5 Filipino beauty brands to hoard when you’re in Manila

When traveling, every skincare and makeup fan worth their MLBB lipstick makes it a point to scour beauty shops, drugstores, and counters for the best local beauty buys in whatever country they’re currently visiting.

So if you’re headed to Manila soon—or if you’re a born-and-bred Manileña who has yet to discover our local beauty brands—here’s a list complete with hero products and where to buy them. 

blk

Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

When popular actress Anne Curtis launched her beauty line, it was an instant hit.

It would be easy to credit its success to its founder’s celebrity status, and it’s sure to have played a part. But more than that, the brand’s triumph is due in large part to the actual quality of the products, the hip packaging, and the ingenious marketing.

Hero Products: We’re huge fans of the blk Creamy Cheek Paint, a K-style liquid blush (Anne Curtis is a certified K-Drama stan) that’s highly pigmented, glides on like a dream, and gives you a natural flush. Meanwhile, we’re loving the blk Travels All-day Intense Matte Lipstick Collection, travel-size lippies inspired by different destinations that come in pairs: Philippines and Australia, Dubai and Hong Kong, New Zealand and South Africa, LA and Paris, NYC and London.

Find blk at: SM Stores, select Watsons branches, BLK Boutiques in Alabang Town Center, Trinoma, and Glorietta

Happy Skin

Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

Using skincare ingredients like Argan oil, shea butter, Japanese tea leaf, hyaluronic acid, and cherry blossom in its formulation, Happy Skin doesn’t just help you look gorgeous, it keeps your skin happy as well. Also, who can resist the pretty packaging and inviting counters and boutiques?

And if there’s any doubt as to how big the brand has become in just a little over 5 years, not one, but two iconic global brands recently collaborated with Happy Skin—Disney Princess and Sanrio. 

Hero Products: Big name local makeup artists swear by Eye Am Here to Stay 24H Gel Pencil Eyeliner, which is easy to use and is built not to budge. Other crowd favorites include the Bye, Bye, Blues Brightening Concealer Wand and the Happy Skin Sanrio Make A Clean Sweep Micellar Makeup Wipes

Find Happy Skin at: Select Beauty Bar branches, select Plains and Prints branches, select Watson’s branches, Rustans The Beauty Source, The Landmark, and Happy Skin stores in UP Town Center, Ayala the 30th, and Eastwood Mall

In Her Element

Photo from Instagram.com/inher_element

Photo from Instagram.

com/inher_element

Here’s one local indie brand that’s achieved cult-fave status. Dedicated to creating homegrown skincare products that are paraben-free, sulfate-free, and cruelty-free, In Her Element promises maximum glow for minimum effort. The products are all about going back to basics, in terms of ingredients (they use botanically derived ingredients) and even packaging design (chic meets minimalist). 

Hero Products: Often called the “holy grail of moisturizers” by avid fans, the Rose Gel Serum Moisturizer is a serum/moisturizer hybrid that’s light and non-greasy. Use it at night to restore your skin’s moisture or as a makeup primer in the morning. Another fan fave is the Low pH Rose Gel Cleanser, a gentle cleanser that doesn’t strip your skin of its natural oils and maintains its natural pH. Bonus: Both products have a wonderful all-natural rose scent. 

Find In Her Element at: Select Beauty Bar branches 

VMV Hypoallergenics

Photo from Instagram.com/vmvhypoallergenics

Photo from Instagram.

com/vmvhypoallergenics

If you’re a skincare and makeup addict with sensitive or allergy-prone skin, shopping for beauty products that are new and unfamiliar can be a bit dicey. If you’re a bit iffy about buying an untested brand, go for VMV Hypoallergenics. The brand created the first and only hypoallergenic grading system and the products are proven free from most to all 109 of the 109 known allergens present in cosmetics. 

Hero Product: Harper’s Bazaar named Armada Indoor Outdoor Skin Cover as one of the 15 sunscreens that works well with makeup. Light and non-greasy, it also doesn’t leave an unsightly white cast. Another product you might want to try is the Big Brave Boo-Boo Balm. It’s an all-around balm that’s a fave of fans of the brand as well as the CEO and Creative Director of VMV Hypoallergenics herself. 

Find VMV Hypoallergenics at: VMV stores in SM Megamall, Estancia Mall, Rockwell, Alabang Town Center, and Glorietta, High Street, as well as select SM Stores, select Landmark stores

Sunnies Face

Photo from Instagram.com/sunniesface

Photo from Instagram.

com/sunniesface

In its bid to conquer and corner every market and/or be part of all aspects of every stylish Filipino’s life, Sunnies has gone from sunglasses and specs to cafés and now to cosmetics, truly becoming the lifestyle brand for fashionable millennials. If you’re willing to brave the queues outside their boutiques, you can choose which shades of Fluffmate lipstick and Glowboss highlighters work for you.

Hero Product: There are only two products in their makeup line so far: the Fluffmate Lipstick, which comes in 9 shades (narrowed down from 350 color samples) that’s supposed to give you your BLE (best lips ever). It’s a matte lipstick with a rich mousse-like consistency that can also function as a blush and an eyeshadow. Then there’s their Glowboss highlighters, which are designed to give you that Manila-sun-kissed glow wherever you go. 

Find Sunnies Face at: Sunnies Face stores in SM Megmall, UP Town Center, Glorietta 1

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Maggie Adan is a storyteller at heart. She is a freelance editor, writer, and content creator.

When she’s not stringing words together, she’s practicing yoga, doing crafts, puttering around in the kitchen, or providing free petting services to neighborhood dogs.