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The Transformative Power of Skin Care for Overworked, Sleep-Deprived Moms

The 10-step Korean skin care routine can sound daunting, especially for all our moms out there with busy schedules. However, taking some time out of your day to wind down and take care of your skin can be medicinal. One mom discusses how the Korean 10-step skin care routine helped her reclaim time for herself. Read on for her full regimen and a few of our favorite product recommendations for our hardworking moms to help kick-start a full 10-step skin care routine.

One Mom’s Skin Care Journey

When most moms hear the term “self-care” their response is a major eye-roll. Taking care of one’s self is a tall order for most people, whether they are parents or not. But, for mothers in particular, taking time for yourself in the midst of a demanding work and caregiving schedule can feel, frankly, impossible.

The guilt you can feel simply by going back to work, or feeling that your career is at risk, is enough to choke you. Taking two hours to yourself in your room simply to stare at a wall (or your phone) can feel truly criminal. 

RELATED: How 5 Busy Moms Find Time For a Full Skin Care Routine Every Day

In the first few months of my son’s life, I was lucky if I had time to take a shower, much less practice any kind of self-care, like eating anything other than chocolate babka (easy to prepare), going to the gym, reading a book, or sleeping. Moisturizing? Out of the question.

Once my newborn was on a sleep schedule, I felt I might survive. Not only were we both sleeping through the night and getting the rest we needed, but he was also finally napping during the day, giving me a much-needed mental and emotional break from the enormous and constant weight of caregiving.

During my pregnancy, I was cautious about what products I was using on my face and body. Thanks to the hormones, there was a definite, natural glow, but it lasted about three months postpartum. One morning I woke up and the glow was gone. The intense sleep deprivation didn’t help either.

It might seem silly or superficial, but in those weeks of total and utter exhaustion, the incredible emotional highs and lows of new parenthood, being able to settle in on the couch with a sheet mask and a glass of wine and watch my favorite show was the definition of luxury. 

A recent discovery of a new moisturizer, COSRX’s Hyaluronic Acid Intensive Cream, had set me off on a journey through K-Beauty. Soon I was reading about essences, ampoules, and the entire 10-step routine. But that kind of regimen seemed insane. Who has time for a 10-step skin care routine? Certainly not me, balked a little voice within.

I’ve come to call this voice the “Mom Guilt” voice. And I hear it a lot. Not just from yours truly but from my female friends (moms or not) and even older, wiser, moms.

As I navigated my new reality, something my therapist had said to me once about parenting rattled around in my head. “You have to put your oxygen mask on first.” It makes sense that your brain is telling you to drop everything and put baby first. It’s instinctual. But if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you can’t do a very good job of taking care of anyone else. It is, I think, one of those undeniable truths.

I’m certainly not promoting a 10-step Korean beauty routine to all new moms, or saying that a skin care routine is the equivalent of an oxygen mask. But I’ve found that my skin care routine at the end of the day allows me some much needed time to check-in with myself and my overall health. Maybe you just need to lock yourself in the bathroom for thirty minutes and look at your phone. Or take a bath. Or lock yourself in the bathroom, take a bath wearing a sheet mask while drinking a martini. You do you.

I know that the Mom Guilt voice will drone on. But at least I’ve identified what it sounds like. There’s nothing wrong with taking care of yourself. Sometimes, in order to survive, and to be the best mother you can be, you have to put yourself first. The glow will return. Whether it’s the skin care or the empowering feeling of valuing yourself and your time, who can say for sure?

Here’s the 10-step skin care routine that works for me:

Cleanser: La Roche Posay Toleraine Face Wash

I haven’t mastered the art of the Korean double-cleanse routine yet, but for my money, this face wash by La Roche Posay is the perfect formula. I’ve been using it for nearly a decade. It never breaks me out or dries out my skin.

RELATED: Why The Living Cleansing Balm Is My Holy Grail Cleanser

Exfoliator: COSRX Whitehead Power Liquid (PM only)

Exfoliation is still a mystery to me. It’s too harsh on my skin every night, so I only use this in problem areas two to three times a week at night.

Toner: Thayers Witch Hazel

For years I resisted using a toner because I thought they were very harsh on skin. Now I know the importance of toning, especially in a 10-step routine—you want your skin to be fully clean so that the products can really sink in.

Vitamin C Serum: Timeless Skincare Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum (AM only) 

I was obsessed with SkinCeuticals Vitamin C serum, but it’s so expensive. I’ve found a big difference in brightness and dark spots with this less expensive option from Timeless Skin.

Serum: TruSkin Naturals Tea Tree Clear Skin Super Serum

This serum really lives up to its name. With vitamin C, niacinamide, retinol, hyaluronic acid and salicylic acid, it’s great for those of us looking for anti-aging with a side of acne control.

Ampoule: Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Ampoule

I don’t apply ampoules every night – maybe only once or twice a week when I feel like my skin is feeling dry and in problem areas. Since this one is focused on anti-aging, I put it on my neck and forehead.

Face Mask: Leaders AC Clear Treatment Mask

I like a mask that is super hydrating with acne-treating benefits. This mask also soothes red and irritated skin with ingredients like snail mucin and tea tree oil.

Moisturizer: COSRX Hyaluronic Acid Intensive Cream

Heavy creams usually break me out. But this cream has made me a convert. My skin has never been this soft, and I love the affordability of COSRX products. I only use it at night because I find it a bit too moist for pre-makeup application, but during the day I put it on my neck and décolletage.

Eye cream: Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Creme

I don’t apply eye cream at night because I have very sensitive eyes and the product slips into my eyes while I sleep and is incredibly irritating. But I always apply eye cream during the day time. Not only is this one super hydrating, but it also brightens the area.

Lip treatment: Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask

This thing is extraordinary. I suffer from thin lips, and in the morning after application, my lips are more supple. I really slather this on because I feel like its hydrating benefits should extend to the skin all over your lips.

The Klog Recommendations: K-beauty Routine for Busy Moms

It can be daunting to treat yourself to a 10-step skin care routine, let alone take a breather. However, taking some time out of your day for self-care can do wonders to both your mind, body and skin. So pause for a moment, listen to your body, and kickstart your Korean skin care journey with our favorite product picks for moms:

Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm: Start your double cleanse with the Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm, a seven-time award-winning cleansing balm from Charlotte Cho’s premium skin care line. This nourishing cleansing balm melts away all of your oil-based impurities and makeup with its antioxidant-rich formula including seaberry (sea buckthorn) oil that helps soften and protect the skin, and persimmon extract that has anti-aging and brightening benefits.

Neogen Real Ferment Micro Essence: This essence is infused with naturally fermented ingredients popular in Korea, such as birch juice and rice extracts, to not only give your skin the hydration it needs but also to brighten the skin, giving it a “honey skin” glow.

d’Alba Piedmont White Truffle Intensive Ampoule: If you had a busy and tiring day and want to skip a few steps in your skin routine, try this multi-tasking ampoule. With all the best anti-aging benefits, this silky and lightweight ampoule is packed with luxurious ingredients like Italian white truffle and caviar to nourish and hydrate the skin while targeting fine lines and wrinkles. Just lather this ampoule after your cleanse, and you’re all set (minus sunscreen if you’re using this ampoule during the day).

Then I Met You Calming Tide Gel Cream™: A recent new addition to the Then I Met You brand, this innovative, lightweight gel cream is just what your tired skin needs to hydrate and regenerate for a healthy-looking complexion. This gel cream contains a blend of peptides and antioxidants that not only helps improve skin texture but also increases collagen production to improve skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It is also formulated with madecassoside to soothe inflammation and repair skin damage from free radicals. 

Swanicoco Fermentation Peptine Eye Care Cream: If you have tired-looking eyes from all the long days and nights you had, this eye cream will take care of these concerns. This wrinkle-reducing eye cream can transform your eyes in just two weeks with its blend of eight natural peptides and adenosine that lift, firm, and plump the fine lines and wrinkles around the eye area. Plus, niacinamide can help lighten your dark circles. 

RELATED: The Peptide-Packed Eye Cream That Made One Woman’s Eyes Look More Youthful and Less Tired in Two Weeks

Acwell UV Cut SPF 50+PA++++ Natural Sun Cushion: Sunscreen is the most important step in any skin routine, but for a busy mom, it’s easy to forget or skip this step. Even if you’re going out for a quick grocery run, apply this easy-application sun cushion compact to protect your skin from harmful UV rays while repairing damaged skin with its patented ‘Natural Protector’ ingredient. Toss it in your bag or slide it in your pocket to reapply as you’re taking a stroll with your kids or walking your dog. It’s a convenient essential for every mom’s purse.

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