Don’t do this. Follow our time-saving tips instead.
As a mom, it’s easy to get into a fashion and beauty rut. When it’s hard even to find the time to take a bath by yourself, a tendency to reach for leggings and a forgiving T-shirt and pulling your hair into a ponytail is understandable.
But here’s a secret: you don’t need a top-to-toe makeover or even to ditch these go-to items. Small changes to your beauty routine or wardrobe can make just as big an impact on your self-confidence and your looks. And yes, you can still wear leggings and baggy T-shirts. Here’s how:
1. Ditch the black
Photo: courtesy Anthropologie
Black is “safe”. It’s thinning, always in style, and it matches everything. Here’s the problem, though: black clothing shows every imperfection. Every spit-up stain, every little food-flecked handprint, dandruff, lint—you name it. There’s also some evidence that black clothing can make you more tired. Who needs that? Next time you’re shopping, opt for colours and prints instead. Try a graphic print dress or modern floral print shirt—you might be surprised how easy they are to wear and how clean they look the entire day.
2. Try dry shampoo
We moms have all had a greasy ponytail day here and there. Enter dry shampoo. This beauty product is sold either in an aerosol can or as a powder in a talc-style container. (Or you can make your own all-natural version.) It’s amazing for sucking up any extra oil on your hair and for adding texture and volume. Dry shampoo is having a beauty moment right now so you can pick up it up at most drugstores, starting at around $6. I wash my hair every second day, so my favourite for in-between days, having tried about four dry shampoos, is Bumble and Bumble’s Prêt-à-Powder. I sprinkle it in my hair before bed and brush it out in the morning.
3. Wear a casual skirt or dress over leggings
Photo: Courtesy White Plum
Leggings are pretty awesome. They’re lightweight, they hide unshaven legs, what’s not to love? That said, they are not an entire outfit. You’ll look way more put-together if you treat them like tights by wearing a casual dress, stretchy skirt, or a mid-thigh tunic over your fave pair of leggings.
4. Learn how to draw a cat-eye with eyeliner
Photo: Courtesy Michelle Phan
On those rushed mornings when you know you would look better with some eye makeup but you don’t have time for eyeshadow and layers of mascara, a crisp cat-eye (that’s the style that flicks upward at the outer corners of the eyelid) will make you look polished and—once you’ve got the technique down—will get you out the door in a flash.
Check out Michelle Phan’s liquid eyeliner tutorial on YouTube and practice with a few cotton swabs at the ready. (Stay tuned: In June, Cosmetics company Benefit is releasing a new They’re Real! Push-Up Liner pen that purports to help you tackle this look with ease.)
5. Get a pair of running shoes—really!
Photo: Courtesy New Balance
Running shoes are perfect for your hectic lifestyle as a mom and they’re fashion-forward. Don’t believe me? Vogue Magazine recently featured a spread of fashion designers and models about town and on the runway wearing sneakers. I’m not talking about that beat-up old pair of sneakers you’ve been wearing for years, though. You need a pair of fresh kicks.
Nike, New Balance, Adidas, and Reebok are all making super-stylish running shoes that look as good on playground duty as they do in the gym. Wear your runners with jeans, cropped pants, or even shorts. Just be sure to wear discreet, low-cut socks with them.
6. Make time to pamper your face
Photo: Foundry Park Inn/Flickr CC
Those days when you had the time (or the interest) to slather your entire body with scrubs and lotions are probably gone. (If not, hats off to you!) But at least find the time to take care of your face—it’s the first thing everyone sees.
Pick the same time every evening to follow a brief skin-care routine, perhaps just after the kids go to bed. To make it easy to remember, tackle certain beauty treatments on specific days of the week. Sunday is deep-moisturising night, Friday is facial-mask night, etc.
7. Hook yourself up with some baggy t-shirts
Photo: Courtesy Gap
Hallelujah, the loose-fitting tee is in! Baggy t-shirts are quick and inexpensive, they skim over less-than-tight post-baby tummies, and they make great nursing tops too. There’s a loose t-shirt that will work on every mom. The key is to make sure the proportions and neckline are right. Don’t shop in the men’s department: guys’ tees don’t have the shape and the flattering neckline that you need.
If you’re petite, shop in the petites for the right tee, same goes if you’re tall (Gap is a reliable source for on-trend baggy t-shirts, in petites and tall.) Pair your tee with a casual stretchy pencil skirt, jeans, or shorts. You can also layer them under a blazer at work.
8. Make waves with a hot-air styler
Photo: Braun Satin Hair 7 (courtesy Emilian Robert Vicol/Flickr CC)
Good hair days are the best days. But who has the time to make a fuss over their hair every morning? A lifesaver for me has been a hot-air styler, which I learned about when a hair stylist used it to smooth out my unmanageable half-curly half-straight tresses. A combo hair dryer and round brush, the hot-air styler is becoming increasingly popular. You can find them in a range of price points anywhere you can purchase curling irons. In just minutes, they add sleekness to straight hair by smoothing out flyaways, and help you get loose Kate Middleton–style waves with less work than a traditional curling iron or hot rollers.
Helen Racanelli is a Help! We’ve Got Kids contributing writer. You can follow Helen on Twitter @helenrac.