Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Anna Palabyab-Rufino has been one of Preview's go-tos for anything and everything skin-related for years. She has helped us dispel countless skin myths like lemon juice's rumored brightening benefits, as well as enlightened us about the dos and don'ts of dealing with pigmentation. Her expertise also shows on her skin—she definitely has the kind of glow we all want to have when we're her age. Because while she definitely doesn't look like it, Dr. Anna tells us she's "40 and proud!" With glowing skin like hers, it wasn't the easiest to believe. What we can believe, though, is that being a dermatologist definitely has its perks when it comes to knowing how to work your way around skin issues, and it's the reason why we started this derm skincare routine series in the first place. With Dr. Anna in particular, we wanted to know how a fair-skinned beauty like her manages to dodge all the sun damage one can get in the Philippines. Hence, we wasted no time and asked the doctor about her best-kept complexion secrets.
Dr. Anna Palabyab-Rufino
For those who have yet to meet the her, Dr. Anna Palabyab-Rufino has been a practicing dermatologist for almost 10 years as of writing. She had her three-year residency training for Dermatology at the Department of Health's Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. She's part of the trio of pros that head Beautique MD, a skin and dermatology center in BGC.
Out of the office, you'll find her spending quality time with her husband and her three sons. And like a true Preview girl, her hobbies include traveling and shopping. She occasionally indulges herself by trying new restaurants and treating herself to a nice massage. Her list of hobbies used to be longer, though. "I would love to go back to playing tennis, if I had the time," she shares. With her long list of clients who trust her with their skin, however, perhaps taking a raincheck on tennis isn't so bad.
All that said, even though we can't all be board-certified derms like her, there is one thing we can do: cop her skincare routine! Luckily, Dr. Anna indulged us with everything we need to know. Ahead, she breaks down her entire routine, her go-to treatments, and the rest of the tricks she swears by to maintain a youthful complexion.
Her personal skincare philosophy
"Prevention is better than any cure!"
Skin type, skin issues, and skin goals
"I’m lucky enough to have normal skin, not dry nor oily. I’m also not acne-prone or too sensitive."
Dr. Anna Rufino's daily skincare routine
"In the morning, I wash with a mild cleanser (Fresh's Soy Face Cleanser), then I go straight to putting my sunblock (Provamed's Sun Face SPF 50+ PA+++). I am a believer in using moisturizer only on an as-needed basis and the vehicle that our sunblock comes in already has moisturizing properties. The less I apply on my face, the better. If I can get away with just a slightly tinted sunblock and no foundation, I would prefer it.
FRESH Soy Face Cleanser, P2427, Sephora.ph; PROVAMED Sun Face SPF 50+ PA+++, price unavailable, Provamed
"At night, I wash my face again with the Fresh Soy Face Cleanser and then I apply Skinceuticals' Phloretin CF Serum. I like this serum because of its triple antioxidant formulation—phloretin, vitamin C, and ferulic acid, which all help brighten and even out the skin and protect it from environmental factors.
SKINCEUTICALS Phloretin CF with Ferulid Acid Serum, price unavailable, Skinceuticals
"If my face is a little dry or irritated, I put a thin layer of moisturizer. I like alternating Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream (when I travel to cooler countries), Kiehl's Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream, and Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream Hydrating Moisturizer (during warmer, more humid days). I like the Kiehl's and Peter Thomas Roth ones because they are light and non-greasy. And then to finish, I apply a 0.025% Tretinoin cream."
KIEHL'S Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream, P1750, Greenbelt 5; PETER THOMAS ROTH Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream, P3000, SM Megamall
Must-have skincare step
Favorite skin treatments
"It’s great that I have direct access to most treatments in the clinic. I love doing laser treatments using the Alma-Q laser because they are quick and very effective with no downtime. The skin rejuvenation setting helps target pigmentation and fine hair. The Carbon Peel, gives you a glow and makes your pores appear smaller. The Sygmalift hifu machine helps give you a lift and contours your face instantly! I also try to squeeze in radio frequency body treatments that help tighten the skin. Every six months, I also get minimal botulinum toxin injections (botox) on my crow's feet and glabellar areas (expression lines)."
Favorite skin treat
"I do Ultherapy once a year on my lower face and upper neck. I really see a difference!"
The products that made the biggest difference
"For the texture of my skin, it would be Tretinoin cream—it is still the most effective anti-aging cream! For procedures, it has to be Ultherapy. I really see the lift it gives as early as two weeks after the procedure."
Her non-skincare habits for good skin
"I try to drink as much water to keep myself hydrated. I also like wearing hats when I travel, it gives added protection when I’m under the sun for longer periods of time."
What to avoid for good skin
"I try to avoid prolonged sun exposure because of my skin type, I burn easily and can hardly get a tan. I’ve accepted my fair skin and I prefer to just take care of it because sun damage is cumulative—meaning it adds up and every minute counts! If you’re out in the sun longer than two hours, you should reapply your sunblock!"
Best skincare tips
"Prevention is very important and if you have a skin problem. You should consult a Philippine Dermatological Society board-certified dermatologist, and don’t take matters into your own hands with home remedies. Don’t ask chat groups or crowd source on social media. What works for others may not be the best treatment for you."
*This interview has been condensed for clarity.