Monday, May 19, 2008

In the case of my face...

...Time has won. My long-held pose of studied nonchalance toward it just won't do any more, in the face of the first hints of fine lines, crow's feet, dark spots, blemishes and--horrors--jowls that now greet me in the mirror every day.

But of course. By September this year I'd be two years shy of the big Four-O. What did I expect?

Still, I find hilarious these days the lengths to which I try to hold on to whatever is left of my youthful skin. Because this wasn't always the case. Until my mid-20s I had subsisted on only one cleansing regimen for my face: Safeguard. Long before it acquired a “conscience” in those ads, I'd been using the damn soap for both body and face--even for scalp in the absence of shampoo. Grew up with it, brought the habit to Manila when I relocated here, saw that it worked even better against the grit and grime of city life.

For a few years, at least, I never worried about the condition of my face. The flesh-colored, kidney-shaped soap with the antiseptic smell guaranteed that I presented a clean, fresh look every morning. It was one more thing, I thought, that made me a different sort of gay guy: never into fashion, beauty pageants, home decorating, and, yes, cosmetics. I had friends who obsessed over their beauty products and routines. I got by with the most ordinary bar of soap. Dearies, I mocked them, I'm so butch compared to all of you. Which, of course, just had them bursting into laughter.

Ah, the bravado of youth.

I can't pinpoint exactly when my facial constitution began to change. Perhaps it was around that time when I began spending late nights out, boozing and partying, even on weekdays. This was a time when I could go for 48 hours without a wink. I had a good job, I was earning well, I was in the city--fuck, this was my “Me” time. The nerdy ex-seminarian was on a roll. I never did learn how to smoke, but the amount of second-hand smoke I choked up on in bars and among friends over that period must have been enough to fry my lungs. And what do they say now about how all that bingeing eventually ravages one's face?

I tried Eskinol when I noticed my face becoming oily. The “For Men” variant, because even then I was disdainful of getting into any fancy beauty habit. Na-ah, regular blue-collar guy here, nothing vain or fastidious for me. At this point, I still heard regular compliments from colleagues about my smooth, clean face. Women, especially, were envious when I told them it was just Safeguard and Eskinol Master. They, meanwhile, had to pile on the gunk every morning--to no avail, for some. (Chortle.)

The good Lord must have noticed how radiantly high-handed I was about my complexion, and decided to teach me a lesson. Boom! One day I woke up with a severe case of chickenpox. How did I know it was a cosmic slapdown? Because, rather than blooming on the rest of my body, the blisters all flocked to my forehead, my cheeks, my nose. Overnight, my face was one big sore. It was a miserable time. See the three craters in the middle of my eyebrows in the picture above? They're a permanent reminder of that humbling affliction. Good thing the scars didn't darken. Sebo de macho, counseled the elders, and they were right.

But there I was--the former picture of flawlessness, now pitted with scars, nicks, indentations. I never regained that creamy, baby-like face, though I tried using Safeguard again. The soap only made my skin dry, flaky. What a betrayal. Something had changed inside, and in the ensuing years, it's become a case of trying out one product after another just to ensure I'd end up with a reasonably healthy-looking complexion free from blemish, irritation or zits. (Yes, I still get them occasionally.)

A vaunted product would work for a time--Nivea's line for men, for instance--and then somehow lose its potency. So I'd stake out the supermarket counter for yet another brand, and since I'm always skeptical about the literature written on a product's backside, choosing one is agony for me. I've often sighed for the good old days when a lowly bar of soap could do the job. But then friends would admonish me, “With so many products out there today, you've no reason not to find one that suits you.” Noted. Mag-lecture ba?

But they should know. A few of them are in their late 30s or 40s, and they've got youthful-looking skin to show for it. But then, they've always been adik about beauty products. They were metrosexuals way before the term got used (or abused). It's just that many of the brands they shove at me, the ones that come with their breathless endorsements, often don't work. Try this, try that, they'd coo. I'd lather on the potion, and the next day I could double as a flashlight with my suddenly-oily skin in full shine.

So, paradoxically, I've come to terms with the burdens of--should I say the word?--aging, though not in the enlightened way others are managing it. Sorry, the simple-life ethic will come later for me. Heck, when life begins at 40 I'd have all the time to go Zen and let the wrinkles run riot on my face. For now, since I don't want to sport those tell-tale lines--yet, I must learn to endure the daily ritual of applying some mysterious elixir on my face, with the hope (and the crossed fingers) that it would work a tad longer than my budget and conscience would allow for yet another indulgence in inexcusable vanity at Watsons.

Last week, my friend Fritz went to Bangkok and asked if I wanted anything bought from there. “Dami dito moisturizers, eye cream, mga wala diyan--magsabi ka lang,” he texted. I wonder why he mentioned these products instead of, say, spicy sampaloc or Tom Yum soup.

Fritz, who's into facial and hair stuff more than I'd ever be, happens to be a straight guy. What has become of the world? Where are the old Safeguard-wielding, wash-and-wear dudes? But, anyway, since even Fritz himself (of The Man Blog--dig that) was buying some for himself, I asked him to find L'Oreal's Revitalift For Men, which isn't available locally. “The one with the double action, yung lifting and whatever,” I told him. Of course, even with the vague description, he knew which one to pick. God bless metrosexuals. What would clueless homos do without them?

“Eye cream, ayaw mo? Meron din dito,” he asked, very subtly. Masyadong vain na ba yun, I pondered. “Sige, go,” was my answer. A little over a thousand baht for the two products. The next time you see me and I don't look as strikingly smooth and young-looking as these expensive treatments have promised, I'll seriously think about suing L'Oreal--and Fritz, for that matter. For violation of the Truth in Advertising Act, for my inability to brag to envious colleagues, for loss of sleep and equanimity.

This beauty business is aging me fast.


Chris said...

i also have the eyewear frame you have

TheBachelorGirl said...

If it works, you'll be the next L'Oreal endorser! ;-)

Abaniko said...

Ang totoo nyan, maganda lang talaga ang lens ng camera ko. Wala pang post-processing yan. At sana man lang ni-recognize ang effort ng photographer at nilagay ang link. Hmp! :)

Fritz said...

But but, I just saw the products and, but, I was in the grocery section and... bah, so far OK ba? LOL

biyay said...

38? so that means you're older than oliver. i thought you were the youngest. who came first, you or joy? Ollie was a classmate way back in high school

Anonymous said...

I'm 36. I don't use anything on my face (except powder of course, blush and eyeliner) but I use sugar cane soap from Dr. Nelson Lee. He's a dermatologist from bacolod, but he's really really good. I still get zits sometimes (from stress usually), but they go away faster than the usual with this soap. His clinic is located in front of Alliance Church along pasay Road extension.

joelmcvie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
joelmcvie said...

Not because I'm a friend, pero you still look good, scars and all. You still look younger than your age.

Hilda said...

Hee hee. Love this blog!

And Gibbs, you don't look anywhere near forty, don't worry.

Ooh, and don't forget the rest of your body please. Especially the elbows, knees and that which gets baldado when you're sitting in front of a computer the whole day. You want to keep that spot baby soft forever. Hee hee.

Baklang AJ said...

Teh nagpabili din ako kay Freck ng L'Oreal products. Naiwanan ko yung facial wash sa bathroom sa office. di ko na mahanap! MEdyo effective pa anman yun. So sa akin effective yung mga products, sayo hinde? Charot!

Ganda mo pa rin teh kahit magpo-forty ka na, kaya keri lang yan!

Gusto ko rin idemanda si Freck kase nawal yung Loreal ko. lolz

Rey said...

men nowadays are indeed into self- care. Reminds me of the song "I'm Still a guy" by Brad paisley.

Anonymous said...

You still look boyish, Gibbs, at least the last time I saw you? Was that pre-chixpost? I think i remarked on your complexion and you mentioned one product you were using whose name escapes me now.

Pero tutuo, even some of my children, not yet 30 have begun fretting about skin aging. Grabe. Is this the result of too much commercialization?

You know when I began to use moisturizers? Only when I turned oooops .... well let's say five years ago. haahaha And it was too late. On secnd thoughts, its never too late i think. (Pampalakas loob).


gibbs cadiz said...

hey CHRIS, thanks. we've good taste huh. haha! :)

LORNA, pwede kaya the more expensive la mer na lang? :)

ABANIKO, sige ka, pag nilagay ko, malalaman nila na isa ka sa mga friends that i mentioned in the post. ooops! :)

FRITZ! aynaku, as i said in my multiply site, talk to my lawyer! LOLZ! :)

BIYAY, yes, am older than oliver by 2 years, and younger than ate joy by 1 year. middle child. :) glad to see ya here, thanks for the comment. :)

gibbs cadiz said...

ANONYMOUS, sugar cane soap? really? mind sharing your doctor's number with me at my e-mail ad, gibbs_c@yahoo? maybe i can pay him a visit. thanks for the tip. :)

JOEL, zalamas 'teh! :)

HILDA, haha, thanks for the kind words AND the useful reminder. :)

AJ, yeah, sabi nga ni fritz nagpabili ka din daw. naku, ayos yan, we can compare kung effective siya sa'yo at saken, hehe. tsalamat! :)

thanks, REY! so are you a 'self-caring' guy, too? :)

ANNA! very glad to see ya here! haha, yep, i think that was olay. which is great, except i get so damn oily with it. i think younger people nowadays are turning more to products because the environment is just so dirty--or it looks like it--and all these products promise some sort of succor or protection from all that. whether they're really effective is another question. :) HOW ARE YOU? :)

Anonymous said...

you are following my tracks. i didn't look my age either, until 38. then overnight, i became a victim of gravity. my facial muscles began inching their way south. lines became pronounced. i was beginning to look (gulp) mature. take it from me, i've consulted the best doctors money can buy, and have used topical products from paris to peru. save your money, honey. expensive creams will do nothing for your skin. you need something to clean your face, preferably not soap, and a light moisturizer that's also a sunscreen. the sun is your WORST enemy. banish it. make peace with hats and umbrellas. rearrange your calendar so that most of your appointments are after sundown. when you're waiting for a jeep and there's no shed in site, hide behind a fat person. do whatever you can to shield your face. that's it. eat well, and get plenty of rest. beyond that, if you want to reverse the ravages of age, you need to get under the skin to stimulate the production of collagen. no cream will do that. microdermabrasion will take off dead cells and give you a fresher look, but to really make a difference, you have to see a derma or plastic surgeon. i didn't want to do it, but after doing a ton of research, and blowing wads of cash on cosmetics, i finally went.

now, i look like a cross between haley joel osment (during his sixth sense days) and joan rivers. i stop traffic.


Anonymous said...

"and there's no shed in site"

that should've been "and there's no shed in sight."

i'm losing my eyesight, too.


CokskiBlue said...

Gibbs, you look years younger than your age. Baliktad tayo. :P

Kailangan pala kitang kausapin about those products. Sobrang kailangan ko na. Hehe.

angel said...

yay, you dont't look thirty something, pero wala yan sa mga products eh, kahit anong product pa yan, kung puro stress naman (lalo na sa work), wala din, kaya give ourselves a break, relax, see a movie/play (hehe), travel, laugh and smile often, be happy! :)

gibbs cadiz said...

R, a cross between haley joel osment and joan rivers? you trying to scare me, dude? hehe. :)

COY! hehe, thanks bud. di mo pa kelangan ang mga products na'to, all you need is sunblock at this point. and lots of sleep, so bawasan na muna ang kao-online. LOL! :)

ANGEL, tama! you nailed it. kaya kelangan bumalik tayo sa max brenner and its choc. fondue! and sa sagada din, i-tour mo kami! hehe. thanks for the kind words. :)

Rich said...

If I may say so, I think you look really good.

R-yo said...

I actually think you posted this plus the pic to show to everyone just how young-looking you are compared to us, your peers. Yan ba ang mukha ng going forty? Ang galing mo mang-inis. :-)

gibbs cadiz said...

UNCLE R-YO, istatyu? hehe. anuveh, you're in japan, sandamakmak dyan ang anti-aging products. tapos, healthy pa ang diet nila, at me cherry blossoms ka pa once a year! no excuse ka na po to look like my uncle, haha! :)

RICH, thanks much. you're very kind. :)

beektur said...

you don't look a day older than 20. where did you hide your portrait, dorian gibbs?

Greg from Make Money Online said...

ohh for the looks of youth. Be happy you have your health.

gibbs cadiz said...

BEEKTUR, remember the baul you left with A? andun nakatago ang portrait. wehehe. :)

GREG, right you are. :)

the jester-in-exile said...

but gibbs, aren't we supposed to get better-looking as we grow older? i read something rom said about that.

i wouldn't know. i'm resigned to my looks. LOL.

Maria "Ria" Jose said...

Uhmmm... You don't look forty. You look like you're only 20+. Pa-kiss nga Koya!

Daniel O. said...

I jusr read this article in the Sunday Inquirer. I loved the article!! Hahaha, it was a subtly humorous and enlightening (in a sense) one. Hope you write more stuff like that just to keep the Sundays up :D

gibbs cadiz said...

JESTER, should be, but it's not happening to me! haha. :)

RIA, well, makakapagsabi ka ng totoo, nagkita na tayo. wehehe. kailan ba babalik dito? :)

DANIEL, thanks a lot. more stuff like this? you'd hate me for my narcissism! :)

Aileen Apolo said...

Haha!!! Actually when I was at OHSI I was the same as you. I only used Ivory, but then tantantanan John castigated me using only one soap! Arggghhh! Ayan naging maarte na rin ako waaaaahhh.

Don't ya worry, you definitely look your age! You look much younger now than when we were officemates. And hindi bola yan ha.

Fritz said...

A boss at work read your article. She approached me one time and asked, "Fritz, may nabasa ako sa Inquirer. Parang ikaw yun eh. Ikaw talaga yun! Eh galing kang Bangkok di ba?!" LOL I was thinking of denying the entire thing but I surprisingly caught myself saying, "Yes... I am Ironman." Hinimatay sya pagkatapos.

Thad said...

Beauty products aren't always what they are cracked up to be, and that any abuse on one's body would show up over time anyway... I like your casual approach to all these vanity hoopla.

All things said and done, it is the person's character which people will appreciate the most- a pretty face would just be an afterthought.

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