COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
(First of two parts)
When I e-mailed my sister Ellen remarking on how beautiful she looks in her fifties while I was looking at her daughter’s wedding photos, she replied: “Yeah, it’s great to look 30 in your fifties—the only drawback is that I’m being chased by 30 year olds!!! What a gag!! I never thought that I have to apologize for my age now, while the whole world is frantically searching for the fountain of youth!!” That jolted me from my seat, and at first I smiled at the computer screen then burst out laughing. This elder sister of mine really knocks you out with her quips.
We’re more than a decade apart but the curious often asks if she’s my younger sister. Lean, fit, with smooth skin and gorgeous hair, Ellen moves with a kind of perkiness and élan. And a smart dresser at that. I got a bit self-conscious upon seeing her a few years back for her tummy was flatter than mine, her upper arms firmer than mine, and she wore tight jeans at fifty. She would don a stretchable blouse a little thicker than stockings or a tight fitting dress so confidently that I would feel like tucking all my flesh into oblivion. And I’m not even fat at that, I mean, I’m normally considered slim by casual observers even if I’ve put on a little weight in recent years.
Aside from having a fabulous hair and body while dressing so smartly, Ellen does her make-up so well that she exudes a sophisticated look. A few commented “parang artista” at first glance. Plus, the lightness in her gait and manner gives buoyancy to her whole being.
In one of our small talks on beauty and fashion, one thing I can’t forget was her use of the olive oil as a cleanser. (In 1986, the idea seemed quite novel to me though not so unfamiliar.) She has been using that ancient emollient for years to remove her make-up and cleanse her body of deep-seated dirt.
She was first oriented with the olive oil as a personal care item while living in Spain. (Olives are widely grown there.) Her mother-in-law used to rub olive oil on Yasmin, my sister’s baby, before giving her daily bath. The ritual has not been totally abandoned even after my sister’s family moved to Toronto. Her daughter still employs the whole body rub but not anymore as a daily chore.
The body rub is quite simple. You apply olive oil on your skin from the feet up to the neck in a circular upward motion and leave it for about half an hour. Meanwhile, you can also give your face a light massage of olive oil (avoid contact with eyes.) Then soak your body in a tub of water for at least fifteen minutes to unclog the pores of your skin. Afterwards, you can proceed with your bath. This deep cleansing ritual can be done at least once a month.
So when Ellen first came to visit the Philippines carrying a handy bottle of olive oil, it was then that she relayed to me of its benefits for the skin. And before she left, I asked her to leave her bottle with me. Well, as I said earlier, this was in 1986. At first, I used the oil as a hair and scalp treatment. I’d apply the oil on my hair and scalp, leave it for an hour or two then wash. My, it really cleans—my scalp felt like I’ve been skinned by an Indian. (To be continued)