Wash Your Face in Rice Water, and More Beauty Lessons I Learned From My Abuela

Priscilla Rodriguez
Priscilla Rodriguez

"Abuela! What are you doing?" I shouted. My grandmother had taken the water leftover from when she washed the rice for dinner earlier in the evening and appeared to be lathering her face with it. "I'm washing my face, mija," she told me in Spanish. "This is probably one of the best things you could ever do for your skin." I was perplexed. Had this lady lost her mind? It was at that very moment, standing in my grandparents' kitchen at 5 years old, that I learned my first beauty lesson — skincare is everything.

She truly looked like una estrella de cine, a movie star, as my grandfather would say.

My abuela had the most stunning skin, and to this day, I'd say she had the most beautiful, flawless skin I've ever seen on anyone in my life. But how could she not? My grandmother was obsessed with taking care of her skin. She had virtually no lines, no wrinkles (well, until she fell very ill, but that's a story for another time), and forget about acne — it didn't exist for her. She truly looked like una estrella de cine, a movie star, as my grandfather would say.

I guess she had the rice water, cold creams, all-purpose cream, toner, and moisturizers (phew!) to thank for it. My abuela never went a day without applying some type of face cream, and most times she was using each and every single one. This made me realize that one day I too would need to invest in various creams if I ever planned to have my skin looking half as good as hers. I remember when I was around eight, I grabbed one of her cold creams and began applying it all over my face. Before I knew, my grandma had walked back into her bedroom and found I had basically used her entire bottle. My face was full of white cream. And sure, I looked pretty hilarious, but hey — my skin had never felt softer. We laughed about it for days and years to come.

Priscilla Rodriguez

Because my grandmother was so big on skincare, she wasn't huge on wearing makeup products like foundation. She did use concealer, though, and always told me I should never, ever go to bed with any makeup on my face. Sadly, I think that's one lesson I still haven't fully grasped.

She is the woman I one day hope to be — inside and out.

Abuela did love a good lipstick. She wore this brown, almost gloss-like formula that suited her flawless caramel skin amazingly. "Abuela, can I try this one?" I'd always ask. "Ha! You've got to be kidding me," she'd say back in Spanish. "That lipstick is my favorite. It's one-of-a-kind and I'll never be able to buy it again if you finish it." OK, got it. It was probably the item she would've taken with her if she was ever stranded on deserted island. Needless to say, that unicorn lipstick that only she owned ignited my love for nudes and browns. If I only wear nude or brown for the rest of my life, I would not be upset. Thank you for that, abuela.

After losing my grandma nearly six months ago, I find myself turning more and more to the beauty lessons I learned from her. I can hear her voice in my head reminding me to drink more water, wash my face with rice water, moisturize daily, and make sure to never leave home without a good lip. I don't know what I'll do not being able to learn more from her, but I hold these memories of playing with her makeup and watching her doll up so very close to my heart. She is the woman I one day hope to be — inside and out.