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Growing up, I always looked up to my mother and my sister for beauty tips and tricks. My mother especially — she passed down many beauty secrets to me that I still use to this day. While I did dabble in watching old school beauty YouTube videos when I was in middle school, I began to realize what might work for other people might not work for me. It made me feel different from my classmates for a while, but I overcame feeling like an outsider by confiding in my mom and following Asian-American creators online

I grew up in a Southeast Asian household. My mother’s side of the family is from a province in the Philippines called Ilocos Sur. She grew up as one of the older sisters in a female-dominated household, so she knows a thing or two about beauty. When I was little, I didn’t see my mother for most of the day because of her work schedule. The times where we saw each other the most was early in the morning before work and late at night. I remember sitting in the bathroom with her — in the morning, watching her set up her day with her skin care and makeup routine, and at night, observing how she washed the day away. Some of the beauty secrets she passed on to me and my sister were a mix of natural remedies and drugstore products. Here are seven Southeast Asian beauty tricks my Filipina mother taught me. 

Use Aloe Vera for Sunburns.

Aloe vera is a plant you can grow at home, and it’s super easy to extract the plant’s gel. You can also purchase aloe vera gel at your local drug store or online. Aloe has inflammatory properties that help heal cuts and soothe sunburns. It can also be used to moisturize your skin and hair. But be warned, it stinks! I like to use aloe vera when I get really bad sunburns in the summer. 

Use a Pumice Stone for Exfoliation.

Panghilod is a stone that’s used for bathing and exfoliation. It’s best to use a panghilod with warm water for softer skin. A regular pumice stone ($4) works, too. I especially love to use a panghilod once a month to scrub the bottom of my feet to get rid of dead skin. It’s a great exfoliation tool for tough skin. 

Trade makeup wipes for Pond’s Cold Cream Makeup Remover.

I have very sensitive skin. I grew up with mild eczema, so I use as little skin care and makeup products as possible. Makeup wipes and micellar waters have always been my enemy. They made my skin very red and dry after using them. Instead of wipes or liquid makeup removers, I need to use a product with a creamy consistency. My mother pointed me to Pond’s Cold Cream Makeup Remover ($7), and I’ve been hooked ever since. 

Use Lemons As Deodorant.

My mother was not a big fan of deodorants. Many of my classmates used deodorant before leaving the locker room for P.E. and it seemed like it was working for them, so after school I asked my mother if she could pick me up a deodorant at the store. She immediately shut the idea down because the fragrance can irritate sensitive skin.

Instead, I used a small amount of lemon juice under my armpits after my showers. It’s been working great for me so far, as I don’t have an issue with odor and sweat.

Moisturize With Coconut Oil.

Coconut oil is the end-all, be-all beauty product for me. It has so many uses, from moisturizer to hair conditioner to cuticle oil. I enjoy using cold-pressed or raw coconut oil in order to reap all of the good benefits and nutrients it has to offer. The Philippines is one of the leading countries for coconut oil consumption

Use Rice Paper Facial Tissues Instead Of Powder.

Oily skin was the bane of my existence in high school. My skin was changing all the time, and I was so over having to carry my powder compact around at all times. Luckily, I was introduced to rice paper facial tissues and blotting sheets. This was definitely more sanitary than using a powder puff or brush on my skin when I needed to take care of my shine on the go. 

Moisturize Your Body Right Out Of The Shower.

Apply your body lotion while your skin is still wet to allow your skin to soak up the product. This tip was super helpful for me while I was dealing with my eczema around my legs and arms when I was younger. 

Wila Mae was a Style Intern at Her Campus for the Spring 2023 semester. She's a passionate storyteller and loves creating short-form video content highlighting secondhand shopping and Bay Area small businesses on her socials. Keep up with Wila Mae and her work @wilamae.navarro on Instagram and @wilamae2 on TikTok.