Saturday 20 January 2018

8 Beauty Buys for New Mums (And Dads)

We know by now that self care is important, but when you have a tiny, brand new human relying on you, looking after yourself reaches importance on a whole new scale. Throughout my pregnancy and during those precious and terrifying first weeks, I was consistently reminded to take care of myself, because;
(a). You need to be as OK as possible to look after the baby to the best of your abilities.
(b). When you become a mum (or dad) you're still an individual, as well as a parent.
Obviously, caring for an infant on virtually no sleep whilst simultaneously being in a perpetual state of confusion and worry is just part of the deal. I know firsthand how strange and amazing and overwhelming it can be but as a beauty and grooming enthusiast I found a few products that helped me feel a bit more human and a bit more me during the wonderful weirdness. Here I'm sharing a few bits that saw me through those very surreal first days, weeks and months of being someone's mum.

Once you've pulled your first all-nighter with the new arrival, you will understand why I've included this on the list. I had an unplanned caesarian with my baby so for the first few days we stayed in hospital and were sort of cocooned in this warm and comfortable pod where we had support from a brilliant team of midwives. Fast forward to our very first night at home and it was a whole different ball game! Rich and I did not sleep at all the first night and then slept in shifts for the week that followed. There was nothing wrong- we were both just terrified to be asleep at the same time and felt like we needed at least one pair of eyes on our tiny human at all times! There's nothing fun about sleep deprivation and I had the driest, droopiest eyes that I really struggled to keep open. Those first few nights at home I'd so wished I had something cooling and refreshing to relieve the horrible, shriveled up feeling my eyes had become accustomed to. This is where the eye roll on comes in. Believe me, paired with an eye spray or drops, it makes a world of difference and at least keeps you awake long enough to feed the baby at 2am (and 3am and 4am and 5am). Any 'cooling' or 'refreshing' eye product will do, but I say go for the rollerball because it's the easiest to wrangle in the dark/ when restricted to using one hand. I used Simple Kind To Eyes Revitalising Eye Roll-On but there are loads of other options inlcuding Botanics All Bright Refreshing Eye Roll-On and DHC Beauty Lift Eye Care Roll On.

For many of us, hand cream is already an everyday essential to keep hands hydrated and looking their best but when you've got a new baby, hand cream becomes a necessity. Dealing with nappies, sick and sterilisers means hands are washed really, really often which can in turn make the skin super dry. So much washing with antibacterial soap can make the skin crack and split but you can save yourself from this fate by smothering on the hand cream throughout the day (and night). I keep some in the baby bag too for hydrating my hands when I'm out and about. I'm a total Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream fangirl but I went through so much of the stuff that it's perhaps not the most economically viable option! Any cream will do but non-greasy is always the best option so I used My Trusty Sunflower Hand Cream (gorgeous) and Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream. I found that Palmer's Cocoa Butter and Avene Baby Moisturiser also did the trick nicely.

The first few weeks with a new baby involves a weird mix of trying to get some decent, rejuvenating sleep and a sort of involuntary will to stay awake and alert. There's obviously nothing quite like a shower to perk you up and slathering yourself in a lovely shower gel designed to refresh body and mind really can make a world of difference. My mother in law gave me a big pump bottle of Australian Bodycare Skinwash just after I had my baby, because it has antiseptic properties so was perfect for sore nipples and healing ceasarian scars. It was a bonus then that the 2% tea tree oil formula left me smelling and feeling all zingy, perked up and fresh. Citrus scents also work brilliantly - I enjoyed using Soaper Duper Zesty Lemon Body Wash and Simple Refreshing Shower Gel. Superdrug Lime and Ginger Shower Gel is a good thrifty option and if you've got a bit of a budget to play with, This Works Energy Bank Shower Gel is the business. Anything minty is good for waking up the senses too, but I will say to go easy on the mint products (and anything with the potential to sting really!) while you're still healing, whether your baby was delivered naturally or via c section.

When people tell you that when you have a newborn washing your hair is a luxury, they're actually telling the truth. It's a horrifying truth and I didn't want to believe it either but it really is just one of the million new-mum clich├ęs that turned out to be true. While there really is nothing like the feeling of accomplishment that comes with freshly washed, soft and sweet smelling hair, when you've got a baby latched onto your bosom or bottle for 23 out of 24 hours, dry shampoo simply must do. If you're a person who only needs to wash their hair once a week anyway, this probably doesn't apply (and I hate you a tiny bit), but I personally can't go more than two days between washing before I start looking and feeling downright offensive. In the early days I turned to Lee Stafford Original Dry Shampoo (smells quite a lot like Thierry Mugler Angel), Show Beauty Premiere Dry Shampoo (Smells AMAZING but bought the mini because the full size is ridiculously expensive) and Ouai Dry Shampoo Foam which has had mixed reviews but I personally very much rate it.

After having the baby, in most cases you can feel free to use up whatever lotions and creams you stocked up on to try and ward off stretchmarks throughout pregnancy. I was very aware that I had a rather tiny person in very close proximity to my body (if not attached to it) for 24 hours a day so I put away my lovely perfumed creams and brought out the silky, natural butters and lotions. Not only was I worried that perfumed body moisturisers might irritate my son's delicate skin, but I didn't want to overload his developing senses and worried that he might not 'like' the smell. I know. Neurotic. Anyway, I was so dehydrated for the first few weeks and I could feel that my skin was uncomfortable and tight so I needed to use something. I ended up relying heavily on coconut oil and Unscented Palmer's Cocoa Butter as well as Nom Nom Camelia and Vanilla Stretch Butter which I used religiously in my third trimester.  If you're looking for something really high-end, I was recently introduced to Previse MommyBalm Stretch Mark Cream which was specially formulated to be safe for breastfeeding mums.

Whether you're into budget brands or prefer to spend big on your skincare, now is the time to stock up on a lovely face cream. Chances are, your skin is going to be pretty confused by the weird hormones coursing through your post-partum body and is going to need a little more help than usual. Obviously everyone's skin reacts differently (if at all) after birth, but personally mine became dehydrated and really, really dry, even though I was literally drinking litres of water and coconut water every day. I used Dafna's Nutrition Night Treatment (you can read my review here) and treated myself to Chanel Hydra Beauty Nutrition. I also really like Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre as it's really rich and comforting. Basically, just treat yourself to your favourite moisturiser or try one you've always had your eye on. You bloody deserve it. Just be aware that it's not recommended to use creams containing retinol if you're breastfeeding.

I wasn't sure about adding this one to the list. When you're a new parent, you're supposed to be tired and you're supposed to look it - there's zero shame in that! However, if you want to fake a decent night's sleep, a quality concealer can make all the difference when popped under the eyes. In fact, for the first few months, mascara and concealer was all I bothered with if we were venturing out somewhere. I like Glossier Stretch Concealer but have heard great things about Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer and the new Makeup Revolution Conceal and Define Concealer.

When I was pregnant, I was obsessed with reading 'What's in my hospital bag?' type blog posts and articles and almost every single one mentioned some kind of facial spritz for labour. I do remember using a little can of La Roche Posay Mist before the contractions really set in, but it was after I'd had the baby that I really made use of it. I've always loved facial sprays and spritzes as part of my skincare routine (generally after acid toning) but during those early weeks found them to be a quick and convenient way to get a little extra moisture into my skin whilst simultaneously waking myself up a bit! As well as the La Roche Posay, I also used up my beloved May Lindstrom The Jasmine Garden Facial Spray and often reached for Clinique Moisture Surge Face Spray. If you're mainly after the 'wake up' effect of a facial spritz, you can obviously make your own - just pick up an empty spray bottle and fill it up with cool water!

In the early days I also found myself using products I'd actually bought for the baby! There were a few occasions when I'd wash my body and hair with Burt's Bees Baby Bee Shampoo and Wash or the Johnson's Bedtime Baby Bath. I remember doing this because I was utterly terrified of irritating my newborn's precious, delicate skin so figured products made especially for babies would do no harm and would also be more gentle on my healing scar. While I've luckily not had any problems with my c section scar, a ceasarian is still a major operation and the area for the weeks following the op is obviously going to be pretty delicate to some degree. The same can be said for the after effects of a natural birth- you'd have to be pretty darn lucky to escape that ordeal completely unscathed- but the point is, no matter how your baby came into the world, you're going to be feeling pretty delicate from the belly button down, so you're not going to want to use any highly fragranced or 'harsh' shower and bath products.
So those are the beauty and grooming bits and pieces that helped me feel more me during those delicate first months as a new mum. If you'd like to share any tips or products that helped you as a new parent, please let me know in the comments!

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