I love makeup. I don't always wear it, but I love to look at it in stores, test lipstick samples on my hands, and read about it on the Internet when I'm supposed to be doing work. Nobody should have to wear makeup any more than people should have to go to sporting events, literary readings, or anime conventions if they don't want to, but for those of us who like it, makeup is great fun. But having a baby changes one's life and hobbies in unexpected ways, and that includes makeup.
Once I was ready to start wearing makeup again after having a baby, I found that the reliable old routine--red lipstick and go--that had stood me so well since high school would no longer cut it. Here are just a few of the ways my baby changed my makeup routine.
1. No red lipstick.
This was the big one. I've been wearing red lipstick since long before it was age-appropriate for me to do so. I think I own more than 30 lipsticks, and all of them are red. But the first time I tried to wear makeup in the presence of the baby, I realized this was not going to work.
For starters, one tends to like kissing one's baby, but it is disconcerting to see one's baby with a face covered in red lipstick. And once your baby is a bit more mobile, your baby is going to love nothing more than shoving his or her hands in your mouth. Unless you don't mind getting lipstick all over your baby, you might want to save the red for nights out without the baby for a few years.
2. The "boring" makeup becomes very exciting
As a lover of makeup, I have long categorized makeup into two categories: Fun and Boring. "Fun" includes red lipstick, mascara, eyeliner, eye shadow, etc. It's the pigmented stuff that lets you paint on your face like a kid at a carnival. "Boring" is the stuff designed to enhance "prettiness" and cover "flaws," like foundation and concealer. Honestly, I never gave the boring stuff much thought. I thought foundation was aging and unnecessary until I found myself sitting next to a person whose skin was only three months old.
"Hmm," I thought. "I guess I could stand to look a bit dewier."
A BB Cream with a broad-spectrum sunscreen is an excellent all-in-one option that includes a bit of light foundation with moisturizer, sunblock, and anti-aging ingredients all in one step. A tinted moisturizer with SPF is also a good, fast option.
3. Hand-washing takes its toll
A baby in the house leads to a lot more hand-washing, and that can be very difficult on one's skin. I wish I had a better solution for this, but my best advice is just to stock up on the gentlest hand soap you can find, and try to remember to moisturize. Before you go to sleep--if you are able to go to sleep--dab some cuticle cream on the beds of your fingernails to help keep them from cracking.
4. Gel manicures are the best invention ever
I used to just do my own nails. It is cheap and easier than having to schlep to a salon and sit still for an hour while someone does your nails for you. Putting on nail polish around a baby is a guaranteed disaster, and even if you do manage to get it applied, good luck holding your hands still long enough for it to dry.
Somehow, having a baby makes a salon manicure more convenient and less time-consuming than the DIY option. Also, having to sit still and not move suddenly seems relaxing and less like you're trapped. But nails chip, and actually getting to the salon for a manicure might be a rare occasion. A conventional manicure might only last about a week, but a gel manicure can go three weeks or more without chipping. And because the gel cures under a UV light, you don't have to sit around waiting for it to dry. (If you decide to get a gel manicure, make sure to apply sunblock before putting your hands under the UV light. Or buy some of those weird gel manicure gloves.)
4. Indulgences have to do double-duty
Speaking of manicures, I don't get away from the baby very often, so if I do manage to get an hour or two free on a weekend I am faced with a difficult decision: Manicure or wine. (OK, that's not actually a difficult decision. My nails look like butt, and I am OK with that.) Now that I have a baby, I suddenly understand the boom in the number of nail salons with liquor licenses. If you don't live near one of those places, please feel free to pour a glass of champagne into a travel coffee mug. I'm certainly not going to tell you not to. Now if only there were a way to drink champagne and get a manicure while watching a newly released movie in the theater.
5. So long, stiletto nails
Those long, pointy, Kardashian nails have been a running trend for more than a year. But while I always wondered how people managed to type or put in contact lenses with them, wearing them around a baby is even more difficult. I'm just going with a short, dark red nail like Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction until the kid is big enough that I probably won't put her or my eye out with an errant thumbnail.
6. Bracelets are everything
Rings scratch the baby. Necklaces get you strangled. Earrings--dear god, don't even try earrings. But bracelets are fantastic. Get a big gold cuff bracelet the baby can chew, and it will basically keep the infant distracted through any dinner.
7. Sunscreen on everything
After spending days researching the best baby sunscreen and feeling neurotic about remembering to properly apply, now you never have an excuse not to wear it yourself. Go ahead and steal the baby's, you can share.
8. Dry shampoo is no longer just a styling aid
Dry shampoo is an excellent beauty product. It adds volume and texture and gives a cool, matte finish. Before I had a baby, I used it all the time to give myself cool fashion hair. Now, I just use it instead of showering. Sigh.
9. Ponytail, don't care
I finally understand the "mom" haircut. Babies love pulling hair. I don't know how Kate Middleton manages at royal events without Prince George yanking her head all over the place. For me, I'm just going to Costco and buying 10,000 ponytail holders.
There are a lot of ways to fancy up a ponytail, but the very fastest is just to take a piece of hair from the ponytail, wrap it around the elastic to cover up the ponytail holder, and pin it in place with a bobby pin. Presto! Now your ponytail looks all fancy and intentional.
Not A Regular Mom, A Cool Mom is a column about fashion, beauty, and motherhood. You can sit at our lunch table. On Wednesdays, we wear pink.