How My Postpartum Beauty Routine Helped Me Survive Life With a Newborn and Re-Discover Myself During Fourth-Trimester Haze

Photo: Getty Images/ becon
“Make sure to take time for yourself!” While filled with good intentions, these seven words are an absolute minefield for any parent to a newborn. As you’re dealing with never-ending diapers, a total lack of sleep, and an entire new being in the house, the term “self care” pretty much disappears from your vocabulary—despite it being a time you need it most.

At least, that’s how I felt when I welcomed my daughter last year. No matter how many baby books I read or how many classes I took to ready myself for life with a newborn, there was nothing that could possibly have prepared me for the absolute guilt that came with the idea of taking any “me time.” And how could I not? From the moment you welcome a baby into your home, the idea of enjoying every precious second with your new arrival is hammered in.

With that in mind, it took weeks of dealing with postpartum night sweats, a melasma mustache, and what felt like 100 other symptoms to finally realize that I needed a moment for myself. Whether it was handing the baby off to my husband or simply sitting her down in her Baby Bjorn, I started taking just 10 to 15 minutes every day to implement a beauty routine. And while it may sound simple, those few minutes a day of pampering did something huge—it helped me re-find myself during a fourth-trimester haze.

“Self care comes in many forms. I ask new parents to think back to their pre-baby life. What did they do to relax and rejuvenate? Those are the things we want to do now in postpartum,” says Denise Curtis, a Certified Labor & Postpartum Doula. “Maybe it’s getting a massage or having a therapy session. Maybe it’s getting in a quiet meditation or being able to journal in absolute silence. I know these things seem impossible with a newborn that constantly needs you, but that’s where having a support team comes in. Let your partner, family member, friend, or postpartum doula come in and take some of the load off of you. You deserve and need these moments of peace in order to give you the energy to carry on.”

Creating a consistent beauty routine helped me to feel like I was taking care of myself, even when I couldn't find time for anything else. And, to make the most of my limited time, I used products that were both effective for my postpartum skin concerns and helped me look a little more together in little to no time.

For skin care, I found the True Botanicals line of products a great way to get results, while also making my bathroom feel like a spa. With breastfeeding, retinol was off the table, so using the brand’s Chebula Active Serum and Vitamin C Booster was the next best thing to help fade my hormonal acne and melasma.

I followed up my skincare with the Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint which not only provides coverage but also SPF 40. I’d finish up with the Ilia Multi-Stick on my lips and cheeks, and a swipe of the Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara on my lashes for the ultimate 5-minute makeup routine (when you’ve only got 10 minutes, those multi-tasking products will become your BFF).

This short beauty routine helped me in a few different ways. Perhaps most importantly, it gave me a sense of control—something that's hard to come by in life with a newborn.

“Once you have a baby, your life is forever changed. You are no longer the person you were before having this newborn. It’s a completely new role, an important one, and it will take some time to adjust. Be kind to yourself,” says Curtis. “Give yourself space to feel all of the emotions as you grieve the loss of the person you once were, and allow yourself to move into this new role with grace. Self care is a time for you to reflect on what this new role looks like for you and how you can thrive in it. Transitions and change are hard. Prioritize caring for yourself through this process. It’s essential.”

With those 10 minutes a day, I was able to take control of my own body, which no longer felt like it belonged to me during those first few weeks postpartum. Taking care of my skin helped to make me feel more confident and put together, even when inside I just felt exhausted and overwhelmed.

Finally, it helped me relax, giving me a few minutes a day to focus on taking care of myself instead of putting 100% of me into taking care of my baby. Nothing gives me more joy in my life than getting to be a mom to my daughter… but, there is also more to me as a person than just being her mom. While some may see having a beauty routine as an unnecessary extravagance, for me it helped to connect me to the person I was before becoming a mom—the woman who still exists and deserves her time.

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