Do You Have a New “Beauty Minimum”?

postpartum beautyHere’s another fun question for the mamas out there — do you have a new “beauty minimum”?  Most women I know have different levels of beauty maintenance — there’s the “big interview” look, the “going out to a nice restaurant” look, the “regular workday” look, the “lying around the house” look, etc. For most women I know, several, if not all of those levels, changed a bit after their children were born.  Maybe you only wear eyeliner if it’s a big day (and not a regular day) now; maybe you only get a bikini wax before vacation instead of once every few months. (Or, maybe you haven’t changed a thing!)

For me, I suspect it’s partly a matter of priorities (if I have an extra 20 minutes to myself in the morning, I’m sleeping instead of doing my makeup), partly a matter of practicality (why spend a long time on my hair if I’m going to put it into a bun immediately so my toddler doesn’t grab it with sticky hands), and partly a matter of… this may sound odd, but feeling uncomfortable with vanity after having kids.

Maybe I’m alone here with the “vanity” thing. I have always known that it was OK to think about myself and my appearance, to want to look and feel good, both for myself and the people around me… but for a long time after my first was born (almost two years, I’d say), thinking about anything beyond what was required for daily maintenance felt really… vain.  It feels much easier to devote time to myself now that I’ve been a mom for almost three years, but it was surprising how simple things — like the minute it takes to apply mascara — seemed frivolous and unnecessary when I was new to this mom thing.

The thing is, my eyes look SO MUCH BETTER with mascara! My whole face does!  And yet… I just can’t be bothered with it almost 50% of the time.  Most often it’s because I’m hoping to get in a workout and/or a shower before the end of the day, so I figure I’ll apply the mascara later… and then none of it ever happens, or when I get out of the shower I’m running to pick up the baby or running out the door, mascara-less.  (I’m still kinda-sorta on maternity leave, so I’m not too hard on myself if I don’t get to it daily, but when I do, I’m liking the new Miss Manga mascara for the Voluminous line, which I’ve loved for about ten years at least.)

Until last weekend, I hadn’t had a chance to have my eyebrows threaded since Harry was born in May.  I suppose I could have popped into the salon with my son strapped to me, but that seemed less than ideal for what can sometimes be a painful procedure.  But on Saturday I was running a quick errand sans baby and saw that the local salon was still open, and my favorite stylist, Esther, was free — and I remembered her saying that she would thread eyebrows.  Score!  I was thrilled, ten minutes later, to walk out with neat, groomed eyebrows, and I realized I’d been neglecting part of my “beauty minimum.”  Bottom line: I feel better knowing (and respecting) my beauty minimum, and I’m ok that it’s changed a bit since having kids.

But maybe I’m crazy — ladies, what do you think? Did your “beauty minimum” change after having kids? On a bigger sense, did your perception of your own vanity change after having kids — did makeup seem more frivolous, not worth the time?  Did you go back to your old routine after you went back to work — or did it take a few years for you to get back to your old beauty standards?


  1. Mrs. Jones says:

    My makeup routine for work/going out has stayed the same since my child was born in 2010. But my weekend/errands makeup time has probably decreased since then. I still think putting on makeup and drying my hair is worth it.

  2. My routine stayed the same after my first son. It wasn’t too much effort to keep drying my hair, putting on the same amount of makeup, etc. I get pedicures and (eyebrow/lip) waxes done a lot less often than I used to, but that’s more a result of being too lazy to make the appointments for a Saturday.

    After my second son, however, I rarely dry and style my hair for work anymore. It might be partly to blame on the weather – I run outside in the mornings and usually I’m still sweating after my shower and can’t stand to have a hot hair dryer running, as well. I’ll let it air dry on my way to work and generally put it up in a clip or a bun once I’m in the office. My eyebrows are out of control because I lost my tweezers and keep forgetting to buy new ones and keep forgetting to get them waxed or threaded. I went from October until July before I scheduled a hair cut, but my hair is relatively long and simple and so it wasn’t that noticeable. I still have the same makeup routine for work and still shower each morning (see: sweaty runs), but that’s because I have my routine down to a science.

    On the weekends I basically don’t do makeup or my hair unless we’re seeing family, going out to dinner, or something like that. If we’re just running errands and it’s over 100 degrees outside, I’m probably in workout clothes or a jersey skirt with my hair pulled back.

  3. anonmama says:

    My routine has stayed mostly the same. I do find myself dressing much more casually on the weekends post-baby. My weekend go-to used to be a jersey skirt and cute tank, but now that’s impractical when chasing a toddler around the playground. More gym shorts and tennis skirts, less cute tanks and wedges.

    I will say my work makeup routine has stayed the same. Or actually, gotten a little more vain, as I recently realized how much better my eyebrows look when filled in with powder, and I now do that every morning during the workweek.

    Bikini waxes though? That’s a priority NO MATTER WHAT.

  4. CPA Lady says:

    Oooo! This is such an interesting topic. I’m currently pregnant with my first, so I have no idea how or if my routine will change once little bun-in-oven makes her glorious debut. I very much hope to keep up my routines, or at least learn to streamline them so I can get a similar effect with less effort.

    I have actually thought about this a lot because of my mom and our relationship growing up. She was one of those people who *always* put her children before herself, and it really bothered me. I would look back at old photo albums at how pretty and well put together she was before she had kids, and compare that to how she looked after my sister and I were born.

    I was jealous of my friends who had “pretty” moms who would wear nice clothes and get manicures and stuff. I remember one particularly nasty fight my mother and I got into when I was a (heartless bastard) pre-teen over the fact that she never did anything for herself/didn’t take care of herself like my friends’ moms did. The kernel at the center of the fight was “why should I respect you if you don’t even respect yourself anymore.”

    Obviously, you can go too far and just be completely vain and self-centered, but I think its good for kids to see their moms making themselves a priority from time to time. Of course, you can do that in ways other than wearing make-up and nail polish, but for me and my mom, that lack of that stuff in her life was the symbol of the fact that she never made herself a priority.

  5. I’ve definitely lowered my “getting ready” bar. For me, mornings with my son are my favorite time of the entire day. We sit on the floor and play together in our PJs while I enjoy some morning coffee. I’m not willing to cut that time short for anything, so any kind of time-consuming morning routine has gone out the window. So now it’s shower, rough drying of my hair, and moisturizer (tinted moisturizer if I’m being fancy), and then very basic outfits of washable silk or non-iron shirts, pants, earrings, and watch, and that’s it. It’s basic and professional, but not fashion-forward at all.

  6. hoola hoopa says:

    My everyday minimum hasn’t changed much. My time for personal maintenance shrinks with every child, so I do fall behind more often. I have a pretty low bar for my everyday self: clean hair and skin, minimal make up, waxed eyebrows, groomed bikini area. My hair is curly so I’ve always air dried for daily wear, and I’ve never been much for pedicures/manicures, coloring, or more involved make up/hair. I actually wear more make up because I’ve aged.

    My special occasion minimum has definitely gone down, though. I only do full face and hair style a couple of times a year, instead of for most any party or event.

  7. Ha! I laughed out loud when I saw this topic. This morning, after catching a glimpse in the mirror after dropping off little guy at daycare, I asked myself (for the second time this week), “is that an acceptable amount of spit-up on a work outfit?”

    • hoola hoopa says:

      Yes. Important question right there.

      I said above that my maintenance hadn’t changed much – but that bar has gotten significantly lower!

  8. Great question! I felt uber-guilty spending one iota of time on myself after #1, but once my second was born I felt more like, “I need this time to myself or I’m headed to the loony bin.” Eyebrow threading is actually one of the easier ways for me to maintain my looks — waxing has gone the way of the dodo, and I get my nails done much less often now (that’s both a time and $ factor).

  9. anon eagle says:

    Great topic. My beauty routine has improved. Prior to having my children, I was in the military for 10 years. I never wore makeup/jewelry or did anything with my hair rather than a neat low bun. When I left the military, I became interested in enhancing my beauty skills. I watched youtube videos and taught myself how to wax my eyebrows and do a neat pedicure.

    Although I returned to my pre-pregnancy weight, my body shaped has changed. That bums me out a bit, so I try to go the extra mile with my outfit/hair/accessories. I am a minimalist so I wear the same 2 dresses (different pattern) and a navy cardi/blazer every day. I wear the same diamond studs and watch every day. I never have to worry about my work clothes because I know I will always feel fabulous in my dresses. I wear the Karen Kane Cascade dress (which accommodates a Freemie pump, FYI!!!). I wash my hair at night 3x/week and use hot rollers. I wear a slip in the morning. I hang my dress near the front door and only put on my dress once the baby is strapped in the car seat. Everything is prepped the night prior so I know that no matter how sleepy I am, I only have to do “the big 3” Brush teeth, deodorant, wash face + moisturizer. I sleep with my hair in a scrunchy so I just take out the scrunchy, shake out my hair and I’m done.

    • just Karen says:

      I am in my third trimester with my first and am seriously going to copy and save your response as my model of what I hope to be able to do once I’m back to work.

  10. I’ll be frank: my hair looks like sh!t right now. I am dealing with post-partum hair loss and no time to spend doing my hair. I remember this episode of SATC where Miranda is a frazzled new mom and is shown coming home from work with hair in a tiny, messy pony tail with pieces sticking out in the front. I remember thinking that was an exaggeration, that no lawyer would go to work like that. Ladies, I am now a lawyer going to work like that.

    I do take 30 seconds to smear on some eyeliner and mascara in the morning, though. I’m not an animal.

    • Related question to this: When did y’alls post-partum hair loss stop? With my first, I was pregnant again by the time he was 9 months old, so all my hair loss stopped then.

      My second is now a year old, and it feels like I’m still losing hair by the bucketfull (and still getting those annoying, uncontrollable frizzies). I’m starting to wonder if this is still post-partum effects or something else.

      • Might be a change in your diet – I found that because I took prenatal vitamins all during my pregnancy and BFing – my body got used to a certain level of nutrition – I kept taking them for a while after I stopped nursing and it seemed to help.

      • hoola hoopa says:

        I feel like it took longer after my second. I don’t know if there’s something to multiple pregnancies, or if it can just take longer sometimes. I didn’t seem to do anything different. I can’t remember when exactly it seemed to stop, but it seemed to go on forever and then suddenly I realized it was over. Somewhere between 12-24 months, which I realize isn’t a super helpful window.

        I was seriously considering getting my thyroid tested because it had gone on so long.

    • Is it hair loss or hair growth? I can’t tell but I’m in the same boat. I’ve found mousse helps at the roots to control all those frizzy flyways – even if you don’t blow dry anything else, blow dry your roots, away from your face.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I get ready at the gym before work, so no change to my work day beauty routine, except that I trained my hair to get washed only every 3 days. I’m not a big sweater (unless the a/c is not working well in the spinning room, so it works). On the weekends, however, I look like total [email protected] unless we are seeing friends/family. I also switched to doing gel manicures instead of painting my nails every week because i washed my hands so much more often with a baby that regular nail polish would chip within a day of application.

  12. greenie says:

    I have become much more of a minimalist when it comes to beauty after having my girls. Only partly because of time- but more so because I want them to see that while it is important to take care of your grooming, you do not need to wear makeup and spend hours on yourself to look and feel beautiful. My 6 year old is such a sponge; I can only imagine what messages she is picking up from tv and society already! I’m hoping my routine provides a positive example.

  13. I’ve never understood feeling guilty about looking good or taking care of oneself after kids. If you spend an extra 5-10 minutes getting ready in the morning, how does that take away from your kids? My beauty routine is pretty much the same, although I probably get my nails done less (pedicures 4 times a year, max). But I still wear really cute clothes, take 3 minutes to put on my makeup, do my hair, get haircuts and facials, etc.. The one thing I don’t do anymore is exercise (and now that I’m pregnant again, it’s harder to find the incentive…).

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