Product Empties: Skin Care

in at December 8, 2017

The year is about to come to an end, and it baffles me how quickly time has passed! For 2017, I’ve managed to discover some holy grail skin care products, as well as others worth staying away from. Presenting my beloved Empties 2.0: Skin Care edition – gathering dust bunnies in an abandoned corner of my room – which I can’t wait to throw away!

Cleansing Balm

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

I’ve raved about the K-Beauty cult-fave, Banila Co. Clean It Zero, time and time again. My introduction into the black hole of Korean skin care is the classic cleansing balm – the very first step of the essential double cleanse – with a milky, oil-like consistency perfected by brightening ingredients such as papaya extract. It removes stubborn make-up like nobody’s business without drying the skin. It’s the best cleansing balm I’ve tried from the 3 I’ve managed to empty this year, including the Heimish All-Clean Balm and Holika Holika Pig-Clear Make-up Zero. This is my second tub – first, a supersize of the Classic variant I featured on my first empties entry – and loved (!) Purity, created especially for sensitive skin, for when I was having an unforgettable period of acne-prone, irritable skin.

Note: I always use an eye make-up remover (micellar water and/or cleansing oil) before following up with the double cleanse.

Heimish All-Clean Balm (Althea Korea, P577)

Heimish’s All-Clean Balm, another crowd favorite, is a good option for those who wear minimal make-up on the daily – maybe a BB Cream or Tinted Moisturizer as a base, etc. I wanted *so* badly to love this – as it’s highly praised by  Renée and Joan – but it didn’t meet my expectations. It doesn’t clean as effectively, leaving residue from my base. I also need to use so much product that I finished this so quickly. A pro, I gotta say, is it doesn’t sting my eyes unlike other cleansing balms but I’d still get Banila Co.’s Clean It Zero over this.

Holika Holika Pig-Clear Make-up Zero Sherbet Cleanser (BeautyMNL, P995)

Among the cleansing balms I finished up this 2017, Holika Holika’s Pig-Clear Make-up Zero Sherbet Cleanser – an impulse buy from a Korean pop-up store in the office because it was 70% off – is the worst because of its uncomfortable oily texture. It leaves so much residue! This didn’t work out for me at all, and I only finished it for the sake of emptying it.


Shiseido Perfect Whip Foam Cleanser (BeautyMNL, P408)

Another find from the Asian beauty market is the Shiseido Perfect Whip Foam Cleanser, the #1 bestselling, rich cleanser from Japan. I feel conflicted since this drugstore gem thoroughly cleaned my face – even my make-up (!) – yet it was exactly why I broke out earlier this year. It may have been *too* thick for my dry skin, and upon further research, it has a higher pH than the normal. Ah, I wanted it to work out so badly but we were just not good for each other – like any good relationship I’ve lost in my life. *hikbi*

Face Mask

Lush Mask of Magnaminty Face and Body Mask (Lush, P425)

I’ve stopped using manual exfoliators after my skin got really sensitive to gritty scrubs and prefer a gentle peeling gel like Cure’s Natural Aqua Gel (available in Beauty Bar and Rustans Beauty Source). I’d recommend Lush’s Mask of Magnaminty for men since they have thicker and less sensitive (?) skin. It also works as a great body scrub leaving your skin super smooth. Plus, it smells like chocolate – but after a few months will smell…rotten because of its über natural ingredients.

Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask (BeautyMNL, P560)*

The Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask from Innisfree needs no introduction. A staple in my collection, I’ve babbled endlessly about this and keep back-ups. I’ve been using this religiously (once a week) for about a year! For a while, I stopped upon emptying my first tub, and I noticed such a huge difference – my skin went crazy. This is like magnet for sebum and dirt (even blackheads!), and it decreases the appearance of pores after application. I look forward to my 15-minute pamper session every week and can’t stop, won’t stop obsessing over this!


SON&PARK Beauty Water (Shop Pibu, P1,200)*

A multi-purpose gem which can be used as a 1. toner, 2. a no-wash cleansing water (for make-up removal or preparation), and 3. a midday facial mist, the SON&PARK Beauty Water is a must-have! It provides mild exfoliation for more supple and bright skin. The 340ml bottle will last at least half a year upon daily use which makes it worth the splurge!

Full review here.

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

Perfect for layering, this cult-fave is the bestselling toner in Korea! The Dear, Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner is super viscous, keeping skin smooth all day. This is so good that it actually replaced SON&PARK’s Beauty Water as my favorite toner. It balances my skin’s pH level and allows all the other products to absorb better.

COSRX One Step Pimple Clear Pad (BeautyMNL, P900)

From my Best of 2016: Skin Care is the COSRX One Step Pimple Clear Pads, pre-soaked, double-sided pads which prevent acne and calm inflammation. The textured side is for exfoliation while the flat area is to smoothen everything out. In comparison to the COSRX One-Step Moisture Up Pads, I prefer the latter because I no longer have problematic skin and use it at least once a week for moisturizing purposes. Both are great for flaky and dry skin! I still want to try the Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Pads which are a tad similar but I just can’t justify the expensive purchase (P1,100 for 30 pads while this has 70 pads).


Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop (BeautyMNL, P1,010)*

Ah, I believed in the power of Vitamin C after my short-lived love affair with the Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop. This helped fade my stubborn acne scars and hyperpigmentation – but made me about 2 foundation shades lighter – and evened out my skin tone, while also smoothening out my skin. In just 2 weeks, I recognized a huge difference. I used this for my serum step (once at night) either as a spot treatment or in combination with my moisturizer – for faster absorption.

A disadvantage is it’s super high-maintenance! It has a fast shelf life (for that tag price) because of its sensitivity to the sun even when placed on a cooler part of my desk or inside its container. In just a month or two, it turns yellow (see unsettling proof in photo). Also, if you plan to use this in the morning as part of your day routine, don’t forget to use a sunscreen because your skin will be more prone to sun rays.

Full review here.


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

My holy grail moisturizer is the Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Fresh Watery Cream. It keeps my skin hydrated but matte so it’s perfect for both dry and oily skin types. The super lightweight formula, which goes well under make-up, helped transform the texture of my skin. This is also available in 2 other variants: moisture and combination. Did I mention that it smells amazing?!

St. Ives Timeless Skin Collagen Elastin Moisturizer (Watsons, P249)*

A drugstore alternative for a good, effective moisturizer is the St. Ives Timeless Skin Collagen Elastin Moisturizer which is no stranger to the blog! I’ve raved endlessly about this life-saver for dry skin and even convinced a number of friends to purchase it. It’s so good that I can feel my face *tightening* – hello, collagen! – after every use. The tub is also huge (100z) that you won’t find yourself emptying this anytime soon!

Facial Spray

Pixi Glow Mist (BeautyMNL/SM Beauty Section, P975)*

Rejuvenating make-up sprays are non-negotiables in my skin care and make-up routine (most especially). They’re great before and after make-up application and as a midday pick-me-upper, especially if you’re like me and (mostly) in a cool environment for that 9-5 corporate job.

The Pixi Glow Mist is a Godsend for dry skin in need of hydrating. It leaves skin looking extra dewy and healthy; I live for that chok-chok life! If you have oily skin, I’d say stay away from this product as it can make you look greasy, and we don’t want that! If you have the extra $$$, I’d say splurge and get this but if you want a more affordable option, Mario Badescu’s cult-classic facial spray is the way to go.

Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe Herbs and Rosewater (Rustans Beauty Source, P550)*

I’m on my second bottle of the *life-changing* Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe Herbs and Rosewater, which I started using after emptying my MAC Fix + – it ain’t cheap! I travel with this – a lifesaver for 3º Japan weather – and bring it with me everywhere I go. A more inexpensive yet comparable dupe, which I’m hoping to try after I finish my current bottle, is Beauty Bakery’s Rose Gel Dewy Mist (P229), exclusive to BeautyMNL. Has anyone used it? I’d love to know what you think about it!

P.S. It’s P100 cheaper in Rustans than in Sephora PH!

*This product is definitely worth repurchasing!

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.