What’s the best skin care routine for moms? To figure out how to incorporate a multi-step routine into a super busy life, we reached out to five moms with demanding jobs to get their best advice.
There’s nothing more heroic to us than a mom who balances being a great mother with a career she’s passionate about, and finds the time to fit in a detailed skin care routine. It’s so inspiring to see women carve out that essential “me time” and treat their skin to products that help them look and feel their best.
We’re not saying accomplishing this is easy…but it is doable! Here, we feature five moms—from two business owners in Los Angeles to a marketing director in New York—who make being a mom, a businesswoman, and a skin care enthusiast look easy.
You’ll discover just how jam-packed their days are, their favorite skin care products, and their best skin care advice for other hard-working moms.
Michelle, 34, Los Angeles
A typical day in Michelle’s life:My kids are four and six and have a very busy schedule with school and extracurricular activities. My morning typically starts with getting the kids ready for school and feeding them breakfast. Once they’re off to school, I come back home to work on my photo-booth business, which I currently operate from home. I pick up the kids from school between 1-2pm. Once they are home, I am back in mommy mode—feeding them, helping them with homework, and washing them up.
Once they are down for the night, I’m back to operating the business for another few hours. These hours are the most peaceful part of my day because my kids are old enough to sleep throughout the night! And this is the perfect time to wind down by pampering myself with a skin routine that not only relaxes me but makes me feel more confident about myself because I see that my effort is improving my skin tone, texture, and wrinkles.
What skin issues do you deal with and what do you look for in products?As a mom, I often forget about my own needs because I’m so focused on the kids and usually exhausted by the end of the day. Sometimes I even forget simple things, like drinking water. My skin was always on the drier side, but after having children my skin got even drier, especially when my kids were babies! To address my dry skin, I look for cleansers that make me feel clean and moisturized at the same time. I prefer lotions and creams that have lighter consistency for summer months, and I go with thicker creams for the winter.
What’s your skin care routine?When I’m wearing heavy makeup, I start my routine with Banila Co Clean it Zero because I love how easily it removes waterproof eye-makeup. Then, I use a cotton pad to wipe off the makeup. Then I cleanse my face and neck with either the Klavuu foaming cleanser or the Fresh Soy Face Cleanser. I like to use Klavuu on days when I wear heavy makeup and the Fresh cleanser for days with no makeup or with light makeup. I like to switch things up regularly. If there is any excess makeup left, I apply some Son & Park Beauty Water on a cotton pad to wipe it off. I adore the subtle scent of Beauty Water and its versatility to remove heavy eye makeup and use as a toner.
Once the cleaning process is complete, I use the Acwell Licorice Ph-Balancing Cleansing Toner. I’m addicted to the minty fresh feeling I get when I apply this on my face! Next, I use the Hanskin Essence to start the first step to moisturizing my face. I love how it’s very light and hydrating. Lastly, I mix in the Triple C Vitamin C Serum into my night cream and apply it all over my face and neck (the neck is an extension of your face, and you never want to leave it out). Vitamin C is a must! I notice a huge difference in the wrinkles on my forehead and neck after using it. Some days, I don’t have time for all the extra steps, and on those days, after cleansing, I go straight to using Klairs Vitamin E Mask. It’s a lightweight overnight mask that doesn’t require you to rinse your face after use. You can go straight to sleep after it’s applied!
What’s your best advice for moms who want to develop a consistent skin care routine?Initially, you may notice your skin breaking out a bit more than usual, but don’t give up. Your skin is purging toxins, and once it settles, you will notice much clearer, brighter skin. Remember that maintaining your skin will help keep you looking and feeling young! Skin is everything in beauty. And get your hubby on the skin care routine, as well! It has done wonders for mine (He’s 41 and looks like he’s in his 30s).
Yemile, 27, New York City
Skin type:Normal to dry
A typical day in Yemile’s life:I’m a journalist and I just started going back to work after having my son three months ago. I typically I wake up around 6 or 7 to breastfeed. That can take up to an hour. I have to be out the door by eight to be able to commute into the city from Long Island, which means I have a really small window for skin care in the mornings. Skin care is very important to me because I want to provide that care for myself, but mornings are hard, so on particularly insane mornings, I may only have time to cleanse with a micellar water, apply sunscreen, and brush my teeth. I make the time in the morning, but I don’t double cleanse in the morning.
I come into the city, and I’m here until 6pm. I pump (breast milk) a few times at work. Then there’s an hour to get home, and I spend some time with my husband, Darius, and my baby. I breastfeed again (I spend a lot of time breastfeeding). After I get my baby ready for bed, and once my husband is in bed, I go to do my evening routine, which is my “me” time.
What are the skin issues you deal with and what do you look for in products?
I look for things to make me look less haggard and sleep-deprived. Eye cream is key. The products I could use were first limited by pregnancy and then by breastfeeding. For example, I had to stop using retinols, so I’ve looked for cheats to compensate.
What’s your skin care routine?Sometimes I just shower and then I cleanse in the shower. Otherwise, I cleanse with micellar water. A couple of times a week, I also exfoliate with the Neogen Wine Pads. I love those. They smell like a bottle of the Manischewitz grape juice. I don’t rinse it off, despite what the instructions say, but it comes off when I tone after. I hate putting cleansers and scrubs on my face, so this is great. Then I tone with the Acwell Licorice Toner (I LOVE how it smells). After that, I apply the Neogen Essence with my hands. It reminds me of watching my grandfather dabbing cologne onto his face. After that, I apply my SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 gel, which is actually quite watery and contains hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5.
Then I apply the Plant Base Hyaluronic Acid ampoule, which I really like. The packaging on it is great because when you open the bottle, it automatically draws the product into the dropper. After that, I use an emulsion with niacinamide, the SkinCeuticals Metacell Renewal B3, which is great. I love the texture, it’s really lightweight and matte. After that (just at night), I apply a propolis serum by Elensilia. I love it for nighttime because it really helps me wake up moisturized, but it’s too sticky for daytime use. After that, I apply the Erborian Ginseng Infusion Total Eye. I like that it’s matte but it kind of leaves a little film on my face.
In the mornings, I use this ColoreScience under-eye sun protector that also has iron oxides. After this, I use the Hanskin Vstra Toning Water-Radiance Cream. I love that it’s in a tube because I hate dipping my fingers into tubs. I let all that dry, go put my bag together for work, and get dressed. And then after THAT, I apply an SPF. I alternate between the Supergoop CC cream for days I want a little more of a makeup look, and the Neogen Day-Light Sunscreen. I use that most days. I love it because it’s very lightweight. I also use SuperGoop’s lip sunscreen. We often forget that our lips are skin, too. I don’t love the taste, but I haven’t found a good alternative.
What’s your best advice for moms who want to develop a consistent skin care routine?Be realistic about your goals and do what you can when you can. Some mornings you can’t do every step, so prioritize sun protection, and don’t beat yourself up. Look at skin care as a little slice of self-care protected time. Even when the house is falling down around you, you have a few minutes in the morning and night that you can devote to taking care of yourself.
Gina, 48, Houston
Gina’s daughter works at Soko Glam and just got her started on a full Korean skin care routine a few months ago. Since then, she’s been hooked.
A day in Gina’s life:I’m married with four children, ranging in age from 29 to 18. I work full-time in the retail industry and sometimes don’t leave work until 9pm. Like many Americans, I have a very stressful and demanding life. Add to that a bad outside environment that’s full of pollution and free radicals and the fact that I’m going through menopause, and it’s safe to say that my skin was going through some issues before starting with K-beauty.
What skin issues do you deal with?Through menopause, I developed rosacea and adult acne that left my skin scarred around the chin area. The thing you can see the most on me is my droopy eyes the skin sagging around my jaw.
What’s your skin care routine?I cleanse with the Klavuu Pure Pearlsation Cleansing Foam and then I tone with the Acwell pH Balancing Cleansing Toner. I use the Neogen Bio-Peel in Wine twice a week to exfoliate. I then pat in the Neogen White Truffle Serum In Oil Drop and take my time applying the Erborian Ginseng Infusion Eye Cream. I roll it all around my orbital bone so it absorbs better. I put some pressure around my sinus area with the eye cream and drag it out. Then I top it all off with the Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream. This made my skin so smooth and it actually lifted the acne scar on my chin.
What’s your best advice for moms who want to develop a consistent skin care routine?Be disciplined and give yourself time—it honestly takes five minutes. I really believe you need to love your skin. Preserving is easier than reversing. I take five minutes to love myself and then the rest of the day I focus on everyone else. I’m a cook, chef, I’m whatever everyone else wants me to be, except in the morning for five minutes, I’m Gina, and at night for five minutes, I am Gina.
Daniela, 34, Los Angeles
A typical day in Daniela’s life:My day usually starts at 6:30am at the sounds of Pablo, my 8 month-old or Ramiro, my 2.5 year-old. The first thing I do is breastfeed my baby, and get a glass of water afterwards. Breastfeeding dries you up. I have breakfast with my toddler. And then I do my skin care routine. I squeeze it in during breakfast and playtime.
Then I look at my phone and answer emails. I have another baby, my online vintage shop named LUNES. My shop features vintage and preloved clothes for women and babies, so I am always busy sourcing, hand-washing, steaming, shooting, and shipping LUNES goods. I love my shop because I can hang with my boys and work from home. Although it is not always easy; the days can go by so fast keeping up with a baby and a toddler.
My days vary during the week. One day you can find us at the Echo Park lake, at the local library, or taking the train all around LA. Other days we stay home so that I can model and shoot my vintage pieces for my shop.
What skin issues do you deal with and what do you look for in products?I’m 34 and Mexican. My skin has always been on the dry side. It seems to be always thirsty. Plus, living in Mexico City and Los Angeles, two very dry climates, left me craving for hydration. It was when I lived in Mexico City that I began to really think about my skin because the pollution was making my skin super dry and flaky. I tend to always look products that can restore hydration and still be gentle for my skin.
What’s your skin care routine?
I wash my face with Acwell’s Bubble Free pH Balancing Cleanser or Cerave’s Hydrating Cleanser (at night I use the Enature Moringa Cleansing Balm or Everyday Oil to take off my makeup before using any of these two). They are both gentle and hydrating for my dry skin. Then I immediately apply my favorite toner ever, the Klair’s Supple Preparation Toner, and pat on not one, not two, but three layers of this toner (at night I sometimes tend to do seven layers). My skin drinks it up and I never skip this step because it really preps my skin up for the following steps.
Then my favorite part: applying my serum. The first serum that I purchased and was using constantly was Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair serum, but it was getting too expensive. Now, I am using The Plant Base’s Waterfall Moist Balanced Hyaluronic Acid 100 serum. Plant Base’s serum dries up super quickly and leaves my skin super soft afterwards, not to mention my pores tend to look smaller too. It’s super lightweight too.
Then, finally, I apply a pump of Everyday Oil to moisturize my skin. I use this oil for everything. Plus, to coat everything in, I apply a thin layer of Belif’s The True Cream – Moisturizing Bomb or Pyunkang Yul’s Nutrition Cream. These creams are thick in consistency and are perfect for my dry skin. I can’t do lotions or light moisturizers, they make my skin feel super tight. So I always go for creamier products.
After my second pregnancy, I developed some hyperpigmentation around my eyes due to my hormonal changes. I began using COSRX Triple C Lightning Liquid. I have only started using it for a month, so I am hoping to see some fading of my dark spots soon. I also exfoliate twice or three times a week with the Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze in Lemon. These pads are so easy to use and gentle on the skin.
Have I mentioned how important sunscreen is to me? I use it daily, rain or shine. The one I am using right now is the Clarins Anti-Pollution Sunscreen SPF 50. For makeup, I keep as minimal as possible and I only apply it when I have extra time.
I know this sounds like a lot for a mom to apply in the morning, but after a few weeks of doing all of this, it becomes very easy and my dry skin really needs it and loves it. And I do all of this while my babies are playing or eating breakfast.
Use the little gaps of time that you have to pamper yourself. I use the time after the kids’ bedtime to do that, or I do it when I’m watching something on Netflix. Also, use what works for you whether it be three or more products. We all have different skin and schedules so, try things out and have fun!
Inhwa, 35, New York City
What skin issues do you deal with and what do you look for in products?Effective and efficient! Those are at the core most important benefits I look for in my skin care. I’ve naturally just become more “speedy” with everything I do since becoming a mom, but if I’m investing any time to my routine, I NEED to know that I will see results in making sure that my skin is hydrated.
A typical day in Inhwa’s life (including her skin care routine):
I’m currently the director of marketing at Soko Glam. I’m also the mother to Zoë, my 3.5-year-old daughter. As a working mom, it’s all about maximizing productivity. I used to take about 15-20 minutes with my skin care and makeup pre-baby. Now I’m done and out the door in about 10 minutes post shower every morning! Yet, I’m still able to fit in seven steps in my morning routine!
At 6am, during the work week, I start my day off with a shower and my morning skin care routine. My morning skincare and makeup routine allow me to spend a little time to myself to look semi-presentable during the day. I use my oil cleanser, Banila Co Clean it Zero Resveratrol, to start my cleansing and then hop in the shower. I like to use my water cleanser, Klavuu Pure Pearlsation Revitalizing Facial Cleansing Foam, in the shower every morning for my second double cleanse.
At around 6:30, I dry off, get dressed and then officially start my routine. I use the Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner and the Hanskin Hyaluronic Essence, both with my Klairs Toner Mate 2 in 1 Cotton Pad. I then use my Neogen White Truffle Serum in Oil Drop, then moisturize with Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Cream, and the Erborian Ginseng Eye Infusion. I then apply the Missha Mild Essence Sun Milk.
I’m off to work and get there by 8am. I love my quiet time in the office in the morning before people start filing in. I have limited time in the office as a mom so that time is super valuable to me. I try to make it productive in spending face to face time with my team throughout the day, which means I’m typically in back to back meetings from 9 to 5. I leave the office right before 6pm to catch the train home. By 7pm I’m having dinner with Zoë and she tells me about her day (they’re growing caterpillars in her class and she has decided her classmate Miles is her best friend).
By 9:30 Zoë is finally asleep and I start with my nighttime skin care routine before settling down with my laptop for the night. I use the same steps as my morning routine but I add the Klavvu White Pearlsation Pearl Serum Mask while checking in on some emails. As my last step, I also add Hanskin Bio Origin 369 Oil to my routine at night. My skin has always been dry but even more so postpartum and these extra steps at night are very helpful and necessary.
What’s your best advice for moms who want to develop a consistent skin care routine?
Find products that work for your skin that you know you can fit into your daily schedule. Once it starts working and you find the products to be effective, the easier it will be to keep at it and make it a consistent routine. Also, don’t skimp on hydration, even for oily/combination skin! It’s important to make sure the skin is balanced and has hydration. Dehydrated skin will lead to early signs of aging, so use essence daily!