Filipino Beauty Tips and Myths I Learned From My Mother

Every culture has beauty myths and tips. Here's what has been passed down in my family through generations.
annkrishaannkrisha
May 8, 2020
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Cherie is an online community of beauty lovers sharing their stories; whether that's their favorite products, makeup tutorials, or skincare routines. Download the app today to be a part of #BeautyWithoutBarriers and show the world what beauty means to you! Being a child of an immigrant means you're often reconciling two worlds; the one your parents came from and the one they brought you into. In my case, my parents immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines in the early '90s, just a few months before I was born. My homeworld was full of homemade Filipino food, Maaala Mo Kaya*, karaoke-filled nights, turning our plates when guests left, and listening to my mom speak for hours (and I mean HOURS) on the phone with her mares*. Outside of my home, my world was American pop songs, discovering the world wide web on Ask Jeeves, wearing shoes in friends' homes, wishing I could have a chicken sandwich instead of my baon*, and hanging out with my friends under the guise of extra-curricular activities. There were many places my worlds met seamlessly, leading me to never feel like they were so far apart; like when my dad would fill our pantry with Poptarts and gummy worms, right next to the Skyflakes* and mammon*. Or every single time we'd eat out at non-Asian restaurants and it felt so foreign because there wasn't any rice. And of course, Filipino family and friends, making the reconciliation of being Filipino in America a community effort, and effortlessly Filipino-American. When I started getting into skincare and beauty around 15 years old, I was overwhelmed with beauty's "you can always be prettier" culture. It was something very different from the beauty rituals and practices my mom taught me which fell more along the lines of "just keep clean". While western beauty practices focus on adding ingredients, products, and lotions, Filipino beauty is a lot more simple, focusing on cleanliness and more "dont's" vs. "do's". In the spirit of Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I wanted to share some of the myths and tips as quoted by my mother and debunked (or not) by me. Myth: Don't wear deodorant, it will make your underarms stink"Don't wear deodorant because it clogs your pores. Everything gets stuck and then you have more body odor." - My Mom, Nenita Buenaobra There's some truth in the whole "don't wear deodorant" part of this myth; many traditional deodorants have harmful chemicals, like aluminum and parabens, that have been proven to be bad for you. As for the whole deodorant-makes-you-stink bit, that's a bust. I will say that for me, I have never worn deodorant a day in my life. And I don't stink. While body odor is natural, it seems that never having worn deodorant has kept my body odor radius to a minimum, but it's probably genetics. Tip: ALWAYS shower before bed "Do this to be fresh and clean and get good sleep." - NB No matter if you already showered in the morning or barely lifted a finger through the day, always shower before bed. My mom never let anyone of us go to bed without properly cleansing ourselves, and I still stick with this tip to this day. At the very least, you're going to bed relaxed and clean—what could be the harm in that?
Ann's shelfie photo c/o the author
Ann's shelfie photo c/o the author
Myth: Don't shave your body hair, it will grow back thicker "When you shave your body hair, it grows back faster and thicker and then you have to keep shaving and shaving and shaving." - NB No, shaving does not make your hair grow back faster or thicker (sorry mom!), but it can cause ingrown hairs, razor bumps, and dark spots. This can make it feel like you have to keep shaving for your legs to stay smooth. Similar to wearing deodorant, I don't shave my body hair and oddly enough, hardly grow any. When I was in high school, I shaved my legs for a year because everyone else was doing it, and the hair did grow back often. When I stopped shaving, the hair stopped growing. Another thing for me to chalk up to genetics because I have no idea why I'm like this. Myth: Vicks heals everything "It just does." - NB If you're Filipino, you know this one. There's no rhyme or reason, it just is. Have a cold? Vicks. Allergies? Vicks. Headache? Vicks. Sprained ankle? You already know what to reach for. Tip: Coconut oil is the best moisturizer "It's natural and helps in the growth of your hair. It keeps your skin soft." - NB Period. No qualms here! I use coconut oil every night—but only on my body! Coconut oil can be comedogenic (pore-clogging) on the face, so be wary with your use. I also use it on my hair, but only on the ends where it's extra dry. Myth: Never go to bed with wet hair, you could go blind "Water can't evaporate on the head so the cold water goes to your eyes and might cause blindness." - NB So this one is intense, but according to my mom, this has been a saying with elders in her village for a long time. This myth is a bust since water in the eye doesn't correlate to blindness or impaired vision. That being said, going to bed with wet hair can be bad for your hair because when wet, your hair cuticles are open and more vulnerable to damage. Plus, it's a tad uncomfortable going to bed with wet hair.
Nenita's shelfie photo c/o the author
Nenita's shelfie photo c/o the author
Tip: Moisutrize while your body while is still wet "The moisturizer will be absorbed more easily, plus your body is still clean so the moisture can protect your skin." - NB A great tip that I still adhere to this day. Moisturizing your body while it's fresh out of the shower can help seal in hydration and moisture. Myth: Don't cut your nails at night, especially on Monday "If you do this, you'll be cutting your luck and your growth because Monday is the start of the week." - NB It's pretty safe to say that this myth is a bust. I've never tracked the days in which I cut my nails, but I doubt you'll be cutting your luck and growth short by trimming your cuticles. But hey, it is done onto you as you believe, so if you feel like any of this could be true, I suggest keeping your nail appointments to Tuesday-Sunday. Tip: Keep a skincare routine every morning and night "Siempre*! To nourish your skin." - NB I watched my mom do her skincare routine of cleansing, toning and moisturizing every day and night. She's 64 years old now and easily looks like she's in her early 50s. So, if you ask me, I'll be doing a skincare routine every morning and night for the rest of my life. *Tagalog Translations Maaala Mo Kaya- A tear-inducing T.V. drama. Mare- Girlfriends you gossip with Baon- Lunch you bring from home Skyflakes- The yummiest crackers Mammon- Delectable sponge cake Siempre- Of course!
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