This 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine Is Helping Me Survive Postpartum

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Since I gave birth to my third child nearly 9 months ago, I’ve had kind of a rough go of it. Transitioning to life as a mom of three hasn’t been easy for me, and honestly, most days I feel out of control. I bounce between nursing my baby and caring for my two older kids, keeping up with housework, preparing meals and catching up on my work-from-home job.

Now that I have three kids under the age of 5, you can imagine that self-care feels like something of a pipe dream. Taking 10 or 15 minutes out of my day to myself hasn’t felt like an option, but when I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety, self-care became an urgent priority.

I have a history of anxiety and depression, so you'd think I would have known what was going on. When I took a screening at my son’s 6 month check-up, I knew I hadn’t been coping well, but I didn’t realize just how poorly I had been doing. I didn’t realize I was anxious and depressed enough to warrant an urgent phone call from my son’s pediatrician office, urging me to see someone as soon as possible. A follow-up visit with my own care provider forced me to be honest about how I was feeling, and it also forced me to prioritize my own well-being, no matter how busy my life may be.

Now, I'm not about to claim that spending a few extra minutes pampering myself every day or finding time for a quick nap a few times a week was enough to erase the symptoms of my postpartum depression. I needed medication, and I needed to spend some time with a therapist. But I also needed to slow down and pay attention to my own needs, and adopting a new self-care routine gave me that opportunity. After I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, I adopted a 10-Step Korean skincare routine and it is helping my survive postpartum.

Courtesy of Mary Sauer

Honestly, up until a few months ago, I was the type of girl who fell asleep in her make-up. Most nights, I was so exhausted I felt like brushing my teeth was an accomplishment to be proud of. But for some reason, when I stumbled on a blog post about a 10-step Korean inspired skincare routine not long after I was diagnosed with PPD, something clicked. I saw this incredibly detailed and intense routine as an opportunity to take care of myself and a chance to feel like I was in control of some aspect of my life, no matter how small. So, I spent some time researching products and reading up on different skin types.

I saw this incredibly detailed and intense routine as an opportunity to take care of myself and a chance to feel like I was in control of some aspect of my life, no matter how small.

In a nutshell, Korean skin care is all about developing a personal routine based on your skin’s needs. Two types of cleansers are used to remove makeup without over-drying your skin. I also use exfoliants to remove dead skin cells, toners chosen for my specific skin type, serums that deliver concentrated nutrients to my face, face masks, and tons and tons of eye creams, moisturizers and night creams. In the mornings, the entire routine is wrapped up with a high-SPF sunscreen before I apply a stitch of makeup. Then I repeat the steps at night.

Courtesy of Mary Sauer

For me, adopting a highly regimented skincare routine isn’t about conforming to some beauty ideal or trying to look young forever. It’s about caring for my skin, so I still feel like myself when I look in the mirror. It certainly isn’t a routine for someone who is in a rush. In fact, a few short months ago I wouldn't have believed I'd have time for it. But now, those ten minutes at the beginning and end of my day are helping my survive postpartum.

Adopting a highly regimented skincare routine isn’t about conforming to some beauty ideal or trying to look young forever. It’s about caring for my skin, so I still feel like myself when I look in the mirror.

While I used to hit the floor running each day, pulling my laptop into bed with me to work before my kids woke up or heading straight to the kitchen to start breakfast, now I start my day alone in the bathroom. Taking just a few minutes with the door locked, with no one asking me to do something for them, isn’t just about taking care of my skin. It's about getting my mind right before I start the chaos of taking care of an infant, keeping track of a toddler, and homeschooling a preschooler.

Courtesy of Mary Sauer

When my day is over, my skincare routine is the beginning of my unwinding ritual. I wash off my makeup from the day and spend a few minutes treating parts of my skin I would like to see improve, all while thinking over my day and trying to be mindful of my leftover stress so I can relax before bed. Before, I would crawl into bed with my makeup on, my mind cluttered with the things left unfinished or the mistakes I'd made throughout the day. Now, I try to leave it all behind when I finish up my skincare routine.

I know that some may think it’s vanity or that my time could be better spent elsewhere, but skincare has become crucial to my day-to-day functioning because it's all about self-care. I know that skincare isn’t a priority for everyone, but all moms should put aside a few minutes every day for basic self-care. Whether it’s 10 minutes with a book or going for a jog, do whatever it is that helps you feel more like you again. That's essential to being the best mom you can be.