Dani Aceino lives in New Jersey with her husband, Jimmy, and their three boys, all under the age of five. Dani’s outlook on beauty has changed since becoming a mom — both practically and emotionally. Ahead, she talks about the best pregnancy product, building her confidence and the natural beauty brand she swears by…
What’s an average day like for you?
My husband and I own a photography business — we photograph families and weddings — and often shoot together on the weekends. He works lots of other jobs during the week: paints houses, does construction, waits tables. It’s a crazy busy life! Since we share a car and live in a pretty secluded part of central New Jersey, I am mostly at home with the kids during the week.
What are you all usually up to during the week?
My oldest Elliot, who is five, is in kindergarten and Asher goes to preschool. They’ll go to the same school next year and are so excited to sit together on the bus! When they’re home, as long as the temperature is bearable, we’re outside. Our backyard is incredible: there’s a huge hill of rocks that we call ‘our mountain’ and a small mound of rocks that we call ‘the little mountain.’ The big mountain is tall, and I tell the boys not to climb it unless I’m there, but I often find four-year-old Asher at the top yelling, ‘Mommy, can you help me down?” He has no fear!
Do you wear makeup every day?
Not anymore. I recently decided to wear makeup when I WANT to, rather than feeling as if I HAVE to. Makeup can definitely be a great self-esteem boost, but I had a tendency to hide behind it, so there was a point it stopped being fun. Now I feel confident not wearing it every day, which has helped make it fun again. When I do wear makeup, I absolutely love the earth-conscious Moonrise Creek line. I use their translucent powder, blush, eyeliner, mascara and brow gel.
You must be so busy with three little boys!
Yes! Even taking a shower takes some teamwork. I have to say to my husband, okay, I am going to take a shower, you got the kids, right? We have a small place, and it’s difficult to get time alone — the kids like to be around us all the time. When I’m putting on makeup, they’ll just hang out in the bathroom with me. They ask me lots of questions about the whole process — they’re really sweet boys.
Were you always into beauty growing up?
Yes! I grew up in a small suburban town. Even though it was only an hour away from New York City, we were surrounded by farms and open space. I would read teen magazines to get all my ideas of style and beauty. One of my favorite things to do with friends was little makeovers. We’d use my dad’s Polaroid to take pictures of our final looks. Of course, it was more than the makeup that excited me, it was about being creative with friends. I loved how magical it felt to dress up together. Honestly, it’s still so much fun to me!
Why do you think you hid behind makeup when you were younger?
Growing up, I saw my own face through other people’s opinions. I struggled with nitpicking my looks: I wish my eyes looked like this model’s or that model’s; if only my legs were longer… I had to do lots of learning on my own, and much of that came recently. I’ve learned that beauty comes from knowing and loving yourself — two major milestones for me and, I think, many women. I’ve also realized that makeup isn’t terrible, and I can still be a feminist and wear it. I also like that meme I’ve seen floating around, “How to get a bikini body. Have a body. Wear a bikini.” It’s definitely a process, but I have a more accepting relationship with my own body now as a thirty-something mother of three than I ever have before.
What has helped you accept yourself?
Instagram has actually helped with my self-confidence — getting my photography out there, having a voice, seeing all different kinds of people, and writing honestly about all stages of pregnancy and having kids. Also, it may sound corny, but when you have kids they look at you and are like, ‘You’re beautiful, Mommy.’ They see you beyond all the things you don’t like about yourself.
That’s so sweet.
The other day I went to five-year-old Elliot’s school for a music concert. He walked up into the stands and immediately started looking for me. I watched him scan the crowds, and his face lit up when he found me. There’s nothing better than watching your child’s face light up because they SEE you. It doesn’t matter what your makeup or hair looks like — it’s all just radiant love.
What do you like most about your look?
Honestly, I used to really dislike my eyebrows! They were so dark, and I thought they made my face look harsh. It wasn’t until I got older that I began to embrace them. My brows are intense, but that’s okay — so am I!
Have you ever done a drastic beauty experiment?
My hair has always been stick straight. But, one weekend when I was twelve, my mom went away with friends. I had a scheduled hair appointment, and I told my dad that my mom said I could get a perm. I have no idea why any hair professional would go along with this or why my dad believed me, but they did. I got a perm. A terrible perm. But that’s not all: They gave me the “Rachel” cut and, oh dear lord, the combo was just atrocious! Thankfully, we can all laugh about it now.
Tell us about your skincare routine.
I used to be forgetful when it came to my skincare. But since having my third child (and with sleep becoming more elusive), I’ve made skincare a priority. I remove all my makeup with coconut oil every night; otherwise I’ll wear my tiredness on my face. I then wash with Moonrise Creek’s Traditional Cleansing Grains. My skin is sensitive, so aggressive exfoliators leave me blotchy, but this one has just the right amount of scrub. It makes my skin glow like nothing I’ve ever used. I then apply Moonrise Creek’s Botanical Eye Treatment, both around my eyes and on any dry patches on my face.
What products do you use on your body?
Before I shower, I use a dry brush that I picked up at Target. It felt a little weird and uncomfortable at first, but I’ve gotten used to it. You simply brush your skin in a motion moving toward your heart. It helps with dryness and increases circulation. It was a lifesaver during pregnancy! My legs were so swollen toward the end, and the brushing brought much needed relief.
How do you take care of your hair?
My hair is next on my to-do list! My husband got me a gift certificate for a haircut for Christmas, but I haven’t had time to go. It’s so long right now, people think I’m growing it out — but it’s not intentional. I’m also preparing to spend a pretty penny on a new brush. When I was younger, I would constantly dye my hair from drugstore boxes and often went from blonde to brown to blonde again. I’ve taken a break for the past four years, and my hair is thanking me right now… but I’ve started to get the purple-hair itch. Thirty-one isn’t too old for purple hair, right?
Do you have a signature scent?
I use Barr Co’s Original Scent. It smells like milk, oatmeal, vanilla and vetiver — it’s such a comforting smell. I love natural scents. When I’m not wearing Barr Co, I usually wear breastmilk and a woman-who-needs-a-shower. Heard of it?
Do you have any scents in your home that you love?
Our favorites are the rich, heartwarming scents of fall and winter: pine, spices and cedar. Target always has a wonderful selection. We light candles and diffuse oils as well. Young Living’s Gentle Baby is being used quite often at the moment as it seems to calm baby Gus when he’s fussy and teething.
Do you have an overall beauty philosophy?
Self-care is important because it emphasizes “you’re worth it.” Let yourself be inspired by yourself and be alive to who you are. Our unedited self is gorgeous and profound; it guides everything else. I just read this in Mary Oliver’s new book and I think it fits perfectly with my beauty philosophy: “And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.”
Thank you so much, Dani!