My original job, the one before ‘mother’, was beauty director, so I know what to do with this stuff. Only, there comes a time – or in my case, two times – when your subject matter expertise may not actually come so naturally. My first instance was during chemotherapy. Suddenly, my whole appearance and beauty needs changed, so I learned on the job, as it were; how to cheat the illusion of eyelashes by pressing a dryish mascara wand against my naked lash line, how to colour in the parting on my wig with brow pencil so it looked more natural.
The second time is now, as a first-time mother. Most of this experience has been spent in an ain’t-going-out pandemic. So where does beauty even come in, really? As I’ve discovered, it is ridiculously important. And I realised that after a lockdown in which I did without make-up and (shh) even sometimes skincare, until I reached the point where I stopped recognising myself (only this time the reason was much more positive than cancer).
Yes, having a baby has fundamentally changed me for the better, but the past year has also revealed that I don’t want to lose the part of me that loves making an effort, that marvels at the transformative, mood- boosting power of products. Here’s what I have learned...
Lesson 1: If You Have Eyebrows, You Have Enough
If a video call comes in, I am fully confident in my level of put-togetheredness if my eyebrows have been filled in with Benefit Microfilling Pen, £22.50, lacquered with Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Freeze, £24, and brushed up into a fashionable feathery place with the spoolie. The whole thing takes about six seconds.
Lesson 2: My Hair Can Go Without Washing
For five days. OK, make it six. At the start, when I was clueless about how to structure my days, showering fell right down the to-do list. Who knew a topknot gets better with age? And with Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo, £20, and some hairspray on the sides to hold the bedhead in. I conditioned with L’Oréal Paris Wonder Water, £9.99, which only needs to stay on for eight seconds which is great because the baby is crying...
Lesson 3: Lipstick Is The Stiletto Of My Make-Up Bag
That is to say, I’m shelving it until I have more glamorous places to go than the park. For one, I forget that I’m wearing lipstick and so it goes everywhere, including the baby. And she smears what is left all over my chin. Instead, I might add a tiny touch of NARS Multi-Use Gloss in Redemption, £20, for a perky tint that isn’t sticky. My husband asked me what I’d had done when I wore it for the first time. The cheek! But also, brilliant.
Lesson 4: I Wear Make-Up For Me
In a year when no one was looking at me except this tiny person, why did I even bother? Because I’m looking at me, and I want to see the same person I was before. And so, I found myself putting on mascara. But make it one that slides off at the end of the day, because by then I’d invariably be too tired for any form of make-up removal. Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara, £29, is my mat-leave godsend.
Lesson 5: The Holy Grail Is Glow
Not bronze or blush, as I’d assumed. A gentle sheen when I turn my face in the light makes me feel fresher and, essentially, younger. I’m obviously achieving it with make-up because god knows my real glow took its own maternity leave. I put it on first rather than last, for longevity, so a glow- boosting base like Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter, £24, is perfect, just on my cheekbones and buffed in with my fingers – and nothing else. (Except the brows, of course.)
‘The Mother Project’ (**£14.99, HarperCollins**) is out now
Shop: Sophie's Beauty Favourites
Sophie Beresiner's Beauty Kit
1. Benefit Microfilling Pen, £22.50
2. Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Freeze, £24
3. Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo, £20
4. L’Oréal Paris Wonder Water, £9.99
5. NARS Multi-Use Gloss in Redemption, £20
6. Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara, £29
7. Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter, £24