In The Lead-Up To Christmas, Here’s What I’m Loving
How is it already mid-November? Somehow we seem to have skipped straight over spring, and here we are in the depths of the party season.

It's a time of inescapable crazy, but thankfully, there have been a few saving graces. Whether brilliant books and TV shows or simple hair saviours, these are the items that – superficial as they may be – are helping me through the season so far …


Sufficient bribery tactics

As soon as November hits, Santa is on speed-dial in the Hahn house. Bad behaviour, refusal to eat dinner, challenges in getting to bed at a reasonable hour … It is all an excuse to give him a quick call. This year, I'm stepping it up a notch with a personalised letter from the man in red himself. Packed full of completely customisable details and in a divine design with a thick red envelope, this is going to guarantee beautiful behaviour until December 25th.

Quick-fix skin solutions

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I'd be lying if I said that my wine consumption increases significantly at Christmas-time. It's a regular occurrence come 7pm in our home year-round (three boys under 6 will do that to a woman, right? Right?), but the fact that I'm breastfeeding one of those boys means that I'm maxed out at one glass. So perhaps it's just the seasonal madness – not my dietary habits – that has left my skin feeling more than a little lacklustre. So this Frank Body kit has been a wonder; with their signature scrubs, gorgeous glowing masks and my favourite caffeine moisturiser, they're giving my skin the quick pep it needs.

Frank Body Iddy Biddy Face Party Kit- $49.95

Great TV and even better books

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As we've been putting the finishing touches on our first-ever printed edition of GRACE Magazine (out this week!), it's been tempting to sink straight into bed the moment my knife and fork hit the plate after dinner. Which means that any pre-bedtime entertainment has to be good to withstand my exhaustion levels. Thankfully, the gods have provided in the best way possible.

If you have not yet watched Fleabag – stop what you're doing right now, find it and binge. Particularly season 2. In the words of Joss Whedon on Twitter: "Okay, I finally watched Fleabag, it was fine I guess but I have an issue — at the end, how do I watch anything else or make anything else or live my life or breathe or feel or care or walk or fly did I fly am I here is it me do I live through this now what how but." Yep. Then, if you're looking for more Phoebe Waller-Bridge fabulousness, Killing Eve delivers in spades.

For those more inclined toward the literary kind of entertainment, Three Women and Fleishman Is In Trouble have been two stand-out hits that are remarkably thought provoking while being absolute page-turners.

A catch-all set for moments of madness

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With three children, I can almost guarantee that every time I leave the house, I will forget something. So it was a delight to recently stumble upon the gorgeous Clutch & Wipes Pouch Set from Ben & Ellie Baby, which changes the game of organisation.

With all the right pockets (that remind me what I'm missing), perfectly sized and with polished gold hardware, it's luxurious, gorgeous, practical and turns any bag into a nappy bag.

Ben & Ellie Clutch & Wipes Pouch Set – $219

A festively fragranced home

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Despite living in what seems to be the hottest climate on the planet, there's something about the arrival of the season that makes me want our home to smell exclusively of cookies, cinnamon and festive fruits. This Glasshouse diffuser fits the bill – it's beautifully Christmasy without being overpowering.

Night Before Christmas Dancing Sugar Plums Fragrance Diffuser – $49.95

A fresh cut and colour

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Around this time each year, I become manically and predictably sick of my hair. So a fresh cut and colour is a must. This year, I took myself off to the best of the best – Frankie and Katya at Adilla Colab – and let them work their magic, with little to no instructions. I emerged with subtle layers that magically made my face appear less drawn, expertly positioned highlights that created the perfect balance against my skin tone, and a booking for four weeks' time to experience their genius all over again.

Visit Adilla Colab

Plus a styling tool to continue the goodness at home

Call me crazy, but up until a few weeks ago, I believed that all hair straighteners were created equally. Fast forward to today, having experienced True Me (from the team who first introduced GHD and Cloud Nine to Australia) and I know now the error of my ways. The straightener has keratin-infused ceramic plates that creates shiny hair that stays in place for much longer, and it's truly a breeze to create curls and bends.

If you're tempted to add this to your wish list, the brand is currently offering a limited-edition True Me X Shhh Silk Xmas gift set, which features a styler plus a complimentary oversized 100% pure mulberry silk Pink Silk Scrunchie from Shhh Silk. So you have every good reason to add it to your list.

True Original Hair Straightener by True Me – $179

Easy, breezy feeding wear

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As I'm still breastfeeding Henry approximately 487 times a day, easy access is at the top of my list of sartorial requirements (it's a glamourous time). And in the depths of summer, breathable, lightweight options are key. This linen jumpsuit from bun | mini & mum is heavenly as it's a one-stop-shop (no styling requirements at 6am when I have three children jumping on me) and fits the bill for the Sydney heat.

bun | mini & mum – Pippa jumpsuit – $159.95

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@modelmother

Jess Bowen
"I ended up tandem feeding my two children until my daughter turned 4.5 years old," says British mother of two and model Jess Bowen.

As it happened, tandem feeding was never part of the plan and it was only after reading about it online that she knew it was possible. Jess now shares her story online too, through her blog and Instagram account @modelmother, in the hope that it'll inspire others, just as she was once inspired. "I'm still breastfeeding my son who has recently turned two and we are both happy with how it's going although the plan is to night wean him as soon as his final tooth is through because mama needs some rest!"

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Rebecca Ritman with her son Sonny

Pepita Fernandez
From rubber rings to earth-shattering epiphanies


Ever since my son was five weeks old, when I felt like I had just woken up from a very long and very intense dream involving repeatedly putting cold cabbage leaves on my nipples (nature's balm for that brutal early breastfeeding soreness), I have been mentally amassing a list of all the things that really, really made a difference. The moments that, whether psychologically or physically, gave me the fresh legs I needed to keep on going on my own new-baby marathon. Or the things I didn't do, that I would have done, had I known about them ahead of time.

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The story we are told of motherhood is one of lightness that leans into the beautiful, the incredible and the magical. However, for all the lightness there is shade, and in the shadows lies a rollercoaster which pushes you to your limits and at times breaks you. Both sides are important for open, real dialogue around motherhood. As a health professional I entered motherhood confident. I had all the resources at my fingers tips as a women's health physiotherapist. Despite this, my journey was far from smooth. Even though I was well informed, it didn't make me immune to the real emotional and physical challenges of motherhood that are still so rarely discussed.

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Smoosh Founder Mim Gascoigne
Do you cleanse your face properly?

For so many of us, the answer is probably no (and it doesn't help when you have a small child at your feet trying to get your attention). Which is why we like to keep our skincare regime simple and effective, and also why we opt for oil-based skincare.


Enter Smoosh, a fuss-free, natural skincare range based on the hydrating power of oils, created by Sydney mum of three and teacher Mim Gascoigne.

"Cleansing is such an important step in your routine. If the cleansing step is too harsh and dries out the skin, you are a few steps back and you've only just stepped onto the starting block," she says, referring to that feeling of dryness that can come after cleansing if you've stripped all the hydration out of your skin. She set about solving that skincare dilemma. Smoosh's Silky Cleansing Oil, contains six organic and natural plant oils, including camellia, peach, jojoba, watermelon and passionfruit and leaves your skin feeling soft, supple and hydrated (the opposite to the aforementioned dry, tight state).

Next in the Smoosh skincare regime is a serum, and there are three in the range, so there's something for all skin types. "Pregnancy, menopause, hormonal changes, illness, travelling, seasonal changes, stress, shaving (men love our Soothing Balance oil serum) are just some of the things that can change how skin is behaving and its specific needs," she says. "I wanted to offer three multifaceted organic and natural face oil serums, free from fragrance and essential oils, that would offer nourishment and visible results to skin during the different phases life throws our way." As for what serum actually does (i.e. how it'll help us glow), she explains that a serum is that extra step after you cleanse and before you moisturise, that will deliver a concentrated dose of vitamins, antioxidants and/or actives to your skincare routine. If your skin still feels dry after you apply serum, Mim advises you to keep your skin damp when you apply: "our oil serums absorb quickest when skin is damp. after cleansing or misting is a great time to smoosh. Three to four drops massaged into damp skin should leave skin supple, bouncy and moisturised never greasy."

Her passion for plant-based skincare products came from her mother, who is a GP and studied naturopathy. "She has a real passion for research so was great at teaching me, from a very young age, all about plants, their great benefits as well as their contraindications," says Mim. And as for the name Smoosh, it was inspired by the feeling you get when you see chubby baby thighs. "You really want to 'smoosh' them," says Mim. "Whatever age you are, healthy skin has that beautiful glow and softness that brings about the desire to touch and smoosh it."

Here we talk to Mim about how she got her business off the ground (and the ups and downs of that journey), the key ingredients in her products and why your skin will love them, practical time management tips for the working mother, and most importantly, how to Smoosh.

Go to www.smooshskin.com

Smoosh Silky Cleansing Oil

Smoosh Silky Cleansing Oil

www.smooshskin.com

Smoosh skincare

Smoosh skincare

www.smooshskin.com

Smoosh Nourish oil serumSmooth Soothing Balance oil serumSmoosh Radiance oil serum

Smoosh's range of serums

www.smooshskin.com

There are so many cleansers in the market, why did you decide to launch an oil cleanser and what are the benefits of oil cleansers?

So many cleansers, yet I still felt like I hadn't found my perfect one. Personally, having such sensitive skin I really wanted to create an oil cleansing blend that was free from essential oils and fragrance, yet was also light and silky enough for all skin types. A cleanser that is gentle yet thorough is crucial. This is where an oil cleanser shines, it has the ability to cleanse away the most stubborn makeup and sunscreen yet leave your skin soft, hydrated and your skin barrier healthy and intact. I also had customers asking for me to create one.

What skin types would this product suit? For example, should oilier skins steer clear?

All skin types can benefit from our Silky Cleansing Oil, each plant oil in the blend has been thoughtfully chosen to provide just the right amount of slip for a beautifully smooth massage and cleansing ritual, without overloading the skin. Once massaged in and gently removed with lukewarm water and a soft cloth, your skin will be perfectly cleansed, super smooth, nourished and glowing. No greasy oil slick in sight.

Smoosh has three different serums. Firstly, what role does serum play in our skincare?

A serum is that little step that will deliver a concentrated dose of vitamins, antioxidants and/or actives to your skincare routine. Our oil serums can be used alone or added to your moisturiser. Luxurious, potent and brimming with goodness each of the three oil serums is loaded with omega fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants to help nurture and bring about healthy and glowing skin.

What is the difference between the three serums you offer - and how did you settle on three?

I settled on three, as I feel within the trilogy, all skin types can find a a blend to support them. Whatever skin season they are having. Pregnancy, menopause, hormonal changes, illness, travelling, seasonal changes, stress, shaving (men love our Soothing Balance oil serum) are just some of the things that can change how skin is behaving and its specific needs. I wanted to offer three multifaceted organic and natural face oil serums, free from fragrance and essential oils, that would offer nourishment and visible results to skin during the different phases life throws our way.

Radiance oil serum is a nectar-like oil serum, deeply moisturising so wonderful for very dry and/or mature skin. It turns around lack lustre skin really quickly and it's also wonderful in cold windy weather. Soothing Balance oil serum is for all skin types, especially those prone to breakouts, it's silky and light yet still provides beautiful moisture. It's calming on inflammation and brings clarity to confused skin. Nourish oil serum is a satiny, berry packed oil serum, it gives dewy hydration, nourishment and is really rejuvenating for normal to dry skin types. It's a bit like a super berry smoothie in a face oil!

Natural skincare has always been part of your life - tell me how your mother influenced your skincare decisions and how you approach your skincare regime?

My mum is a GP and also studied naturopathy so I was surrounded by tinctures and natural skincare products from a very young age. She has a real passion for research so was great at teaching me, from a very young age, all about plants, their great benefits as well as their contraindications. She was also instrumental in teaching me about the benefits of nutritious healthy food, the benefits of having a healthy lifestyle and how both can impact skin health for the better. She was into bone broth long before it was trendy!

Smoosh skincareSmoosh Nourish oil serumSmoosh Radiance oil serumSmoosh Soothing Balance oil serum

www.smooshskin.com

Smoosh skincareSmoosh Radiance oil serum

Skincare has changed a lot over the years, what are some ingredients or products which have stood the test of time?

I think face oils have been around for a long time but have definitely become more mainstream which is great as I think they are really transformative. Oil and balm cleansers have been used by actors and stage performers for decades to remove heaving makeup so their credentials are pretty good too. Weleda Skin food is a great classic as is Dr Haushka Rose Cream. Lanolin is another ingredient that has stood the test of time, Lanolips 101 ointment, is such a great formula. Glycerin is a bit of an underrated ingredient, it's been around for ages and is so healing for dry skin. It seems to be having a bit of a resurgence though!

The term "clean beauty" is very trendy - how would you define clean beauty?

As there is no official definition for the term, I feel the term can sometimes be confusing. One brand's clean list can vary from another. I would say Smoosh Skin is a clean beauty brand insofar as it is organic and natural, plant-based, free from added fragrance, vegan and cruelty free.

What are the hero ingredients in your products?

This is a hard one; we source 26 of the highest quality organic and natural plant oils and create all our formulas in small batches so they are fresh and vibrant. They all play an important role, but special mention to the luminous coral red of the organic Rosehip fruit oil, and the dark vivid green of our virgin Hemp seed oil, however, they are all such a delight to blend and work with.

Where do so many of us go wrong when it comes to skincare?

I think trying too many new products, all at once can often send skin into a spin. I speak from experience in this area! Adding one new product to your skincare routine at a time and using it for a few days before adding the next, is the best way to see if a product is working for you. Also, when using actives like retinol and acid toners it makes you even more susceptible to sunburn so it's so important to practice good sun safety.

Smoosh founder Mim Gascoigne

What lead you to launch your own business - was there a defining moment where you made the decision?

I'd thought about it for many years, however, once I started having babies it took a back seat. Once I had my third child, I somehow felt ready to start a new chapter and had the confidence to jump in. I've always been naturally driven by creative projects and have a genuine passion for skincare so it helps to have a real love for what I'm doing.

The beginning is often a stumbling block for so many women when it comes to launching their own business. Where did you start and how quickly did you launch?

Much of the product line is a culmination of decades of my own research and experience so developing the products has taken years. However, once I decided to go for it, building the brand and business itself, took about six months to solidify. I drew on a bit of knowledge I had from some marketing subjects I did at university. My husband works in marketing so he offered to give me a framework to build the business from i.e. key steps to follow in launching the business, which was very helpful.

What has been the most challenging part of starting a business?

The most challenging parts have been sourcing packaging, labelling and suppliers. Some of our oils have been very hard to source. Covid-19 social distancing and restrictions hit just as I was launching, which brought new challenges as many of our oils were suddenly out of stock. Lastly, being from outside the skincare business, it is a challenge to build brand awareness as a small start-up as it is a crowded market, so that is our biggest challenge right now.

What about the most rewarding?

Customer feedback. Seeing our customers' skin transformations from our products. Having sensitive skin myself and dealing with eczema and more recently rosacea, I know how hard it can be to find a product that works and supports your skin. I genuinely love that we can help our customers get relief for their skin condition and attain healthy, happy skin.

www.smooshskin.com

Now, how do you manage your time between your children and your business?

It is a constant juggle, especially as many of the aspects of starting a new business are completely new to me, so I feel like it takes me more time than the next person, I have to do more research and this comes with more frustration! I have three kids, 9, 7 and 2, so working with them around makes any task infinitely longer! When possible, I plan ahead and carve out pockets of time to work when they are otherwise engaged. I have moved into a casual teaching role which gives me more flexibility to work on the business too.

How do you look after your skin daily? What products do you personally use?

I cleanse every night with our Silky Cleansing Oil and a soft cloth. I then use one of our three oil serums depending on how my skin is feeling.

In winter I mostly reach for Radiance oil serum in the evenings, it's so deeply moisturising and wonderful for dry winter skin. I then often choose the lighter, Soothing Balance oil serum in the morning. In the summer it's more often Soothing Balance in the day and Nourish oil serum at night.

I don't cleanse in the morning unless I've used a mask overnight. Skipping the morning cleanse has been really helpful in calming rosacea flare ups.

Every 7-10 days I use the Allies of Skin retinal and peptides overnight mask. I also use a pure white french clay mask mixed with one of the Smoosh oil serums if I need a soothing mask.

Other loves…….
Mother SPF
Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturiser and RMS Un-Cover Up
Baby Cheeks Blush Stick by Westman Atelier
Tubing mascara as I have hooded eyes and no mascara stays put!
Lanolips 101 Ointment

The Grace Tales is a global lifestyle platform for mothers searching for style, substance, and solidarity. Driven by creating content, community and connection, we celebrate the paradox of modern motherhood; the struggle and the beauty, the joy and the relentlessness.

Sophie Harris-Taylor captures something we often try so hard to hide: our vulnerability. As mothers, we're supposed to be strong and powerful, yet what is often overlooked is that our transition into becoming a mother is the most vulnerable period of our lives...

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