Grace Timothy: Your beauty routine should be an act of self love

"Very little the beauty industry has to offer is a necessity.

But some of it can make you feel great, and it’s not just the things that cost mega bucks, either."

WHEN I was a kid I would watch both my mum and my dad’s ablutions with utter awe.

The verbena-scented shower steam and clouds of YSL Paris had me well and truly under their spell, and the slow, measured movements of an eyeliner or a shaving brush were hypnotic to me.

My dad would often warble bursts of opera while he shaved, my mum would hum gently as she tapped her long, almond-shaped nails on the gold taps, waiting for her mascaras to soften up in a sink of hot water.

It was never about using makeup to conceal anything, fighting off wrinkles or dark spots with a cream or trying to change the wonderful faces they wore so proudly. It was all a sybaritic act of self care, of self love.

So that’s why I’ve always embraced all the serums, balms, fragrances, makeup and polishes I can get my hands on.

It’s why I moved from a career in fashion editorial to beauty, and why I then set up Mum-Face.com – because it gives me joy to share the things that genuinely work, feel great and aren’t a total waste of money.

 

For me, it’s about the pursuit of bliss: the bath oil that makes you feel like a snatched 5 minute soak is a luxury. The fragrance that reminds you can still feel sexy as hell when you’re knee-deep in nappies and baby sick. The lotion you slather on to give your skin a drink and ease tense muscles. What I struggle with is the pressure and perfectionism that is often touted within the industry. The aggression of terms like anti-ageing (how can I be anti ageing when I’ve seen friends die too young who will never get the chance to ‘age’? Ageing is a privilege in so many ways), and the painful ways we are expected to mount this battle - this attack on the inevitable - put me off products.

The promise of unmarked skin at the end of a pregnancy, that an oil is enough to stop your skin from showing signs of a stretch – a natural and often unavoidable process – makes my blood boil. Or worse, that there is a cream that can knit a broken dermis back together, and that a woman should consider it a necessity when she’s also trying to keep a baby alive.

Very little the beauty industry has to offer is a necessity. But some of it can make you feel great, and it’s not just the things that cost mega bucks, either.

Makeup is all about self-expression, joining a tribe, telling the people you meet a little something about yourself.

Skincare should be nourishing, sensual and tactile. Fragrance can transport you anywhere you like – just close your eyes and breathe deeply. Even foundation – ok, when I broke out as a teenager and again as an expectant mum, I was using concealer to make myself feel more confident. But isn’t that great?! That a slight boost in mood could be in something as cheap and simple as a little tube of fluid?

When beauty isn’t considered a crutch or a miracle-cure, it can be an affordable and instant way to show yourself some love. Whereas fashion might require you to be a certain size, skincare and makeup is for everyone, of every shape and every age. It fits all of us.

I now look at beauty through the eyes of a mum, for mums because I want to say, it’s ok to make time for yourself, and if you really can’t, here’s how to cheat that feeling in the seconds you do have. I'm not about adding to the pressure women are subjected to on a daily basis to look a certain version of perfect.

But I am interested in sharing the products and tips I’m privy to as a beauty editor that might make you feel good -the easy pick-me-ups and ways to recapture your old self in the midst of sleepless nights and self-doubt. It’s something you do for YOU. In a day that is predominantly dedicated to my child’s wellbeing, makeup is my five-minute moment of self-reflection, quite literally.

I like that my daughter watches like I did my parents, because she sees me enjoying my own face, smiling at the mirror, painting on a clown-bright lipstick as a nod to the club kid within, someone who’s always been in love with colour.

So don’t let the ads make you feel beholden to their products, don’t buy into the promises of teenaged skin and the end of wrinkles. Just enjoy enveloping yourself in something kind. Show yourself some love.

By Grace Timothy, writer and founder of Mum-Face.com