We catch up with the Australian beauty expert on her second pregnancy and the secret to looking glamorous straight after birth
There are some women who make looking glamorous seem effortless. Sigourney Cantelo is one of them. An Australian beauty journalist with fifteen years-experience in the industry, including six years at Vogue Australia, she never appears caught without perfectly styled hair, glowing skin and flawless makeup, oh and she’s beautiful too. It would be a little envy inducing if it weren’t for the fact that Sigourney is incredibly down-to-earth. Now a mother of two (Max 4 and Luella 4 months) when we catch up with her at home in sunny Sydney she is happy to share her beauty shortcuts and admit that life as a working mother doesn’t always go to plan.
On a mission to “demystify beauty”, Sigourney launched her own site Beauticate in 2013. “After years in magazines I couldn’t find a beauty site that really spoke to me – when I launched there were a lot of blogs but nothing that was magazine-style and a clever curation of products and techniques.” With honest reviews, how-tos and a look inside the bathroom cabinets of industry insiders, the site is a stylish realisation of the former magazine beauty editor’s aim of breaking down beauty codes.
Running her own business means, “Every day is different – one day I might be attending a shoot, on another day I’ll be furiously filing copy, attending client meetings and beauty events and managing my team. I have an office in my home, which is great as I can have the workday come to me. It’s also very handy when you spill coffee on your blouse!” Being her own boss also comes with the added bonus of flexibility. “Being able to work on my terms, when and where I want – if that means doing it at 11pm after the kids have gone to bed or taking conference calls on the way to daycare pickups, then that’s fine.” Although she readily reveals that balancing a career with motherhood is not always easy, and that she has learnt the importance of letting go. “It’s not possible to have an immaculate house and puree bucket loads of organic veggies and run a business all at once. Sometimes I send Max to daycare with one shoe, or with Weetbix on his face, and that’s okay.”
It’s an attitude she also applies to expecting. Having recently given birth to her daughter Luella, she admits her second pregnancy was uncomfortable. Suffering from both rib pain and reflux, it wasn’t an easy experience, however it led her to “Being kinder and easier on myself – if that included eating butter-slathered sourdough every day and letting myself nap in the afternoon so be it.” Despite not feeling her best, she never seemed to look anything short of radiant, so we had to ask – how did she fake that pregnancy glow? “A firm facial massage in the morning with a facial oil, then about ten minutes later, dabbing luminiser onto the tops of your cheek bones and cream blush into the apples of your cheeks,” she says.
Motherhood has taught me the importance of planning but also the importance of letting go
Natural beauty was a priority during pregnancy, “I try to avoid parabens, synthetic fragrances and phtalates where possible. You also have to cut out retinol and salicylic acid, so I put all my cosmeceuticals on ice for nine months.” On her go-to list? “Organic brands like MV Skincare, RMS Beauty and Josie Maran. I use a lot of oils by Ayurvedic aromatherapy range Subtle Energies and Trilogy rosehip oil to help counteract pigmentation.” She also used natural perfume oils and deodorants (she recommends Erica Brooke and Dermalogica) and unsurprisingly has a list of essential products for the body as well. “it’s all about Sodashi, Grown or Rohr Remedy – all amazing after a hot bath in Epsom Salts to soothe aches and pains. You also have to remember to use more sunscreen to prevent pigmentation and add vitamin B serum with niacinamide into your routine (I like Synergie Minerals and Ultraceuticals) as it boosts skin immunity to the sun.” However, her ultimate beauty secret isn’t a cream or an oil, rather she cites eyelash extensions as her expectant must-do. “Not only do they make you look glamorous in your post-baby photos in the hospital (no makeup required) but they also make you feel great in the weeks following.”
While she may appear to be the picture of poise, Sigourney is just like any other new mother, making the most of her first precious months with her newborn. “With a four-year-old and my business it’s busier and more manic than ever. Having said that, I spend a lot more of my time gazing into Lulu’s eyes and making silly faces,” she says.
In Her Words
NINE LONG MONTHS OR NINE JOYOUS MONTHS?
Nine LONG months but joyous in their anticipation… I really think you need nine months to get used to the idea of having an entirely new person in your orbit.
HYPERACTIVE OR CHILLED OUT DURING PREGNANCY?
I was pretty hyper – I did an advertising trip to Melbourne when I was barely allowed to fly and relaunched my Youtube channel - youtube.com/sigourneycantelo just a week before giving birth. I was so sure I was going to go into labour early that I was constantly on edge trying to wrap things up for my team before I went on leave. I was early but only by a week and I was filming a video for the site the day before!
HIDE THE BUMP OR SHOW THE BUMP?
Show the bump – embrace the bump! It’s such a fleeting thing, I think we should try and enjoy it as much as possible. You’ve got the rest of your life to celebrate your waist.
THE ONE THING YOU COULDN'T LIVE WITHOUT WHEN PREGNANT?
Sourdough toast with avocado and Vegemite – sounds weird, but it’s amazing. The salt in the Vegemite is perfect with the creamy avocado.
WHAT DID YOU MISS MOST ABOUT BEING PREGNANT?
Red wine and champagne.
SURPRISE PREGNANCY FACT YOU'VE LEARNT?
Reflux is a sign that your baby will be born with a lot of hair. Definitely true in Luella’s case!
YOUR TOP TIP FOR OTHER PREGNANT WOMEN?
Enjoy the peace and quiet (especially if it’s your first). It’s a long time before you’ll have that time alone again. Read. See lots of movies and spend as much time as you can just indulging yourself. Beauty treatments and me-time take a serious backseat for the first few years of bub’s life.
YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGNERS FOR EXPECTING?
Alexander Wang for work, Mary Katranzou for play.
BOY, GIRL OR KEEPING IT A SURPRISE?
I found out with both my pregnancies. I’m a planner and I figured there was enough going on in the delivery suite without needing the surprise! I totally get why other people don’t find out though. I just couldn’t help myself.
IF YOUR PARTNER COULD CARRY THE BABY WOULD YOU LET HIM?
Absolutely. I would love him to have just a taste of what we go through, and I think he probably would have handled the pregnancy better than me. The birth though, I’m not so sure. When I woke him up when I was in labour he said, “Baby, I need my rest!” He was expecting a two and a half day labour like I had with Max, but this time it was only two hours! Needless to say, he got his act together pretty quickly.
Words by Amanda Woodward-Brown
Visit Beauticate here
Photography by Jenna Maslechko and Daniel Gurton
Styled by Elana Hocking