Sage advice from the cool old ladies and their dressers.
My maternal grandmothers (up to the fourth consanguinity) were always very particular about their grooming. They would spend hours in the bathroom and longer primping in front of their boudoir dresser—often with a steaming cup of coffee on the table as they did so.
With barely any playmates of the same gender, as my female cousins live in the US, I used to entertain myself by rifling through said boudoir and playing glamour. I would sit and watch, completely rapt in awe, when all the women in the house would get ready for events and bustle around me with curlers in their hair or hot irons in their hands.
Way before I was even aware of the existence of beauty trends and routines, they were already being drilled into me. So I am sharing with you a rundown of sage advice from my ancestral boudoir, passed on from my maternal great-great grandmother.
These nuggets of wisdom I am gifting are not a cure-all and are definitely not a one-size-fits-all, but they have been deemed no-fail by the women who preceded me. So don’t knock it ‘till you’ve tried it!
Your soul should be made of magic, so people crave your vibe.
It may sound cliche, but they really advocated that beauty came from within first and whatever you do externally is just to enhance it a hundred-fold. It’s been repeated by women from all over the world and ladies from varying timelines: you are what you eat. My great-great-grandmother Lola Gelay termed it quite differently though, and used to say that foodmust always be soul quenching as it resonates physically
As suckers for sweets, they would say that you should take what you will in whatever form they came in as sweets would give you a healthy glow of happiness; which was why a careful balance of chocolates and pastries and fruits were always stocked and a staple in the house—even up to this day. Seriously, ask anyone in my family.
Speaking of quenching, never forget to hydrate 24/7. It honestly makes no sense if your soul is metaphorically hydrated but your physical body is literally a dried out husk.
Your body is a temple, respect it by investing in it.
My great grandmother Lola Puring always said that bathing is an investment of time, there is never any need to rush—so don’t! And honestly, why would you want to rush through it? You risk not being able to fully cleanse yourself both physically and mentally—bath meditations are one of the most effective relaxation techniques. Do avoid bathing with hot water to maintain skin elasticity and avoid premature wrinkles, if you can’t help it then splash on some cold water before finishing up. Always pat yourself dry and do not rub post shower so as only to rid of excess moisture and not irritate your skin.
Moisturize. Moisturize. Moisturize. And do it right after you’ve patted your skin dry so as to be able to lock in that much needed moisture. A pro tip from my greats: apply a layer of dry body oil, let your skin absorb it, and then slap on some lotion for maximum hydration. No one wants to look like a prune when they’re geriatric, you’re welcome.
At the risk of sounding like my grandmother, hija you must put down that razor and do not shave anything because you will come to regret it when you develop chicken skin, grow thicker hair, risk ingrown hair, and definitely ruin your skin. Once you take to the razor blade, there is no going back. Opt to sugar wax versus hot wax as it’s definitely less painful and you risk less irritation to the skin.
To attain and maintain that baby’s-bottom-smooth skin we’ve always coveted, try to invest in a monthly appointment for a full body scrub. If you can’t afford to maintain a body scrub appointment, then invest in a good physical exfoliating scrub and do it once to twice a week depending on the sensitivity of your skin. Don’t be disgusting, you can never afford to be crusty. Also, they help with the dark spots that are such a pesky problem that I honest-to-God pray you never have to encounter them. But if you happen to come across a couple spots that will just not budge, then you’re in luck! You can rub half a calamansi fruit (calamondin) on those dark spots as it is a natural remedy proven to be ever effective because it contains a high concentration of citric acid and Vitamin C, well known bleaching agents.
Never leave the house without getting your nails done, it’s unseemly and you will be judged for it. My grandparents and my parents are very meticulous about our nails, even if we’re now full grown adults—always checking if they’ve been manicured or if our toes haven’t transformed into talons.
This has to be one of the most important of my grandmothers’ rules: you must care for your lady bits, hija (cue a finger wag). Until the invention of feminine wash, my great grandmother used to use cane vinegar diluted with water for the upkeep in hygiene. Honestly, I can’t imagine using vinegar, but it works wonders apparently. My grannies never really owned granny panties either because they barely wore any as they would aerate their lady bits, a practice which is actually recommended by OB-GYNEs all over. (Quick reminder, please do see your doctors regularly.)
As smelling good is intrinsic to good hygiene, you should always smell divine or at least smell clean. Invest in your signature scent, it’s what you’d be known for when you walk into a room, when the wind decides to huff and puff, when it’s years down the road and your grandchildren decide to open up your baúl of treasures. Spritz it on your clothes (front and back) and then apply purposefully on your pulse points—inner wrists, neck, behind the ears—to last longer. Pro tip, just a bit on your pelvic area (you never know, wink wink).
And to beat the blues, a trip to the spa or the salon is always a great way to brighten your mood! A pampering day of self-care brightens your outlook and gives you the glow only a beauty salon can. But only ever go to your specific and tested establishments—go to one manicurist, go to your most trusted hairdresser, go to the one wax technician you’re most comfy with etc.
Your face is the visual of your branding; keep it polished.
It takes approximately seven (7) seconds to make a lasting impression. What exactly do you want people to make of you? They size you up from your head to your toe, and zero in on your face as it is the visual of your branding that they are confronted with most often.
First things first, and I feel like a broken track record by now when I say, keep hydrated. Sis, it is so better to have to run to the toilet multiple times a day versus battling a stubborn zit because you decided to be a dehydrated husk.
In the case of makeup, these are the four (4) things that are ever present in my ancestral boudoir: lipstick, eyebrow pencils, press powder, and rouge. You must never leave the house without lipstick; it’s akin to leaving the house sans underwear. Grandmas knew the saving power of a press powder because no one wants to look like a greasy midday mess darling. The image of hulas (melting) makeup is so unsightly, I can already hear them screaming “polbo!” in my head as I write this.
Pro tip from my lola: always keep a spare lippie in your purse, in your car, and in your office desk. Just in case you forget to swipe some on during the morning bustle.
As they believed that whatever you painted on your face should only ever enhance your natural beauty, the best route to go down is to keep it simple. So they insisted on perfectly drawn and filled in eyebrows. You could forego the eyeshadow and the eyeliners and the mascara, but never forget to draw on your eyebrows—how are you supposed to wordlessly communicate with your girls without it? Also, never ever pluck or shave your eyebrows, they’ll never grow back properly, if at all, and that shit hurts a like a b***h. You don’t need that kind of painful regret in your life. To tie your look together, rouge is so important because you don’t want to look like a walking corpse, no one wants to look like the dead, hija.
Way before the skincare diet trend swept the world by storm, my grandmothers’ have been swearing by it by streamlining their routine with certain products like Pond’s Cold Cream. Thus, I’ve taken a page out of my grandmothers’ beauty book and taken to hopping on the train to an anti-10-stepskin care routine. Cutting down on the many products and finding your HG skincare routine is so important because they are your skin’s most loyal crew. Love them forever, use them for always once you’ve identified your skin’s dream team, and you’re basically set for life. Take my great grandmother, Lola Puring, for example as I would always hear my mother, her siblings, and her cousins rave on about and her love for Olay—then called Oil of Olay—which she discovered after migrating to the United States in the mid 70s. She used to stock it in her dresser in fear of running out. But it was proven to be ultimately effective as her skin was so supple well into her golden age—you’d think she was a vampire.
To maintain that glowing healthy skin, you should never crash into bed without removing your makeup. All that gunk on your face is an overnight hotbed for bacteria that will guarantee a horrible breakout. Hilariously, this is always coupled with the sentiment, “Naku, don’t come crying to me if you find a giant zit in the morning”. Of course, sometimes I just can’t help it and I do end up breaking this cardinal rule especially after a fun night out or an extremely stressful day. So when a giant and angry zit makes itself known, I usually come crying to my mother, who would nag my ear off as she injected steroids into the offending thing. Et voilà! It’s gone by the next morning, as if nothing happened!
An important note: My mother’s a licensed and experienced physician, she knows what she’s doing. Please do not ever try this on your own or with someone who isn’t a licensed physician.
Your hair is your crowning glory and a determinant of your mood and perception.
After all, a good hair day foreshadows a great day. To ensure healthy scalp and enviable luster, my grandmothers recommend a routine twice-a-month treatment of coconut oil by extracting it from boiled coconut milk and then leaving it in for half a day. Opt to wash your hair at most twice to thrice a week and reach for the shampoos with the least chemicals so that it doesn’t strip your hair of its essential oils and moisture.
What are you going to do with to-die-for locks when it’s a nest on your head? Never show your face in public without running a comb or brush through your hair at least once—you’d be called a bruhita and be cussed out in Spanish (and Tagalog) before you can even say hairbrush. My maternal grandmother, Lola Babes, would keep another in her purse for safety.For my wavy haired ladies, you can use a wide toothed comb to detangle your hair while washing, then let it air dry to maintain your waves.
Can I just say that the amount of times I have heard my mother and grandmother scream in scandal when I’ve tied my hair, I cannot count on both hands. But, like a good child I have learned to never tie my hair when it’s dripping wet lest I risk it smelling like a used wipe-cloth—believe me when I say, you will not love yourself for it.
Out of all her grandchildren, LolaBabes would look at me and blatantly call me out on my ka-artehan (mannerisms) at times. To which I would only shrug and say that it’s in the genes and then go about my way, not bothered in the least—scratch that, as I sashay away much to the exasperation of my many titas and my late lolo.
I hope that this little love letter of beauty secrets from my ancestral boudoir has given you an insight or two. Got any beautè tips that you’ve inherited from your grandmother’s baúl of secrets? Share them in the comments below!
WAIT! There’s more! The whole package isn’t complete until you’ve donned your sartorial armor. So if you’ve not seen it yet, don’t forget to check out Julia’s article for tricks from her family’s wardrobe here.
BUT WAIT! There’s STILL more! We’ve also got a little announcement for you! We’re so excited to share that our Instagram is now live and kicking! Pop on over to http://www.instagram.com/talktayo for a quick look-see and follow us (but only if you want to)!
✨ Ta for now!
A 24-year-old writer, producer, and stylist who’s got the starry-eyes of a shopaholic with an irrefutable love-hate relationship with carbs and wine.