This is how becoming a mother changes your beauty routine.

The other night, while in a haze that I’m completely blaming on back-to-back episodes of BBC’s ‘Sherlock’ and a healthy serving of Connoisseur Strawberry Ice cream, I stumbled upstairs to wash my face before bed. It was one of those rare days during the holidays when I’d felt the need to don eye makeup (as opposed to my usual, let’s call it, ‘beachy and relaxed’ no makeup look) and I thought I should dig out the remover and to try and make good on my ‘remove makeup and cleanse face every night’ New Years intention.

Splashing some of the liquid onto a cotton pad, my head filled with highly important thoughts (did I remember to bring a bottle of water upstairs? Will my toddler wake at the glorious hour of 5am and sing the dawn song of his people or deign to sleep a little longer?) I vaguely registered the strong, acrid scent of the substance on the pad but didn’t think much about it until I raised it up to my eye and happened to glance down at the bottle of acetone laced nail polish remover standing open on the vanity.

It took a few more seconds to compute that what I was about to position over my highly sensitive, already kind of wonky eye, was not in fact a gentle, alcohol free solution designed to remove mascara but a potent, chemical dense concoction capable of removing shellac, and possibly small amounts of skin. I dropped that pad pretty quickly after that and retired to bed, eye makeup removal completely forgotten.

The collection of products in the author’s bathroom cabinet is a “visible reminder of life ‘pre baby’”

It occurred to me the next day that the sheer amount of ‘stuff’ littering the shelves of our admittedly small bathroom vanity might be partly to blame for the mistake of the night before. While there are a number of logical reasons for the level of product accrued (a previous life as a magazine beauty editor, current role as a sometime beauty blogger, general buyer of makeup and makeup related items), there was one, slightly more illogical reason that I suspected had encouraged me to hold on to the bulk of it; motherhood.

In a way, a bunch of those delicate bottles with their whispered promises of glowing skin, contoured cheeks and prettily tinted lips were a visible reminder of life ‘pre baby’. Of a time when I delighted in trying out new lip shades and tricky little eyeliner flicks of a morning in preparation for a day of work. A time when I had both the time and inclination to spend 30 minutes of a morning blow drying and highlighting.

While I like clothes, I’ve never been a die-hard fashionista, beauty has always trumped fashion in my life. Four plus years of working in a predominantly female populated industry, in a role that not only expected but actively encouraged an interest in all things beauty and makeup only added fuel to the fire.


After having my son, especially in those initial few weeks after birth, I attempted to engage with the old routine but I felt a bit like an imposter. While I truly believed that having a baby shouldn’t preclude me from rocking a red lip like nobodies business, I felt a bit silly. My days were mostly taken up with walks to the park, takeaway coffees with a newborn strapped to my chest and the odd mothers group meeting. What need was there for a brightly coloured pair of kissers?

The answer, I now know lies in the very fact that it helped me feel more ‘me’ like the person I was before maternity bras and 3am feeds. If I hadn’t been so caught up in the haze that comes with uncertainty and sleep deprivation, I’m sure I would have realised that this was a good thing, and completely worth the effort. As it stands however, I packed away my favourite bottles and tubes for a good few months while I found my newly flat shoe clad feet.

Naomi Coterill.

I never discarded my arsenal altogether though. And slowly, I found it filtered back into my vanity and my life. I found that I was perfectly ok with eyeliner for a Tuesday morning at the library, or an orange lip for a day spent holed up alone, writing. While I can’t say that it’s a constant thing, I definitely enjoy the days that I dabble.

Things had gotten a bit out of hand though and I realised I was clinging onto remnants from a past life that I no longer needed in this new phase. I relied on them to remind me that I was an ‘actual person’ outside of being a mother, back when I wasn’t really sure who I was, either as an ‘actual person’ or as a mother.

As the different aspects of my life have merged, I haven’t needed reminders that strong. I’d grown more comfortable in who I am now, without the need for wistful reminiscences about ‘back then’. So I binned a bunch of stuff (including that nasty acetone laced nail polish remover), but I kept some old favourites. Orange and fuchsia lippies, a sparkly kohl eyeliner and a bunch of brightly coloured eye shadow pots now sit snugly alongside my day-time basics. Because really, what is motherhood without a flick of fuchsia and a bit of glitter anyway?

Naomi is a former mag gal turned freelance writer and blogger. Mum to one toddler, one staffy and two cats, you can usually find her blogging, baking or attempting to hide Peppa Pig DVD’s. You can follow her on Twitter @NaomiCotterillFacebook  or check out her blog

How did your attitude to style and beauty change after having kids? Did you throw out a bunch of the “pre-baby” stuff?