From frown lines to under eye bags and even post-breastfeeding cleavage wrinkles, being a mom is not for wimps. Find out how to be the MILF of the playground with these products and techniques that really work to turn back the clock to a time where you actually got eight hours of sleep.
Struggling with post-pregnancy stretch marks? You are not alone! "Stretch marks are one of the most talked about skin changes that can occur during pregnancy," says Dr. Rebecca Baxt, a board certified dermatologist in Manhattan. "Stretch marks appear as pinkish or reddish streaks running down your abdomen and/or breasts. Almost 90 percent of pregnant women will experience stretch marks."
What can you do? If you are currently pregnant, make sure you slather on a moisturizing lotion or oil in the morning and at night, such as the pregnancy-safe products Belli Elasticity Oil (Amazon, $39) or Palmer's Cocoa Butter Stretch Mark Cream (Drugstore.com, $5). These types of products moisturize the skin so it is more elastic for the stretching that takes place during pregnancy. After pregnancy, look for lotions that will help decrease the appearance of the stretch marks, such as Belli Stretchmark Minimizing Cream (Amazon, $35), which contains breastfeeding-safe products such as ginseng, to even out skin tone, and avocado oil to soften and moisturize.
If you have significant stretch marks or want to see faster results, it is time to pull out the big guns, as in laser treatments. Dr. Baxt says that Fraxel lasers are effective in reducing the red and silvery color of stretch marks, and they stimulate new collagen to smooth out their appearance. If you are considering laser treatments, sooner is better than later. "In order for any laser treatment to be most effective, the stretch marks must be treated early when they are red and purple. If the stretch marks have already turned white, neither the Fraxel nor any other method will be as effective," says Dr. Baxt.
Under eye bags
Whether it is the middle of the night feeding or the 5 a.m. wake-up call, being a mom means not getting much sleep which results in tired, puffy eyes and dark circles — not to mention those pesky crow's feet. If getting more sleep is out of the question, it is time to slather on an eye cream in the morning and at night.
One of our favorites is Perricone MD Firming Eye Cream (Sephora, $65). This gentle eye cream helps target dark circles, saggy skin, dryness and crow's feet, but is free of parabens, sulfates and phthalates.
Another cool product is the Frownies Eye Gels ($30), which really help to decrease the appearance of dark circles and fine lines. You simply apply the antioxidant-packed eye gels on your eyes for 30 minutes for three nights in a row, and then you just need to use them once a week to maintain your refreshed appearance.
Many moms will notice thinning hair or will find themselves shedding more than normal after pregnancy. The fancy term for this is Telogen Effluvium. During pregnancy, the increased estrogen levels mean you shed less than you normally do, resulting in thicker hair. After you give birth, your estrogen goes back to its normal level and you will shed more hairs, but luckily experts say it will stop within six to 12 months after giving birth. Don't worry, you won't go bald and your hair will return to its pre-pregnancy thickness usually by the time your child is celebrating her first birthday.
Post-pregnancy isn't the only time you may notice hair thinning as women may also notice this when stopping birth control or switching birth control.
What can you do until your hormone levels balance out? Use a volumizing shampoo, such as Frederic Fekkai Full Body Volume Shampoo (Amazon, $36), which claims to make hair look 1,000 strands thicker after just one wash!
Another trick to add volume is to use dry shampoo between washes. Not only do these products eliminate oil, but they give a root boost with added volume as well. One great product is the Dove Refresh +Care Invigorating Dry Shampoo (Amazon, $4).
Side sleeping, along with changes in your breast tissue from breastfeeding, can cause annoying cleavage wrinkles (and you thought you just had to worry about wrinkles on your face!). To smooth out your skin and to prevent new wrinkles from forming, try sleeping on your back. Sleeping on your side is the main cause of those wrinkles on your chest, and can contribute to wrinkles on your face too.
Can't sleep on your back? There are "cleavage pillows" you can use, like the Bosom Buddy, but using the right creams can also really help. At night, apply lotion to your chest that contains alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) which helps improve cell turnover to smooth lines and wrinkles. One great product is Aqua Glycolic Hand and Body Lotion (Amazon, $19). This product can make you more sensitive to the sun, so make sure you apply a sunscreen to your chest every morning.
In addition to your sunscreen, every morning apply Aveeno Positively Ageless Skin Strengthening Body Cream to your chest. This lotion is full of natural antioxidants to help smooth and moisturize your skin. Love this product!
If you have a special event coming up or you want to get a jump start on getting rid of chest wrinkles, apply the SilcSkin Anti-Wrinkle Pads (Amazon, $28) on your chest when you sleep. You will notice a big different the first morning you use them!
Whether you are squinting in the sun at the kids' soccer game or wrinkling your forehead as you help your child learn to ride his bike, forehead wrinkles go along with being a mom. Prevent them from forming by making sure you are wearing dark sunglasses when out in the sun to prevent squinting. You can also cut cute and trendy fringe bangs that not only frame your face, but also cleverly disguise forehead wrinkles.
Products that contain retinol are the gold standard to smooth out wrinkles as they improve cell turnover to smooth out lines and wrinkles. One great product is Philosophy's Help Me SPF 30 Sunscreen, which contains not only retinol, but sunscreen to help prevent sun damage. You can also ask your dermatologist for a prescription of Retin-A or tretinoin for maximum results.
Want immediate results? Botox is injected in your forehead to smooth out forehead wrinkles and frown lines, with results lasting from six weeks to eight months. If you are pregnant or nursing, you should not use products with retinol or Botox.
Nearly 50 percent of pregnant women will get the "mask of pregnancy" or melasma, which results in dark, splotchy spots on your cheeks and forehead due to increased pigmentation from a change in hormones. Birth control pills can also make you more susceptible to getting these pesky and stubborn dark spots.
What can you do? Dr. Baxt says to look for creams that contain kojic acid, glycolic acid, hydroquinone and retinol. One great product is Philosophy Miracle Worker Dark Spot Correcting System (Sephora, $48). This system contains two products, the Anti-Aging Retinoid Solution, along with the Dark Spot Corrector, that helps to fade those spots.
Dr. Baxt says it is very important that you wear sunblock every day and you should wear a hat when out in the sun. She said an in-office chemical peel can help, but be wary of laser treatments for sun spots, as they can sometimes cause pigment recurrence.