Althea Bare Essentials: A 3-piece kit that aims to simplify your skincare regimen

We’re no strangers to the wonders of Althea, the online shop that delivers K-beauty treats, so when we heard that they were coming out with a skincare line (on top of a powder release last year), we were thrilled because it just made sense!

With information generated from sales, reviews, and customer feedback, Althea is in the perfect position to understand the K-beauty consumer’s mind. And what did they think the Althea fan want? Apparently, a skincare line designed for all skin types that simplifies the daily regiment into just three steps! Positioned as a makeup prep set, Althea claims that “great makeup starts from great skin,” which probably explains why glycerin (which is used to improve skin’s smoothness and moisture content) lists high on the set’s ingredients.

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The Contour Cleanser (P300 for 150g) is a dense cream that lathers into a foam. It has micro capsules that gently exfoliate dead skin cells, and is formulated with Ice plant to hydrate and calm skin as well as Lemon myrtle which supposedly contains vitamin C and antioxidants to strengthen the skin. Althea calls it the ‘Contour Cleanser’ for its blood circulation improvement properties that help create a V-shaped look, but that sounds like a lot of hoopla to me. (How would a cleanser change face shape over time, pls explain???)

The Primer Water (P550 for 200ml) is almost but not quite a water that serves as a hydrating toner and makeup primer. The (patented) DEWDROP technology fills the gaps created by pores, while snow lotus smoothens and brightens.

Lastly, the Fixer Cream (P640 for 50g) is a lightweight moisturizer that claims 24-hour hydration formulated with trehalose (a humectant), wild green tea (soothing, antioxidant), and baobab tree extract (promoting collagen production).

All three on bare skin, no frills. Just a soft sheen.

All three on bare skin, no frills. Just a soft sheen.

But do they work? I’m happy to say that yes, they really do. What initially drew me in was the minimalist packaging design and the intrigue of a primer water, but what kept me coming back was how each worked alone so well and how using all three was even better.

The Contour Cleanser takes out light (as in sheer) makeup in just one wash (eliminating the need for a double cleanse) without stripping the face of moisture. It felt tight at just once in the first week of use, but never again after a while, which is surprising for a very foamy product. And no, my face did not get more V-shaped with each use.

You also don’t need a lot of it since it’s a rich foam - a pea-sized amount or less is enough - and you will find that you don’t need to consume much of any of the products in the set for them to work. In the beginning I was actually using the same amount as other cleansers, toners, and moisturizers, but realized I was using too much. So I think this gives great value for money!

Wearing the Primer Water and Fixer Cream under my makeup helps me to have a smooth base without the oiliness. They feel ightweight, hydrating, and never (icky) greasy even after eight hours of wear.

Wearing the Primer Water and Fixer Cream under my makeup helps me to have a smooth base without the oiliness. They feel ightweight, hydrating, and never (icky) greasy even after eight hours of wear.

The Primer Water is my favorite. I’ve been on a hunt for truly moisturizing hydrating toners, and the Primer Water is exactly that with an added bonus of a smoothing effect! My skin feels soft as a petal after use, and sometimes I actually prefer going in with makeup just with this on. Althea also says you can add a second layer for a more moisturizing effect, and I found that two layers can create a nice canvas for matte foundation. For girls with oily skin, this will be a nice companion especially for those who want to balance matte-ness with smoothness.

The Fixer Cream is great but not special. I would’ve wished that it was also a (colorless) sunscreen or an illuminator, but I’m happy anyway with a non-greasy moisturizer that can work for day or night. Flakes are not a problem for me with this stuff on, and I really do love that you never feel it throughout the day. It just seems like everything is normal even with makeup on! My very reactive skin (which sprouts itchy bumps even with ‘sensitive’ skin masks) was at peace, too, which just earns the Fixer Cream more brownie points. The price feels like a steal, as more expensive moisturizers do less or feel like too much. A small complaint: different packaging, like a tube or pump, would simplify the regimen even more.

Do you need the whole set? I think you need at least two: the cleanser and one of the other hydrating products depending on your need. Get all three if you need the hydration, the Contour Cleanser and Primer Water if you’re oily, and the Contour Cleanser and Fixer Cream if you’re dry. The Primer Water is an instabuy for me even though it sounds the gimmickiest because I am the exact person who loves a hydrating toner and primer.

Each product offers great value for money (all are cheap per ml!), feels hydrating and calming on the skin, with the right amount of charm and mystery. I recommend grabbing this Bare Essentials Set with a free mirror right now while it's on 10% off sale for just P1,341! Get it for busy moms, curious boyfriends, and skincare noobs who want to start with the basics. Or you know, treat yo'self!

Which of the products would you love to try? Or would you get all of them? Let’s discuss.