How to beat Mum Face: Dark circles and a grey pallor are common post-baby, but these new beauty tricks can tackle them
While all eyes are usually on her pin-thin frame or carefully co-ordinated outfits, it was Victoria Beckham’s gaunt, tired face that caught everyone’s eye at New York Fashion Week last month.
Victoria, whose daughter Harper is now seven months old, recently said: ‘I’m not getting much sleep at all. Harper’s not sleeping that well, so I’m up with her, as all mums are, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s not a team of people doing it for me. I’m a working mum.’
But Harley Street dermatologist Dr Michael Prager doesn’t pull his punches.
Worn out New mum Victoria Beckham looked tired and gaunt at New York Fashion Week last month
‘Victoria’s got “Mum Face”,’ he says. ‘Anyone who’s had a baby will recognise those dark under-eye shadows and that gaunt, almost grey complexion.’
Dr Prager has seen an increase in new mums coming to him for advice on what to do about their skin in the year after having a child. ‘They show me pictures of themselves just before pregnancy and many women have aged five years in just one,’ he says.
Levels of the hormone progesterone surge during pregnancy, which helps to keep skin thicker and firmer, reduces the appearance of wrinkles and results in the radiant ‘pregnant glow’. However, after the birth, levels plummet causing skin to age rapidly.
Growing trend: Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden was back at work three weeks after an emergency Caesarean
‘Collagen levels — which give skin its firmness — also drop about six months after having a baby,’ says Dr Prager. Throw in sleepless nights, baby stress and a time-poor diet and you’ve got the perfect recipe for ‘Mum Face’.
The rise in ‘micro maternity leave’ is also being blamed by experts for leaving mums looking drained and exhausted. Mrs Beckham has admitted taking calls about her fashion line in the night for months.Similarly, Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden was back at work three weeks after an emergency Caesarean.
‘The new mums who come to see me are busy, busy, busy,’ says Dr Prager. ‘They’re back at work quicker than ever because they’re in cut-throat industries, and, during a recession, they and can’t afford to take time off. They’re pushing themselves harder than ever and it’s showing in their faces.’
Thankfully, there’s plenty you can do to tackle ‘Mum Face’…
Vitabiotics are about to launch Pregnacare New Mum, which is designed to restore the vitamins and minerals that pregnancy, breastfeeding and the stress of motherhood deplete (13.95, available at Boots).
‘Victoria would be better off worrying about her face instead of her figure’ Dr Prager
Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energising Eye Masks are also worth a try. They’re full of rejuvenating ingredients that brighten and ‘de-puff’ sleep-deprived eyes. Our tester, a new mum, saw an improvement immediately. (35 for a box of four, blissworld.co.uk.)
The Elure Advanced Skin Lightening range, from 39, fades age spots and pigmentation, and can counteract the greyness of ‘Mum Face’ (available from Harrods Urban Retreat, urbanretreat.co.uk; or visit elureskin.com).
Dr Prager offers a Dermaroller treatment, from 900, which he says is good for stimulating collagen production. Angelina Jolie is a fan and she’s showing no signs of ‘Mum Face’ despite six children.
The device is a handheld roller covered in lots of tiny ‘micro needles’. It is rolled over your face, creating thousands of tiny pin pricks, which your skin produces extra collagen to heal.
A mix of hyaluronic acids, minerals and vitamins is then applied. ‘Skin looks fresher and younger and there’s no downtime,’ says Dr Prager. Dr Daniel Sister, a leading cosmetic doctor in London, says Plasma Treatment is another great way to rejuvenate skin.
‘I take some of the patient’s blood, separate it into the red blood cells, clear serum and platelets, and add anti-ageing vitamins and amino acids before injecting it back into the skin, anywhere that needs a boost,’ he says. (From 500 a session, beautyworkswest.com).
‘Victoria would be better off worrying about her face instead of her figure,’ says Dr Prager.
Cosmetic doctors agree that new mothers should keep their weight loss slow and steady (around 1lb-2lb a week) to avoid ‘Mum Face’. Lastly, avoid sugar. A growing body of evidence is showing that sugar is on a par with smoking and sunbeds when it comes to skin ageing.
‘Sugar damages skin cells and breaks down collagen and elastin,’ says dermatologist Fredric Brandt, who is Madonna’s go-to skin doctor. ‘Avoid it and you’ll improve the radiance of your skin immediately.’