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Bye, bye, pregnancy glow. I hardly knew you.
There are so many things no one tells you about how your postpartum body will look and feel. Even after you’ve lost the pregnancy weight, your midsection will probably look like a blob of dough. Your hair will likely fall out by the handfuls in the shower, even though you’ve been promised by your doctor and hair stylist this is only temporary (it is). But worst of all, no one told you about the resurgence of teenage acne. No one warned you about having skin that is somehow both dry and oily at the same time. And what about all the other skin issues that rear their ugly heads post-pregnancy?
If all this has got you feeling more like a zombie extra on The Walking Dead and less like your usual gorgeous self, we’ve got you covered. You may not think you have a moment to spare for yourself, but this five-minute postpartum skincare routine is so easy you can squeeze it in between a feeding session and tummy time without missing one minute with your sweet (but exhausting) munchkin.
Back to Basics
Fayne Frey, MD and creator of the educational skincare site FryFace, explains why it’s so important we pay attention to our skin: “The skin is an organ. It protects the body from outside elements like bacteria, fungus, allergens, and the damaging effects of ultraviolet light.”
Even if you aren’t wearing makeup as you’re holed up in your house with a newborn, you still need to give your face some love.
So how should you care for your skin? Frey advises getting back to basics with a simple three-step routine.
Act like you’re in a Neutrogena commercial.
Lights, camera, glowing skin!
Okay, so I did actually try this once and made a horrible mess everywhere. But you should start your new routine by washing your face with a gentle cleanser to get rid of the baby food, makeup, and other residue that has accumulated since your last shower—whenever that was.
I don’t know how it’s possible, but I have skin that’s both oily and dry, which is almost impossible to deal with. My favorite cleanser is Clinique’s Take The Day Off, which is a balm gentle enough for all skin types. You can rub it on dry skin for a minute or two and wipe it off with a wet washcloth.
Trade the baby bottle for a water bottle (and gel hydration).
To maintain healthy skin, it’s important to stay hydrated. This means drinking lots of water during the day and hydrating your skin with a good moisturizer. Frey says, “When the skin is hydrated it functions optimally. Skin is always losing water into the environment, and studies show that it does so even more during pregnancy and shortly thereafter.”
No matter your skin type, you still need to use a moisturizer after every cleansing sesh (ideally twice a day) to keep your skin balanced.
This non-oily gel cream from Laneige is great for oily, combination, and normal skin that needs hydration. On the other hand, if your postpartum skin is feeling tight and dry, try out Peter Thomas Roth’s Water Drench cream, which contains hyaluronic acid for optimum skin hydration.
Protect your skin.
SPF isn’t just for baby.
“Ultraviolet light is the single most damaging influence on our skin, before and after childbirth,” says Frey. It’s important to finish up your skincare routine by applying sunblock liberally, even if you’re only outside for a few minutes each day. Adding sunscreen to your everyday skincare routine will ensure that you wear it daily, not just when you’re headed to the beach.
Sunscreens can be notoriously pore-clogging, though, so make sure you choose a sunscreen that is specially formulated for the sensitive skin on your face and neck. I like the Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen. The formula feels weightless and at SPF 40 with broad-spectrum protection, using it every morning sets my mind at ease. (FYI: Chemical sunscreens like this one should be applied before your moisturizer!)
Bonus Step: Throw in a little extra.
While your five-minute skincare routine is complete once you’ve cleansed, moisturized, and applied sunblock, if you have a few extra minutes (it’ll happen one day, we promise!), consider applying a hydrating face mask once a week.
I like to apply mine after baby goes down for a morning nap, while I’m still in my robe and slippers. I pop on a mask for 20 minutes, heat up my cold coffee, and turn on my favorite podcast.
It’s as close to a spa day as I’ll get anytime soon, but you know what? Knowing I’m intentionally creating time for myself is just as refreshing.