As executive editor at beauty site Glossy and mom to eight-month-old Jack, journalist Priya Rao is a literal professional when it comes to curating a mostly-clean pregnancy and postpartum beauty regimen. When she’s not momming it up, you can catch her exploring the latest trends and most urgent conversations in the beauty world via the Glossy Beauty Podcast and Unfair, an Apple-recommended narrative podcast series that delves into the global skin whitening industry.
Here, Priya takes us through her beauty skincare philosophy and the products she reaches for on a daily basis that keep her feeling (and looking!) great, sleepless nights and all.
On her overall beauty philosophy…..
“My approach to beauty and wellness has always been pretty minimal. I don’t typically follow trends but use products that highlight my best features. But I think the whole thing is supposed to be fun and I’ve gotten more into trying things like a sparkly eyeshadow or a colored liner.
Despite being in the beauty and wellness business, I’ve never enjoyed a multi-step routine. I’ve gotten smarter about what I use and veer toward clean products for skin and body care, but my routine is not 100% clean. I think there’s a lot of fear mongering there so I look for ingredients that are recognizable.
I have a very glamorous mom who never left the house without makeup so beauty is important to me, but I’m not afraid of going out of the house without looking “done.” I pay a lot of attention to my hair care routine and moisturizing every day, which is more about feeling good.
I’m lucky that I get to try a lot of different brands and speak to so many interesting brand founders and executives. That said, there are so many products and brands out there today, which is exciting, but it’s wild to to see which ones claim to do what they say and which ones actually do.
On her pregnancy beauty journey….
While I was pregnant, I definitely had more time! I was also more conscious about not using certain things that are musts in beauty like retinol or AHA’s or micro-current. Even though I’m in the industry, I found myself being surprised by how many products were not pregnancy safe. I think that’s a “come to Jesus” that a lot of women have when they are pregnant for the first time. Now, I’m sticking to a simple skin care routine and a little bit of makeup when I’m on a Zoom or have to go out of the house. Time is a luxury I don’t have right now but I feel transformed when I get a chance to spend time on myself.
Even though I’m in the industry, I found myself being surprised by how many products were not pregnancy safe.
During pregnancy, layering HATCH MAMA Belly Oil on me followed by a Cetaphil or Augustinus Bader Body Cream was a must. I was super dry and though I didn’t get away with not having any stretch marks, I feel like that routine helped.
Post pregnancy, my hair has been an issue – it’s changed and much drier, like a scarecrow, and continues to fall out. I love Virtue Labs‘ line. It seems to be the only thing that is making my hair look thick and fall like it once did. I also love Sir Philip Kingley’s Body Building Weightless Shampoo and Harklinikken‘s Daily Conditioner or Dove’s Hydration Spa Conditioner. Air drying is my usual M.O. but when I do have time to do my hair, Dyson’s new Air Wrap does everything.
Like I said, I’m not 100% clean in my routines but I do lean that way. I think clean makeup is hard from a performance standpoint, and that still matters to me in a mascara or lip or blush. I also love that founders now matter so much to a brand’s DNA and that values and real people are coming to the forefront. I care about that. I love the big beauty businesses, but it’s amazing to see what all these indie founders have done.
My big issue these days is looking awake! If I have no time and am exhausted, I stick to cleansing, moisturizing, eye cream, and Aquaphor.
On her tried-and-true products….
I know cleansers don’t have to strip, but I was a teen during Neutrogena’s heyday so I like that clean feeling after washing my face. Because of that, I tend to gravitate to foam cleansers. In my rotation right now are Dr. Barbara Strum’s Darker Skin Tones Enzyme Cleanser, Drunk Elephant’s Beste™ No. 9 Jelly Cleanser, and Cle de Peau’s Softening Cleansing Foam.
I also use Augustinus Bader The Cream. The hype is true. This is the only cream you need to look like you are forever young. I also love Augustinus Bader Soothing Cream. Post-baby, I’ve had a lot of dryness and redness, which is unusual for me.
If I do have an extra minute, Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Darker Skin Tones Hyaluronic Serum is great for dryness.
I’ve always been conscious of my undereye circles and they are so much worse after having Jack. I’m always trying new ones, but my favorites are Augustinus Bader’s new Eye Cream (I’m sure you are seeing a trend) and my forever go-to is 111 Skin’s Space Defence Eye Lift Gel.
I hate to admit it, but I’m not the best about sunscreen on my face. I still wish there were more options that don’t leave a white cast and truly, there aren’t! I am trying to be more diligent especially since I’m slathering everyone in my house with it. I am liking Hatch’s Sunny Mama Face Sunscreen, Saint Jane’s Luxury Sun Ritual and Shiseido’s Ultimate Sun Protector.
Showering seems to be the only moment I get to be by myself. With as much as Jack is spitting up on me, it usually happens twice a day. There is nothing better than Cetaphil Bar Soap. If I’m taking a bath, I use Flamingo Estate’s body washes.
On her makeup picks….
Doing a full face these days is hard and most of the time, I’m wearing no makeup except Nars concealer or foundation as a spot treatment. There is a reason why people of my complexion stick to Nars or MAC in this category — undertones!
I’ve brought back my Lancôme Art Liner to wake up my eyes and finish with Ilia mascara. Far and away, it’s the only clean mascara that competes with the big guys.
I love a good multi stick blush. Nudestix Naughty N’ Spice is my forever color. Ilia has a new version of the Multistick and has a lot of great shades that I’m playing with. I follow with Chanel Rose Bronze.
I love a good lip. My apartment is filled with hundreds and hundreds of shades. It makes me feel done, but they all fall in the same shade families — rose my neutral, an orangey pop, a brick red like my mom, and then real red. For everyday, I stick to Tom Ford Casablanca or Benefit’s Lip Stain for a popsicle lip look.