The ultimate guide to post-pregnancy beauty
Drink your veggies for a brighter complexion
Your baby has sucked many nutrients from you in order to grow, and this can make your skin look dull. One way to revive your glow is to replenish it with antioxidants. "Juicing veggies is a great way to fit in the highest volume of antioxidants," says Cecilia Wong, a New York-based, holistic skincare expert. Wong suggests blending beets with fresh ginger and water for a refreshing drink. "Beets help replace some of the energy-boosting iron you've lost in the birthing process, while also being high in skin-brightening vitamin C," says Wong. "Ginger is an anti-inflammatory which helps reduce swelling and water retention." Wong says that in traditional Chinese medicine, women eat lots of ginger after giving birth also because those anti-inflammatory properties help the uterus contract.
Hydrate your skin with serum
You lose a lot of fluid when giving birth, which contributes to dehydration and papery skin. Wong advises new moms to feed their faces by applying a hydrating serum before their typical moisturizer. "Serums are made up of smaller molecules than moisturizers, so they penetrate the skin's surface more easily for even greater plumping and rehydrating effects," she says. "For best results, look for serums containing antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E."
Show dark patches the light
Thanks to shifting hormones, it's common to see dark splotches, also known as melasma or hyper-pigmentation, pop up on your face. While you can keep them from getting darker by religiously applying sunscreen, Wong says getting regular facials that use LED light therapy can score you brighter, clearer skin. "LED devices that use red light specifically help penetrate beyond the skin's surface to target those deeper layers of pigment that have been darkened by hormonal shifts, all while stimulating collagen production to help smooth fine lines," she says. The number of sessions needed and cost (starting at about $100) may vary, but regular treatments—about once a month—are highly recommended for maintenance.
Make your complexion baby soft
If you're not buffing your face once a week to remove dead skin cells—especially since much of your body's energy is going towards deeper healing in your body rather than replenishing old skin cells—your skin can start to look a little washed out. Amy Holdsworth, manager of Puerto Rico's AWAY Spa at the W Retreat, suggests using this easy, at-home exfoliating cleanser once a week: Combine three tablespoons each of ground coffee (the caffeine contains age-fighting antioxidants and diminishes under-eye circles); shredded coconut (it's a very mild buffer); and super-hyrdrating coconut oil. Apply with gentle, circular motions for two to three minutes, rinse with warm water, and follow with your favorite moisturizer.
Get a low-maintenance 'do
Your hair may look thicker during pregnancy and it may stay that way for a while, so take advantage of it! "You may want to consider cutting long hair, because the time you'll save on blow-drying will be so worth it," says celebrity makeup artist and hair stylist Monae Everett. Short definitely doesn't have to mean frumpy. These 25 super-chic, celeb-inspired ideas are living proof.
Switch to gentler skin products
Even if you don't normally have sensitive skin, you'll probably find that yours is more easily irritated in the days and weeks after delivery. "Any kind of anesthetic—especially an epidural—can greatly increase your skin's sensitivity," says Mariola Barczewska, an esthetician at Haven Spa in New York. She suggests skipping formulas containing harsh ingredients, such as retinol, and switching to those especially designed for sensitive skin, such as mild cleansers and fragrance-free moisturizers. "Look for products that have hyaluronic acid, because this ingredient is a very gentle-but-effective hydrator," says Barczewska.
Go easy on the waxing
Your bikini area is probably one of your least concerns post-baby, but you may still want to keep up with your eyebrow or lip waxing. Keep in mind that your skin's increased sensitivity could mean you'll experience more redness—and possibly even scabbing—with this hair removal method. "Be sure to let your brow specialist know that you have recently had a baby so she can take precautions by possibly using a more sensitive wax formula or tweezing your brows instead," says Barczewska.
Nourish your nails
Some women may notice that their nails get thicker or stronger when expecting, while others may experience softer, more brittle nails. It will take about six months for your nails to go back to the way they were before, so be sure to moisturize brittle ones with a super-hydrating hand and foot cream daily. "For even deeper penetration, use a generous amount of foot cream after you shower and immediately put on socks," says Bliss Educator Laura Ann Conroy. Look for foot creams containing seaweed, which detoxifies and boosts circulation, and peppermint, which has natural antibacterial powers to help fight odor and fungus.