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PSA: It's Time To Stop Following These Old-Fashioned Beauty Rules For Morenas

Don't let anyone tell you what to do.
PHOTO: Instagram/lailaalharthy

Growing up morena, I’ve always played it safe when it comes to makeup and fashion. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to experiment, or that I wasn’t a fan of trends. In truth, it was the fear of doing something that was not “bagay” and looking awful because of it. Every time I would shop for new products or new clothes, a slew of unwritten morena rules would always pop into my head. No one really said shouldn’t do it, but at the same time, the subtle side comments from relatives—not to mention the do’s and don’ts from old magazine articles—eventually turned into insecurities I didn’t even know I had.

“Don’t wear that color! It doesn’t suit you.”

“Here, stick to earthy shades.”

“Don’t buy that. Get something more neutral.”

But it’s almost 2020, and we’re long past the age where our skin color—or anything else, really—should hold us back. So if you’re brown and proud, here are some old fashioned beauty rules that you should TOTALLY challenge today.

  1. Don’t wear dark foundation shades.

    The first bottle of foundation I owned that actually matched my skin tone was a gift from my balikbayan aunt. For the first time ever, my made-up face matched my tanned body, and I didn’t look like a levitating head. I loved it so much that I used it up until the last drop. When I visited a local store to restock my new ride-or-die foundation, I was shocked to find out that the shade I was looking for was not available in the Philippines. The saleslady informed me that the demand for darker shades were too low for them to ship the stocks from abroad. “Ma’am, mas gusto kasi ng mga Pinay yung maputing shade.”

    That incident happened five years ago. Luckily, brands everywhere are now hopping on the empowered morena bandwagon, and we finally have deep shades readily available in the market. Remember: Makeup is best used to enhance our natural beauty, not to change it.

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  2. Don’t go blonde (or dye your hair in any unnatural color).

    When I first watched Sailor Moon, my dream as a little girl was to sport long blonde hair. However, that dream quickly changed when I started hearing comments about blonde hair only looking good on people with fair skin tones. I never bothered finding out why, but I knew it was something I just couldn’t do. I couldn’t have green hair either, because then I’d look like a tree. And god forbid I get highlights—I would appear tacky and trying hard.


    These thoughts were what I kept telling myself. Every time I would attempt to dye my hair, my browser history contained an ungodly amount of nervous searches like, “What color looks flattering on tan skin?” Or “Does red hair look good on brown skin?”

    To this day, I’ve never tried anything other than the usual shades of brown, but seeing beautiful blonde morenas everywhere has changed all that. They’re confident, and they look great.

    So… do blondes really have more fun? Maybe it’s time to find out. I want to have my locks bleached soon!

  3. Don’t wear pink lipstick.

    If I were to describe my first collection of lipsticks, "boring" would be an understatement. I kept on hoarding the same earthy browns and deep reds. I *never* bought pink lipstick, whether it was neon or pale, matte or metallic. I was convinced that the only way to enhance my skin tone, or my so-called Filipina beauty, was to stick to certain hues.


    As it turns out, I was missing out! Wearing pink brings any fun, flirty look to another level, whether you’re mestiza, chinita, or morena. A simple wash of mauve on the lids or a bold pink eyeliner will suit you. You'll be super gorgeous! I promise.

  4. Don’t wear anything white or orange.

    Shopping as a self-conscious morena teen meant avoiding anything white or orange. Growing up, I was told that these two colors emphasized my dark complexion, and of course, I didn’t want that. No matter how gorgeous the item was, or how flattering the silhouette, I just ignored them and moved on to the next items—the ones in black or other dark hues.


    What I didn’t know then was that emphasizing my color was not a bad thing at all! I was just fixating on that insecurity. Nowadays, anytime I’m at a store or simply scrolling online, my eyes divert quickly to everything white and orange. I love the contrast between my tanned skin and white fabric. Moreover, warm orange tones deliciously complement my sun-kissed complexion.

    When you shop for your 2020 wardrobe, don’t be afraid to look dark. Dark-skinned is nothing to be ashamed of.

  5. Don’t wear colorful eyeshadow

    “What on earth would a morena girl do with purple eyeshadow?” I used to tell myself.

    Much like my former attitude towards pink lipsticks, colorful eyeshadows used to scare me. I was afraid of looking too bold, trying hard, or simply tacky. My eyeshadow palettes from years back were all neutral shades. You’d wonder why I bothered buying multiples at all. They all looked the same.

    But now, with my newfound confidence in my skin, and my eagerness to create as many ~*bomb*~ looks as possible, I’m no longer limiting myself to what I thought for a long time was “bagay.” Morena girls, we have just as much right to wear the rainbow as anyone else. And wear the rainbow, we will.

    Mixi Ignacio

Here’s to embracing our skin color and deciding for ourselves what bagay means!