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How My Beauty Routine Has Changed Since Becoming A New Mom

I’ll give you a hint: It’s gotten much shorter.

by Lexi Novak

You don’t have to read this entire article to guess the main takeaway. Since giving birth this year, my new-mom beauty routine has gotten comically abbreviated. This isn’t a bad thing, per se. I’ve pared down my product consumption to the necessities (and gotten rid of some persistent skin irritation as a result). I’ve stopped spending what was probably too much time in the mirror with myself. I’ve spared my wallet from purchases that would ultimately collect dust well past their expiration date. But as someone who has always — either recreationally or professionally — been immersed in the beauty world, I’ve also taken this change as a pretty big hit to my self-care routine.

I used to luxuriate in a weekly hair-oil mask that I’d brush through my curls as if I had nothing better to do. I’d extract, mask, tone, and then moisturize my skin regularly. I’d dry-brush my body before hopping in the shower and punctuating the ritual with a body-cream-then-oil combo. New makeup mailer? I’d spend 20 minutes playing with a three-tone eye look I’d wear exactly zero times again. Then, in July, I had my daughter.

Before I continue, here’s the requisite disclaimer: I love her more than anything and anyone, and I’d give up a lifetime of just about everything for her. But she really pulled the emergency brake on my beauty routine. It’s still a work in progress, and hopefully one day I’ll get to take a nice soak in the tub again, but here’s how I’ve managed to squeeze my unabridged beauty regimen into about 20 fragmented minutes a day:

If I can manage nothing else, I bathe and brush my teeth.

Those are the two basic requirements. Sometimes the morning tooth brushing happens at 7 a.m., sometimes at 12 p.m., but it happens. And whether or not I have the luxury to actually shampoo and condition my hair is irrelevant. As long as I can hose myself down in the shower at night and wash my face, I’m good. It’s amazing how far fresh, minty breath and soapy pits can get you.

I’ve perfected a minimalist approach to skin care.

I was the exact opposite of a skin-care minimalist for the past ten years. But several rashes and a bout of perioral dermatitis (POD) started me on a path of less-is-more that I have now mastered. Here’s what I’ve learned: In the morning, a splash of cool water, some moisturizer, and a layer of sunscreen will do. At night, I cleanse with a gentle, no-frills formula; moisturize (with an extra pump of hydrating serum in the colder months); and seal it all with oil (again, mostly in the colder months). If I can get antioxidants, particularly vitamin C, into any of those steps, great. It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s effective. It’s all I have time for.

Makeup is purely functional for now.

Don’t look tired. That’s the makeup goal these days. For a camera-on day at work, that means I do my brows with a one-step tinted gel, coat my lashes in mascara, and dab concealer under my eyes. I haven’t been playing with lip color lately, because I smooch my daughter all the time. So I’ve been opting for any plain balm that’s moisturizing and gentle on baby skin.

Some things are still worth making time for.

Listen, I’m still a person, even if I don’t always feel like it after getting four hours of sleep. There are certain beauty treatments that I’m just not willing to compromise on, because they make me feel good. And isn’t that the whole point of self-care? I continue to drench my body in cream and oil after showering, as long as my husband doesn’t need an assist with a diaper blowout. I’m a better person and a better mom when I’m not dry and flaky. I still make time for a weekly face peel — I just pick up toys or wash bottles while it does its thing rather than watch TV. And on those magical nights when I actually do get to wash my hair, I reach for a scalp massager and really savor those extra seconds. They may be brief, but they’re all mine.