Dear Mum, Why Didn't You Teach Me These Beauty Lessons Sooner?
We always hear sweet stories of beauty secrets our favourite celebrities and It girls learned from their mums. There's something undeniably beautiful about classified intel being passed along from woman to woman, mother to daughter, from one generation to the next. We're so fascinated by these familial lines of beauty knowledge that there are countless roundups of motherly beauty tips, tricks, and lessons in the media. Just a couple months ago, I covered how stars from Kendall Jenner to Kaia Gerber have mum to thank for their best beauty advice. And though all these nostalgic narratives are lovely to read (and certainly informative—after all, mother knows best), they don't always ring true for non-celebrities who have endured such awkward phases as troubled skin, overplucked eyebrows, or a bad dye job. So while we'll always love our mums, anyone who winces when they catch sight of their go-to "beauty look" in an adolescent photo has at some point wondered—mum, why didn't you teach me these beauty lessons sooner? So for everyone who's suffered through a beauty blunder—that could have easily been stopped by the woman who raised you—here at Byrdie HQ we've rounded up the top beauty rules we had to learn on our own.
Head below to read the beauty things our mums never told us (but we wish they had).
"I wish my mum had forbid me from plucking my eyebrows (like she had enforced a no-shave policy until I was the last of my peers without smooth legs). Growing up, it was my big sister, not my mother, who took the reins in shaping my beauty routine. A high schooler while I was still in preschool, my sister used to style my uncut hair into with high, slicked-back ponytails for daycare, give me full-blown makeovers complete with lip liner for dance recitals, and for my 10th birthday, gifted me a MAC starter kit (Lipglass and taupe eyeshadow). She also took it upon herself to tweeze my eyebrows into beautifully shaped creations when I was just shy of 11, but she moved across the country shortly after.
"In my sister's absence, I continued to pluck away at my brows, eventually fashioning them into cartoon-like lines with an unnaturally wide gap between them. Photos of myself age 12 through 14 (the golden middle school years) still cause me to shudder. The acne that had taken up residence on my forehead and retainer bar across my crooked teeth were the least offensive part of my pubescent appearance, thanks to my barely-there lines of eyebrows. I can hardly blame my sister—who was living miles away and who once, while I was visiting her, merely commented, 'wow, how artistic' in reference to my brows—but I still can't forgive my own mother for allowing the self-elected transmogrification of the face of her unchecked, tweezer-wielding, 12-year-old daughter." — Dacy Knight, weekend editor at Byrdie
"I was a bit of a rebellious kid beauty-wise. My mum wouldn't let me wear makeup in middle school, so I walked up the street to a CVS, bought my own mascara, came home, put it on, and asked her if she noticed anything different. After studying my face for a while, she asked if I was wearing mascara. 'See!' I said. 'It's very subtle. I should be able to wear it.' And from then on, I slowly graduated to eyeshadow and blush. Little devil I was.
"Most 'adult' beauty things were always against my mother's will: shaving my legs, dyeing my hair, tweezing my brows. I can't exactly blame her for doing me a disservice by not teaching me the right way to do these things because I was always a step ahead of her—I was never late to the party, I just always showed up uninvited, so to speak. However, when it came to less experimental beauty aspects, like basic skincare, I wish she had instilled the importance of moisturiser much earlier on. I had really acnaic skin and used a million different acne treatments to try and make it go away, but it only made my case worse. I think that if she had taught me the importance of being kind to my skin and keeping it hydrated, my skin would have gotten better naturally. A good face cream was never a conversation between us, and I didn't actually start using one until college. Now, I can't even think about not hydrating my face—it gives me the heebie jeebies." — Lindsey Metrus, managing editor at Byrdie
"I actually just confronted my mum last weekend about why she ever let me touch my brows—at all. (My dad always told me that I have great brows and I should leave them be.) She had the very valid response that I was 13 years old and begging for the tweezers, so I probably wouldn't have been stopped either way. Fair!
"Other than that, I do wish I had known a bit more about skincare from a younger age. I really didn't really establish a regimen until my early twenties—before that, I was armed with makeup removal wipes and the occasional moisturiser. If I had known that proper skincare would have made me feel that much more confident (and that it would make my makeup look so much better!), I would have started way earlier. My mum always had an array of formulas lying around, but never really had a dedicated routine and didn't pass on any advice. Nowadays, I'm obsessed with skincare enough for the both of us: Whenever I go home to visit my parents, I'm always armed with a ton of products for my mum along with very detailed instructions." — Victoria Hoff, news editor at Byrdie
"My mum taught me a lot of beauty things, from the importance of exfoliating to the transformative power of lipstick. The one thing she didn't teach me that I wish she had was the transformative power of having eyebrows. I have no eyebrows, and I lived the first 21 years of my life blissfully unaware of this fact. But the minute I started penciling in, I saw what a difference they made. Suddenly, my face looked complete, and the angles on my face were more pronounced where I wanted them to be and softer where I didn't. It may sound overdramatic, but drawing in my eyebrows changed my life. Mum, I love you, but I would have loved a heads up--or better yet, a lesson--that eyebrows are just as important as eyeliner, lipstick, and skincare." — Faith Xue, editorial director of Byrdie
"I understand that my mum was way too busy pursuing her badass career to care about this kind of stuff, but I always wished she'd taught me how to braid. I grew up having zero knowledge of how to French braid or Dutch braid or any of the cool styles my friends' mums seemed to know how to do. I mean, my mother was also becoming a world class research scientist or whatever, but, like, braids are pretty. And learning how to do them as an adult is harder than I'd like it to be." — Amanda Montell, features editor at Byrdie
"I wish I could say I wish my mother warned me about my eyebrows, shimmery bronzer, and overwhelming black eyeliner—but, she did, and I didn't listen. I also ignored her when she told me to appreciate my natural curls and went ahead and straightened them anyway. I do wish, however, that she better instilled the importance of sun protection. I never used to wear sunscreen (in fact, I mostly just wore baby oil) and only recently started applying it daily to keep my skin healthy. Now I feel like it's my turn to warn her about damaging UV rays." — Hallie Gould, senior editor at Byrdie