Feeling at home in your body, even falling in love with the Filipina brown skin you’re in, is a deeply personal journey. But it’s made all the better with a barkada, a group of friends, or in our case, a community of fellow morena and morenx who are learning to be their best kayumanggi (brown) selves.
Especially when the talk around skincare has historically been about solving a “problem”, instead of just taking care of our skin.
I would see beauty commercials featuring fair-skinned models, usually mestiza or chinita women who picked and prodded their faces in a mirror. When someone was actually kayumanggi or morena, it was usually to convince us, the viewer, to bleach our skin with Kojic soaps and whitening creams. To aspire to whiteness.
There’s also a Pinoy saying that goes, “oiliness is next to ugliness.” This mindset informed my introduction into skincare as a pre-teen. These were the pre-Glossier years. All throughout high school, I would use a harsh facial wash (with beads!) and an alcohol-based astringent to really dry out my skin. I took my pimple-free teen years for granted and got a rude awakening as I entered my 20s when stress and hormones started to cause breakouts on my face.
Hearing my friends talk about their trips to their dermatologists and the different products they were using broadened my definition of what healthy skin meant or looked like. Realizing that skincare wasn’t one-product-fits-all, discovering what worked for other people, even sharing in their vulnerability and excitement一it encouraged me to start on my own skincare journey.
After my first facial, I found out that my skin is actually prone to be dry and dehydrated! I now use much gentler products and slather my Filipina skin with so much love.
In the spirit of sisterhood, Cambio & Co. asked fellow morena Filipinas and Filipinx from the community about the skincare brands, products, and influencers they love. Check out the five Filipina- and BIPOC-owned brands they raved about:
Magpie Alchemy, based in Sacramento, California, is a Pinay-owned brand of botanical skincare rooted in the plant medicine of our Filipino ancestors. Jamie Cardenas and her partner Lucas Ives, who own and operate Magpie Alchemy, started the brand to find better ways to manage skin conditions like eczema.
Their Herbs & Oats bar soap was created for that exact purpose. Magpie Alchemy has since expanded and evolved into a modern-day “urban apothecary”, concocting products from beard balm to facial serum to CBD skincare and tinctures!
In an interview with Undiscovered SF Jamie shared, “What we are doing at Magpie Alchemy is what our ancestors were doing—and I learned that my grandmother, Grandma Mary, was an expert in plant medicines and herbal remedies and made tinctures, soaps, and salves.”
They recently collaborated with Jenavie Mayari, a licensed esthetician and herbalist, to formulate the Makahiya Moisturizer. With ingredients like hydrolyzed oats and a blend of oils, it is said to “relieve eczema, soothe sensitive skin, and deeply moisturize with a youthful glow”.
If acne and hyperpigmentation are your main skin concerns, you’ve found good friends in The Butter Bar Skincare.They’re a plant-based beauty boutique from Houston, Texas that prides themselves in using “ingredients you can actually pronounce”.
When you look through The Butter Bar website, every product has a thorough listing of ingredients and its properties. Did you know that raw honey has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties? That’s why it’s a main ingredient in their Black Honey Skin-Balancing Cleanser!
In a search for a natural solution to her “sensitive, acne-prone skin”, Founder Kimberly-Chloe Wilson decided to make the products herself and help other women of color dealing with hyperpigmentation, eczema, and melasma.
The Flawless Facial System is an entire kit designed to eliminate acne and its scars on melanated skin every step of your skincare routine, from cleanser to serums. It works by restoring your skin’s balance and nourishing it to better health. There are even options specifically catered to dry, normal, or combination skin.
For your next at-home spa and self-care day, treat yourself to bath products that look as special as you’ll feel using them. The Soaping Spree handcrafts beautiful bar soaps, shampoo bars, and more from their home in Albany, New York.
Soaping Spree’s products are made with love in small batches, using natural ingredients like coconut milk, cocoa butter, and rose clay. And based on their Facebook page of glowing reviews, and a recommendation from our own community, it seems their stuff works like a charm!
Past customers have raved about the Peppermint Shampoo Bar that helps against dandruff and their Honey, Oats, and Milk Soap Bar that was gentle enough to soothe a baby’s skin.
Currently, they’re only available through the West Tenth App, a marketplace that supports women-owned home-based businesses, so definitely take a look around!
Make calmness and healing a part of your everyday routine when you use CBD-infused skincare from Malaya Botanicals. They’re a Filipina-owned beauty and wellness boutique in the San Francisco Bay Area that specializes in hemp-derived CBD products.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is an active compound found in cannabis that lends its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects without giving off a psychoactive “high”. Pia Barton, the Filipina entrepreneur behind Malaya Botanicals, is a cannabis industry expert and former triathlete; when she sustained an injury, it was CBD that helped her with the chronic pain.
With Malaya Botanicals, it’s Pia’s goal to “destigmatize cannabis and empower women of color to take charge of their health and healing.”
On top of inflammation, CBD is also said to help with dryness, sebum production, eczema, and psoriasis. If you’re keen to try CBD, the Renew skincare line from Malaya Botanicals covers all the basics: a balancing toner, oil serum, and moisturizing cream. To achieve maximum relaxation, opt for their Dead Sea Mud Mask!
Sḵwálwen approaches plant-based beauty guided by the Indigenous knowledge and practices of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) people. Their team harvests ingredients gently and respectfully from the land, then handcrafts each skincare product in small batches on the Unceded Territories of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) First Nation.
Leigh Joseph, whose ancestral name is Styawat, is an ethnobotanist, community activist, and the founder of Sḵwálwen. She shares, “I love the solitary act of going out, listening, feeling, smelling your surroundings and harvesting plants that I know my ancestors have harvested for thousands of years.”
“Our products are simple, safe, and effective. But they also hold cultural meaning.”
Wild Rose, “Devil’s Club”, Sweetgrass and Sage are some of the core healing plants that are infused into oils, clays, and salves. The Kálkay Wild Rose Toner is a blend of rose, chamomile, and witch hazel meant to continue cleansing your skin while soothing any redness.
Seeing Our Own And Others’ Morena Beauty
Skincare should be about treating your body with love. I don’t have poreless, Korean “glass” skin. My face is marked by texture and dark spots. Treating every inch of myself with kindness and self-acceptance, even during my breakouts, has really relieved a lot of stress.
It’s allowed me to stop obsessing about what’s only skin deep. And, it’s allowed me to celebrate my beautiful Brown self.
As Filipina model, actress, and activist Dakota Delfin reminds us to show ourselves, “self-love on the outside and self-love on the inside.”
And, if you ever need love from your morena and morenx community, play some feel-good songs from our getting ready playlist while you’re enjoying your skincare regimen. We’re dancing right along with you!
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We’re working on a guide of morena-positive makeup brands for Filipina brown skin! If you have recommendations, leave a comment on our Instagram thread! In the meantime, subscribe to our newsletter to get it once it’s live.