Last-minute gift guide: Watsons, the bottomless pit of beauty goods

MANILA, Philippines – It's a universally-acknowledged truth that it's close to impossible to walk into a Watsons store and leave without a few hundred pesos gone.

So when Christmas rolls around, it is but usual for even the least fussy of people (male, female, LGBTQI++ – beauty knows no gender identity) to pay a quick trip to the popular drug store to browse, swatch, and, yes, spend your hard-earned 13th month pay.

A Watsons store – particularly the big ones in big malls – can be overwhelming. 

But worry not: whether you’re a drug store hustler like this writer, or clueless when it comes to your BHAs and AHAs, here’s a semi-useful guide on which products make the best and easiest (last-minute) Christmas gifts (for others and for yourself) that don't involve GCs.

The gift of SPF

Another universal truth: sun protection is important. This Christmas, why not nudge your most stubborn friend into the right direction by gifting him or her with sunscreen? SPF 35 is acceptable, but because we want to be extra sure, we tend to opt for SPF50.

Biore sunscreen is a generally safe and relatively affordable bet – almost all cost less than P500.

SPF FOR LIFE. Sunscreen is important u2013 giving it as a gift might just convince your hardheaded friends to give it a try. Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

SPF FOR LIFE. Sunscreen is important u2013 giving it as a gift might just convince your hardheaded friends to give it a try.

Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

The one pimple patch to rule them all

A bit of a disclaimer here: while this article isn’t sponsored by CosRX at all, this writer is a devotee of the brand’s iconic pimple master patch. Once your red spot looks ripe (complete with the pretty white dot in the center), use an appropriately-sized patch and see the pus disappear overnight.

It actually, really, works.

BEST ACNE PRODUCT. A pimple's worst nightmare and your next best friend. Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

BEST ACNE PRODUCT. A pimple's worst nightmare and your next best friend.

Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

At P200 a sheet, the pimple patches aren’t exactly cheap. But they help a lot in protecting your pimple (it’s a wound, after all) from external pollutants and…yourself.

Mask away the inner turmoil

Sheet masks make for an easy and quick gift – so long as you don’t pick one with a lot of active and sensitizing ingredients, they should work for almost anyone.

The sheet mask selection at Watsons has improved a lot through the years – they’ve got everthing from the Japanese LuLuLun to Korean favorite Leader’s.

WEEK LONG MASKING. Each pack comes with 7 sheet masks. Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

WEEK LONG MASKING. Each pack comes with 7 sheet masks.

Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

LuLuLun masks go for P275 to P325 for a pack of 7 sheet masks. Leader’s Insolution (or Exsolution) masks range from P59 to P209 a piece.

PRICEY BUT WORTH IT. The coconut water gel masks are expensive AF but they actually work. Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

PRICEY BUT WORTH IT. The coconut water gel masks are expensive AF but they actually work.

Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

While the coconut water gel mask (at P209) seems like an insane amount to spend for a single-use product, it’s begrudgingly worth it – save it as a gift for someone who’s about to attend a major event. The post-mask glow is unreal for this one.

HYDRATION NATION. Feeling stressed and frazzled? This sheet masks can do wonders. Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

HYDRATION NATION. Feeling stressed and frazzled? This sheet masks can do wonders.

Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

Cheap but really good favorites include the Leader’s Insolution masks that go for P59 and the Esfolio snail essence sheet mask that retails for around P55.

Tool heaven

Watsons’ inventory of makeup tools is another thing that’s stepped up through the years. They carry the cult-favorite Beauty Blender (P990), as well as Real Techniques and EcoTools. They also have both cheap and high-end makeup brush brands on sale.

ALL THE TOOLS. Watsons in the Philippines has stepped up its makeup tools game in recent years. Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

ALL THE TOOLS. Watsons in the Philippines has stepped up its makeup tools game in recent years.

Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

If you’re looking to give makeup tools as a gift, Real Technique sets (upwards of P1,000) are a no-brainer. The flawless base, travel essentials, and sculpting sets (P1,100 each set) would make for wonderful gifts to both newbie and “expert” makeup fanatics.

If you’re looking for a gift for a makeup veteran, a Real Techniques sponge or Beauty Blender would be a good idea – after all, you can never have too many sponges on standby.

Drugstore favorites

Maybelline is one relatively affordable brand that’s really improved its game through the years.

If you’re feeling confident, go ahead and gift your Secret Santa with what might just be the brand's  best full-coverage foundation, the SuperStay full coverage (P499 when not on sale). Pair this with their best concealer yet, the Maybelline FitMe (P249 when not on sale).

DREAM TEAM. Full coverage without the cake. Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

DREAM TEAM. Full coverage without the cake.

Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

If you can’t tell warm undertones from pink ones, it might be better to ditch the base and buy color instead. The Lash Sensational mascara (P349 when not on sale) is a cult favorite for good reason. Maybelline lipsticks, which go for as low as P199 when on sale, are reliable options.

But if you’re going for staying power, the SuperStay Matte Ink lippies are your ride-or-die options. I’m personally not a fan of these because I don’t like strong fragrances in my cosmetics and I generally don’t like long-wearing formulas. Maybelline isn’t kidding around when they say these lip products don’t budge. The friendly Maybelline saleslady told me the best-selling shades in the Philippines include 117, 118, 15, 80, and 50.

THIS WON'T BUDGE. Maybelline was not kidding around when it said 'SuperStay.' Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

THIS WON'T BUDGE. Maybelline was not kidding around when it said 'SuperStay.

' Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

Another good drugstore find would be L’Oreal’s Lash Paradise. At P500 a tube (when not on sale), it’s not exactly the cheapest option, but, man, does this mascara deliver. It volumizes and lengthens while making sure things aren’t clumpy.

PH-beauty finds

Watsons in the Philippines, thankfully, is home to many solid local beauty brands.

Human Nature’s Sunflower beauty oil (P299.75 for the big bottle) works miracles on everything – from dry skin to dry hair.

Local favorite Happy Skin offers everything you could possible ask for in a cosmetics brand – they’re fairly affordable and offer shades catered to Pinay skin. Good options include products from the Generation Happy Skin Line and their nail polishes.

PERFECT MANICURE. These shades will flatter almost any skin tone. Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

PERFECT MANICURE. These shades will flatter almost any skin tone.

Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

I must give a special shoutout to the Happy Skin x KC nailpolish collaboration – these shades make for the perfect "tita" manicure. A word of caution, however: while the polishes claim to be an “express gel polish,” long-lasting is not how I’d describe them. Still, that con is outweighed by how easy the application and how fast the dry-time is.

MUST-TRY. The comedian's lip and cheek tints do the trick. Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

MUST-TRY. The comedian's lip and cheek tints do the trick.

Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

The affordability of Vice Ganda’s Vice Cosmetics is unreal. While you’re in Watsons, make sure to check out lip and cheek tints that retail for P145 a tube. The shade names are a hoot (Beshie, Choz, and Paberjin, to name a few) and they work well enough. It’s not the most hydrating of formulas, but it isn’t drying either.

BLK almost never fails. Personal hero products include their creamy cheek paints (P399) and intense color liquid shadows (P299). Hello, a beautiful brown shimmer is perfect for those effort-but-not-really days.

They also offer an advent calendar (P2,990) that features 9 products from their Holiday collection (pssst, the highlighter is really good).

The wild cards

Watsons isn’t just for the girly girl. If your budget is roomier than usual, it might be a good idea to pick up a Philips electronic razor (P1,599 upwards) for a guy who needs to let go of the disposables. Philips also has epilators (P2,990 on sale).

PEEL CITY. Is it gross? Yes. Do I enjoy it? Of course. Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

PEEL CITY. Is it gross? Yes. Do I enjoy it? Of course.

Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

If your friend has never indulged in the distinct pleasure that is seeing one’s foot peel, it’s about time you grab a pack of Baby Foot (P830). Yes, it’s gross. Yes, it’s messy. Is it still worth it? Of course, the answer is yes.

The Body Shop items are also available at Watsons – grab a small tub of body butter for P350 or a pack of shower gels for P600.

What’s your favorite Watsons pick? Did we miss out on a must-try product? Let us know in the comments section. – Rappler.com

Editor's note: All items were spotted at the Watsons Megamall branch – arguably one of the biggest and best-stocked in the country.