T&C Luxury Beauty Awards: The Best Skincare Products You Must Try This Year

We tested some of the most promising innovations in skincare and narrowed down our list of luxurious and hardworking creams, masks, and serums to these picks.

It takes a lifetime to build a skincare regimen—especially with newer, better, more innovative products arriving on the shelves when you're not even halfway through the wrinkle cream du jour. Here, a quick guide to help you navigate through recent releases and old favorites that you can trust.


Best Makeup Remover: Estee Lauder Take It Away Makeup Remover Lotion


We use this water-based makeup remover as our pre-cleanser for days we’re wearing heavy makeup or more layers. Applied on dry skin, it melts away all residue of our foundation and waterproof eye makeup thoroughly without making our skin feeling greasy.

Rustan’s The Beauty Source

Best Makeup Removing Balm: Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm

Photo by CLINIQUE.

This heavy-duty balm-to-oil product by skin-saving brand Clinique is perfect for removing a full face of makeup, no matter how "waterproof" it may be. Cleansing balms are great makeup removers because they're gentle and don't strip away moisture.  

Rustan’s The Beauty Source; SM Beauty Department

Best Facial Wipes: Patchology Clean AF


One sheet of this super hardworking cleansing wipe removes every trace of makeup, dirt, oil, and sweat while leaving skin plump and refreshed with vitamin B5, biotin, and antioxidant folic acid—no need to rinse after! What’s more, these sheets are biodegradable.

P350/pack of 15 wipes; Beauty Bar

Best Micellar Water: Dior Hydra Life Micellar Water

Photo by DIOR.

The luxurious micellar water to end all micellar waters, this new-generation wonder features Echinacea flower extract apart from hardworking micelles to gently trap and scoop up dirt and debris—including waterproof makeup and layers of foundation!—from our skin. The best thing about using micellar water as a cleanser is that it’s nearly as gentle as water, perfect for those with dry or sensitive skin. We also love its ultra-convenient packaging that features a pump and a dish, which helps make sure we get a fresh dose every use. 

P2,700; SM Makati; The Podium

Best Activating Lotion/Essence: Estee Lauder Micro Essence Skin Activating Treatment Lotion


Don’t get fooled by its watery texture and smell because this essence is power-packed with peptides that help your skin get ready for everything else you’re using. Best applied with fingertips, this “micronutrient bio ferment” tones, softens, smoothens, and hydrates without the sting and smell.

P5,800; Rustan’s The Beauty Source

Best Toner, Sensitive Skin: Origins Mega-Mushroom Relief & Resilience Soothing Treatment Lotion


Alcohol-free and pH balanced, this longtime favorite of beauty junkies really does soothe and relieve dry and irritated skin. Featuring a powerful blend of mushrooms including reishi, sea buckthorn, and fermented chaga, this watery lotion calms redness and hydrates with one swipe of a cotton pad, thanks to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of its key ingredients. We keep this under our desk drawer too in case we need to freshen up in the middle of the workday. What we like best about this is how it gives our skin that fresh-from-the-spa kind of glow

Best Skin Buffer: Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion


It only takes a pea-sized amount of Mario Badescu’s Buffering Lotion to help smoothen out any bumps on the skin caused by cystic acne or other skin troubles. Niacinamide and zinc oxide co-star as the winning ingredients in this formulation that promises to work on eliminating bumps overnight. A few drops act as the final step to your skincare routine. It seeps into the skin and dries quickly, leaving behind a matte texture. There will be no need to follow this up with a moisturizer and serum—all you’ll need to do is sleep tight and watch it deliver on its promise the next morning.

Best Wrinkle Fighting Cream: Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Ultimate Diamond Energy Rich Creme 


There’s actually more to this indulgent jar of youth than its black diamond truffle extract—it’s also packed with 24-karat gold, sea pearls, vitamin C, hardworking moisturizers, and other plant extracts that work effectively in smoothening out wrinkles and brightening spots. 

Best Moisturizing Creams:

L'Occitane Ultra Thirst Quenching Gel

Photo by L'OCCITANE.

Packed with Réautier water and hyaluronic acid, this light hydrating gel moisturizes deeply, leaving you with ultra-soft skin and a radiant complexion. This beauty game-changer deserves all the superlatives–it really does give you glowing skin the morning after. 

Murad Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture

Photo by MURAD.

For dry skin in need of a savior, this hydrating moisturizer does the trick with a 24-hour system that recharges the skin and reduces fine lines and wrinkles. It's infused with a coconut extract that locks in the moisture. This is partnered with Advanced Hyaluronic Acid (AHA) technology that provides long-lasting hydration. Despite its creamy appearance, this moisturizer is weightless. Those with sensitive skin will also appreciate that it isn’t scented. Massage it on the face and neck after cleansing and toning in the morning and evening.

La Mer The Moisturizing Soft Lotion

Photo by LA MER.

Easily the lightweight, Miracle Broth-infused La Mer moisturizer of your dreams. This version of the cult favorite Creme de La Mer is perfect for oily to normal skin, thanks to its thin texture that’s easily absorbed, but gives the same hydration as the thicker classic.

P16,200; Rustan’s The Beauty Source

Best Brightening Cream, dry to normal skin: La Prairie White Caviar Creme Extraordinaire 

Photo by LA PRAIRIE.

If it’s a quick skincare fix you seek with long-term results, this moisturizing cream walks the talk. From the get-go, it looks like the most luxurious cream you will ever slather onto your face. The silver accents on the white bottle hints of the illumination that users will find inside, thanks to what’s known as Lumidose, a molecule in the formula that supports melanin production which eventually brightens dark spots in a matter of weeks. The non-sticky cream is light on the skin and immediately makes skin feel soft and supple after use. The fresh, powdery scent is a bonus. Apply it in the morning and before going to sleep.

Best Brightening Cream, oily skin: Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Gel Cream

Photo by SHISEIDO.

Is it a cream or a gel? The Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Gel Cream gives you the best of both—the look and texture of a rich white cream and the feel of a lightweight gel once applied to the skin. This hybrid does its part in brightening the face and targeting all the signs of skin aging that we care about—dark spots, uneven skin tone, and dull complexion. It comes packed with—what else but—a “Sakura” complex that blends the powers of tormentilla extract, Yoshino cherry extract, and Western Hawthorn extract and floral scents to do all the aforementioned skin treatments.

Best Lifting Cream: Estee Lauder Resilience Lift Night


We always gravitate toward peptide packed skincare products because of their ability to stimulate collagen production and repair the skin. This evening cream features a powerful Tri-Peptide Lift Complex, softening lines on our neck and face while also working on skin elasticity. Wake up to glowing skin after use.

Rustan’s The Beauty Source

Best Cream for Normal Skin: Sisley Ecological Compound

Photo by SISLEY.

This simple and straightforward hydrator and skin protector is a winner for its non-greasy, quick-absorbing texture and its wonderfully relaxing fragrance. Packed with lots of plant extracts like ginseng, rosemary, hops, horsetail, and centella asiatica, this formulation leaves the skin looking more revitalized and supple. It’s a great fuss-free all-around perfect for men as well.

Rustan’s The Beauty Source

Best Oil: Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Florale

Photo by NUXE.

The first thing we require for a great skincare oil? It shouldn’t feel oily or make us look oily. This multipurpose dry oil nails this category with this new reformulation that features a subtle floral scent. Each bottle contains seven precious botanical oils including argan, tsubaki, sweet almond, and hazel, which moisturize and protect the skin. It works wonders on the face, but we also love slathering this on our legs and arms as a stretch mark prevention product. 

P2,650; Rustan’s The Beauty Source

Best Wrinkle Fighting Serum: Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair


This cult classic has been a mainstay of beauty shelves all over the globe, and with good reason. This hardworking anti-aging serum addresses various signs of aging, improves the appearance of pores, and evens out hyper-pigmentation—giving you younger-looking skin the morning after. 

Best Brightening Serum: La Prairie White Caviar Illuminating Pearl Infusion

Photo by LA PRAIRIE.

Days into using this, our skin felt distinctly softer and smoother. Weeks into it, it’s like we swiped a filter over our selfies, all thanks to this indulgent serum’s overall brightening effect. From dark spots and redness to grey and dull complexion, this powerful brightener combats them all with luxurious ingredients like golden caviar extract and pearl pigments in each tiny pearl capsule. 

P34,500; Rustan’s The Beauty Source

Best Lifting Serum: DIOR Capture Youth Lift Sculptor Serum

Photo by DIOR.

A great product for ladies in their 20s to 30s who are keen on delaying aging and preserving their youth, the Dior Capture Youth Lift Sculptor relies on plant-based micronutrients from rooibos, green, and white tea, as well as antioxidants and other plant extracts, to boost the skin’s elastin synthesis. Elastin is what keeps the skin flexible and smooth. We love the texture of this serum, which is quite thin, easily absorbs, and non-sticky.

P5,850; SM Makati; The Podium

Best Spot Correcting Serum: Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum

Photo by MURAD.

Using the highest non-prescription strength for hydroquinone (two percent), a skincare superstar known for zapping hyperpigmentation, this lightening serum tackles freckles, sun spots, age spots, and more, while inhibiting pigment production. Notice the difference within at least a month. 

Rustan’s The Beauty Source

Best Organic Serum: Up Circle Organic Facial Serum with Coffee Oil 

Photo by UP CIRCLE.

Organic skincare products may be hiding in the sidelines but it’s about time they have their big break. Up Circle's Facial Serum infused with coffee oil and rosehip oil can be used twice a day to effectively brighten and nourish skin. Putting it on is a pampering experience in and of itself! It smells divine.

Best Serum for Normal Skin: Elizabeth Arden Superstart Skin Renewal Booster


A booster is not a very familiar concept to the typical skincare routine—because, really, who needs more than five steps? But this Booster might convince you that there’s room and effort for one more on the regimen. Just after toning and before putting on your serum, the Superstart Skin Renewal Booster will give the skin a concentrated dose of plant extracts and probiotic fortifiers. This formulation helps fortify the skin’s defenses and retain nutrients. It also does an additional job of ensuring that the rest of your skincare products are fully maximized and absorbed.

Shangri-La Plaza; Rustan’s The Beauty Source

Best Retinol: Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream

Photo by MURAD.

Retinol is such a lauded ingredient in skincare and with good reason—it is the answer to many skin aging concerns. Unless you’re pregnant, there are many reasons not to be afraid of retinol, a derivative of vitamin A considered the holy grail of anti-aging. This cream highlights its Retinol Tri-Active Technology as key ingredient, which packs in retinol and retinyl propionate, a less irritating derivative, to effectively tackle wrinkles, fine lines, and elasticity. Apart from this, we love how this formula quenches dry skin, making it an ideal evening moisturizer too.

Rustan’s The Beauty Source

Best Vitamin C Serum: Inkey List Vitamin C       


Vitamin C is most obviously the hero ingredient here—it promises to brighten and even out the skin tone while protecting it from environmental pollutants. Don’t be taunted by its briny texture or by the itching sensation you get immediately after the application. These are all perfectly normal characteristics for this serum. It works behind the scenes and to boost collagen production for supple skin. It also brightens the skin and evens out any discoloration with long-term use. Use it in the morning and in the evening. After your daytime application, follow it with a moisturizer and sunscreen.

P895, Beauty Bar 

Best Hyaluronic Acid: Fillerina Dermo Replenishing Treatment


Fillerina definitely knows how to harness the powers of hyaluronic acid to its advantage. This revolutionary treatment that everyone can do at home involves applying different concentrations and molecule sizes of hyaluronic acid to facial lines (depending on your age and skin concerns), mimicking the look and effect of injectable fillers in terms of plumping and revitalizing the skin over time. Infused with a cocktail of six HAs in different weights and grades, it’s a great investment for women of every age.

SM Makati, SM Aura, SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia, or Watson’s Mall of Asia.

Best Line-Smoothing Eye Cream: Genaissance de la Mer The Eye & Expression Cream

Photo by LA MER.

Featuring Crystal Miracle Broth, an even more powerful and concentrated version of La Mer’s signature star ingredient, this eye cream specifically tackles lines and wrinkles caused by laughing, smiling, frowning, and other facial expressions. This means it can also be applied over forehead lines and laugh lines. Its cooling applicator is a wonderful bonus, helping depuff and brighten dark circles with other key La Mer ingredients like the Filler Ferment and the Genaissance Ferment. 

Rustan’s The Beauty Source

Best Depuffing Mask: Patchology Restoring Night Eye Gels


This has been our ally on many late nights, party nights, work nights—soothing our under-eyes and dark circles while diffusing lines with peptides and retinol in a cool hydrogel patch. 

P1,295; Beauty Bar

Best Eye Gel Mask, Moisturizing: Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Pure Hydra Eye Patch


Applying this eye gel mask infused with 4K gold, colloidal gold, and hyaluronic acid is perhaps how the modern-day Cleopatra would be faking an eight-hour sleep or tackling flakey under-eyes. We love how these indulgent patches firm and hydrate and how they look Instagrammable too.

P4,100; SM Makati; Freyja

Best Moisturizing Eye Cream: Elizabeth Arden Advanced Ceramide Eye Capsules


Each of these pea-sized capsules is filled with a potent serum that fights back the years and prevents any signs of aging. The silky serum is fortified with a ceramide technology meant to replicate the ceramides lost by the skin with age. This natural decrease in ceramide production is what causes skin to wrinkle, sag, and dry. The serum works against that process and keeps the skin healthy on the inside and out. Use one capsule each morning and night before putting on your moisturizer.

P4,100; Shangri-La Plaza; Rustan’s The Beauty Source

Best Sheet Mask: Patchology Perfect Weekend FlashMasque Sheet Mask


We can no longer recall how many packs of this weekend trio we’ve used up (we love it that much), but what we will never forget is how they’ve made our skin brighter, smoother, and hydrated like we had a facial at the dermatologist. We use a mask for three consecutive days (you don’t have to wait for the weekend, really), and starting with Hydrate, followed by Illuminate, and then Milk Peel. It’s a great new relaxing ritual to add to your beauty lineup.

P1,650; Beauty Bar

Best Clay Mask: Peter Thomas Roth Hungarian Thermal Water Mineral-Rich Atomic Heat Mask


The experience of using this is as much as a winner as its effects. As soon as we massage the mask onto our skin with water, it starts warming up to open and purge our pores of impurities and dirt. The experience is like bringing the spa and the facialist at home. According to the brand, it uses “the most mineral-rich thermal water on earth from a secret spring deep below Hungary’s Carpathian Valley,” for a marvelous hydrating and smoothening effect. 

P3,500; Freyja; SM Makati

Best Cream Mask: Mario Badescu  Whitening Mask 


Enriched with Kojic Acid, Liquorice and Mulberry, Mario Badescu's Whitening Mask—when used twice a week—immediately brings results. The mask doesn't just whiten, but cleanses the pores as well, minimizing pore appearance, and overall, giving you brighter, younger-looking skin.

Rustan’s Makati

Best Overnight Mask: Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Hydrating Mask

Photo by ORIGINS.

It’s difficult to find something to hate about an overnight mask, especially when all you’ll need to do is keep it by your bedside and smear it on before going to sleep. This sweet-smelling overnight mask works double-time in rehydrating the skin. It glides onto the surface and plows your skin with nutrients from Swiss Glacier Water, which is said to be the purest in the world, Hyaluronic Acid, and Avocado Butter to last for 72 hours. Use it twice a week and wipe off the excess with tissue.

P1,450; SM Makati; Rustan’s The Beauty Source

Patchology Restoring Night CloudMasque


Every dream ingredient you would want in your ideal overnight mask is concocted into the Restoring Night CloudMasque. First up, there’s hyaluronic acid to moisturize the skin while you sleep, and then there’s retinol that stimulates cell turnover and fights acne, and finally, it includes peptides complexes, which reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Before you snooze, apply a generous layer of this whipped mask onto the face after cleansing and toning. The creamy formula feels as light as a feather and is accompanied by the soothing scent of jasmine to help its wearer feel comfortable during slumber.

P2,595; Beauty Bar

With additional reviews by Hannah Lazatin and Nicole Cruz.

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About The Author
Nicole Limos Morales
Contributing Beauty Editor
Nicole is the former managing editor of Town&Country. After working as features editor and beauty editor of the title’s print edition for 6 years, she helped launch in 2016, creating new concepts and story formats, analyzing data, and mastering digital audiences—establishing the title to become the Philippines’ leading luxury lifestyle website. She left her full-time position in 2019 to focus on family life, while carrying on writing beauty content for T&C as a contributing editor. “I think what’s amazing about beauty is that in its arena, you can really only be a skeptic for so long,” she says. “There will always be a product that will make you believe.”
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