Despite usually looking about as well-dressed and put together as Argus Filch, hoping that a bit of red lipstick and a scarf will distract people from the fact that I've got tomato soup on my top, I actually spent a couple of years working in the beauty and skincare industry.
I know. Shocker.
I've been lucky enough to work with some industry leading brands in the past, and so whilst my skincare routine has now dwindled from a ten product line-up every morning and night down to a half-arsed attempt with a makeup wipe over the last few years, I do actually know a serum from a skin scrub.
I absolutely loved working in the beauty industry. I loved the buzz around a new launch, I loved the events, I loved the peace and quiet of the spa and most of all, I loved helping clients feel better. Beauty might only be skin deep but a face mask after a horrendous day is food for the soul.
Now I'm not ignorant. I know full well that after three weeks of constant breast-feeding and sleep deprivation, the last thing I'm going to have the time or inclination for is thinking about lipstick. As much as I hope to still look cool, calm and collected whilst I expertly wing my eyeliner with a newborn balancing on my hip, if pregnancy has taught me anything, it's that expectation does not align with reality. At all, actually.
I'll consider it a win if I don't have baby sick on my three day old leggings come July.
There were days in the first trimester when I sat slumped against the bathroom wall feeling weakened and empty, and the idea of putting makeup on my face and heading into London to meet up with journalists was just inconceivable. I'd smear cold foundation onto my exhausted face on winter mornings and try to make myself look marginally less like I'd just thrown up by upping my blusher levels to the point where, combined with my waxy pallor, I looked like one of the French prostitutes from Les Miserables. Lovely lady, indeed.
It wasn't pretty and it sure as hell wasn't glamorous.
There have, however, been a few beauty gems that have thrown me a little bit of respite during pregnancy, making me feel somewhat human again and a bit less like the Kraken.
Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser - £13.50 I've used a lot of cleansers in my time and this is the one that leaves you feeling utterly squeaky clean. When I've felt grime on my skin after a day of meetings in London, or wanted to literally soap away my frustrations, to come home and lather up with this glorious stuff is one of life's small joys.
The Ritual of Sakura Body Scrub - £10.00
Oh, Rituals. The packaging, the smells, the flagship store in Covent Garden... absolutely beautiful. There is something wonderful about the sensation of freshly scrubbed skin at the best of times, let alone when you're feeling like a beached whale and this exfoliator doesn't disappoint.
Sisley Express Flower Gel Hydrating Mask - £74.00
Rose, iris, lily and sesame extract all come together as the botanical superhero squad that smells absolutely incredible and leaves your skin infinitely more revitalised and quenched. My skin gets ridiculously dry but this mask gives it a tall glass of water and makes me feel like I should wear something white and drink green tea.
Kiehl's Daily Reviving Concentrate - £38.00 Now I'm a little biased from having been a member of the Kiehl's family, but when you're running on very little sleep and outside looks like the dodgy cousin of Narnia, the light lemony scent of this dry oil is perfect to wake you up in the morning; more subtle than some of those godawful 'morning' shower gels that smell vaguely of bleach but with just enough citrus to give your tired, pregnant self a friendly kick up the arse in a morning.
La Prairie Cellular Hand Cream - £72.00
Now this is a little more expensive than your average tube of Soap & Glory, but good lord when you're in the need of a little luxury, the silky formula of this cream is a total treat for the senses. La Prairie is a Swiss brand and a real pioneer in the skin care industry; its campaign for 2014's Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal range alone looked like a bloody Oscar winning piece of film.
Some of these products aren't exactly high street prices, but if you're going to splash out on a pre or post-labour indulgence, these are some lovely little bits to help your knackered, knocked up body feel a little bit more replenished. This skincare five-some was definitely worth its weight in gold through the harsh winter months, when I felt more like a drained out vessel of a being than an actual person.
I'm still on the hunt for the best baby skincare for when the little chap comes along, but if you have any winners, be they Shiseido or Superdrug, then let me know in the comments section below!