Top beauty tips for tired mums
You could call it a perfect storm. Very shortly after you become a mother, you come to an extraordinary stage in your life where you have no money, no time and - by the time you have fed, bathed, cooked, cleaned, and laundered - very little energy.
You still want to look at least 'OK', though, and looking good would be even better. The justifications are many: if you look good, it tells the world that you are coping with your uniquely demanding role; it reminds your partner that you are an attractive woman as well as a mother; and if you manage to do something nice for yourself, you feel you've clawed back a little control over your life.
I've been a mum for 13 years and have been at least one of tired, time-poor or broke, from the very start. Tips I've gleaned from working in the wider beauty arena have varyingly stretched a dollar, taken me to the ball or just kept me fighting the good fight - and here are 11 of them for you.
1. Keep your hair colour maintained. Colour your hair at home (I used to ask a very adept friend to apply the colour for me). Don't be frightened to ask your hairdresser to advise you on what home colour to use, while you are financially straitened. Or go to the Hue salons who specialise in colour only - you style your own hair at the drying bar they provide, so you pay less.
Stretch the time between salon colours out, with Clairol Nice N Easy 10 Minute root touch up (approx $12.95). My hairdresser advised me to chose a shade lighter than that prescribed for my hair - I think to avoid nasty 'colour bands.' It's easy, it's quick, and it works.
2. If your hair is getting a bit dry or coarse, use a leave-in treatment when you are going to be at home and can keep your hair tied back. Alternatively, use a product like L'Oreal Paris Everstrong Overnight Hair Repair Treatment ($19.99) that works while you sleep. "If I don't have anything else, olive oil does the trick" says a mum of three young teens, "just needs a couple of super-good shampooings in the morning!"
3. 'Set' the roots of your hair immediately post washing. "My hairdresser only recently enlightened me on the importance of this, even if you don't have time to dry it straight away" says a Mum of two littlies. "Heat from your head starts to set the hair's shape/direction in the first few minutes. I used to walk around with a towel on my head making lunches and getting the kids ready, and wonder why so much of my hair just wouldn't behave once dry!" Alternatively discover Dry Shampoo if you don't have time to wash your hair. "I actually like the volume it gives me!" another mum told me.
4. Shape and tint your brows. Google a tutorial on shaping if you need some guidance. In my experience it's best to stay with tweezers (as opposed to wax strips) and if you think you are straying into the overpluck zone - walk away. I use a 1,000 Hour Lash Colour kit ($24.99) I bought from the pharmacy to tint my brows, enhancing their shape and definition - this frames the face and enhances its aesthetically-pleasing symmetry.
5. Take care of your skin. A beautician advised me that if you can't or don't want to have facials, regular gentle exfoliation and a weekly mask will just about suffice. Keep your facial exfoliator in the shower. Tebe's Cleansing Facial Polish is New Zealand made, natural, gentle and widely available ($28.95). There's a masque in sister range 'Olive' ($39.95).
6. Own a facial mist. I have a beautiful Evolu toner ($34.95) that I diluted with water when it started to get low, because I loved it and didn't want to run out so soon. It's lightly, upliftingly fragranced and refreshing. My Mum used to use Witch Hazel she bought from the chemist. Whatever you choose, in the summer keep it in the fridge for a cooling effect.
7. Keep your hands in shape. Have hand cream at your various workstations so you can grab it quickly when you need it. Push your cuticles back gently when you get out of the shower. And if you have a special occasion, a slick of clear varnish will make your hands look groomed, whether your nails are short and cut with clippers, or longer and filed. Best thing about clear varnish - mistakes don't show, and if you don't have very long for the clear polish to dry, a tiny bump won't matter.
8. De-fuzz your legs. If you are a shaver this won't be an issue, but if you are used to having your legs waxed by a therapist, things can soon get ugly. Own an epilator for relatively quick improvement at home at the flick of a switch, for example Remington's Smooth and Silky Epilator ($79.99). I can also recommend Veet Easy Grip Wax Strips for effective, easy, mess-free use (RRP $16.99).
9.Keep ingrown hairs at bay with a body exfoliant or invest in a Dermalogica Ultimate Buffing Cloth ($35) - use it on your legs in combination with a little body wash or the like - no ongoing expense need be incurred. Keep a pump bottle of body oil or lotion in the shower so you can slather a bit on when you have finished.
10 Keep your toenails painted. Rub the dead skin off your heels in the shower with a pumice stone or foot scrub; push your cuticles back when you get out of the shower. Enlist that nimble fingered friend to paint your toenails for you, or invest in a Shellac paint job or the like - you walk out of the nail bar in your shoes with the varnish dry, and it lasts many weeks. Keep an eye on the daily deals sites, as cheap pedicures and the like come up quite often.
11. Have a two minute, never-fail 'do.' A friend of mine just taught me how to add a little extra volume at the crown of a ponytail so it says 'I am going out' instead of 'I am going to hang out the washing'. Don't be afraid to ask your hairdresser for guidance.
What are your favourite quick, cheap beauty fixes?