The Skin I’m In

For as long as I can remember, my peer group has always consisted of mostly Filipinos. Growing up, and even sometimes now,  the one thing that everyone seemed to always point out was our contrasting skin colors. A lot of my friends had lighter skin, and I always heard remarks such as “You’re so dark!” or “How do you get so dark?” as if it was something to be ashamed of. At first, this never really bothered me because it was something that was always said to me (which is the reason we should stop normalizing toxic Flip culture and standards of beauty!!!!!). But eventually, these remarks began affecting my self-esteem and how I saw myself as a person. My skin colour became something I was hyper-aware of. I always felt a bit awkward in the summer months whenever I would be wearing shorts and tanks every day while my friends would be wearing pants, jackets or close toed shoes because they didn’t want to get dark.

The sad thing is, I’m sure my friends don’t mean anything by their comments. And I definitely don’t hold it against them! The thing is, this is something that’s almost like common sense in Filipino culture. Whiter = better. This belief isn’t a problem exclusive to Filipinos, as I know many southeast Asian cultures promote the same thing. It’s just crazy to, me that in this day and age, someone’s worth and someone’s beauty can all be boiled down to the colour of their skin… It’s not okay!!!!

Besides the women in my family, I never had a role model that looked like me. Even when I turn to Filipina or Asian celebrities that I look up to, I can’t think of one person who had darker skin. It’s unfortunate. But I think things are looking up for the upcoming generation. I’m seeing so much more movements on social media and print that are helping empower the underrepresented women (see #MagandangMorenx, or @from.label on Instagram – a label started by one of my favourite Instagrammers, Jeanne Grey!). I think exposure to these types of movements is so crucial, because as Jeanne Grey says herself, no one is really talking about these things. Unfair expectations of beauty may be something we think about, but not many people take action to make a change because these expectations have been engrained in us for generations.

As I get older, I am understanding how important representation is. For this reason, I hope to always stick up for those affected by these standards of beauty, and become an advocate for all my sunkissed sistahs and bruthas out there. No matter what, people will be stuck in their ways and still believe that darker skin is less beautiful. And that’s okay. I’m not here to change that (although I would like to!). I love talking about makeup and beauty products, but I’ve come to realize that this issue really means something to me and it’s a topic I need to speak up and out about. I will continue to use my platform to help my fellow morenas see the beauty in our complexion. Brown is beautiful, and not something to be ashamed of. I haven’t always loved my skin colour, but I do now. I love the way gold jewellery looks on me, and I think bright colours look stunning on me. And I always get a kick out of the fact that white people are envious of my “year round tan”.

So just know that you are not alone. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it also just take one person to start change! Let’s bask in the beauty that is our brown skin, and not be ashamed of it. Let’s use our voices to help build confidence in those who haven’t found it yet. Also, let’s all be more aware of the words we use when talking to other people. Don’t make remarks about someone’s appearance if what you are commenting on can’t be changed in ten seconds. Words have weight, so use them to uplift others rather than dragging them down. If you have any stories or experiences with me, I would love to hear them!

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“When you love yourself, literally nothing anyone says about you can affect you. You know who you are, you love who you are, and that is enough.”

💖, B

Does Biotin Actually Work?

Last summer, I was diagnosed with alopecia areata. Basically, this is a disease that causes my body to attack my hair follicles resulting in my hair falling out in large chunks. Specifically, I developed three large bald spots at the top of my head. If you’ve ever had to wait for an appointment with a specialist (in my case, I was waiting for an appointment with a dermatologist), you know just how painstakingly long the process is. I went to my family doctor about it at the beginning of August of last year, and didn’t actually see a dermatologist until the end of November. That’s three whole months of watching helplessly as the spots grew bigger and more of my hair started to fall out.

I didn’t have very many options available to me, so I decided to try biotin. My intention was to use it as something to offset my hair loss, not as a cure (currently, there is no known sure for alopecia!). I’m sure most of you know that biotin is supposed to promote healthy skin, hair and nails, or you’ve at least seen one Sugarbear Hair ad on Instagram or Youtube. Being the skeptic that I am, I wasn’t about to spend money on Sugarbear hair because I didn’t trust it. So I just went to my grocery store and bought straight biotin supplements.

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I bought the Jamieson Biotin supplements, and each little tablet contained 10, 000mcg of biotin. There were 45 tablets and I took one everyday until I ran out. Then I went and bought biotin gummies at a lower dosage (which I still have because I stopped taking them, so they kind of just sit on my shelf). And long story short, I didn’t notice any change in my hair. There wasn’t anything growing where the bald spots were, and I didn’t notice a change in the length or thickness of my hair either.

IMG_5825 But, I did notice that my nails were stronger and grew faster than normal. I normally wouldn’t be able to grow them out as long because they were usually brittle and broke easily. My nails in this screenshot may not look very long to some, at least in comparison to the claws I have now, but back then, this was considered a big achievement for my natural nails (so you could imagine how cheesed I was that I broke one of them).

From my personal experience, I can vouch for the positive effects biotin has on nails but it didn’t do anything to help my hair. Obviously, my circumstances were quite different from the average person, but I didn’t lose all my hair, so I expected at least some change to occur.

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In terms of Sugarbear Hair, I can’t speak on it because I have never tried it before. On their website, they do have a breakdown of all the ingredients in the gummies. They use more than just biotin in their gummies, so maybe the combination of ingredients helps to better promote hair growth. But I would still take this with a grain of salt. Keep in mind that while Sugarbear Hair says that their products are manufactured in facilities that use FDA approved guidelines, they aren’t actually an FDA approved product.

I asked my dermatologist about biotin at my first appointment, and he said that there hasn’t been solid, conclusive evidence and research that shows that biotin actually helps your hair. And I’m not going to lie, I did try to look for research articles using my school’s database (yes, I ACTUALLY researched this… old habits die hard) and I couldn’t find many articles that supported the use of biotin for hair growth. In fact, a lot of the ones I came across concluded that there is a lack of evidence to support healthy individuals taking biotin for hair growth, and that biotin supplementation is actually unnecessary in healthy individuals as the daily amount that we need is usually obtained through our food.

My hair is still in the process of growing back, no thanks to biotin, but from the Kenalog injections I receive from my dermatologist. My take on this is that I personally don’t think biotin products work for hair growth. I trust my own results and what has been presented in scientific research. I’m not trying to bash anyone that uses or wants to try biotin supplements. But if you want to try other options, my dermatologist told me that Rogaine works (don’t be fooled by the fact that there is a Rogaine for men and women, he said that women can use the men one, and it’s cheaper too), and there’s some evidence (not conclusive) that fexofenadine aka Allegra aka a type of allergy medicine, can help with hair growth in alopecia areata patients as well.

DISCLAIMER: Please use common sense, and don’t start popping allergy medicine like candy or start using a men’s hair growth cream, before talking to your doctor. This advice was given to me by my dermatologist because I was dealing with a disease resulting in major hair loss. Strong hair is nice, but health is wealth!

I hope this post has helped to open your eyes on this topic and I’m curious to know your thoughts on this. If you’ve ever tried Sugarbear Hair or biotin supplements, did they actually work for you?? Let me know!

💖, B

Do you ever notice how quick society is to put down someone who feels any remotely positive feelings about themselves? Or even on a smaller scale.. do you ever notice how people around you get shocked when you openly tell people that you love yourself? This is something I deal with constantly and maybe some of you can relate.

The people who know me personally know that I am pretty open with the fact that I think I’m fucking awesome. I really, truly, genuinely, COMPLETELY love myself. I recognize that I am not perfect, but I still love myself for who I am and I am not ashamed to admit when I need help and I’m not too prideful to admit that I am flawed. I recognize what I am good at and I give myself credit for it. And honestly, you should see the reactions on people’s faces when they find this out about me. People seemed almost… offended. Like self love is a taboo topic or something.

I get it. I know how hard it is to get to a point in your life where you feel comfortable and confident in your own skin. I’ve been there. I’m sure a lot of people know how hard it is, and a lot of people understand how much effort it takes… Which is why I’m so confused. If we all understand how challenging it is to get to that comfortable spot in life, shouldn’t we celebrate those who are on their own path to self love? Shouldn’t we be happy for those who have fought numerous demons and can say that they still love themselves at the end of it? Btw, I’m not trying to put myself on a pedestal here, and I’m not trying to say that I’m better in any way because I love myself. I’m still on this journey to finding out who I am. I am not perfect and I still have to remind myself of that. I’m just saying that I’m tired of being put down by the same people who still have sooo much work to do on themselves. I hate being questioned by the same people who haven’t taken time to introspect and find out who they want to be or what they want to become. And even if they have, it feels as if they’re projecting their insecurities on me and it’s just not fair (although I get it, projecting is a defence mechanism. But still… Ugh.) Think about it. How many times have you called yourself “stupid” or “embarrassing” or talk down on yourself for not doing something right? How often do you call yourself degrading names and put yourself down? A lot of people engage in more negative self talk than positive self talk, and I think that’s why they project it on others.

One time I put “I love myself” in my Instagram bio just cause I wanted a little change, and this guy WOULD NOT stop questioning me about it. He even had the audacity to tell other people that this phrase was in my IG bio and he asked those around him if they thought it was stupid too. The fact that he needed validation from others to “prove” to me that my IG bio was stupid just made me so angry. YEAH. I love myself. Why does it bother you so much? Why do words on a social media platform impact your life THAT MUCH that you need to verbally put me down and feel the need to include other people too?

Even one time, I was having a conversation about quality of friendships and the point was brought up that “People who say they are good friends usually aren’t good friends…” There are times when I haven’t been the greatest friend of course. But in all the friendships I have now, I know that I make an effort to talk to my friends and ask how they’re doing. I try to see them regularly when our schedules match up. And all my friends know that I will ALWAYS listen to them when they really need me. Unless there’s something that they’re all not telling me then yeah. I’m a good friend and I take pride in that. Your personal experiences with bad friendships aren’t universal and not everyone is the same.

And the one that bugs me the most. When people think I’m conceited because I recognize the fact that I find myself attractive. I get where they’re coming from, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with thinking I look good. I put effort into myself because I love the way I feel when I look good. That’s it. I do it for me. And it’s not like I’m putting anyone down in the process, so I don’t understand why it bugs people to the extent that it does. Like have you ever heard someone say something along the lines of “she’s pretty, and she knows she’s pretty, which makes her less pretty” as if a woman being self aware makes her less attractive… In a world where women are constantly scrutinized for not fitting into a certain stereotype, we need to CELEBRATE the fact that there are women out there who feel beautiful in their own skin, regardless of what they look like!!!

This post is kind of all over the place, but what I want you all to know is that you should never apologize for being confident or for loving yourself. You know you. Own your confidence, keep loving yourself and don’t let people tell you otherwise. And rather than fighting back with angry words, kill them with kindness (ugh I’m sorry, I hate that quote, but it seemed fitting). When your character is tested, learn to rise up above that and give love back rather than hostility (which is something I’m still working on tbh) And once again, I don’t want this to come across as nasty or degrading or anything like that. My intention isn’t to make me seem superior than anyone who’s ever questioned me in my life or anyone in general. I just want to raise awareness to the fact that we’ve been so used to putting ourselves down that we project it on others. We’re like crabs (or is it lobsters?) in a tank, who pull others down when they try to rise up and escape the tank (I really hope you guys have heard of that before because if not this may not make sense to you haha) In reality we all just want to be happy with ourselves and like who we are. Instead of putting others down, or questioning how they see themselves, we should all be building each other up. Self love and confidence is something I am SOO passionate about. I love to talk about it with others and I love just increasing people’s awareness about the topic, so hopefully I gave you a teeeny tiny bit of insight. Just some things to think about. Hope you all have a good night!

💖, B