Find Your Post-baby Outer Beauty
Today’s blog links nutrition and beauty into one feel-good read – Enjoy!
While eating healthily and exercising regularly play a major role in how we look and feel, I’ve always believed that it’s important to look after our bodies on the outside too. Most women feel better when they’ve shaved their legs or had a new haircut. Many women have regular manicures and facials but for millions of women this is either out of their financial reach or they’re time limited due to a young family or lack of support from partner or extended family.
In those early days when your baby is just a few weeks old it’s perfectly right to focus 100% of your attention on your new bundle of joy, but doing a few small things for yourself will enhance your self-esteem no end. As your babies grow into toddlers and pre-schoolers they demand even more of your time and this is when Mummy can lose a sense of her own identity and self-esteem can plummet. Gone are the days when the tummy bulge can be excused by recent pregnancy and loose, comfortable clothing blamed on breast-feeding!
Mummies, it’s time to start putting yourself first! This is not selfish. A happy mummy has happy children and a happy relationship or social life. I meet mums all the time who run around doing everything for everyone else and very little for themselves. Most feel guilty sitting down to have a cup of tea and read a magazine when their husband is at work and children at school. Many say they never take time out to go and sit somewhere peaceful and read a book, have a walk by the sea or even go clothes shopping by themselves. They’re an afterthought, treating themselves only when everyone else has everything they need.
Everything I’m going to suggest can be done on a small budget. Here are my top ten tips for improving your physical and inner beauty. You’re not just mummy, you’re you! You love your children, now it’s time to love yourself.
Set time aside every week (or more often if possible) for a relaxing bath. Don’t just jump in the shower, set the bathroom up into a relaxing, calming space. Expensive scented candles are lovely but you can achieve the same effect with tealights in clean jam jars (no lids). Mix a few drops of lavender oil into a small jar with some almond oil and add a small amount to your bath water. Oil is less drying on the skin than bath bombs and bubble bath and will help moisturise your skin. Use a body scrub all over to loosen dead skin cells and leave you with a healthy glow. This is especially important in the summer when you’re tanning or using self-tan – it makes your glow last longer. For instant body scrub simply mix together honey, vegetable oil and caster sugar (with lavender oil or any other scent you like, if desired) and simply rub onto damp skin and soak off. If shaving is your hair removal method of choice then use this time to shave legs, bikini line and underarms. The warmth of the bath water will open the pores and give you a smoother feel. Once you’ve scrubbed and shaved and relaxed for at least 20 minutes then gentle pat your skin dry and apply a rich body butter (The Body Shop are my favourites – and frequently on special offer!) or an oil-based product.
Your skin can be further enhanced by what you eat. Whether you have blemish free, smooth skin already or suffer from eczema, dry skin or acne, you can make improvements by adjusting what you eat and drink. The best diet for healthy, glowing skin that maintains good elasticity and few wrinkles is one that is rich in fresh vegetables and fruit, plus nuts and seeds or cold-pressed oils. Limit alcohol, sugar, caffeine, salt and saturated fats – they won’t make you beautiful! Drink 1-2 litres of fresh, filtered water daily (including herbal teas if desired) and take a good quality multi-vitamin/mineral supplement with antioxidants. Smoking should be avoided and sunblock should be used to protect against ageing and skin cancer. However, it is important to have around twenty minutes in daylight every day, all year round, with some skin exposed (arms, face or lower legs is fine) as the skin cells react with sunlight to produce Vitamin D which is essential for calcium balance and therefore stronger bones and healthier metabolism. If you’d rather not put your skin in the sun at all then a Vitamin D supplement is essential.
A healthy diet will pay dividends when it comes to the skin on your face. A poor lifestyle and a diet of junk food and alcohol shows in pale, puffy skin, spots, lines, wrinkles, brown blemishes and dark circles. Following the diet advice given above will make your face glow but there are also cosmetic things you can do to help it along. If you’ve ever had a salon facial, you’ll know how amazing your skin CAN look when it’s been pampered, scrubbed and moisturised. You can recreate this at home with supermarket brand products, or sample sizes of more expensive brands (Cosmetic counters will always give away samples as they want to encourage you to buy.) For an at-home facial you’ll need a cream cleanser, a toner, a moisturiser and a facial scrub. The Simple range is good value for money and my current favourite from Boots is the Sanctuary facial range – including The Therapists Secret Facial Oil. You can start your facial while in the bath. Just remove your eye-make up and then rub cleanser in all over your face. Whilst relaxing in the bath, the heat will open up the pores and allow more cleansing to take place. Once you’re out of the bath simply clean off the cleanser with a hot wet flannel. A salon facial works on a multi layer basis. Each layer designed to cleanse and moisturise the skin, leaving it plumped, fresher and more youthful – at any age. To recreate this at home just follow the same steps. Cleanse, wash with hot flannel. Scrub gently (avoiding the delicate eye area) and wash with hot flannel. Apply cleanser again and wash off. If you have a face mask then now is the time to apply that and follow the directions as to how long to leave it on for. (I sometimes multi task and get to this stage and then cook dinner. Cleaning it all off and moisturising before serving up!) After the face mask apply cleanser again and wash off with hot flannel. This layering process really works, trust me! Use an alcohol free toner and a cotton wool pad to clean off any product left on the skin. Then if you’re staying home for the evening, massage in a night cream or an oil based product. (If you have them, you can also layer up a serum or oil and then a night cream.) If you’re doing this pre-night out then simply apply your regular daytime moisturiser. Don’t use a cream that is too heavy or oily for your skin. Many people with poor skin (and poor diet) fall into the trap of heavy creams and layers of foundation. The best approach is to start with the healthy diet and use as little make up as possible on the main part of the face.
On to make-up! I’m not a fan of heavy make up, I don’t like the feel of it on my skin. However, there are so many products available that are designed to help us achieve a flawless, youthful, dewy complexion. Again, these products aren’t designed to cover up bad skin, but enhance natural beauty. Follow the nutritional steps and ensure what’s in your diet is as pure as possible. One of my favourite face products is an illuminated primer. These start from just a few pounds (Body shop, Boots etc.) up to hundreds of pounds for designer brands. An illuminated primer is pearlescent and also combats oiliness and is a great base underneath a light foundation or on its own. The latest big cosmetic trend is BB creams (BB = Blemish Balm) which is basically a tinted moisturiser plus sun protection and concealer all in one. I’m currently using the Garnier one which is available in Waitrose (just to make it easier!) You don’t need a regular moisturiser underneath, just use it on its own. It’s a light product that doesn’t make the skin feel caked in any way. It’s even good in the gym as it stays on through a workout and takes the edge off the ‘beetroot face’ look! The best concealer around is the YSL Touche Eclat. Not on everyone’s budget but an amazing product that can hide dark circles without looking flaky and goes smoothly onto eyelids as a base for eye make up. Pop this one on your birthday or Christmas list! (It’s about £20-£25 and can be bought duty free at airports.) Another great product is a cream based blusher. I recently bought one from the Body Shop and it’s so easy to use. Simply pop some on your finger and rub it on the apple of your cheek. If you do nothing else, this alone will give you a rosy glow. Try these steps instead of your usual routine and see if you notice the difference – or if your friends and family comment!
As a mummy, I spend a lot of my time rushing around, dividing my time between work, home life, school runs, food shopping and kids’ activities. There are many things we can do that can make us look and feel better on the outside AND save time. Waxing instead of shaving suits many mums and can leave you fuzz free for 3-6 weeks. If you’re fair haired try an eyelash tint (most go for blue-black colour) which will make you look like you have a couple of coats of mascara on and will last for 4-6 weeks. This is especially good if you spend a lot of time in the pool with your young ones or are going on holiday and don’t want to worry about make up on the beach. Salon treatments might not be considered from a cost point of view, but if you make a few sacrifices elsewhere (E.g. don’t drink alcohol on a night out and drive instead of paying a taxi and you have enough cash for a treatment! Or add up how much you spend on take away coffees or snacks for the children at Spar over a month – you’ll be surprised!) Eyebrow shaping is a great way to open up your face and brighten your eyes without wearing any make up at all! Get it done professionally at first and if you have blonde or light coloured brows consider a light tint. It makes a massive difference that you’d never have expected!
Get together with other mummies and arrange for a beauty therapist to come to one of your houses for the afternoon. That way you all have childcare sorted and the therapist will probably offer a discount for a block booking. Simples!
Swap beauty tips and tricks with your friends. Have fun trying a few new products and see how much better they make you look and feel. Read blogs and share information online. Information and support for mums, online, is at an unprecedented level so make the most of it. It’s easy to browse whilst breastfeeding or when they’re having a nap. Or when you can’t sleep at 5am!!
Get out in the fresh air every day. While this is perhaps a given for those with new babies, mums with school age children find themselves permanently attached to their driver’s seat so make an effort to have a walk every day. Fresh air helps us sleep better, clears our heads and improves skin through the Vitamin D connection.
Drink lots of water! Did I mention that already? Well, drink some more! You may see celebrities swigging champagne, but they’re not doing it every day or to excess. Most people in film, TV or music are taking care of themselves (or have a team of people forcing them to!) and will be drinking in moderation only and will be counteracting the alcohol with a healthy diet and exercise.
1 Laugh! Smile! Be positive! Get out there and make the most of life, even if you don’t have the figure you’d love (or the figure you used to have!). Try following some of the nutrition and beauty tips in this blog and see how your self-esteem increases as others notice and make positive comments.
You never know what you can achieve until you try! I look forward to reading your comments and hope that I’ve inspired some of you in some small way today. Until next week….