One of the Philippines’ top aestheticians shares why true beauty is total beauty that goes beyond appearances and encompasses life
If anything proves that the only constant thing in life is change—it is the definition of beauty. From the heftier and more rotund ideals of the Tang dynasty to the waif-like proportions of Versace—humanity’s ideal proportions for men and women remain as ephemeral as a store sale at Louis Vuitton.
And yet for at least one aesthetician, Aivee Teo, the pursuit of beauty itself, endures. The process of embracing one’s self, enhancing one’s image, and gaining confidence are at least as appealing and as important as anyone’s season’s trend. It is also, in her words, a lot more fun.
With all the confidence of a mother of three, Aivee Teo reveals that she wasn’t confident, growing up. An admirer of Phoebe Cates and Brooke Shields, she says she “wanted a higher nose, and I always thought my lips were too big!” She smiles. “Back then everyone wanted this one thing, this one ideal mestiza…” Though she notes that times are changing.
She states that there is no one standard or definition of beauty. Every culture has its own standards. “In fact when I look for beauty in someone now, I’m looking for…,” her eyes close, and she seems to scan through the thousands of patients she’s seen through the years. They snap open. “Something ‘you-nique’— something that, you know, in the context of this person’s entire face, makes it look right, makes it look interesting.” She cites mixed races (particularly Eurasian ones) as some of the more interesting patients she’s seen so far.
Doc Aivee’s eyes glaze for a moment, peering back through time, reminding her of her early years—ones she looks back on fondly. “If I could go back and tell my 14-year-old self something it would be to ‘Just wait, you don’t have to worry. It’s really about embracing yourself, then enhancing what you have. Beauty also comes later on in life. It comes when you accept yourself, try to make the most out of what you have, and try to create something with your life. So don’t hurry, don’t rush.” It’s wise advice, and one she tries to intimate to every one of her clients.
Aivee’s partner, Z Teo, says it best.“It’s never just about the face. Most of the people who come to us, they have some issue they want to tackle.” He cites his own story as an example, explaining that when he was younger, in Singapore, he was teased all the time at school. “They used to call me ‘pizza face,’ and of course I laughed with my friends. But deep down, I was distraught. I was hurt.” This compelled him to seek out the help of a dermatologist, who gave him “a ray of hope.” And it’s what Aivee has been doing ever since. “Beauty, true beauty for me is internal. It’s just that when you look good on the outside, you also feel good about yourself on the inside.”
With Great Responsibility, Comes Great Beauty
Aivee shares that “beauty is a superpower” but it means being responsible for that “power.”Her daily skincare starts off with sunblock in the morning, and moisturizers and cleansers at night. She mentions her anti-aging regimen, which she started when she was in her 30s. She also practices intermittent fasting with her husband, often skipping breakfast, and not eating until 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Sometimes they even go for 24-hour fasts.
“We watch what we eat. We count calories. We’ve cut back on drinking and we don’t buy junk—the same goes for our children, KenZ, Kenzo, and Keli…when they’re with us,” she lowers her voice, “of course when they’re with their friends, we don’t know.” She later confesses though that lechon and anything chocolate is her weakness, and the couple tends to indulge in food when abroad.
Exercise is something the already active doctor does at work, attending to patients. Breaks are important, but sleep is something she considers paramount. “I can sleep eight hours, no problem. If I have ten hours, I can do ten hours.” She says that this is the body’s time for healing, reversing the ravages of time, sunlight, gravity, and pollution. It also keeps the mind sharp—a fact confirmed by Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post. But Aivee’s reasoning is sound. “It’s easy to be comfortable, but it’s a bit lazy. We can buy how many shoes, bags… We only have one body. It’s our job to take care of it—not just for us, but for the ones we love.”
Read the full cover story written by Redge Tolentino on Lifestyle Asia’s March 2020 Edition titled, “In The Eye of The Beholder.”
Art Direction MARC PAGDILAO
Makeup GERY PENASO
Styling JEBBY FRONDA and RJ ROQUE
Assisted by JOY ALMERO
Shoot Coordination AIVEE CLINIC
Special Thanks to ANNE TIRONA, CHRIS CARREON, and AIVEE CAFE