ago and I just now cut my hair off into a super short, Natalie Portman style pixie cut. I wish I had done it sooner. It spent the last two years in a ponytail. Now it literally takes 2 minutes to fix in the morning and making it look dressed up is as easy as putting on a sparkley headband! I generally forgo most makeup as well, but I’ve found that red lipstain and a little mascara really picks my face up.

  10. Yes, especially to the long hair! I grew my hair so long after my son was born, and cut it all off after having my daughter. I regret it every damn day.

    Also: did you mean regimeN?

    • Yes, I think I would be the same if I ever lopped it!
      Ooh, you had me worried there for a minute! But I’m a New Zealander, where British English prevails – does that excuse me??

  11. I love this! So much of this is true for those of us in college as well. In high school I never would have dreamed of myself in a choppy pixie with bright red lipstick, but you have to go with what works for the stage in life you’re at!

    PS: Daisy, your curls look fabulous.

  12. I almost never find the patience to grow out my hair, which I generally keep very short. Now that I have a baby, though, I can tell that trips to Vidal Sassoon are out for a good long time. I might even get it down to my shoulders before my next trip to the hairdresser!

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