Alnette Lee Tan, MD finished her pre-med and medical studies in the University of the Philippines. She is one of the country’s leading refractive surgeons and has been with American Eye Center since she finished her fellowship training in New Orleans and New York in 1997.
She is a frequent lecturer on LASIK and corneal refractive surgery in the Philippines and Asia, and is considered one of the key opinion leaders in the field of laser refractive surgery in the country.
In spite of her busy practice, she manages to travel to new places every year and also dabbles in the retail business during the Christmas bazaar season. Alnette is in the enviable position of being on top of her game, while being surrounded by the love and respect of her family and peers.
I am surrounded by dermatologists – my sister, 2 of my closest friends and the sister of a close friend who has passed on years ago. I am therefore lucky to always have someone to rely on for advice when it comes to my skin and my hair. I do not browse in cosmetic counters or cosmetic stores. I am a self-confessed hoarder and I am not one to change brands often. However, I do not stick to one product line – I tend to rotate the products I use. Some products I use I got from my sister who practices in the States.
In the morning, I use either plain water or Glytone mild cream wash or Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser. At the end of the day, the first thing I do when I reach home is wash my face. My choice of product depends on the condition of my face. If I have heavy make-up on (just when I attend parties), I use the reliable (“kinalakihan” from the tukador of my mom) Pond’s Cold Cream. Somebody gave me the Human Nature Sunflower Cleansing Oil for Christmas and I have started using this too. So far so good. I follow these with Murad Essential-C Cleanser which smells so good and has anti-oxidant properties as well. If I have my usual light day make-up on, I use Shu Uemura Cleansing Beauty Oil Premium A/O Advanced Formula. At times when I feel that a pimple is about to break out, I use Topix benzoyl peroxide 5% wash.
For showering, I alternate between different shower gels. I love the skin-tingling, minty feeling of Dr. Bronner’s 18-in1 Hemp Peppermint Pure Castille Liquid Soap found in Trader Joe’s grocery stores in the States. I just need roughly a spoonful poured onto a shower sponge for my entire body and the minty sensation lasts for even an hour after. I also use Le Petit Marseilies shower gel in an invigorating fruity scent with apple and melon extracts (given to me by my friend as pasalubong from Paris), Bath and Body works Aromatherapy shower gel in orange ginger and Zara Home bath and shower gel in black vanilla. I hoarded 6 bottles of this a few years back – I am on my last bottle.
I also don’t stick to one shampoo. I use Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo and Conditioner again, for the peppermint scent . I also have in my possession a big (close to a lifetime supply) bottle of Pantene Pro V Nature Fusion Moisture Balance Shampoo that came with a smaller bottle of conditioner, Head and Shoulders anti-dandruff Shampoo in cool menthol, and L’Oreal Elseve Energy Shampoo and Conditioner in Citrus scent.
Special mention goes to Lab46 Skin Care Hair Thickening Shampoo Aloe Vera & Patchouli formula, which I use twice a week. I find that my hair is more bouncy after I use this. When I use medicated shampoos, e.g. anti-dandruff or the thickening ones, my derm friends suggest that I leave the suds on for at least 5 minutes before rinsing off.
My derma guru’s advice: “Not everyone needs to moisturize, but it never hurts to do so. Moist skin tends to wrinkle less. Oil does not necessarily equal moisture. Even someone with oily skin will need to moisturize, especially under certain conditions i.e., air conditioned rooms, air travel etc. As we age, our estrogen level progressively lowers, necessitating moisturizers.”
Morning regimen: The first thing I apply after I wash my face is Celeteque Advanced Anti-Wrinkle Facial Moisturizer. I bought 6 bottles early last year and I am on my 4th bottle now.
Evening regimen: This is where I splurge. On a trip to Korea last year, I discovered a line of skin care products – Sulwhasoo. While it is true that it is difficult to buy stuff from Korea as they hardly speak English, it was cute that the saleslady (with flawless white skin) gave me travel-size bottles and numbered them 1 to 5 to guide me as to the order of which to apply their products. I love their packaging. 1) First Care Serum, 2) Balancing Water, 3) Balancing Emulsion, 4) Rejuvenating Eye Cream. 5) Concentrated Ginseng Cream, 6) Overnight Vitalizing Treatment. I indulge myself every Sunday when I have time too pause between applications of each product. I find myself waking up with a very well-hydrated and very supple skin. (to gear myself for the week to come)
During the week I alternate between L’Oreal Revitalift Deep Set Wrinkle Repair Night Lotion and Retacnyl (Tretinoin 0.05%) but make sure to use Laneige Water Sleeping Pack midweek.
Side note for tretinoin: “Tretinoin is still the state of the art product for anti-aging. Here, it’s available without prescription, so we’re kinda lucky. The 0.025 % cream or gel is sufficient and most tolerable. A pea-sized amount is enough to cover the entire face. For the eye area where the skin is thinner, I dilute it a bit with my moisturizer. To avoid irritation from tretinoin, I make sure my skin is completely dry (about 10-15 minutes after washing) before applying.
Insider’s info from my derm friends: SPF 15 filters 93% of UVB, SPF 30 filters 97%, and SPF 45 filters 98% so anything above SPF45 is not really far more superior. None offers 100% blocking and to date, there is still no reliable measure for UVA filtering efficiency. It may also be good to know that when we apply cosmetics with SPF over sunblock, the overall SPF is not the sum but the average of the 2. (divasoria:AMAZING INFO!)
I have a recent discovery, which is absolutely heaven-sent.
OC Eight Mattifying Gel – it really decreases oily shine and I feel I don’t need to powder up (which I really never got used to doing) during the day. I apply this after sunblock, before any make-up.
*If I anticipate longer sun exposure, I apply Heliocare Extreme 50 Oil-Free Compact to ensure UV protection.
I do not indulge in expensive make-up. I have to admit that the only time I chose make-up for myself was during my fellowship training in New York in 1996 when I had time to kill so I chatted with the girl at the Shisheido counter and I ended up buying stuff that I still continue to use until now. The rest of the make-up I use are samples from my sister and gifts from friends. That is, until I discovered Korean cosmetics.
Oh, the wide selection of BB creams in Korea is bliss. BB stands for blemish balm. BB cream usually comes in combination with SPF, moisturizers, pore minimizers, skin whiteners, and anti-wrinkle components like collagen. The combinations are limitless. For now, I use Nature Republic’s Super Origin Collagen BB Cream with SPF25 and The Saem’s Gem Miracle Platinum BB SPF 50. I often use this as make-up base and even it out with either Shisheido Sun Protection Compact Foundation with SPF 25 or Shisheido Supplist Poreless Foundation with SPF 23, also in compact form. These provide light coverage as I don’t like the heavily made up look. (on myself, at least!)
I bought these eyebrow stencils from Japan years ago and have been using them as guide when applying Almay eyebrow powder (only for special occasions). I rarely apply eye mascara although I know that this creates a dramatic effect. Soon, I will acquire the habit. I use liquid eyeliner a lot, though. For 15 years, I have been a staunch user of Maybelline Lineworks waterproof Ultra-Liner. Being waterproof, it does not smudge or run. If I make a mistake in applying, I just wait for it to dry up and it comes off as a non-messy flake. I believe that my Chinese calligraphy classes in high school made it effortless for me to apply liquid eyeliner. I also use L’Oreal Super Liner and Kanebo BK-1 Pen Liner – both come with very fine, slightly firm brushes that make application very easy.
The eye shadow hues I use are on the neutral side – mauves, taupes and browns. My sister receives these samples from Estee Lauder. A friend gave me the Stila eye shadow palette – luckily it was in my chosen hues. I have Urban Decay Naked Palette as reserve when my shades run out.
For my cheeks, I use Natural Cheek Color from Estee Lauder, or Rose Glaze from Clinique, or Tan/Bronze Makeup Duo from Shisheido. Nothing fancy. I just brush these across my fat cheeks and try to keep it natural.
For my lips, I prefer nude and light shades – nothing dark or blood red. (Parang they’re not bagay to me.) Presently, I use lip gloss from Sephora and The Saem. I have an unidentified nice fuschia lip gloss I picked up from Nordstrom Rack, which I like because people usually compliment me when I have it on. I also use Skin Food Candy Moist Rouge and Honey Glossy Rouge. They’re supposed to moisturize lips and are very affordable. The 2 small tubes of lip gloss from The Saem come with loops and I attach these to my house keys so I carry them all the time.
Before I sleep, I rub Look Ma, New Hands hand lotion from True Blue Spa of Bath and Body Works. It contains paraffin and I can feel my hands are softer instantly. I make sure to apply lotion on the back of my hands as these are more prone to developing wrinkles and as a male friend once told me, you can undergo plastic surgery for your face and for other parts of your body, but not for the back of your hands. (In Tagalog, “Lahat maitatago mo sa plastic surgery, pwera ang likod ng kamay mo. Haha!)
I use gentle strokes with Andrea EyeQ’s Eye Makeup Remover Pads, instead of vigorous rubbing to avoid unnecessary stretching of and damage to the delicate collagen and elastic fibers in the area around my eyes. (NO to more wrinkles!)
Every 2 weeks or so, I use Nose Pore Tape from Watson’s to get rid of white heads on my nose. Bench also used to have something like this and it came out very cheap.
When I see a pimple coming out, I apply Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Defense Face Lotion and it usually solves the problem.
I do not usually wear perfumes/colognes because the fumes may alter the performance of the Excimer laser that I work with. However, on non-LASIK days, I wear Zara Kids Natural Eau de Cologne. I bought a dozen bottles when they came out years ago and am now on my second to the last one.
as told to divasoria