Best of 2017: Skin Care

in at February 19, 2018

2017 was easily the year I shamelessly surrendered to skin care. From trendy Korean cult-favorites to readily available Western and local drugstore staples, I’ve tested products that have given me my best skin yet. From suffering from the worst breakout of my life during the first quarter of the year to having supple, chok chok skin – foundation-free for half a year already! – I’m a zealous believer of the power of a good skin care routine, and you should be too!

Note that finding one is very personal; what may work for my (dry) skin won’t work for yours so it’s better to do your own research. For beginners, do read my entry on non-negotiable steps for a routine. Shall we get to the products?

Make-up Remover

Micellar Water

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water (Watsons, P249)

I never run out of Garnier’s Micellar Cleansing Water to effectively remove stubborn eye and lip make-up; I’ve emptied 3 bottles already! This works just as well as my 2016 pick, the L’Oreal Micellar Water, but you get more product for a cheaper price (P249 for a whopping 400 ml). I use the pink variant for my dry skin while blue fares better for oily, acne-prone skin. Admittedly, this isn’t the best for waterproof mascara so I use an oil-based make-up remover instead.

Disclaimer: I don’t use micellar water to remove all my make-up, I still believe that a double cleanse – an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-based cleanser – is the biggest skin care non-negotiable.

Read: Korean Skin Care 101: The Double Cleanse

Oil Cleanser 

Banila Clean It Zero in Purity (Shop Pibu, P890)

When I struggled with relentless acne in the beginning of the year because of my high pH balance cleanser (never again!), I stripped my routine to the basics. During the rare occasions that I would wear minimal make-up, I used the best-selling Banila Co. Clean It Zero in Purity – for sensitive skin – to remove it. It’s a solid balm that emulsifies upon contact with water, packed with papaya extracts to brighten skin overtime. This is even more effective at washing off make-up and sunscreen than the Heimish All-Clean Cleansing Balm, another K-Beauty staple; it was underwhelming.

Neogen Green Tea Real Fresh Cleansing Stick (BeautyMNL, P900)

To start the essential double cleanse, Neogen’s award-winning Green Tea Real Fresh Cleansing Stick breaks down impurities and takes off make-up like nobody’s business. It’s a game-changer! The superstar ingredient, green tea, detoxifies skin while subsiding inflammation. It also has anti-aging properties! Best part is it’s conveniently packaged in a travel-friendly tube that doesn’t drip or spill. It also takes forever to use so best believe you’re getting your money’s worth!


Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser (Watsons, P212)

Ever since educating myself with skin care, I’ve strayed away from the drugstore because I find that Korean products contain more natural and skin-friendly ingredients. Cetaphil’s Gentle Cleanser is the exception. Though it contains alcohol, this doesn’t strip my skin off its natural oils. It doesn’t give that squeaky, plastic feel which other drugstore cleansers do. Every time my skin gets agitated by a new product, this helps reboot my routine.


Cure Natural Aqua Gel (Beauty Bar, P1,500)

Don’t hate, exfoliate! I’ve stopped using harsh, gritty exfoliators to rid my skin of dead skin cells and pollutants; they make my skin even more dry! I love Japan’s #1 gentle exfoliator, the Cure Natural Aqua Gel. I use it once or twice a week for baby soft skin. 


Innisfree Super Volcanic Clay Mask (BeautyMNL, P560)

For my weekly pamper sesh, Innisfree’s Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask is a mainstay on my top shelf! I can’t count how many times I’ve featured this on the blog! It’s the only product which remained a favorite since 2016, when I discovered the wonder-filled world of K-Beauty. I love applying this when my skin is acting up, especially when I feel like a breakout is about to take place. 


Dear, Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner (BeautyMNL, P880)

I rotated all year between 3 toners starting with the bestselling Dear, Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner. The über viscous toner is every Korean’s must-have; it’s the most wishlisted product on a ton of K-Beauty sites! Infused with hyaluronic acid – which magically retains moisture to skin – you best believe it leaves your skin feeling ultra nourished.

Human Nature Hydrating Face Toner (BeautyMNL/Watsons, P185)

An affordable yet equally effective option is a local pick from Human Nature, the Hydrating Face Toner. Applying this is pure bliss, I’m actually on my second bottle! This alcohol-free, lightweight toner prepares skin for all the other steps. With moringa seed extracts, it enhances the firmness of the skin. My only gripe with this is it takes a while to absorb fully – other than that, it’s perfect. Double the layer, like I do, or even slather it on 7 times!

SON&PARK Beauty Water (Althea Korea, P1,269)

I’ve babbled endlessly about the SON&PARK Beauty Water, which is every Korean celebrity make-up artist’s must-have. The multitasking product works beautifully as a toner, resetting the skin’s pH levels while leaving skin hydrated. It also acts as a cleansing water, a gentle exfoliator, and a facial mist. With papaya extracts and willow bark, it even brightens skin!

Full review here.

CosRX One-Step Moisture Up Pads (BeautyMNL, P900)

The pre-soaked, double-sided pads from COSRX – packed with propolis extract – provide a gentle exfoliation and cleanse. I personally use this once a week to replace my toner step but it’s also great to use before make-up application for a smooth canvas. Bring it along your next trip; it’s super travel-friendly, too!


Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence (Althea Korea, P1,520)

If you live for that honey skin life, Missha’s Time Revolution First Treatment Essence is a great addition to your routine. The comparable dupe to SK-II’s Facial Treatment Essence gives you over-all *glowy* skin. With fermented ingredients, it also speeds up skin’s turnover cycle while refining texture. Himalayan purple barley retains moisture deeper into skin. Mine has never looked better!

Eye Cream

Innisfree Orchid Eye Cream (Shop PibuP1200)

Our under eyes are the most delicate part of our face, which means it needs that extra TLC. Don’t scrimp on your eye cream, ladies! The Innisfree Orchid Eye Cream effectively smoothes out fine lines and combats wrinkles. Don’t forget to gently tap the product with your finger! Admittedly, this isn’t the best for brightening under eyes so best to hydrate with water and, of course, get some sleep!


Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Watery Cream (Shop Pibu, P680)

A moisturizer locks in all the previous steps, which is why it’s such a necessity for everyone! With 3 variants catering to every skin type, Nature Republic’s Super Aqua Max Watery Cream absorbs quick into skin, and it doesn’t leave me a greasy mess! It has the most wonderful scent, too!

Sun Protection

Nivea Sun Protect Super Aqua Gel (Japanese Drugstore)

Japan’s bestseller is a great pick for a non-greasy, gel, lightweight sunscreen which doesn’t produce that pesky white cast. Make-up sits beautifully on top of it, too. A bottle lasted me half a year, and I’m still, in layman’s terms, shookt. Never neglect this step since exposure to sun rays is the fastest way to age your skin! For a locally available drugstore sunscreen that performs as well, just a bit thicker in consistency, the Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence (P445) is fantastic.


V&M Naturals CPC+G Oil (BeautyMNL, P350)

Aside from dehydration, my biggest skin issue is hyperpigmentation. Having suffered from acne, my acne scars – otherwise known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation – take months before fading. For a few months, I used the Dear, Klairs Freshly Juiced Drop Vitamin C Serum which worked wonders for me but it was too high-maintenance and v. expensive. (Sis, I ain’t got money for that!) So, I looked for a more affordable alternative. Lo and behold, the V&M Naturals CPC+G Oil is the unsung hero of my routine.

I lather on the Calamansi-Papaya-Camellia Japonica + Grapefruit Extract Oil (day and night) after my essence but if you have combination-oily skin, you might find this uncomfortable. Add a drop or 2 instead, and mix it with your daily moisturizer. This local fave – garnering rave reviews from BeautyMNL – brightens and fades acne scars and evens out the skin tone in weeks. Best of all, it doesn’t oxidize unlike other K-Beauty Vitamin C serum counterparts. For its affordability and effectivity, this is unmatched and will remain a staple in my routine!

Human Nature Tea Tree Oil (BeautyMNL/Watsons, P295)

Mixing in my Tea Tree Oil (from Human Nature or The Body Shop) with my moisturizer, day and night, has deemed to be effective in clearing and preventing acne. Before, I would use it for spot treatment but found it to dry out pimples which would leave more prominent and agitated acne scars.

CosRX Centella Blemish Cream (BeautyMNL, P936)

To combat and treat acne during that time of the month, I spot treat pimples with CosRX’s Centella Blemish Cream; it flattens acne overnight! This lessens the possibility of scarring unlike other treatments. Centella asiatica extract is best known for treating wounds and fighting inflammation.  Unfortunately, the product leaves a white cast so I only apply this during the night but man, do I love it!

Read: Skin Care Products to Treat and Prevent Acne

What skin care products changed your skin in 2017? Leave them in the comments below!

Elisa Aquino

Elisa Aquino is a portrait photographer, life(style) writer, passion blogger, and beauty rookie from Manila, Philippines. This platform exists to document her daily musings and to showcase the life-changing power of grace to transform women from ashes to beauty.