He Said, She Said: A Look at Your Skin Complexion

skin complexionText by Ranel Cheng

There has been a long-standing tendency towards appearances evident across cultures throughout history. Tips on looking good and feeling great have been passed on for millennia. Yet, the nitty-gritty of skin care appears to have been the realm of the female. Today, however, men have become more open about what they do to care for their appearance. This month, we bring the sexes together for a candid look at skin care and complexion.

Beauty, they say, is skin deep but today, cosmetics and skin care has bloomed into a multibillion dollar industry, even trumping the economies of small countries. We are now bombarded with advertising for products that promise consumers of “looking fresh”, “staying young”, “blemish-free skin”, and “whitening magic.”  In 2013 alone, cosmetic companies have raked in US$ 107 billion in sales worldwide and are expecting to grow by more than 20% in four year’s time.

People are obsessed with their skin and are willing to pay for it. And everyone, absolutely everyone, is in for the ride. What used to be a stereotypically female market has now reached the other half of the gender aisle. At least five percent of the personal care market is now geared towards men and looking forward to even greater expansion.

Modern Filipino standards of beauty, however, are highly influenced by our colonial past. “Skin color hierarchy addresses the complexities of colonialism, where skin color defines who is civil and who is savage,” wrote University of California’s Joanne Rondilla.

Yet almost five hundred years before the first whitening cream commercial appeared in the Philippines, our ancestors were already busy scrubbing their bodies and applying natural oils on their skin.“They bathe at any hour without distinction, for pleasure or for cleanliness…And on coming out of the bath, they anoint their hair with sesame oil mixed with civet,” observed Jesuit priest Fr. Pedro Chirino in the 15th century.

Unsurprisingly, our penchant for skin care and hygiene has even outlasted the colonizers. Today’s modern Filipinos have warmly embraced these traditions of the past.

First Impressions Matter

“Vanessa definitely stood out among our classmates in college. Sobrang puti niya. She is the whitest in her group, even today,” says Wacky describing his girlfriend of two years. He admits that like most guys, he finds mestizas and fair-skinned girls attractive. “They usually catch your attention.”

For Vanessa though, it was how Wacky takes good care of his overall appearance that made an impression on her. “Guys usually go for girls with white skin. Girls, on the other hand, can have different preferences but definitely pay attention to blemishes. Definitely, no pimples are a plus!” says Patricia.

Both agree that having fair skin can make you a head-turner but having good, well-maintained skin makes you a keeper. “It’s always better to have healthy skin,” she says.

“First impressions matter but it’s even more important to make them last,” he adds.

Making Good Skinvestments

Pat shares that at least 10% of her monthly budget goes to skin products alone. Aside from her makeup, her skin essentials include: makeup remover (of course), cleansing lotion, facial wash, and moisturizer.

Even if the market for men’s products has grown throughout the years, most men have not gone beyond the soap and water combo. “I know of guys who just use soap to wash their faces. Many at least use facial wash. I’m glad Wacky’s one of them,” says Vanessa.

But one thing Vanessa can’t complain about is how her boyfriend smells good. “More than masking body odor, smelling good adds appeal and more personality to your overall look,” explains Wacky. “I guess it’s what most men consider their vanity.”

Men may skip the lotions and moisturizers but they are sure to have deodorants and perfumes as part of their toiletries. Girls who battle through the daily commute can rest knowing that for every guy who literally stinks, there is one who is literally a “mabangong lalaki.”

Fair warning though, less than half the population uses sunscreen or any sun-protecting products. Men should be more wary absent the use of moisturizing lotions. Skin cancer and dermatological disorders, after all, knows no gender.

Tender Loving Care

On average, women spend an additional 12 minutes more than men on grooming and working on their appearance everyday. While men spend six to 30 minutes on their looks, women take 42 minutes on their faces. And that does not even include bathing time!

“It’s part of my daily routine. I make sure to put on makeup every morning but after a long day, I make sure to remove my makeup then put on cleansing lotion before washing my face and applying moisturizer,” shares Vanessa. “I think it’s more natural for girls to take care of skin.”

Wacky agrees. He admits to being a “soap and water guy” up until last year, when he suffered from a major “outbreak” on his face. He had to seek treatment from a professional dermatologist, who he now visits at least every three months. Since then, he uses medicated creams on his face.

His experience has made him less complacent about skin care but he still understands why most guys aren’t really particular on their faces. “I can suggest to my younger brother what facial wash to use but I wouldn’t really remind him,” he says.

“Sometimes I remind him to use lip balm or apply some lotion especially when his skin gets dry. It’s not just vanity but really caring for her skin,” she says.

How we look on the outside will definitely affect the way people will interact with us. No one gets a second chance at first impressions and the way we maintain our skin will definitely make an impact on others.

“It isn’t about skin color but more of how healthy your skin is. It’s not just about looking clean but how you take care of the outermost layer. That’s what people see first,” says Vanessa.

Cultural and social norms may vary the standards of beauty we set on ourselves but there is no argument on how important our skin functions as an organ. “Our skin is our first line of defense. We get exposed to dust, dirt and all sorts of pollution everyday. A little extra effort to care for it won’t hurt,” says Wacky.

Men and women may disagree as to what products to apply or how often we should perform these regimens but we can all agree that caring for our body cover is important. Looking good has its perks but keeping healthy is priceless.


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