MOTHER’S DAY: EMBRACING SELF-CARE

“I will look after you and I will look after anybody you say needs to be looked after, any way you say. I am here. I brought my whole self to you. I am your mother.” ~ Maya Angelou, Mom & Me & Mom

Mother’s Day, a loving homage, a happy celebration. It wouldn’t be complete without special greeting cards, bouquets of mother’s favorite flowers, and a family dinner at a fine restaurant. We may think of Mother’s Day as a ‘modern’ holiday, but truth is, honoring the ‘mother’ is as ancient as motherhood itself, dating back to pagan times and the springtime celebration of fertility. The Egyptians feted Isis, the Greeks honored the great mother, Rhea. Ancient Romans worshipped Cybele. Early Christians celebrated a Mother’s Day of sorts during the season of Lent, which honored the Virgin Mary. In England, over time, this tradition grew to include all mothers.

When the first English settlers came to America, they abandoned the tradition of Mother’s Day. It wasn’t until centuries later that the tradition was established in America. Julia Ward Howe, American poet, pacifist and political activist, was the first to suggest an official Mother’s Day holiday in 1872. Ward Howe saw the holiday as one that promoted peace and pacifism, honoring mothers who rose up against war, rather than individual mothers. It wasn’t until 1908 that Anna Jarvis, known today as “The Mother of Mother’s Day,” lobbied for an official declaration of Mother’s Day. She wanted to honor her own mother, and was sure there were others who felt the same. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a resolution designating the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day.

Today more than ever, mothers live complex, and at times overwhelming lives. Used to multi-tasking, we are the ones who bring forth life, and then must face a continuous juggling act, raising offspring while often working full-time, running a household, being a help-mate, or doing it all on our own. The world of mothering is so fraught with stretching towards perfection and shrinking from comparisons. We seldom give ourselves credit for all we do, but on this day, we are honored.

Just one day a year to be pampered and applauded? What about the rest of the year? Shouldn’t we embrace a little selfishness, make it a virtue and take a moment for ourselves now and then? Let’s not forget what the flight attendant cautions when you fly the friendly skies. “Always put on your own oxygen mask before helping others!” Great advice.

Mother or not, I’ve always believed in the necessity of self-care. I have memories of my mother in her satisfying, Epsom salts bath, complete with essential oils, calming herself after a long day, a routine I, and my daughter, continue. I’d watch my mother carefully remove her eye makeup with a cotton ball dipped in the French makeup remover she could not live without. But my mother also taught me that self-care extends beyond what lives in the makeup bag. Try putting on classical music, lighting a scented candle, taking the time to mindfully apply moisturizer all over your skin. Take a contemplative walk. Splurge and get a massage.

Embracing a self-care beauty regime may seem indulgent. But these small things add up, and done regularly they can be both restorative and inspirational, providing a sense of calm and wellbeing. Self-care can become the oxygen mask that allows us to be all things to those we love.

SKIN IN THE GAME: SELF-CARE AND POST-WORKOUT SKINCARE TIPS

 

When it comes to beauty and self-care, the women in my immediate family are what one might call “no nonsense types.” We are an understated bunch.

It may seem surprising, considering my female family tree, that no beauty secrets were passed down. Both my mother, Jenny, and her sister, Pattie – known as the Boyd Sisters – worked as models in the 1960’s, but by the time I came along, my two most prominent role models seemed to barely wear makeup or to make much fuss about their skin. I do have distinct memories of my grandmother’s large pot of cold cream at her vanity, my mother’s bottle of Shalimar perfume which she kept in the bathroom, and that curling iron my aunt used when she was fanatically back-combing her hair. But I have no memories of real beauty routines other than seeing my mother or Aunt Pattie sink into a relaxing bubble bath once in a while and paint her toenails.

I cringe at the things I used on my face when I was in my twenties – hand soap and a wash cloth to cleanse, a moisturizer from a drug store. And I knew nothing, not even how to pluck my eye brows! I owned one red lipstick and a kohl-black eye liner. That was it.

My beauty habits, if you can even call them that, were few: I washed my face, brushed my teeth, applied body lotion, combed my hair and always shut the door when I went to the bathroom!!

But as I have matured, so too have my beauty habits. I have my favorite products, and I have developed a routine that is rich in quality but still harkens back to the simplicity handed down to me from my family’s matriarchs. I love Blinc’s mascara. I use a tinted moisturizer by Laura Mercier with SPF 20 as well as Glossier’s Boy Brow for my brows because I’m now influenced by my teenaged daughter.

I have discovered these can’t-live-without products by trial and error. But I have to say, the greatest addition to my beauty rituals was when I was introduced to Retrouvé products three years ago. Retrouvé has helped to repair my skin after years of being “family-careless” about such things. The products give me a glow that almost makes makeup unnecessary. What I love the most about the brand’s collection of products is that it is simple enough for me to embrace and still fit into my “no frills, no fuss” type of routine.

I am an equestrian and love to work out both indoors and outdoors but I have never been sure how best to take care of my skin before and after exercising. Not content with leaving it up to chance (as per my usual haphazard fashion!), I decided to consult a professional to get the nitty gritty on what to do.

I spoke with Jeanette Baer, a P.A.-C from Aesthetics Montecito, where I’m lucky enough to go for my yearly beauty treatments. Apart from scolding me for not coming in more frequently, Jeanette laughed when I told her of my conundrum. She shared, “It is a priority to do your best to protect your skin, but also to enjoy your life. I say do your best, and then every fall come in for a clean-up.”

To take care of skin before and after working out, Jeanette recommends the following:

  • Always start your workout with a clean face, wash off all makeup and moisturizers because the combination of sweat and oil can clog your pores, causing unwanted breakouts.

  • Carry disposable makeup removing wipes in your gym bag to make your pre-workout skincare routine easier.

  • If you’ll be exercising outdoors, be sure to apply an even layer of sunscreen beforehand.

  • Do not touch your face at all when working out, carry a clean gym towel to pat your face and neck dry.

  • Pull your hair back, away from your face.

  • Use a deep cleansing wash for your body and face as soon as you finish the work out.

  • Drink lots of water – you’ll need to keep hydrating post-workout for your skin to recover.

  • Use a moisturizer to re-hydrate your skin.

Listening to Jeanette, I felt so relieved! Maybe I’m not as far off my beauty game as I thought. My favorite thing to do post-workout is to moisturize my clean face with Retrouvé’s Dynamic Nourishing Face Cream. It aids in the maintenance of skin hydration levels, much like what the skin does naturally. Now we can all hit the gym and the tennis ball or the saddle with confidence that it will not be to the detriment to our skin. Happy workouts, folks!

© 2017 Amelia Fleetwood.  Ojai, California 

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