Beauty After Baby: What Happens When A Big Primper Becomes A Mama

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When I had Olive six months ago, I’d already quit my job as a beauty editor to look after her full time. My fantasies of swanning round Cobble Hill in printed Lauren Moffatt dresses looking glow-y and free from the stresses of daily deadlines had become a reality. Hurrah me!

Little did I know that having a baby hits you like a never-ending surprise birthday party. Its amazing and fun, but makes you want to crawl off and go to sleep. Because it never, ever stops. At the two-week mark, I would be in the arms of the barista in my go-to coffee shop, Smith Canteen, sobbing, "I just want to sleep!”

In short, the first three months were rocky. I’d look longingly at bouncy-haired women trotting purposefully into the subway. Because I was wearing four-day old leggings, and hadn’t even looked in the mirror before leaving the house to know that I had scrambled egg in my teeth. You care, of course, that it’s all going downhill. But in the new-mom hierarchy of needs, suddenly putting on mascara or blowdrying your hair is way low. Your priorities are baby, sleep, eat. That’s it.

But, gradually, you realize it's okay. Because the playing field is a new one, and everyone expects you to look frayed and exhausted. Suddenly, wearing pink lipstick to a park playdate makes you feel like an actual rock star (never mind that little fat fingers make a mess of it in seconds).

Now I only have time for products which I know work mini-miracles (Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair, I’m looking at you), and things that do a zillion jobs in one (Perricone MD’s No Foundation Foundation has replaced the five products I used to slather on my face every morning). I’ve also gone wild for brands loaded with high-quality essential oils (Aromatherapy Associates, Rodin, and the like). Because any time I do have to myself is as much about relaxing and feeling centered as it is nixing dry skin or frizzy hair.

As a total beauty nerd, I was most surprised to learn that a bit of beauty cold turkey can actually do you good. It’s a clean slate. You haven't dyed your hair in months, but hey, it actually looks great natural (and not having wildly clashing hair color and eyebrows is actually rather flattering). I think it takes a good five months to come through the worst of it and start to feel like you again. But, when you do, you’ll discover a person who’s maybe a little less vain. Not having time to obsess in the mirror about that new frown line or haircut weirdly makes you feel more contented with your appearance.

Maybe in a year I’ll be rocking Brazilian blowouts and experimenting with some weird bee venom moisturizer (like the old me), but for now I think I prefer this version. And, you might just prefer it too.

Photo: Courtesy of Vishaka Robinson

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