Sleep Aids I Swear By…

babysleepOK, so I am not about to give you parenting advice anytime soon. BUT sleep is the holy grail, isn’t it? And it’s what helps your MUMFACE look and feel great, so this is like playing the long game to better skin, if you like. It’s a beauty sleep cheat sheet of sorts.

We have had so many ‘sleep regressions’ over the past four and a bit years of parenting, I’m inclined to say night wakings and dodgy bedtimes have actually been the norm, with a few weeks in between that have made us think we’ve finally got it nailed. But sure enough, back in December things took a downward turn again, and bedtime went from peaceful story time to GETINTOBEDOTHERWISESANTAWONTCOMEISWEARTOGODIFYOUGETOUTOFBEDONEMORETIME… None of our old tactics worked, and at four, our daughter had got the better of us. Star charts, marbles-in-a-jar and finally, bribery, all fell on deaf ears as she went crazy every night. A night light, Gro Clock, lullabies, gradual retreat, silently putting her back in bed, special toys, a new bed, different sheets, a new blanket, a ‘quieter’ mattress protector, more new special toys, another new night light… suffice it to say about £750 later we were still awake. And the less sleep we got, the worse the bedtimes became and it all began to get on top of all three of us.

Then a friend – she of The Mama Squad in fact, but she is actually a superhero – told me to try Alan Wick. His ‘CLOSE YOUR EYES SLEEPY CHILDREN’ hypnosis CD tells gentle stories and coaxes the child into a relaxed state so they can drift off to sleep on their own. I was sceptical because I thought any kind of sound at bedtime would be distracting and actually keep her awake (we’d tried countless lullaby CDs back in the day and realised they made things a whole bunch worse), but now she’s old enough to listen to the words, follow his instructions and fully relax every inch of her body. IT WORKED! She fell asleep within minutes of the first play, no shouting, running around or crying.

We also incorporated in some new products from our beloved Bloom & Blossom – their new pillow spray and massage oil are divine, and adding a very brief massage of our daughter’s back and shoulders signalled a change from the fun of bath time to the tranquility of bedtime. I say brief, because I now know that whenever you start a new routine, only introduce something you know you can sustain for potentially years to come. I squeeze her shoulders gently, hold my hand on her chest (heart chakra – got it from yoga, innit) and back, then sweeping down her back once or twice is all it took. Then she has a drop of oil to rub her own belly and arms. The pillow spray means she has a very clear sleep signal as she gets into bed. The light goes off, Alan begins his calming stories and we’re away.

In fact, lying on my bed next door I basically pass out, too – he’s that good. I’ve also sent it with her to my mum and dad’s for a sleepover – only her third time away from us ever – and it worked just as well there. She went to bed with no hitches.

Long may it last!

The Smells That Help Me ‘MUM’

perfumeI was at home with a sick four year old last week, which consisted of cleaning up sick, role-playing with some surprisingly obnoxious Sylvanians and then more cleaning, the nostril-burning scent of Dettox always hanging in the air. The vomiting started on Tuesday night – my sweet girl apologising every time – and by Friday (observing the 48 hour quarantine rule) I was a shadow of my former self and sick to death of the smell of bleach. My gorgeous girl was better but I was like a wet [bleach-soaked] rag.

When you’re doing really full-on mothering with no breaks, self care is the last thing on your mind. I collapsed into bed every night at 8pm, sweaty, hands red raw from all the cleaning. But there was one thing that I kept up and made me feel a fraction better: scent. I can’t see my own face as I rush around, my hair matters not, but if you close your eyes every time you get a hint of a sensual smell, you could be anywhere. You could be dressed up to the nines, ready to embark upon a big adventure. You can feel all that with the added bonus of having your little one snuggled in your arms. And it sort of tempers the stench of vom.

Sometimes a smell is all you’ve got to remind yourself that you are an adult, that you are a woman, that you are a vital, sexy, strong, kickass kind of person. I have three perfumes on my dressing table that represent a side of me I can call on for back-up when times are tough.

Issey Miyake – my mum wore this in the 90s, and I was allowed a spritz from time to time. It reminds me of having a strong woman alongside me, kind and resilient, ready to tackle all my problems with me.

Francis Kurkdijan Apom Pour Femme – the closest thing I have to a signature scent, I interviewed Francis when I first when freelance and was full of optimism and fighting talk. I went to New York to meet editors with his Apom Extrait (basically perfume oil) in my handbag, so it was bound up in being brave and excited, out in the big city by myself, ready to forge my own new path.

Jo Malone Myrrh & Tonka Cologne – This one is new, but I started wearing it before Christmas, so it has all that warmth and excitement of the build up to the big day. It’s also ridiculously sexy – nothing Noro Virus about this one.

New Year, New… oh sod it, never mind.

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It’s the headline I dread as a beauty writer. In fact, I refused to write a piece under it last year and this year nobody asked. I think perhaps the tide is turning away from thinking January is a good time to start dieting and detoxing yourself into misery? Let’s hope so. Because I say: don’t go changing. In fact, I am still eating cheese boards for lunch and having a little Prosecco party most evenings. I am going to up the yoga content of my life this year, just not at the precise second while I’m still nursing the ribs of an infected chest and a fully stocked inbox. Nope, I am enjoying a sloth’s entry to the new year, looking forward to the new opportunities and soon-to-be-changing seasons without denying myself a single thing. Give yourself a break.

What I am doing though, is a whole lot of restorative bathing. I’m back on the relaxing lavender essential oils (one of the only things I trust not to disrupt the pH balance of my bits when bathing) and despite the abundance of central heating, my skin is actually smoother and softer than it’s been in ages thanks to a well-timed return to my favourite moisturiser: Pestle + Mortar Hydrate. I’ve been writing a big skincare feature for a magazine which required me to try a bunch of new serums and creams, and while some have been awesome, my skin is clearly pleased that I’ve reverted back to my usual routine. Because sometimes getting back to the OLD you is the best bit about the post-Christmas period. 

HAUTE MAMA: Olivia Chantecaille

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Olivia Chantecaille has serious beauty pedigree – Chantecaille is simply one of the most beautiful luxe makeup and skincare brands there is. But what does a true product maven do when she’s pregnant and then has a daughter? I was very excited that Olivia agreed to be one of our Haute Mamas, and even more excited when I learnt of her new launch…. GT

“Being pregnant was wonderful and terrible. Some days I felt practically omnipotent like a pregnant superhero that never gets sick. Other days, I could hardly stand the exhaustion and insane nausea, but somehow looking back it doesn’t seem that awful.

When I was pregnant, I was grateful that I didn’t have to adjust my skin-care routine very much. It was reassuring that everything I was using was safe for my baby and me. I couldn’t get enough of our Pure Rose Water to refresh especially during the summer. I actually went through a couple bottles in the hospital to help calm and soothe; plus, it’s anti-bacterial.

I did pre-natal yoga, which really helped to keep my muscles feeling limber as my belly grew. It was also great for deep-breathing which I feel like I never do enough of. I mostly did acupuncture which I think really made a difference in how I felt at every stage of my pregnancy.

Delphina’s birth inspired me to create our new collection, Chantecaille Bébé. I was looking at all the organic and natural baby skin and bath care products on the market and found them to not be up to par with the products I used on myself.  As a new parent I was nervous about making mistakes. I wanted products that I trusted implicitly—pure, high-quality, safe formulas that were created with integrity. So I made them. All the products are entirely natural and organic and certified by COSMOS. There’s the Wild Moss Rose body lotion, Flower Petal hair and body wash, and Orange Blossom face crème. They all use the wild moss rose, which is clinically proven to be calming, soothing and anti-itching. Another big difference is that we use a flower water base instead of plain water, which adds additional soothing, calming properties.”

 

Mumflu: now you HAVE to have some me-time

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I absolutely love December (mince pies, parties, presents) and HATE December (snot, vomit, phlegm) – it’s like playing some kind of germ-roulette everytime you step out the door. (Yes, I have OCD – let’s just move swiftly past that and onto the beauty bit…)

This year, we have been surfing the sub-par wave as a family – one feels a bit rough just as the other recovers to nearly-normal. But basically we are all one infectious friend away from flu. I am mainlining chicken bone broth, Echiniforce, Vitamin D and Vitamin C, but the nicest thing I’ve actually ENJOYED using is MOA Fortifying Green Bath Potion £27.50 for if you’re feeling a bit rough, feel like you’re about to feel rough, or have full-on stinking flu. OR a hangover, as it turns out. The heady mix of peppermint and fennel really clears your head, and even better: when I bathe in this before bed I wake up with the silkiest skin. Now fennel is often warned off for pregnant women, so I wouldn’t risk it. But if you’re all clear, this is a Mumface wonder.

So take the time this month to wallow, indulge and breathe. xx

 

 

DADFACE: Daimon Barber Serum for your beard

beard_and_stubble-serum-coMy husband, Rich, ladies and gents. This review of a rather tasty beard serum has been edited because it was filthy. But essentially, it’s worth sharing because this is the kind of product that the man likes to use but that also benefits the much-kissed babies and partners. One for the Christmas stocking, perhaps? GT

When I became a father I accepted that there would be inevitable change and a degree of sacrifice. Sleep, for example, was something I was particularly fond of. I was also partial to a spot of ‘not watching CBeebies’.  Obviously delights like these had to go in favour of my kid.

But I WAS surprised to find that routine things of my daily life would also be interfered with.  Things such as going to the loo without someone watching you, or leaving the house without having to hunt down my shoes first, usually finding one behind the bin and the other being used as a boat by Sylvanians. I even lacked the time to shave my particularly boyish face which led on to the period of my life that my wife loving refers to as ‘those few months when you tried to grow a beard’.
It wasn’t all bad though. I personally feel the facial hair makes me seem more distinguished and if nothing else it hides some of the lines on my face that are the bastard love-child of ‘4-years worth of disturbed sleep’ and his evil mistress ‘the agonising stress of trying not to accidentally kill your child’.  The downside was that my lovely wife and daughter no longer liked kissing me because of the ‘roughies’. It was for this reason that I agreed to try Daimon Barber’s Softening Bear & Stubble Serum.
I’m not great with recognising scents, and I’m certainly not familiar with Ouhd and Egyptian Mallow.  However, this smells of ‘rich mahogany’.  My wife sometimes catches me standing in front of the mirror just smelling the tube. I’m not sure it has actually led to a softer stubble yet but my chin and cheeks are definitely feeling more moisturised. I like it, they like it, my beard likes it.

Style Me Sunday’s MAC Lipstick Obsession

img_5911I recently subscribed to Style Me Sunday’s various feeds, and have felt all the feels since seeing her utterly gorgeous face. The lipstick on this style maven mum – aka Natalie – is out of this world, so I asked her to divulge her favourites. She seems to be as obsessed with lipstick as I am and I was thrilled when she agreed to be a part of #MUMFACE with this post. Check out her awesome style suggestions here and if you’re on Instagram, here. GT

“I put lipstick on when I need a quick boost, which is most days. Lipstick instantly makes me feel more confident and happier. I’m a huge MAC Cosmetics girl. Mac is great, especially their matte lipsticks, because they last all day and rarely need reapplying. The colours are big and bold, never wishy-washy. And they don’t dry out my lips like some others. Here are my top 3 shades…”

  1. My favourite lipstick in the world is Lady Danger. It’s the perfect Orangey/ red colour, perfect for warm skin tones. And great for distracting from tired eyes. An instant lift! [Nat’s wearing this shade in the first image, above!]
  1. Next up is a new love, Chilli, is much and warm and perfect for those autumnal days.img_5128
  2. For a 90’s Brown lip, I go for Whirl. I also like Myth for a subtle shade to wear if I’m wearing heavy eye make up.

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SWELL: My Hair Is FINALLY Thickening Up

swellpicI saw SWELL doing the rounds a while ago, but having tried every volumising shampoo under the sun since losing great swathes of hair postpartum, I’d lost interest a bit. I was using 2-3 styling products instead. Mousse never lets you down, a good dose of Powder Grip is always a winner. I have a LOT of care and styling products to get through, and SWELL was patiently waiting its turn in my bathroom cabinet, sitting there quite innocuously, secretly ready to OPEN A CAN OF WHOOPASS ON MY FLAT HAIR AND MAKE IT MEGA.

A couple of pumps of the SWELL Shampoo is enough to wash through the roots, which should have been wetted and combed first. It seems like very little, sat in the palm of your hand, but I am a big over-user of shampoo (especially when it’s, ahem, FREE) so this was a good way to reign me in. It’s a funny lather – not as foamy as you might be used to, but as one who avoids SLS (the foaming agent in most shampoos) due to its bad impact on my colour, I’m cool with it. From the very first use, my hair was bouncier without a drop of styling product. I just shoved it back and forth and side to side with a Wet Brush and it’s was full of volume. I didn’t feel the need to wash it again the next day thanks to build-up (this shampoo is silicone-free, which usually serves to make hair shiny but also weigh it down) and it feels thicker.

I’ve now had two weeks of just the shampoo (my hair is still quite short to be able to handle conditioner), and it LOOKS thicker, too. What is this magic?! The idea is that hair isn’t just ‘bouffed up’, but that the shampoo strengthens the hair against breakage, requires fewer washes so lessens the everyday damage factor, and detangles beautifully so you’re not losing a ton of hair to your hairbrush. I am officially a fan. The only downside is the £25 price tag, but the 250ml will go a long way. I will report back when I finish the bottle to see just how far. And people? It’s worth it.

 

 

 

School Run Glam? Sainsbury’s Boutique Makeup

img_5398Sainsbury’s tend to know what mums need, hence why you’re bound to find at least two mums with a trolley full of kids and nappies anytime you pop in. Now the supermarket is launching a new ’boutique’ makeup collection, and has created a selection of looks to show off the new products. The SCHOOL RUN GLAM look caught my eye, for obvious reasons. It’s really just a small capsule collection of fairly neutral shades to suit everyone, but 1. it’s super cheap and 2. it’s convenient to shop. I mean, when pharmacies and apothecary style stores start giving you carts with which to contain and restrain your kids, believe me, I’ll be there. In the meantime, it seems like quite a good place to bag some makeup?! OK, so it’s not ideal to assume we all do the school run BUT I get the point: here are some no-nonsense, easy-to-use products that aren’t too OTT but will be quickly applied of a morning to get you out of house quicker, feeling fine.

I’ve just tested out the eye shadow quad, lipstick and blush, as I think those are the key components to such a look for the quickest and easiest fixer-upper, having eschewed the lipgloss and bronzer on the grounds that they actually tend to slow me down. The eye shadow quad (JUST £8!) contains 4 matte shadows in neutral shades, and I would happily wear all but the dark grey – personal thing, grey doesn’t suit me and my blue eyes. The blush (£8) is very pink, which means you should tap and blow off the excess before applying, then buff our the edges for a warm glow. The lipstick in (just £7) is densely pigmented and lasts well. For the grand total of £18, that’s a good result, I think. I still cling on to foundation (a nice cheap one I’m loving is Kiko Skin Modernist £18.90) and mascara for both brows and lashes, but this is a great little capsule collection for that super quick morning mumface. Nice one, Sainsbos. Watch my video on the look, here.