“I Tried My Mom’s Beauty Routine And Learnt 4 Important Lessons”

Want to walk in someone else's shoes? Try switching make-up bags.


Sinead Martin |

Three years ago, Dolce & Gabbana collaborated with their ultimate muse, Sophia Loren, to create a special edition lipstick, Sophia Loren No.1. The shade was inspired by Loren’s own take on the most “universally flattering red”, while Stefano Gabbana created a specific rose scent for the lipstick too – the same scent, he said, that takes him back to opening his mother’s handbag as a child. Instantly, I can smell it too. A dreamy lipstick smell, that as a young girl promised the true glamour and excitement of being a grown-up.

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When I was challenged to take on my mom’s beauty routine one morning during a WH features meeting, a wave of dread came over me. Clearly the optimism I had pre-tween has long passed. I’m the first to admit that I am a product junkie and am genuinely excited by my over-flowing bathroom cabinet and massive collection of make-up. And, in a perfect world, I’d wake up each morning and apply the eight-step routine of skincare products I have collected, followed by a creative and unique make-up look. But I really just like my sleep too much to allow enough time for that…

Instead, it’s a quick face wash, moisturiser, SPF (I am religious about this step), followed by tinted BB cream, liquid blush which I also dab onto my lips, bronzer on my eyelids – because selecting one shade from my many Urban Decay Naked palettes is way too distracting and time-consuming – then a swoosh of liquid eyeliner and mascara. Oh and highlighter on the top of my cheek bones because I once read on a beauty blog that you should “never leave the house without highlighter”, so I find myself chanting this “mantra” every time I almost dare to skip it.

I get it, nine steps doesn’t sound nearly as minimal a routine as what the final look suggests, but I am a millennial and really, no-make-up make-up is the symbol of my generation.

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I’ve seen my mom’s make-up bag, and I know it’s not much more slimline than mine. It wasn’t the make-up routine that had me panicked about the challenge. It was her dedication to perfectly-styled hair. Like my mom, I have a thick mop of (balayage) blonde hair, which admittedly I am super lazy with. I might blow dry it once every two weeks, but the rest of the time it’s either dry-shampooed, tied back or scrunched with a bit of moose and left to air dry – a characteristic which I know has always irked my mom. I can’t count the number of times she has subtly and not-so-subtly hinted that I should really make more of an effort with my gift of a mane.

Another part of her routine is a super early wake-up call before she hits the gym. Every. Day. Of. The. Week. I mentioned how much I love my sleep, right? This was undoubtedly going to be the toughest part of the challenge for me. Here’s how it went:

Day 1

5:45am: My alarm goes off and I jolt up in bed, convinced my iPhone is playing a trick on me. It’s still really dark outside so I decide to skip my mom’s morning green tea for an extra few minutes under the covers.

6:04am: I dig deep and get out of bed to pull on the first pair of yoga pants I can find. I also pack a change of clothes for the office, wash my face and apply CC cream as per my mom’s instructions. I make a mental note to recommend to her that she should be applying a layer of SPF at this stage too. Then I scoop up my cosmetics and pop them in my gym bag.

6:35am: I run back up the three flights of stairs to get to back into my apartment as I realise I have forgotten to pack a round brush for the dreaded blow-dry in my near future.

7:02am: I’m at the gym and am unbelievably proud of myself. I hit the treadmill and am surprised by how awake my legs feel as I get into it.

8:00am: I’ve showered, eaten a banana and now I need to dry my hair. I section it just like my mom would and even pay special attention to curling the ends.

8:40am: My hair looks much better than normal and I really feel quite chuffed with myself!

8:45am: I start panicking about time and very quickly apply my mom’s five-step routine of moisturiser, SPF, foundation, eye shadow (from a palette) and mascara. I am really missing a touch of blusher and feel tempted to cheat, but I resist.

9:04am: I make it to Groote Schuur hospital for a lecture I’ve been sent to report on. Admittedly, I feel quite confident walking into the room with my bouncy locks.

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Day 2

6:00am: Wake up. (I decided to skip the green tea altogether). My eyes are a little red and sore. I think it must be from the eye cream I used last night. I don’t usually use an eye cream because they tend to irritate my eyes. I decide to skip this step in my mom’s routine tonight. Everything else is just the same as yesterday, and takes a little quicker due to all my cosmetics already being packed.

8:00am: I’m relieved post-shower that my hair still looks pretty good, and I just need to blow dry the front a little bit. I know this is something my mom does on the reg too so I don’t even feel guilty.

9:00am: Me and my blush-less face are at the airport ready for a flight to Joburg. I can’t believe I have to fly without spritzing my face mist, but this isn’t something my mom has in her routine. I make another mental note to introduce her to the wonderful rose water mists that have changed my life.

Day 3

6:00am: Comes and goes, I’m sleeping in a hotel room and it’s so dark that I don’t even hear my alarm until 7am – oops!

7:04am: I sink back into bed with a cup of green tea, and realise it’s really worth adding this to my general routine, although I might switch to Rooibos…

7:30am: My mom uses a soap bar in the shower, and I decide that my extra splurge on shower gel is warranted as soap leaves my skin feeling sticky. She’s also religious about applying body lotion every day. This irritates me. It takes so much time, I feel cold by the time I’m finished and my jeans stick to my legs. I much prefer a fast-absorbing body oil. Quick inspection of my hair, and I decide my blow dry will live to see another day, so a few more touch-ups to the front pieces and I’m good to go.

7:45am: I am also sick of using foundation today. BB cream gives me a dewier finish and I much prefer applying it with my fingers than having to use a foundation brush. I finish the rest of my make-up and it dawns on me that I haven’t been quite as disciplined as my mom is when it comes to lipstick. Today, I vow to re-apply more frequently.

8:00pm: Time to remove my make-up. My mom uses Dermalogica’s micro-exfoliant every night. I go for regular peels so my skin hasn’t really loved this. Wednesday nights are also my “mask” nights. I’m disappointed I won’t be using one tonight. I apply a thicker night cream like my mom would and climb into bed, feeling chuffed that tomorrow I can go back to my routine!

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A Few Unexpected Lessons

Perhaps switching make-up bags can be compared to “walking in someone else’s shoes”? I learnt a lot about my mom and her routine through this challenge. Firstly, her dedication to exercise and good hair is the stuff of superheroes. However, both the early morning gym and blow wave sessions really did improve the way I felt the rest for the day, so maybe she’s right and there is something in getting up and out of bed a little earlier?

When it comes to skincare, I’m not surprised that my mom’s routine didn’t work for me. I still have a very active skin type, so anti-ageing isn’t quite my priority just yet. I have also realised that I spend quite a bit more on beauty products than my mom does. I know this is also a millennial trait, but it’s something I need to really to have a look at.

Lastly, I discovered that in my lazy habit of skipping foundation I have subsequently fallen out of love with it. And for someone who has suffered with “bad skin” since the age of 11, this really feels like a victory!

My Beauty Kit

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Dermalogica Retinol Repair, R1 495 at

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Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, R183 at 

Eucerin Sun Protection SPF 50, R200, at

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Chanel Rouge Coco Lip Blush in Tender Rose, R540, at

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Boots No7 BB Cream, R237, at

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Dior theDiorshow Volume Plump Waterproof Mascara, R595, at selected 

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Cetaphil Moisturising Lotion, R299, at

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Cowshed Wild Cow Invigorating Bath & Shower Gel, R395, at

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Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Miracle Hydrating Mist, R360, at

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Exuviance Bionic Oxygen Facial, R1 126, at

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Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream All-Over Miracle Oil, R399, at

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My Mom’s Beauty Kit

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Johnson’s Daily Essentials Nourishing Cream Face Wash for Dry Skin, R50, at

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Revlon Age Defying CC Cream, R179,

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Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, R1 029, at

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Nivea Rich Nourishing Body Lotion, R41, at

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Isabella Garcia, Super Defence Day Moisturiser SPF 15, R181, at

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Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation, R590, at

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MAC Amplified Lipstick in Cosmo, R245, at

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L’Oreal Volume Million Lashes, R160,

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Skin Doctors Gamma Hydroxy Skin Resurfacing Cream, R666, at

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Dermalogica Stress Positive Eye Lift, R1 219, at

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