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Beauty junkie to minimalist mother

Published: 24/09/2018 Comments: 0
Beauty junkie to minimalist mother

In this blog Meika talks a bit more about how her beauty regime has changed and recommends some of her favourite skin products.

Blogger Profile

Meika Aysal

Mum to Lola born in September 2017; 
self-proclaimed beauty junkie; 
aspiring blog-writer; 
spent twenty years working in the City of London in marketing roles: 
currently a SAHM (but does leave the apartment on a regular basis!); 
originally from UK, now living in New York City.

Those of you who know me well know that I have always been into skincare and makeup. However, with a one year old there’s always something more important to do than beautifying myself. I haven’t had my eyebrows threaded in a year and I’ve only had one haircut in the same amount of time! Heck, I’m even letting my sparkle (aka grey hair) shine through, because I don’t have time to colour it at the salon or at home, but more about that later. I’ve learnt to be somewhat selfless and it feels good.

As I’ve gotten older, and particularly since my thirties, skincare has become my main focus. Protecting it from the sun and feeding it with products that keep it smooth, bright and moisturised is key for me. Cost is also a major influence on whether I end up buying a product too. These days, it’s much more about buying what I consider is worth the money despite what the bold claims are hoping I’ll buy into. Oh, how my wallet wishes I’d come to this decision sooner.

With Lola in a good routine (or at least for the moment!), I am slowly coming out of the ‘new mummy fog’. The days of being my own diligent facialist and makeup artist are long gone, but I have come to realise that I still want to feel like the old me, even with something as superficial as caring for my skin and applying a little makeup from time to time.

This is the second blog in a series about how my beauty routine has evolved; from the days of pampering myself pre-baby when time was of no consequence to today’s practicalities of looking after my skin whilst juggling life as a mum. I thought I'd share the products that make a difference in my life, particularly when I am time-starved and really don’t want to use up valuable minutes standing in front of a mirror. Urgh.

Skincare liberation

Since my early teens, I have always been a religious 3-step cleanse, tone and moisturise girl, twice a day. I’ve dabbled with different serums and under-eye creams as bolt-ons to this routine, but they’ve never held a permanent place in my bathroom cabinet. Judging by the wrinkles under my eyes right now, I might need to rethink that. I apply my own face mask, mostly when my skin is suffering from the effects of summer or winter. In essence, I believe that less is more.

I used to have professional facials once a month and really saw the benefits. It was a Saturday morning luxury. I would come away with glowing skin and have the rest of the day to do whatever I wanted....when I think about it, I can’t actually remember what that was, because life before Lola is a blur. One thing I know for sure is that I wasn’t making the best use of my free time! 

ESPA and Elemis are two of my favourite spa brands from those spa days (big sigh). They exude earth’s natural virtues, which is what I tend to lean towards over synthetic ingredients. Unfortunately, professional facials have become a casualty of motherhood, and in their place is the occasional deep cleanse that I perform at 10 pm while sat on the sofa watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix.

Before Lola, I would have considered buying an expensive cleanser, toner and moisturiser – maybe a Dior, Lancome, Clarins or from a newer, disruptive brand from luxury beauty shop Space.NK. I’ve spent a lot of money on creams in the past, most certainly not all worth their high prices. 

When Lola came along, my own self-indulgences took a back seat. I stopped buying more than I needed – of everything – and my beauty ritual disappeared overnight. 

For the last 12 months, you could say that my beauty junkie self has been on a detox. From 3-steps to mostly no steps. Since having Lola I can barely find the energy to look at myself or care about my looks in the way I once did, let alone use up those valuable minutes on primping and preening.

Now mornings are about jumping in and out of the shower and giving myself a head to toe wash with one product in 30 seconds (excluding hair washing of course) before my husband leaves our apartment to go to work or when Lola has her first nap of the day. 

At night, getting into bed as quickly as possible is my priority. If I’ve been wearing makeup, which isn’t often these days, I always ALWAYS take it off before going to bed. I’ve never gone to bed with makeup on and I don’t think I will ever drop this habit. I would hate the feeling of closing my eyes to sleep with makeup on. I wouldn’t find it restful at all.

Shopping for beauty products is a totally different experience. Cost is a big factor. Having one family budget has forced me to not be so frivolous. I’ve traded Space.NK for the nearest drug store/pharmacy to see what brands they stock. If budget allows, then my preference is to go to Sephora, after all, it is a beauty junkie’s nirvana. Unfortunately, the down side is that it strongly resembles a nightclub due to the WAY TOO LOUD MUSIC (I really am getting old). Not enjoyable when you’ve got a young baby who can only deal with so much.

So, what am I using that’s worth a mention?

Under £20 ($26)

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser – The biggest game-changer in my beauty cabinet where skincare is concerned has been with Liz Earle. When I started using Liz Earle’s Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser many years ago it was the first product that didn’t leave my skin feeling dry or stripped of its natural properties. It’s kind to my skin, easily removes the grime of the day and leaves me feeling clean and refreshed like I’ve got a brand spanking new face. It’s a white, creamy, rich texture that glides over my skin smoothly. It removes makeup and I can work it into my eyelids and lashes without any sensitivity or irritability issues. The cloth cleanser, which you soak in warm water before wiping off the cleanser, gives my skin a bit of an exfoliation too without being harsh, so really, I get two for the price of one. This will always be my default all-in-one cleanser. The limited-edition cleansers are glorious, but sadly only available in the UK. I am tempted to buy the regular cleanser via the dedicated US website, but it’s slightly more expensive. Liz Earle products are certainly not cheap when you look at the unit cost per ml compared to other brands, but generally speaking a little does goes a long way and that’s my justification for continuing to buy it!

Botanics Hot Cloth Cleansing Balm (97% organic with rosehip) – When I’ve run out of Liz Earle’s Cleanse & Polish, this UK product (also sold in the US) is a great cheaper alternative. It is more akin in texture to the cult classic Eve Lom Cleanser, but without the hefty price tag. It takes more effort to remove from my face with warm water and a cloth compared to Liz Earle’s Cleanse & Polish as it’s kind of sticky, but in a good way. It does remove makeup, but in my opinion, is better for working into my skin without makeup to give it a thoroughly deep clean when I want to revive my skin from life’s daily toll.

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash – This facial wash goes a long way and doesn’t require anything other my hands and water to rinse it off. I wouldn’t rub it into my eyes to remove day-long mascara, but if you’re just wanting to sweep makeup off in one easy step, then this is for you. In truth, I have a love-hate relationship with this cleanser. Essentially, I don’t care about it and I want to care about the products I’m putting on my face. There’s nothing in this product that makes me think or feel that I’m doing something good for my skin. Whilst it claims to be ‘gentle for all skin types,’ it doesn’t compare to hot cloth cleansers and balms that feel nourishing. It’s merely functional, which does serve a purpose for a lot of us who are time-short. 

Simple Cleansing Wipes – On occasion, I resort to using cleansing wipes instead of giving my face a proper cleanse before dotting on some moisturiser. Most skin experts suggest that a cleansing wipe doesn’t give you a proper clean, but after an especially long day, all I need is to take my makeup off and feel mildly refreshed before my head hits the pillow. These don’t seem to dry out my skin like some other wipes can. Plus, if you are a mother to a young child and usually have a young baby in your arms, you only need one hand free to do the job of wiping your face! Bonus.

Botanics Hydrating Day Cream (81% organic with rosehip) and Botanics Firming Night Cream (Triple Age Renew with purple orchid) – I bought these moisturising creams in US pharmacy Duane Reade as an alternative to my beloved Liz Earle. I was already using Botanics’ cleansing balm and so why not branch out into the moisturisers and save a few pennies. They do feel a little bit oily in texture, but upon application to my face, they don’t leave a shine as you might expect. Quite possibly, the brand pulled at my heart strings, because it states on the packaging that it’s ‘in partnership with the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew’. 

No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Facial Sun Protection (50 SPF UVB) – Given to me by my lovely friend Jane when she visited NYC from the UK, this doesn’t leave any residue or white flaky bits when applied to skin unlike a lot of sun protection creams made for the face. It provides me with a good base under makeup and doesn’t leave me looking like a ghost when I’m not. Unfortunately, although US pharmacy Duane Reade sells No7 products, I haven’t seen this in their stores. 

Over £20 ($26)

Zelens PHA+ Bio Peel Resurfacing Facial Pads – I bought these in the UK a long time ago upon a recommendation from one of Space.NK’s beauty advisors. I asked her what one skincare product amongst all others at Space.NK would she buy. This is what she confidently handed to me. I must own-up and say that these pads are way past their use-by date, but I continue to use them sparingly a) because they’re so effective - I wake up with fresh, smooth, new skin if applied overnight - and b) because they’re expensive, which I didn’t scrutinize when I bought them. A similar alternative to these are the Cane + Austin Miracle Pad, which I have also bought from Space.NK.

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum – This brand prides itself on not stripping your skin’s pH levels, so it is particularly good for those of us who have sensitive skin and want a serious exfoliator. Like the pads mentioned above, they provide you with fresh looking skin when used overnight. According to Cosmopolitan, Drunk Elephant products will be available in the UK at Space.NK this year.

Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin Body & Hand Lotion – I have been using this product for over ten years. It is me in a bottle from my twenties and thirties. It puts a little pep in my step when I’m lacking in energy with the scent lasting throughout the day. My husband bought me some Jo Malone goodies for Mother’s Day this year, except none of it was in the Lime Basil & Mandarin scent. The inconsiderate wife that I am went back to the store and exchanged it for this scent in the body & hand lotion. Now he knows.


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