Photo: Trunk Archive/STEPHANIE RAUSSER
Any mom will tell you that beauty during pregnancy is a rather rosy situation. I gave birth to a baby girl last May, and though I kvetched with the best of them about my swollen feet and greasy skin, it was really a glow, and it was all rather manageable. I slapped on a little less moisturizer and washed a little more often. And the truth is, everyone compliments a pregnant woman.
But with my little one happily here and kicking, my beauty problems suddenly expanded like Manifest Destiny. No one told me about the sexy combination of bacne, sallow skin, and eye bags. Behold, the post-partum beauty woes.
Armed with a packed beauty closet and a healthy dose of determination, I plowed through each plaguing issue with varying degrees of success. Have heart fellow new mommies! Below, I share my unscientific solutions:
Problem: Tired, Puffy Eyes; Under Eye Circles.
Solution: I’m somewhat of an eye product specialist. I’ve always had both puffiness and undereye circles—chalk it up to a career spent on the computer. So if it’s out there, I’ve probably tried it. But it wasn’t the big brands that came through. Instead, a surprise fave: Revision DEJ eye cream, which was a winning all-arounder. If you have the time (a.k.a. a killer baby nurse) and you still have puffiness, old school cucumber slices out of the fridge work in a pinch. But if no amount of cucumber will do, post-partum ladies can fake beauty sleep with Chanel’s Stylo Yeux Waterproof in Or Blanc ($32, out in the fall). Run the white gold color liner along your lower inner rims for a zingy pick-me-up.
Problem: Sallow Complexion and Dark Spots
Solution: Sleep deprivation is real folks. I had no idea my skin could achieve such a gray-yellow hue. Also, while I was lucky I didn’t get the full pregnancy mask, I did get constellations of dark spots. The answer started with an excellent glycolic peel (I always come back to the Natura Bissé 25% Glyco Peel ($145); RéVive also has a good peel, although it requires two steps and is on the pricier side ($295).) Next, follow up with a brightening and hydrating mask. SK-II has soothing paper ones that also happen to be celebrity favorites ($135 for 10), or Dr. Jart+Water Fuse Water-Full Hydrogel Mask ($9).
Day-to-day, I was most seduced by Chanel’s Sublimage L’Essence (a fancy name for concentrated serum). The stuff is like fairy dust (and with a price as precious at $425 a bottle) livening my complexion in just a few uses. More in my price range, Lab Series for Men makes a great moisturizer that works just as well on the ladies. The Pro LS All-in-One Face Treatment ($30) is very much a slap-on-and-go kind of product with a nice mattifying finish—perfect when your days consist of balancing a stroller, Baby Bjorn, and wiggly baby up a fourth floor walkup.
Problem: Acne and Bacne
Solution: Blemishes are the star of my hormone roller coaster ride. Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can be harsh, so I looked for alternate solutions. The answer?A Clarisonic. I found a gentle cleanser like Simple’s Moisturizing Facial Wash ($6.99) or Dermalogica’s Special Cleansing Gel ($36) was best at giving acne some breathing room to calm down. Murad’s Clarifying sulfur mask ($37) worked well as a spot treatment. Unless your arms are like Gumby’s, the trusty Clarisonic won’t quite work for bacne. Instead, I nabbed a nylon scrubbing towel from Muji ($7.95) and Cetaphil antibacterial bar soap ($4.59), which offered just the right amount of exfoliation to clear clogged pores.
Problem: Chicken Skin
Solution: This one was bewildering. Officially called keratosis pilaris, chicken skin happens when you have too much keratin building up next to the hair follicle. I’ve always had mild patches of bumps that would crop up once in awhile, but since delivery, a KP explosion’s covered my arms, legs and tummy. Surprisingly, of all the special KP lotions out there, the one that was simplest worked the best: virgin coconut oil ($7.99 for 16 oz. at Vitacost.com) plus a good all over scrubbing with the Muji nylon towel. It hasn’t cleared all the bumps yet, but, sweet relief, it’s a definite improvement.