What's good: 10 local beauty products to rave about to a balikbayan

"What should I buy from the Philippines while I'm there?" You've probably been asked this question by a balikbayan friend or relative at least once before. Now that it's vacation season for many OFWs, we'd like to help you answer the question with a few top picks that you should brag about (and consider gifting) to friends and family who live or work abroad! We're sure they'd love these products as much as we do, plus there's a certain pride that goes into saying they are from homegrown brands.

The Ellana Loose Mineral Foundation (P499 at Ellana.com.ph) is a favorite that we keep coming back to. It has a flawless finish, buildable coverage, and 10 shades to suit warm, cool and olive skin tones. They are vegan, talc-free, fragrance-free and cruelty-free in addition to having a very affordable price point. And if you’re not sure about which shade will suit you, you can simply request for their free sampler kit!

Suesh is best known for their amazing makeup brushes and train cases for makeup artists, but they have beauty gadgets too! This Power Bank with Built In LED Mirror (P1,480 at Suesh.com) can charge both your phone AND serve as a lighted mirror so you can retouch any time. It's the perfect handy gift!

We also recommend the best-selling Suesh Concealer Pots (P105 each), which are lifesavers for anyone who has skin issues like dark circles and acne. They are very rich, thick, and pigmented so a little goes a long way. They're so cheap that it's easy to get corrector shade for each kind of skin discoloration (green for redness, peach for dark under eye areas). Suesh also sells a customizable magnetic palette to store your picks.


We love everything Pink Sugar but their lippies are definitely our favorites. The moisturizing matte goodness of These Lips Don’t Lie (P399) is the stuff our dreams are made of, literally. We got to design a collection based on what the girls of PV need! However, we also have to throw in a good word for their Sugar Tints (P349). The shades are very wearable, staying power is pretty good, and the budget-friendly price make it so easy to hoard!

Happy Skin has been making waves with their beautiful collections and fab collabs with Philippine beauty icons. Their latest is the Glam Squad line, which has an extensive selection of products co-created with the best celebrity makeup artists in Manila. Tell your balikbayan friend to try out the Liquid Matte Lipstick (P699), the Eyeshadow Duos (P899), and the Contour & Color (P1,399) if she's looking for pro-level products in luxe packaging.

It still comes as a surprise for some to learn that VMV Hypoallergenics is actually a Filipino brand. They have stores in several countries, which make it easier for non-locals to restock bestsellers like Skintangible and the Armada sunscreen line. Their products are must-tries for those with sensitive skin!

For more affordable skincare picks, Celeteque offers skin solutions clinically formulated to maximize ingredients for skin health. They also recently released a line of skin-friendly makeup so users can continue to care for their skin even with color cosmetics. Our absolute fave though is their Clarifying Shampoo (~P200). This removes all the nasty junk from our hair, keeping it bouncy and light.

If stress is causing your hair to literally fall out, pick up bottles of the Zenutrients Gugo Strengthening Shampoo and Conditioner(P234 and P260 respectively). These all-natural products are reminiscent of local folk herbal remedies, and they really work! Our ancestors knew what's up: gugo and virgin coconut oil are natural ingredients that strengthen strands and promote hair growth. 

Organic, environment-friendly and socially conscious brand Human Nature has been around for eight years now, and they’re constantly coming up with great products that can compete in the global market. They have sulfate-free bath products, paraben-free makeup, essential oil-based skin care, and even coral reef-safe sunscreen! A cult fave from them is the Sunflower Beauty Oil (P174) which can be used for the face, hair, and body.

Another local brand, Snoe Beauty, has a strong following because of their fun packaging, funny puns, and interesting formulations. One of their best-sellers is the Awesome Poresome Pore Perfect Serum (P449). Users like how it tightens their skin without the heavy feel. We also recommend their What's Up Brow 3D Brow Setting Mascara (P799) for one-step full brows that stay put all day.

Riot Brushes (P2,500 for complete set, P1,450 for essential face set, and P1,250 for deluxe eye set) by a young Filipina entrepreneur came out a just few months ago. They are so soft, blend well, and look luxurious in their leather pouch. Think Zoeva without the price tag!

We also have a thriving indie beauty community that have come up with interesting new products like a whole range of different-colored lip and cheek stains. Instead of hoarding dried mangoes and jeepney keychains as pasalubong, consider supporting these homegrown beauty brands so they can grow more and get the recognition they deserve.

Do you feel proud of what the local beauty scene has come up with so far? What Pinoy beauty products would you send to foreigners or balikbayans?