Illustration by Marge Melendez via @agoo_b
My fascination with makeup started fairly early. When I was about 7, my Mom found me in her bathroom toying with her cosmetics with a face full of maquillage to match. Now don't get me wrong—I didn't go so far as to wear makeup in grade school or even in high school but I did admire my Mom and a few Titas here and there for their ability to change their looks with a swipe of color either on the lips or eyes. I always knew when my Mom had a party to go to because she'd whip out a deep red lippie, and wear it with such sophistication.
My love for makeup fully developed when I joined Preview in 2000. The sudden influx of cosmetics into my bathroom from brands such as Chanel, Lancôme, Estée Lauder, Dior, Shu Uemura, L'Oréal, and the like left me with no choice but to play around and discover the wonderful world of makeup. Fast forward to 15 years later, Manila is now a mecca of makeup brands. We now have MAC, Benefit, Sisley, NARS, Inglot, K-Palette, and a bunch of famous and budget-friendly buys from Korea. We've come a long way since the earlier days when we would make "pabili" to someone going to the States or Hong Kong. These days, we pretty much have a wide array of choices when it comes to makeup shopping (okay, so we're still waiting for Armani, RMK, Tom Ford, Kevyn Aucoin and Charlotte Tilbury). It's always a thrill for me to see what's new or what's about to arrive, and I make it a point to try ALL of them out. Yes, that's my idea of a perfect, fun-filled day—updating my smoky eye, drawing a modern graphic cat eye, grooming my brows, painting my lips a peachy nude hue only to remove it, then try out a deep burgundy shade right after. Makeup application for me is in a sense, therapeutic, and I've always been fascinated with the way makeup can transform one's face. It seems for every feature you deem "weak," there's a corresponding makeup product to help enhance that feature, and give your self confidence a boost in the process.
In all honesty, just as us girls dress to impress fellow females, I wear makeup to please the girls because, really, what kind of man will actually notice your MAC Ruby Woo lip and pay you a compliment? None. He would have to either be a highly evolved fashionable straight male, or gay. This is why I always make it a point to dress up my face. Whether it's a trip to the grocery or a quick drive-thru at Starbucks, I always make sure to have my makeup game face on. You never know when you'll be bumping into your frenemy from high school, or worse, your husband's former flame.
The author, primed for boxing.
To this day, I can still count the number of people who have seen me without makeup with my two hands. One of my horror stories with regards to having to face people without makeup happened a couple of years back when I was tasked to produce a beauty editorial in Balesin. The schedule entailed flying to the island in the morning, shooting the entire day, then heading back to the city by late afternoon. At that time, Balesin hadn't opened to the public yet, and didn't have lights on its landing strip. We were told by 5:00 pm that the plane that was supposed to bring us back to Manila (it had flown back after dropping us off in the morning) would not be able to reach Balesin before nightfall due to traffic on the runway. My immediate reaction? "I'm so dead!" It's funny because it wasn't the lack of clothes that got me worried… it was the lack of a makeup kit! That night, I tearfully removed my makeup with, gasp, body lotion. The morning after, I made sure I put on my huge, opaque sunglasses even though it was somewhat difficult to see where I was going at 6 in the morning.
I'm well aware of the fact that you're supposed to love your face au naturel but I'm also aware that I simply don't have a perfectly symmetrical face or lush lashes so a little highlighting here and there, and a few swipes of mascara really do the trick for me. In the animal world, it is a known fact that animals seek their mates based on how physically attractive they appear so yes, a lioness will seek a lion with a huge mane. In the human world, the same follows for most of us. We tend to seek what is physically attractive, and in a lot of ways, makeup helps us achieve that. If one can line her eyes with deep black gel eyeliner to make herself look like she got 8 hours of sleep when in reality, she only had three, then makeup really does have the transforming ability to help us face the world in a more confident manner, and for this, I am grateful that makeup exists. I've never ever felt like makeup application was a chore. To me, makeup is very much like fashion—it's your way of showing the world who you are that day, and it's a great way to transform your looks temporarily. At the end of the day, if you're comfortable with who you are on the inside, makeup products are really just wonderful playthings that can be used to make life a wee bit more fun.
Agoo Bengzon is a contributing editor for beauty at Preview Magazine.