As a non-mom who will most likely become a parent at some point in the next decade, I have a lot of questions for new mothers—birth stories both terrify and fascinate me, and the way women adapt their beauty routines and style to their new roles as moms is always intriguing.
So with Mother’s Day around the corner (this Sunday; set a reminder), Joanna Simkin—celebrity makeup artist and mom to an adorable 16-month old girl called Noelle—answered 15 burning questions about pregnancy and motherhood. She delivered intel on the whole epidural experience, the time-saving beauty tricks she’s picked up in the past year, and more insight into her life as a mother and (very) talented makeup artist.
What time do you wake up, on average, and what time are you in bed?
Unless I have an early call time—usually one to three times per week, and I’m up way before the sun, around 5 am—I get up with my daughter around 7:30 am. In a perfect world, I would be in bed by 10 pm, but it’s usually closer to 11 pm.
Has your sense of style changed since having kids?
I love that athleisure is so fashionable now, because I LIVE in cool sneakers, draped sweats, and T-shirts. It’s great that there are so many options now that look current and well-tailored, so sweats and a T-shirt is no longer sloppy looking. Growing up in California, I’ve always had a casual style, but I never thought I’d be so into finding cool sneakers—long live the Yeezy!
What’s surprised you the most about motherhood?
The way I’ve changed emotionally. I feel so much more about EVERYTHING. I can’t even read a news story about kids—good bad—without crying. And it’s so wild how just a smile from my daughter can turn my whole mood around in an instant.
What’s the one thing nobody ever tells you about actually giving birth?
That an epidural does not help when you’re pushing. Yikes. But also, that you kind of naturally go into a Zen place, and that you can do it, no matter what you think!
Tell us what the epidural was like.
I had planned to labor as long as possible and get one only if I felt I needed it. During my childbirth prep classes, I was under the impression that labor would be a slow build and that my body would acclimate to the intensity of contractions. But as they say, every labor is different. I had very mild cramping for a few hours, then my water broke and I had full-blown contractions every three minutes immediately. I had no time to adjust and got an epidural the moment I was admitted to the hospital!
What do you typically eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
I wish I could get it together to make myself a juice or a smoothie every morning like I used to—I should really start prepping that the night before—but I usually have a coffee, and whatever bites of my daughter’s breakfast she feeds me as she feeds herself; it usually equates to about three bites of scrambled egg and two avocado chunks. For lunch I try to find healthy options on the go. As a makeup artist, I am either on set or running around from job to job, so places like Chopt and Sweetgreen are my savior. Sometimes I miss dinner, or on days when I didn’t have to work, I will make the family fish chicken with vegetables.
What brands did you wear most while pregnant?
I tried not to go overboard with maternity clothes, as I knew I wouldn’t wear any of them after I lost my baby weight. I mainly bought loose T-shirts from T by Alexander Wang (pro tip: they are always on sale on The Outnet); oversized sweaters from Theory, Helmut Lang, and Phillip Lim (thankfully already in my closet); and the maternity jeans I bought were … Jessica Simpson! She has some really cute styles that were awesome and affordable and carried me through. Also, you can’t beat a stretch cotton dress in the summer.
What’s the one piece of advice you give friends expecting their first baby?
Don’t be too hard on yourself—nobody is perfect and there is no such thing as perfect balance. Your baby will feel your love, whether or not you breastfeed, whether or not you are there every day, all day. Also: SLEEP. Whenever you can—the dishes can wait, and nobody can function on zero sleep.
What three beauty products did you swear by while pregnant?
I had crazy breakouts in the first trimester, so I swore by Mac Pro Longer Concealer ($21). It’s my absolute favorite—great coverage and all-day wear. Pregnancy gives you amazing full lips, so I didn’t feel a need for lip liner or lipstick at all. Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm ($5) was awesome—a rosy glow on full lips was all I needed. Also, vitamin E oil rubbed all over the itchy belly and thighs and hips faithfully. Not a single stretch mark!
Any time-saving beauty tricks you rely on now?
I love Perricone MD No Foundation Serum ($60). Quick finger application for evenness is all you need. Also, if you have the time (about two hours), lash extensions are a lovely indulgence. They basically buy you a month of no need for mascara or any other eye makeup.
What is your idea of the ultimate indulgence?
I didn’t realize how much I’d taken for granted a pool or beach without a baby. I recently had a work trip that gave me about four hours off in Las Vegas, and I went down to the pool, ordered a glass of wine, read Glamour, and dozed off to the sound of music and people splashing and laughing. My God, I can’t wait for another day like that! Kids at the pool are super cute and fun, but you don’t relax for one second!
What’s the one thing you miss doing that you did regularly before having kids?
I miss being able to run to the gym for classes. They just don’t work with her schedule at my gym, so now I have to find the motivation for a good old regular workout either when she’s asleep or with our nanny during the day.
Any secrets to getting kids to bed?
Sleep training and a routine. I was opposed to sleep training when I first read about it, but it’s amazing what no sleep for five months will do to change your mind. It really only took about three days and she, her dad, and I are all much happier every day! Also, a routine is clutch. It’s nothing crazy or long—basically a couple of stories, the alphabet, two songs, and down she goes. But she knows when that first book comes out it’s about that time, and she starts to settle down immediately and never fights it.
What books or websites did you read when you first became a mom?
The Mayo Clinic has an incredible book about Baby’s First Year ($15.71)— I would read it month by month, then reread it at the end of the month, and it was always spot-on development-wise. Also, you can never go wrong with What to Expect When You’re Expecting ($8.85)—the app is amazing!
What do you do on the weekends to keep your kids entertained?
On the weekends, we go to brunch and the playground, weather permitting. She also has a music class at Kidville that she loves. We like to schedule play dates, and she is just getting to an age where she is really engaged with other kids, so it’s fun to watch!