ISSUE : 5
Mama of one, former beauty director at Stylist Magazine, consultant & now student of Chinese Medicine
Currently living mat-leave life in East London
Noah, 0.8 years
Having worked as Beauty Editor for the likes of Stylist Magazine, we're desperate to get the low down on the beauty products you can't live without...
Despite having tested thousands of products throughout my many years in beauty,
"Motherhood has proven that you really only need a handful of solid essentials to get by."
For me, these include a tube of Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer for under-eyes (I am blind to all other concealers forever and ever, it’s that good), a stick of Charlotte Tilbury nude eye pencil to brighten my tired eyes and in lieu of my MAC Ruby Woo lipstick (can’t kiss Noah so it had to go), a really good lip balm – the EOS Organic Strawberry Lip Balm is non-gloopy and glides on directly to the lips, a more hygienic option than using fingers when a considerable proportion of each day is spent picking up food from the floor. And, because I currently spend most days in sweats and spectacles, I like to go extra fancy with my perfume. At the moment, I’m spritzing Chanel No.5 L’Eau, a fresher, crisper version of the iconic No.5.
Best beauty product for tired mamas (with one hand to apply?)
Truly, an eye pencil that matches your skin tone for the waterline of your eyes is
"the absolute best trick to dispel that searing red eye that only occurs when you’ve had sub-5 hours’ sleep."
I team that with a bottle of Japanese Rohto eye drops I found on Ebay. They have a blue-ish tinge so also counteract redness – a make-up artist introduced them to me backstage at fashion week years ago and I’m now hooked.
Has being a mama changed your beauty routine?
Yes, it’s been halved! For the first three months, I wore make-up just once and only ever cleansed my face in the shower. Recovering from an emergency C-section and some additional complications, I was too shattered to stand at the sink and tinker around with skincare.
I feel more in control of the time I have now (thank you sleep training), so I’ve introduced an albeit trimmed-down routine. I always go back to Skinceuticals CE Ferulic serum, a super-strong antioxidant and Dr Hauschka Rose Day Cream. I still use La Roche Posay Solution Micellaire Physiologique. But I still felt plagued by the beauty products in my cabinet I no longer use, so I had a huge Kondo-style clear-out recently and whittled it down to the products that are either a joy to use or are just excellent at their job.
Another unexpected post-baby adjustment is how I’m way more religious now about getting my hair coloured each month.
"I've come to really need those few hours in the hairdressers to exhale from it all."
What do you wish you’d been told about motherhood?
"I wish I’d known that it would be the catalyst
for such a huge personal identity shift. "
I’d already been in the process of switching careers, from beauty journalism towards becoming a certified practitioner of Chinese Medicine. And that, in itself, required focus, drive and a clear vision, but throw motherhood into the mix too, and
"most days I don’t even recognise the ‘me’ I see in the mirror. I look different, I feel different, and my days have absolutely nothing in common with how I’d have spent them just two years ago."
I feel so far removed from who I was then, and that’s been the source of both exhilaration and hope but also some anxiety too.
Parenting rule you’ve thrown out the window..
"The whole dummy snobbery."
By about week four, I was desperate for Noah to stop crying and fall asleep and dummies made it 50% easier for her to settle. They soothed her and bought me a few more minutes of sanity.
4TH trimester…fact or fiction?
"The concept of the fourth trimester is a really important component to the journey of motherhood in Chinese Medicine and one which I fully intended to follow, except for, perhaps, the no-showering bit."
The term ‘zuo yuezi’ infers the length of time (usually forty days) that traditionally, new Chinese mothers would confine themselves and their babies to their bedrooms, eschewing visitors and allowing their mothers, aunts and sisters into the home to help cook, clean and nourish both new mother and baby.
I wrote about this in one of my first ‘Diary of a Mum’ columns in Baby magazine. I sensed a growing sort of one-up-man-ship among mothers of new borns wanting to be seen hair-coiffed, make-up-on, sipping coffee in a beautiful café with a two-week-old baby in their arms. And while, for some women this is the path they feel most empowered in taking, I think it puts pressure on others to emerge from the baby cocoon a little too soon. Those first weeks are the most precious time, a time to nurture the bond with your baby that stay with you both for life.
I am a hardcore podcast addict. I try to walk for minimum one hour each day with Noah in the pram, and so, depending on my mood, I’ll flit from interview-based shows like Marc Maron’s WTF, to Adam Buxton, to true crime podcasts such as The Teacher’s Pet, Dirty John and Serial.
Coffee or wine?
"Both. Truly, an ideal scenario would be one coffee in the morning (oat flat white) and a small thimble of Sancerre in the evening."
The smallest glass of wine is enough for me to mark a shift between the working day (yes, looking after a baby is work) and the evening, particularly when you’ve spent most of your day at home. And, if that happens every day, well, that’s quite alright in my book.
The first thing you do once Noah hits the hay?
Thimble of wine (see above). And I cook. I spent the first few months of maternity leave ordering from Deliveroo and eating bung-in-the-oven ready meals. I couldn’t even imagine a time when I’d have the energy or time to cook again. But slowly, it comes back. After being with an eight-month-old Noah all day long (cue lots of excited shrieking, rolling around, playing, dancing and grabbing at everything – her, not me), I’m beat by the end of the day. But spending 30 or 40 minutes cooking feels like a mindful practice, the only part of the day when I’m by myself, and for that, I relish it.