Contradiction in Terms
You say to-may-toe; I say toh-mah-tah. Deal with it.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005

My name is Nikki, and I'm a Beauty Addict.

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It all started when I was eleven, I figure, when my French friend Nathalie introduced me to Noxzema at a sleep-over. It was a revolutionary idea in itself: that I might want to do more for my face than just scrub it with whatever soap happened to be in the shower stall at the moment. I dutifully tried it out, however; and, as promised, my skin did seem instantly healthier, glowier, just all-around-prettier... and I was hooked.

Since then, admittedly, it's been a downhill slide through facial washes, gels, and foams; body lotions, body scrubs, body butters; eye creams, neck creams, AHA and BHA creams; lip glosses, lipsticks, and lip slicks. In parallel fashion, I have gone from the relative teenage innocence of Noxzema and flavored Bonne Belle lip balm, through the finally-I-have-my-own-money-to-spend L'Oreal/Max Factor makeup madness, to my current never-you-mind-how-much-it-costs obssession with Philosophy and Skin by Alison Raffaele.

Up to a point.

A few months ago, I was actually contemplating buying my very own jar of that Holy Grail of skin treatments, Creme de la Mer. To those of you unversed in such matters (read: males), Creme de la Mer boasts super-special seaweed, unbelievably incredible enzymes, and a price tag of Php8,000. And that's just for the basic version of the stuff.

Thankfully, my social conscience and common sense caught up with my overly-obliging wallet just as it was opening up to dispense the astronomical sum. "Okay, waitasec," they said to Wallet. "Now we all know Nikki enjoys being a girly-girl, and we certainly champion her God-given right to girly-girlness: Hurray! But can we really go around smearing her skin with stuff that costs more than many people (including, in lean seasons, Nikki herself) earn in a month!?"

No, Virginia, we could not. And we can not. And what's more, we have realized, after long and intense scrutiny, that you know what? I actually have pretty good skin. It doesn't break out all too often; and it's a nice, tea-with-cream color, which seems to be what God intended, and which never (despite unstinting advertising campaigns to the contrary) responded to any of my earlier ill-intentioned attempts to whiten it anyway. And it's just ludicrous to live in an unrelentingly tropical country and persist in trying to achieve a matte complexion. Given the amount of money I have spent in pursuit of that last goal over the years, it would actually have been cheaper to just move to Arizona, where the air can simply suck all the oils out of my skin the natural way.

It's not that I have given up on vanity products--Heaven forfend! But I have been trying to be a little more sane about my choices. I'm still addicted to my scrumptiously-scented Lemon Meringue body wash by Philosophy, but I've switched from my Php600+ L'Oreal Visible Results facial wash to the Php100+ St. Ives Apricot Radiance scrub--which, I'm happy to report, works just as well and smells yummier, to boot. The equally-expensive Visible Results toner has been replaced by Clean and Clear, which costs under a hundred bucks. And I've successfully pared the makeup down to what I actually use: tinted moisturizer, eyebrow pencil, cheek gel. And, okay, whatever lip thing happens to catch my fancy and doesn't actually cost more than I would shell out for a really good book.

As for fragrance, I have officially sworn off the mega-expensive designer stuff, which is why my latest purchase has been--wait for it--Barbie Lolly Pop body spray. I actually meant to get it for Sage, but the stuff really does have the lime-mandarin-vanilla scent it claims to; and since I do like to spritz myself every half hour or so, it's perfect! I don't have to worry so much about the cost, and I don't end up choking my poor husband to death on the fumes. (Because body sprays are neither as strong nor as long-lasting as perfumes or even colognes--again, I have to explain that part for the boys.)

So Dean's happy; I'm happy; Wallet, Common Sense, and Social Conscience are all happy. Yes, thanks to Barbie, I am now finally convinced that Being Beautiful and Being Girly do not necessarily have to equate to Being Spendthrift.

And you'd think I could have figured that out at eleven.

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illustration by El

Nikki Alfar is really not as sexy as El's illustration would have you believe... but she doesn't mind if you think of her that way.
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Location: Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines

class act/guttersnipe. tomboy/girly-girl. serious writer/comics hack. wife & mom/tart & tease. obssessive-compulsive/laid-back. sweetheart/bitch. all that.

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