By Gwen Dawkins
Jessica Bandy, 48, is one of those women everyone wants to be: whip-smart, gorgeous and hilarious –– and she makes it look easy. Despite outward appearances, this single mom to four boys (littles to teens) has also faced major challenges, including multiple across-country moves and a painful divorce. She claims to yell, cuss and cry a little too much, but this optimist knows happiness is an inside job. She makes self-care, in all its forms, a high priority –– so she can be a great mom and stay on her game with ‘dignity and grace.’
How do you describe your style?
Ummmm, Target meets Athleta? I like to wear clothes that are functional but look smart and pulled together. I am very frugal, though. So while I might have five of the same pants from Athleta that were $109 each, I’ve never spent more than $300 on a single item –– shoes, bags, wedding dress included.
What is your beauty philosophy?
Botox? Ha! Actually, since my young adult years, I have been diligent about sunscreen on my face, neck and chest. I do peels and laser treatments in the winter when I don’t have much sun exposure. But in the summer? I have four boys (ages 10, 12, 16 & 18) and a lake house, so I do my best to try to stay out of the sun, but it’s hard. As for my overall philosophy, I take good care of my skin by sticking to my routine, and I do whatever the aesthetician tells me –– to the ’T’ like the good rule-follower I am.
What is your morning routine like?
On weekdays, I rise at 6 and give myself a good 30 minutes before the boys start rolling in. I make coffee with Collagen powder and coconut oil and usually try to journal, pray, read or do a Headspace meditation before checking texts and emails. I’m not always successful, but I definitely feel better on those days. I make breakfast and lunches for the boys, then we are out the door by 7:33. I usually head to a barre class or a hike after drop-off, so I am generally dressed for exercise.
Do you have any nightly rituals?
I am a stickler about a clean kitchen and family room before I go to bed, so I make sure that’s done before I start winding down. Besides my nightly skincare routine, I love to take baths several nights a week with a candle, glass of wine and Deuter Radio from Pandora. I use Dr. Teal’s Epson Salt and/or Foaming Bath in the water every time, and it’s glorious.
“I never feel guilty about self-care. I know that I am a better Mom when I’m taking care of myself. I am calmer and can keep my emotions in check when I have done what needs to be done to care for myself.”
What’s your skincare/beauty routine?
I wash with CeraVe cream cleanser from the drug store or SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser. I use Revision Skincare Vitamin C Lotion, ZO Skin Heath Eye Brightening Crème, and Elta MD UV Daily SPF 40 Sunscreen. Since we’ve all been wearing masks due to Covid, I currently just wear eye makeup: Concealer, eyebrow pencil, eyeliner and mascara. Most of my makeup is from Target. Pre-Covid, I would add concealer around my nose and a light dusting with bronzer. I have never used foundation or heavy makeup. At night, I wash again with CereVe, which gently removes makeup. I use Revision Skincare Hydrating Serum, my eye cream, and most nights, I mix a pea-sized portion of prescription Retin-A with a moisturizer like Epionce Renewal Facial Lotion.
What’s your makeup routine?
I’m not much of a makeup person. I have blonde hair, eyebrows and eyelashes and light blue eyes –– so my features tend to fade away. Eye makeup alone transforms my face. On days I wear makeup, I always feel better. But I SUCK at wearing lipstick. Remember the Looney Tunes cartoon, The Tasmanian Devil? And “Taz” and his wife look exactly the same, except that she has BIG red lips? That’s how I feel when I wear it –– so I just don’t.
Any special treatments?
I have done it all over the years. I think Pixel8 RF Microneedling Treatment has had the most impact on my skin. It activates collagen production and helps make skin firmer. I’ve also had VI Peels, which resurface skin nicely.
How do you keep your energy up?
Being a single mom to four active boys when their dad lives across the country is an interesting dynamic. I had three distinct mantras that I used to keep my outlook positive and my spirits up when my marriage was ending, and I’ve continued to use them as our situation has shifted:
- A girlfriend told me, “Girl, you gotta stand akimbo! Think about Wonder Woman and the posture she holds…hands on hips, legs sturdy and apart for balance, shoulders back. STRONG!” I made akimbo sticky notes and put them all over as a reminder.
- Another good girlfriend said, “Jess, you will do what you always do. Hold your head high and behave with dignity and grace.”
- One of my all-time favorite scriptures: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans for good and not to harm.” (Jeremiah 29:11) I trust that God has something good in store for me.
I never feel guilty about self-care. I know that I am a better Mom when I’m taking care of myself. I am calmer and can keep my emotions in check when I have done what needs to be done to care for myself physically (working out, eating healthy, hiking, walking the dogs, skincare and upkeep, mani-pedis, massage), mentally (THERAPY!!!! And book clubs, crosswords, PodCasts like Jay Shetty’s On Purpose), volunteering, relationally (Taking good care of important relationships is really huge for me), and spiritually (Bible study, listening to sermons, prayer, journaling, meditating). When I am diligent about these things, it all works better –– a nice glass of wine or two helps as well!
How do you express yourself? How do you explore your personal creativity?
I’ve been keeping an online journal through an app called DayOne since 2006. My system has evolved over the years, but at the moment, I usually begin a purge of stuff in my brain; things I’m excited, worried or upset about. Then I do a prayer journal method I learned in Bible study years ago called ACTS. Begin with Adoration, praising God. Then Confess your wrongs. Next, express Thanksgiving to God for blessings given. And end with Supplication, or asking God for help or guidance. I have found this to be very helpful. I especially love to go back and read old entries to see where God answered my prayers. Every. Single. Time. It’s not always exactly how I imagined, but it’s really wonderful to have that part of my faith in writing. Sometimes I’ll share an excerpt with someone for whom I’m praying. It’s one of the most humbling and wonderful feelings to hear a prayer someone else says about you to God. I’m passionate about my faith and realize that’s where I express myself the most.
How have your views about beauty changed over time?
Not much. A beautiful person is more than a pretty face, and while we all love to feel good about our skin and the image we are putting out in the world, I try hard to focus on ways to enrich my heart and mind as I believe it exudes from your insides when you have peace in your heart and feel well rounded.
Jessica lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with her four boys and two springer spaniels Ruby & Pepper.