“She get it from her mama” is more than just a line in a Juvenile song. Just as we learned how to walk, talk and tie our shoes from our moms, we’ve also picked up some beauty lessons from them along the way.
Think about it, before we were old enough to read a fashion magazine or even buy our first lip gloss, we could still watch mom at her vanity doing her daily makeup routine. We’d marvel as this woman with her arsenal of beauty tools, each with its own mystical purpose, who somehow knew how to perfectly use each and every one. You could almost say moms were our first YouTube tutorials.
That’s not to say that mom was always right. “Only shave up to your knee cap!” Please, mom. As grown women, now with our own vanity and daily beauty routine, we wanted to reflect the lessons our mothers passed down — some of which we still follow to this day, and others we’ve chosen to ignore.
Sarah Ban, Editor
“Use essence… it’s better than moisturizer or serum or oil.”
The only beauty advice my mom’s given me was to use essence no matter how tired or broke I am. Hell, if I get deserted on an island I better find some water and plants and somehow DIY an essence. Turns out she was right — because I don’t have innately perfect skin like many Koreans do (damn you, gigantic pores), and I’ve had some shamefully poor skin-killing habits in my lifetime that should’ve turned me into the Crypt Keeper by now. Despite that, I don’t even have the faintest of fine line on my face. Thanks, Umma!
Dana Poblete, Writer
“Pond’s Cold Cream is everything.”
The scent of Pond’s Cold Cream is forever embedded in my memory. Also, the image of my mom lying on the bed with her skin as slick as glass. This woman never went a night without slathering on this beloved beauty staple—and all her life she’s always looked at least 10 years younger than her age. Even though she never seriously talked skin care with me when I was growing up, when I started experimenting with my own routine in my teens, naturally, I decided to try it for myself. While the concept of an all-in-one cleanser, makeup remover, and moisturizer has always been genius, nowadays I could never bring myself to touch the stuff. The main ingredient is mineral oil, derived from petroleum, which I try to avoid whenever possible for the environment’s sake. Maybe I should be gifting mom a nice safflower oil cleanser for Mother’s Day, but old habits die hard. Anyway, the important lesson here: Always go to bed with clean skin, period. Love you (and your face), Momma!
Samantha Nguyen, Writer
“Avoid the sun at any and every cost.”
My mom is funny. She’s always been playful and marches to her own beat. It’s no wonder that she has absolutely no qualms about stepping outside on a sunny San Diego afternoon and pulling out an umbrella. That’s right, my mom is that Asian. For as long as I can remember, my mom has done anything and everything possible to shield herself from the sun. She’ll pull out a blanket (one that she keeps readily in her glove box) and use it to cover her arms. My mom carries a variety of hats in her tote, prepared for any sun-scorching event. She goes the extra mile by selecting an umbrella that coordinates with her outfit choice. As mortifying as it can be, she is onto something.
Asian women are blessed with skin that is slower to show signs of aging. However, Asian women are also more likely to show the effects of sun damage in the form of uneven skin tone, pigmentation, freckles and dark spots. At almost 70 years old, my mom is looking pretty good. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I am definitely getting freckles. I may not be pulling out an umbrella anytime soon, but I will sunscreen. Okay Mom, you were right.
Malika Jones, Writer
“Don’t let anyone cut your hair!”
That’s what Grandma said. “Hairstylists won’t know how. Most salons won’t understand your curl. The worst part is, if they mess it up, it may never grow back again.”
This fear is real for African-American women. Our diverse identities are a diaspora of complexities, and my hair represents that. At first glance, many hairstylists make assumptions their customers’ hair is like theirs, and mine in most cases is not. On the flip side, my homemade trims from grandma were actually leaving me with limp curls and just as much frizz. So, when I finally embarked on the scary journey to find a hairstylist and did find one that knew how to perfect my curl, I asked her, “How did you do it?” It was simple: She knew my hair grade, 3A. That’s when it hit me. Grandma was right but she was doing my hair all wrong. I couldn’t just sit in a chair and hope someone (including her) knew my hair, or even knew what I wanted. I had to know first. The lesson – our beautiful role models may have the best advice but might not always be the answer.
Katie Durko, Social Media Strategist
“Always wash your face before bed, no matter how tired (or drunk) you are.”
When it comes to beauty, my mother has always said less is more. She has never been much into makeup and frankly, never really taught me much about it. Most of my skincare and beauty regimens I learned over the years from my friends. However, my mother did teach me one thing that I will always hold on to. ALWAYS wash your face — no matter how late you come home, how tired you are or how intoxicated you may be. Growing up, I had problematic skin, so making sure I washed away any dirt and buildup from the day was imperative to keeping my skin clear. The college years were definitely a challenge (think: frat parties, dive bars and LOTS of late night junk food), but I somehow always managed to go to bed with a clean face. Now, as I’m inching toward 30, that habit is ingrained in me and my skin has my mother to thank.
Erika Brooks Adickman, Social Media Manager
“Get pretty for YOU.”
I was born to a strong, smart, opinionated woman. (Apple meet tree.)
She taught me women can be walking contradictions. My mother kept her own last name when she married my father nearly 40 years ago, but also told me when I applied to a women’s college that it didn’t mean I had to stop shaving my legs. She became a vegetarian decades before it was “cool,” but would often comment that people in health-food stores looked so unhealthy. (She truly believes most people could do with a little more blush, myself included.) And while Alicia Keys is all about that “no makeup” life, my mom is definitely not. She half jokes that she wouldn’t even let the mailman see her without her makeup done.
The time my mom spends in front of her makeup mirror, the hours (sometimes upwards of three) talking to literally everyone at Bendel’s beauty department until they know her by name, the brainpower she devotes to knowing which brand is having the best deal right now — makeup is my mother’s pastime. But the real reason she devotes all the time and effort and care, she’ll be the first to tell you, “I do it for me.” And that’s the most important beauty lesson she could ever teach me. Whatever you’re doing to feel like your most beautiful, confident self is entirely for you, not to make anyone else happy, impressed or comfortable. It’s not a chore for her. It’s a personal joy to give that gift to herself every day. Dress well for you. Take care of yourself for you. Not for your spouse or your kids or the world, but because you are worth that care.
She also taught me that jeans are to be worn only once, then washed and put in the dryer (which I think is ridiculous, but we don’t have to get into that right now).
This post was originally shared on May 12th, 2017.