Top three beauty concerns of Filipinos: Lines and wrinkles, dark spots (whitening), acne

#MorenaAndProud or #PaleAndLovingIt? Beauty, these days, is all about acceptance and “you do you” — who knew a tiny square on our phones would be partly responsible for that? When Instagram was launched in 2010 along with a few smartphones that allowed us to take okay photos, the app served a pretty basic purpose: it was a platform for sharing everyday human experiences. Individual “aesthetic” was a trait deeply tied to what we did on a daily basis, the things we enjoyed and found interesting. To phrase it in today’s terminology, it was organic. Aesthetic, the way we understand and apply it now, was yet to be conceived. Beauty? It was a barely formed zit waiting to pop. We had no idea exactly how beautiful things could be, and how much of it we would be able to control, both on our screens and in real life.

“It” girls in their ternos: Paraluman, Susan Roces, Gloria Romero and Amalia Fuentes (@fashionable_filipinas)

Acceptance is not defeat

“It” girls in the era of Pinay supermodels: Apples Aberin, Tweetie de Leon-Gonzalez and Rissa Mananquil-Trillo

There was a time when transferring a photo from a real camera to post on Instagram would have been considered cheating. It’s not an accurate representation of life, we said. This was until editing apps such as VSCO, Afterlight, Snapseed, Facetune and MakeupPlus came along. As the digitally savvy continued to enable our creativity through our phones, advancements in technology on the cosmetic and surgical front gave us tools to enhance individual beauty as we saw fit in real life. Non-surgical cosmetic procedures performed around the world increased by millions, and many of them, over the last eight years, were introduced to the Philippine market. Our celebrities started openly sharing what they had done on billboards along EDSA, and then later on in social media. “The three biggest non-surgical procedures to be introduced in the country in the past few years are Ultherapy, Artas Robotics Hair Transplant, and PicoSure/PicoEnlighten lasers,” says Dr. Z Teo. If surgery is equal to Photoshop, non-invasive treatments are our apps — no more logging on to a computer to make things pretty; simply click Beautify. What a time to be alive.

“It” girls in the time of Instagram: Liz Uy, Anne Curtis Smith, Solenn Heussaff, Georgina Wilson, Isabelle Daza and Bea Soriano-Dee

In seems contradictory that these developments would encourage a more diverse concept of beauty, but we learned: the more tools we had at our disposal, the more we could customize our aesthetic to our liking, faces and body parts included. Suddenly, we had options and we didn’t have to all look the same anymore. With tools, we had creativity as well as limits. Acceptance, in this sense, is not about giving up, but instead, one, recognizing an issue and acting on it, or two, making a personal stand to embrace it — which ever you choose, as long as you choose, is an act of empowerment.

Age is really just a number

Bestselling makeup product: Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Powder

With all the information we have at hand, we are obsessed with anti-aging now more than ever. My grandmother used to only have two products for everything: Oil of Olay and Vicks VapoRub. Today, she uses everything I give her, and is fixated on this one dark spot she has on her right temple. She loves it when relatives comment on how good she looks on Facebook. But who doesn’t? Every woman wants to know they look younger than they are.

We are coming to terms with the fact that aging is number that should not have to be seen on our faces or the way we live. Elon Musk’s mom, Maye, is a 70-year-old model and dietician who is having a moment. Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is 36 and no one is making a big deal out of it (we would have if it were 1986). Charo Santos, CEO of ABS-CBN Corporation, is 62 and the newest ambassador of Ultherapy. Age is but a number, as long as it doesn’t hit us in the face.

Yasss, kweens: Binibining Pilipinas Universe titleholders over the years are Catriona Gray (@catriona_gray), Rachel Peters (@rachelpetersx), Maxine Medina (@maxine_medina)

Thankfully, our main issues with aging, which are looking and feeling it, can now be remedied, even prevented. Cosmetic anti-aging is a big industry in the Philippines and anti-aging products fly off the shelves quicker than you can say Botox. One of the country’s biggest beauty distributors revealed that lines and wrinkles are major concerns among Filipino women, next only to dark spots and acne.

While skin whitening is still big business, consumers are more focused on having smooth, even-toned and wrinkle-free skin. “Radiant,” “luminous” and “glowing” are hit marketing buzzwords, as well as skincare goals. Many Filipinas are embracing their brown skin, regularly updating their tans at the beach sans SPF. Many are using Kojie San and going for regular glutathione drips for a clear and even toned complexion.

It’s a good time for the beauty industry — social media has made the conversation on beauty less judgmental and more inclusive. It’s still a problem when a white actor gets cast for an Asian role, but that’s Hollywood. When it comes to beauty, we know better than to rain on another woman’s parade. In fact, some are proudly parading “flaws” on Instagram in an effort to remove any stigma attached to them, from freckles to zits, wrinkles to vitiligo. It’s a movement that’s challenging so-called Instagram beauty standards by acknowledging struggles and not just posting the “after” photo. The hashtag #freethepimple just recently caught on in the UK, I wonder if Filipinos are ready for it.

Yasss, kweens:Pia Wurtzbach(@piawurtzbach), Mary Jean Lastimosa (@mj_lastimosa), Ariella Arida (@araarida)

When it comes to makeup, the modern Pinay has gotten more adventurous. At this point we know that “no makeup makeup” actually takes the same amount of product and effort as it does a full-on face. We are taking cues from local beauty icons who have launched their own makeup lines. Rissa Mananquil-Trillo, founder of the successful Happy Skin, says, “The single biggest reason Filipinas like Happy Skin is because we fulfill not just their beauty wishes, but equally address their frustrations with makeup. It’s women’s complaints and needs that inspire our products.” Happy Skin sells an average of 500 lippies a day.

Other celebrities who have launched their own makeup collections are Anne Curtis and her BLK Cosmetics line, Vice Ganda’s sold-out-on-launch-day Vice Cosmetics, Nadine Lustre with her collab with Aussie brand BYS, and Maine Mendoza, who will be releasing her own lipstick shade with MAC Cosmetics, perhaps after her trademark red and local bestseller, Ruby Woo.

Under the influence

Yasss, kweens:Janine Tugonon (@tugononjanine), Shamcey Supsup (@supsupshamcey), and Venus Raj (@onlyvenusraj)

More than a way to increase followers, hashtags are like breadcrumbs that connect us to trends around the world. In the digital age, the Filipino aesthetic is largely influenced by global trends. One of the earliest examples of a strong online aesthetic came to us in the form of men’s streetwear website Hypebeast. Founded by sneakerhead Kevin Ma, it served copious amounts of sneakers, sportswear and an anti-trend that we later on called “normcore.” There’s also French photographer Garance Doré, whose namesake blog was included in Forbes’ 20 Best Fashion Blogs in 2010, and Tavi Gevinson who founded Rookie Magazine in 2011 and was one of the first and youngest influencers to sit front-row beside Anna Wintour at Fashion Week. From our shores, there’s Bryanboy, who started blogging at 24 from his home in Manila, and Liz Uy, now international fashion icon and stylist to Filipino A-listers. More than their personal brands, it’s their aesthetic that trickled across platforms, from the celebrities to the masses.

Bestselling fragrance: White Moss EDC by Acca Kappa and other fresh or floral olfactives

Hypebeast created the “hypebeast” — your sneaker-loving, snapback-wearing, constantly dabbing friend who seems to always be photographed by someone who is possibly lying on the floor. Tavi took on the youth and made them want to dress like quirky grandmothers while building media empires. Bryanboy is the poster boy for embracing one’s background, sexuality and kookiness, and skillfully breaking into the fashion scene through the Internet (he was formerly a web developer). Liz Uy, arguably one of the most successful Filipino influencers, made everyone in Manila want to wear their button-down shirts and oversized jackets off-the-shoulder, à la Kim K.

Fashion has taken a weird turn with the rise of fashionably ugly shoes, cat lady clothes (not to be confused with ladies who have cats), and the recent Justin Bieber-initiated “bathleisure” aesthetic. We keep looking to decades past for inspiration — 20 years from now, what would a collection that’s “reminiscent of late 2018” look like? A lot of millennial pink, thanks to Sunnies and Glossier and The Wing; and those tiny shades that make women (a.k.a. me) look like Wesley Snipes in Blade, thanks to Dua Lipa.

The terno, interpreted by National Artist for Design Salvador Bernal in 1995, pink terno on Lucy Torres-Gomez by the late Jo Salazar in 2015, and a terno pantsuit on HeartEvangelista-Escudero at the 2018 SONA by Mark Bumgarner

Our very own band of “it” girls are dishing style advice through their Instagram snaps and everyone from teens to titas have at one point copped their looks, which are mostly cropped tops, oversize blazers, tone-on-tone ensembles and sundresses.

One positive by-product of social media is everyone can be an influencer and, in a way, everyone already is. Local designers and homegrown brands have become easily accessible thanks to social media. Your friend who just bought that native woven skirt? She’s your influencer. Your gay officemate who swears his 14-step Korean skincare regimen is behind his poreless complexion? He’s your influencer. That random Wired writer you follow on Twitter who hates Google Pixel, that’s your influencer. 

Selfies and #hubaderas are the norm

Fashion today: Oversize tone-on-tone suit and pants in millennial pink worn by Liz Uy (@lizzzuy

Speaking of the Kardashians, Kylie Jenner is one Insta-celeb that’s influenced our local celebrities, and ultimately almost everyone we know. Her IG account is the gold standard of selfies, and we’ve all taken notes at some point, influencing the way this generation presents itself on social media. Oddly enough, a near-perfect celebrity or Victoria’s Secret model posting a photo of her face or bikini body in a sexual manner seems to have triggered many a body-positive and women-empowerment post. Okay, maybe not all the credit goes to Kylie, but with 111.6 followers, she must have unwittingly played some part in it. Whether you see this as an unfortunate or fortunate turn of events, near-naked or completely naked (but abiding by social media rules) photos have become the norm even among Filipinas, so much so that we have a hashtag for it: #hubadera. It’s not derogatory — it’s a whole new state of being, that is, constantly scantily clothed. There are different categories, too. There’s the traveling hubadera, the fitness hubadera, the always-partying and red-eyed hubadera, the sad hubadera, the #artPH hubadera… and not to anyone’s surprise, they all have more followers than you.

Maine Mendoza (@mainedcm), creates a new soon-to-be-released lipstick shade for MAC Cosmetics, and MAC’s bestselling lip shade, as well as Maine’s favorite Ruby Woo.

Fitness is life

Nudefies are in and perfectly acceptable — but #MakeItArt. Just ask Maggie Wilson (@wilsonmaggie)

“How is everyone so fit?” you might ask. Well, there’s also a wellness revolution happening and it happens to look good on the ‘gram. Green smoothies, tea ceremonies, yoga on paddleboards and rock hard abs all make the feed aspirational AF, but don’t let that take away from the fact that a lot of Filipinas are actually living the fitness life. CrossFit MNL shared on their website that, out of the 10 million self-described Crossfitters around the world, 60 percent are female. It’s not just CrossFit, there’s yoga, spinning, Pilates, rowing, dancing, wall climbing, Barre, and other trendy workouts to choose from.

I remember my mom telling me that, when she was 19, her waistline was also 19 — without effort, without exercise, without dieting. Shake Shack is coming to Manila next year, have you heard? ‘Nuff said. These days, women have put in a lot of effort to look remotely fit. If getting to post about it in on social media is motivation, by all means, flood their feeds.

Bestselling skincare product: Murad Youth Renewal Serum

Among local celebrities, one of the most vocal about fitness is Nadine Lustre, who got the most number of votes in FHM Philippines’100 Sexiest Women 2017. Compared to previous top-notchers on the list, she’s the only one who actually has visible abs during the reveal, and she’s known to observe a strict diet and rigorous ab workout routine. The obsession with fitness extends to our beauty queens, whom we no longer ask about what they don’t eat to stay in shape, but how much they work out. Physical sexiness has transcended big boobs — these days, it’s all about toned arms, firm stomachs and perfectly toned behinds.

 

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Filipina beauty in the digital age is inspired by choice. Being connected with the rest of the world, the modern Filipina is presented with options — looks, products and treatments — that aid her in becoming whoever she wants to be. Whether that’s full-fledged #islandgirl, a pale-skinned chinita, or biracial beauty, Filipinas are actively seeking beauty and achieving it on their own terms. Amid all the negativity online, the conversation on beauty is a productive and positive one, and while we still have our insecurities (every woman in the world has them), it’s nice to go to sleep with our night creams on and know that somewhere out there, there’s an answer.





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