Monday, March 16, 2015

Mum Abroad 7: The Natural-natural Beauty

Pregnancy. Glowing skin, or nausea-induced shine? Rosy cheeks or acne's revenge? Thick, shiny hair or dry, unmanageable mane?

All of the hormonal changes that are taking place, sometimes feeling pretty "blah", plus wanting to avoid anything potentially toxic for the baby, mean a beauty routine makeover. Here I've rounded up my top ten favourite beauty rituals for pregnancy which you can try for yourself, whether or not you're waiting for Baby.

1) A soak in the tub Cleopatra would envy

i love our tub!
We recently renovated our apartment, and one thing I insisted on was a bathtub. We had a tiny one, painted over in wall paint which would stick to your feet after a hot shower, and I didn't use it as a tub (did I mention it was tiny and painted with inappropriate paint for bathing?), so why I was bent on installing a new one was baffling to Tall Guy. We put in a huge one as far as apartments go, and he gets it now, although I have first dibs on using it (a pregnancy perk). Epsom or sea salts are always great, but my current pampering combination is milk, honey and lavender. Before hopping in, I start with a nice dry brushing, great for circulation and sloughing away dry skin. Ahhhhh, I'm feeling lovely and relaxed just thinking about it. Soft skin, a relaxed mind, a relaxed body, and a relaxed baby.

You can use any kind of milk - I've got a jar of milk powder in the bathroom, but dairy-free alternatives also work well. Almond milk smells great, and coconut milk will give you an extra moisture boost. 

2) I say soap, you say...soup?

I can't overstate how great Jaydancin soaps are. Lavender for relaxing, lemongrass for a zesty morning shower, and oatmeal to sooth a sensitive face. Tons of other kinds, but those are my favourites. Good news - they're also safe for Baby. Bad news - I have to stalk up when I'm in Canada, thanks to a bad experience with Spanish customs - an official mistranslated "soap" as "sopa", which means "soup". Now, who would mail a box full of soup across the ocean, or anywhere, really, is beyond me, but the false friend translation meant my package got held up at customs and I got called in to do some explaining and pay a hefty fine (which was waved once everyone was satisfied there was indeed no soup in there...).

3) Butter is better, and not just on toast!

A combo of shea butter, coconut oil, and a few drops of essential oil has been keeping my skin hydrated during this dry, dry winter. According to research, genetics is the deciding factor in the stretch mark department, but so far I'm free of those, and this all-natural mix can only be helping.

4) Buff Stuff
The Body Shop Nail Polishing Block
my favourite, from the body shop
My nail buffer is my best friend. I can keep my nails looking nice without running the risk of picking up an infection in a nail salon or absorbing damaging chemicals. This was more important during the first trimester - lots of things happening in the baby's brain then! - and a better safe than sorry decision, but it also saved me a lot of time, and let's face it, pregnancy can be tiring and there's a lot of stuff that needs doing. Buffed nails look polished and there's no need for touch ups.

5) Best foot forward

No foot massages, doctor's orders, unless it's someone who can avoid reflexology points that could trigger an early arrival. Yikes! I take care of my feet at home - a soak in Epsom salts and warm water not only keeps swelling at bay, but is a way for the body to absorb magnesium, which helps prevent leg cramps. A nice scrub, a gentle massage with sesame seed oil, pop on some socks and zzzzz.....

In Spain, it seems Epsom Salts are more popular for digestive issues than muscle soaks, often found in very small packages. However, you can get Epsom Salts (Sales de Epsom) for about 5 euro for a kilogram bucket at Drogueria Manuel Riesgo (online or in Madrid, calle Desengano 2). 

6) A farmaceutical intervention

My face went crazy in the first trimester. Acne (thanks, hormones) and dry, dirty air (thanks, Madrid) meant a lot of redness that nothing would clear up except Fresh Farmacy soap from Lush. Good stuff, that, and not a lot of junk on the ingredients list.

7) Stand Tall

good posture during pregnancy

This one's easy, free, and it's good for you even if you're not pregnant. Good posture means looking more confident, clothes falling properly, space for Baby and being proud of your height, whatever it may be.

8) Face Time

I stick to a pretty simple makeup routine - for work, a really good moisturizer. For a fancier look, I've been working on keeping it simple and fast, practice for when Baby's here. A mineral powder foundation, blush, mascara, and some colour on the eyes. I have a "look book" for easy reference and inspiration, a collection of looks I like that I've collected from magazines,

9) Taming the Mane

My skin doesn't like the dry climate, and neither does my hair. I also haven't experienced the pregnancy luscious locks, either. Enter, argan oil. I first learned about this "liquid gold" a few years ago in Morocco, and now I am a fan. Wash, spritz on a little oil, and dry and style as usual.

10) Come on, dude, I'm exhausted, and Tyra Banks says the most important item in your makeup bag is a good night's sleep!

I love that quote from Raj in The Big Bang Theory. It cracks me up, and it's never been truer. When I sleep well I wake up fresh-faced and ready to go. My smile comes more easily, I feel more positive, and there's a bounce in my step.  

If you've got a home beauty ritual that you love, please share!

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