Skincare tips for time-poor parents


When you have kids - particularly in the early days after your first child, when you're still adjusting - it's easy to let self-care fall by the wayside.

Some won't be too bothered by this but others will notice how dull and dehydrated their skin feels, let alone how ragged they look.

One of my 'things' after having a child was to make sure that I still made time for my usual skincare routine. It's not always easy and at times I've cut corners or skipped on particular products (like face masks that need to be left on for half an hour), but I did find a way to make things work, and I wanted to share my thoughts for those who are struggling to look after themselves now that they're parents.

I'll likely do another post on makeup tips for time-poor parents, so do let me know if you'd be interested in reading that : )

Invest in good products

I first became interested in beauty at 31, but before then I didn't even know what toner was and makeup was applied for work/nights out only under social 'duress', not because I derived any enjoyment from the process (how things change!).

Your skin can really suffer from the moment you fall pregnant, right through the early years of motherhood - particularly if you're breastfeeding. In my experience, the whole 'pregnant glow' thing is an absolute myth (the nutrients are going to someone else) and the dullness continues after childbirth as you're robbed of much-needed sleep and your body's working overtime to produce milk for the baby.

So now's the time to focus on good skincare. It doesn't need to be expensive, although in my experience it's better to invest in quality skincare (as opposed to quality makeup) because your makeup is only as good as what's beneath it. You may find this easier to do than you think: as new parents, we tend to forget nice clothing and live in gym gear, so send your spare pennies towards skincare instead. 

Make time for the bare minimum, and build on that

My daughter has never been much of a day sleeper, which means my showers don't happen until my husband gets home from work. I'd prefer that over keeping an ear out for baby in the shower, anyway: showers have become almost sacred and I'd rather have them when someone else is looking after the little one.

This doesn't mean, however, that I haven't found time for my twice-daily skincare routine: you can slot in a morning cleanse/tone/moisturise easily enough. But if the idea of going through skincare rituals seems almost impossible, start small. At least wash your face once and then moisturise. Once you've got that happening, you can start thinking about double-cleansing, toning and including a serum or booster. Small steps ; )

Start early

I remember going into hospital with a bunch of travel-sized skincare to use, but of course looking after my skin for the five days we were in hospital after I gave birth was the last thing on my mind! I mean, we'd created a whole human being. And we were required to look after it. Everything else was forgotten.

From memory, it wasn't until the third day that I rifled through my beauty bag and took out more than the cleanser/moisturiser combo I'd half-heartedly used during and after my daily shower. I think dusting off those products helped get me into a routine, and I was determined to stick to it. The longer you leave something, the harder it is to start - so start early.

Eat well and rest when you can

It's easy to reach for junk when you're a new parent because it's often fast and simple, but try not to do this too much. Bad food can sap your energy levels (which are low anyway) and can play havoc with your skin. So stay hydrated and try to eat well: it's not a bad idea to cook up batches of good food and freeze them so you've got stuff to reach for that's healthy when time is poor.

Also, don't forget to put your feet up whenever you can. Forget the ironing: staying on top of household chores isn't as important as giving your mind and body some much-needed rest. Even if you can't sleep during the day (I certainly can't), resting your eyes and body can be just as useful - not only for you, but also for your skin.

Pick double-duty products

Some cleansers have toning properties as well, and some moisturisers contain SPF so you can apply one cream instead of two. 

If you can source products that perform more than one function, you may find it easier to slot a twice-daily skincare routine into your day. Having a five-step skincare routine can seem overwhelming for anyone, so pick products that do the hard work for you and cut down on time and effort that way.

Look at skincare as meditation

This is kind of related to the above: your skincare routine doesn't have to be just that, you can also use the time to mediate or just switch off. That way you're getting 'two for the price of one' in terms of your time.

Like many people these days, I've discovered the many benefits of meditation. I do a little mindfulness here and there each day, and part of this happens when I'm going through my skincare routine. 

Rather than thinking of all the things I need to do when I'm washing my face, instead I focus on the feel of each product - the smell, the look, the texture - and use my senses as an anchor to keep my mind clear of anything else. As well as benefiting my mind and general energy levels, my skin also wins here because I'm more likely to take my time and really engage with the process/do it properly.

Choose masks and treatments wisely

There's no point investing in a face mask if you're not going to use it because you need to leave it on for half an hour. I've used plenty of masks that only need to be left on for five or ten minutes, and there's a wonderful Ren product (the Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial, reviewed here), that only needs as much time as the name suggests.

Similarly, overnight masks are a good option because you can put those on and leave them there, and chemical exfoliants often only need to be wiped over the skin on a makeup pad - unlike grainy exfoliants, which take extra time because they need to be massaged across the face. So pick things that you'll actually use because they don't take forever to work.

Use your babysitting credits to have a facial

If you're lucky enough to have someone mind the little one for a while, consider booking yourself in for regular facials: these can be a great way to help yourself feel a touch more human. If that's outside your budget (I hear you!), then do your own facials at home. Lock the door, chuck on some music and relax : )

If you can afford to have an occasional facial, it can be fun to take along a friend - particularly if you're both new mums. That way you can have some much-needed adult conversations while getting pampered, and you'll feel all the better for it.

Fake it 'till you make it

Can't be bothered with the fuss? Do it anyway. After a while, you'll forget that it feels like a hassle and you might even start to enjoy it. 

It's kind of like making time for your partner in the early days of parenthood: you mightn't feel like going out for dinner together, but it's worth doing anyway for the sake of the relationship - even if you can't rustle up any intelligent conversation (or indeed any conversation at all) because you're too tired.

Making time for your skin can have big pay-offs, and I personally would prefer to spend more time on my skin than I would dressing myself in anything other than tracksuit pants, because your skin is forever. Nice clothes come and go.

In sum

That's it! Hopefully there's something in the above that's helpful in some way : )

If you're a parent and have any skincare tips, do share them in the comments: we need as many as we can get!

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