Woman taking a selfie in bed

Much has been said about natural beauty, along with its supposed superiority over other types. But what do people really talk about when they talk about natural beauty? Is it to compare it to man-made beauty, or as the Maritesses of the world would call it, “Salamat, doc”? Is it to put down synthetic ingredients in beauty products (which are by the way not all bad)? Is it to influence people to subscribe to the idea that “women should wear less makeup”? Is it to encourage a positive conversation around what it means to be beautiful? 

What is ‘Natural Beauty’ Anyway?

For a long time, women have been put in boxes according to attractiveness. Those who fall under “naturally beautiful” supposedly don’t require further adornment or polishing — they’re beautiful as is. To paraphrase a famous tagline, they were born with it for sure. According to somebody’s  , that is. Based on this definition, the term implies that the rest aren’t born with natural beauty, which goes against the ideals of inclusivity. All women are born with natural beauty.

However, not all definitions of “natural beauty” are negative. We asked women what the term means to them and here is what they had to say about it:

Natural beauty is vulnerability.

For blogger Prei Valencia, natural beauty comes through when we are most vulnerable. “I think it’s most evident when we wake up in the morning when we are in a carefree and vulnerable state inside and out,” she says. Vulnerability in this case means letting your guard down and allowing people to see your authentic self. It’s living life sans curation and filter.

A study published by the American Psychological Association backs this up. It suggests that opening up and revealing your perceived flaws can  . Also known as “the beautiful mess effect,” the study was inspired by the work of Brené Brown, who said, “What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.”

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Natural beauty is effortless je ne sais quoi.

Some women just have “it.” And “it” is not inborn, mind you. “It” is not exclusive to a blessed few. “It” is intelligence, style, the ability to swipe on lipstick without a mirror in a moving taxi. “It” is that X-factor that makes a woman naturally beautiful, with or without makeup. For writer Ave Dumo, natural beauty is effortless and has nothing to do with looks. “It’s the way someone carries herself, even if they are wearing makeup,” she says.

Want to have that certain je ne sais quoi? It starts with being true to yourself, your style, and your values. Everything else — fashion, makeup, that cool girl slouch — follows. For effortlessly chic hair, use Love Beauty and Planet Coconut Water & Mimosa Flower Volume and Bounty Shampoo. This shampoo can give you a tousled, bouncy ‘do with and mimosa flower, which softens and adds shine to the hair without weighing it down.

Natural beauty is no-filter beauty.

Ah yes, filters are so much fun, but they can also hide your natural beauty. This goes for both phone filters and makeup. Illustrator Monique Hilario says natural beauty is someone who looks great even with minimal makeup. Writer Adrienne Tan adds, “As a beauty look, natural beauty to me means minimal everyday makeup and barely enhanced features.” Yes, that implies no contouring. 

Researchers at the Boston Medical Center argue that the prevalence of “perfection” all over social media (thanks to filters) can trigger body dysmorphic disorder. Additional research also reveals that 55% of plastic surgeons see patients who want to look better in selfies — people want to look like the filtered versions of themselves. 

On the other hand, another study from the University of California shows that selfies can actually boost confidence. The study aligns with the ideals of positive computing, or technology that embraces psychological well-being and ethical practice. Best to take your selfies in moderation — but don’t hold yourself back from taking one if it will boost your mood!

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The whole point of embracing your natural beauty means defining it for yourself. Wear as little or as much makeup as you like. Dress as you please. Do things that make you feel naturally you and write your own standards for what makes you beautiful.