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Sebaceous Filaments Treatment—A Dermatologist’s Take

March 25, 2024

Retinoids, Moisturiser or Gel Masking for Sebaceous Filaments:

What works and what doesn’t? Sensitive, Oily-dehydrated skin edition

Ask a Dermatologist: What are Sebaceous Filaments?

  • Sebaceous filaments are thin tubes that line your sebaceous glands

What’s inside a
sebaceous filament?

  • Oil glands produce oil, and so the joining tubes known as sebaceous filaments are filled with sebum

  • Sebum is produced by the glands and travel via the filaments to the skin surface

What causes sebaceous filaments to be visible?

  • Excess oil production can cause your sebaceous filaments to become more obvious

Are sebaceous filaments a sign of unhealthy skin?

No! Sebaceous filaments healthy part of your are a normal skin. Sebum is produced at the onset of puberty to help to lubricate and moisturise skin. Through these tubes, sebum reaches the skin surface.

What’s the difference between sebaceous filaments and blackheads?

Sebaceous filaments and blackheads may look similar, but they’re distinct.

Blackheads are part of acne. They’re also known as open comedomes, and appear as black bumps on the skin. Blackheads are due to oxidised sebum, dirt and dead skin cells that plug the pores, whereas sebaceous filaments are not acne. There is also no plugging, rather oil travels freely to the skin surface, Blackheads may look like a dark spot of dirt but sebaceous filaments look like areusually smaller, flat and lighter in color.

How can I test a
sebaceous filament?

Squeeze if! If you squeeze sebaceous filaments, you should see a waxy, thread pop out of the pore. If you squeeze blackheads on the other hand, a dark plug is seen.

Can you get rid of sebaceous filaments?

Sebaceous filaments are part of healthy skin, but prominent filaments can be reduced with a proper skincare routine. Key targets are

  1. Moisture barrier

  2. Sebum/oil gland regulation

  3. Exfoliation, cell turnover

These three factors are interlinked. The key is to regulate oil gland activity so as to minimise excess oil production, as in the case reactive seborrhoea.I.e. When skin is dehydrated, it tends to produce even more oil.

Treatment options

Pore strips can help to remove the visible tracts but will not stop it from recurring, Masks can help as improving moisture levels can regulate oil production. Gel masks are especially helpful as the gel vehicle has a mild astringent effect without being overly drying unlike clay masks.

Retinols, retinoids are all known to regulate sebum production, as are AHA and BHA acids but may cause irritation in sensitive skin.

Pharmacy recommendations

What to use on a daily basis (Retinol-retinoids-free regimen works even for sensitive skin)

Weekly treatment

Serum Recommendations: How to Choose Serums for Your Skin Type

March 23, 2024


Serum Recommendations: How to Choose Serums for Your Skin Type

Here are some key barrier repair actives to look out for  

Face serums are lightweight formulations that contain water soluble active ingredients like 

  • Glycerin

  • Sodium Hyaluronate

  • Polyglutamic Acid

Instead of ceramides or lipids which are typically in cream formulations


There are certain advantages such as being able to infuse amino acids in higher concentrations, for instance

  • Serine

  • Methionine

  • Histidine

  • Help repair skin barrier as humectants

  • Stimulate collagen production

image2.pngThe first category of actives we shall discuss work on the top most layers of skin

  • Humectants i.e. hyaluronic acid, polyglutamic acid, amino acids and glycerin 

    • trap moisture under the stratum corneum 

    • prevent transepidermal water loss

    • panthenol, amino acids 

  • Knowing how to choose face serums is important but equally critical is understanding how your should best apply serums for maximum efficacy 

image3.pngWhy? The ideal face serum formulation boosts the effects of your skincare routine. The first key principle to understand is skincare layering. Dermatologists advocate layering because it increases absorption, but also because when you use serums separately from creams, you can maximise concentrations of skin actives delivered to skin. 

  • Can I just use 1 face serum for all my skincare needs?

image4.pngThere is a reason why we separate hyaluronic and vitamin C serum instead of using an all in 1 product,  An all-in-1 skincare product practically will deliver lower concentrations of actives compared more complex skincare layering regimen.


image5.pngThe best face serum formulation 

  • Biomimetic actives 

  • Multiple actives 

  • Barrier repair

  • Creating an occlusive microenvironment 

  • Enhance absorption and delivery of molecules


    Get customised cosmeceutical serums for your skincare and acne care needs at our skincare pharmacy today. Listen to our podcast


Derm’s Exfoliation Guide for Specific Skin Types: How you exfoliate makes all the difference

March 22, 2024
In this episode of SkinTok, you get my exfoliation guide for specific skin types: how you exfoliate truly makes all the difference.
Exfoliation is essential for all skin types—but how you exfoliate makes all the difference. For sensitive skin types, skin flaking is unappealing, but attempting to rub or scrub will make sensitive, irritated and inflamed skin worse. Follow me on TikTok, YouTube where I share my latest skincare tutorials

The science of exfoliation: radiant skin 

Skin cell renewal is a natural process that helps get rid of dead corneocytes, I.e. dead skin cells to reveal healthy radiant skin. The time it takes depends on the length of the cell cycle, which increases with age. This is why aging can cause dull skin and exfoliation is key to enhancing skin radiance.

Benefits of exfoliation: increase transdermal absorption 

Exfoliation can enhance absorption of cosmeceutical actives such as vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and phytochemicals in green tea extract, centella, resveratrol etc. 

Which exfoliation method is best for my skin type?


Exfoliation methods:

  • Chemical exfoliation

Glycolic, Salicylic, Lactic acids

  • Enzyme peels i.e. papain, bromelain

  • Microdermabrasion 

Home-based microcrystalline devices work well for sensitive skin in place of in-clinic salt based systems

  • Hydrodermabrasion 

2-in-1 devices are available that incorporate both microdermabrasion and hydrodermabrasion handpieces

  • Sonic cleansing 

Sonic cleansing can be an effective exfoliation method for dislodging airborne pollutants and debris

How often? Exfoliation frequencies

How often you exfoliate depends on your skin type, age and concerns. Here are some quick tips on how to tailor an exfoliation protocol for your skin type: 


  • Oily

Chemical exfoliation: once-thrice-weekly with superficial acids < 10%

Enzyme peels i.e. papain, bromelain daily 

Microdermabrasion: weekly 

Hydrodermabrasion: daily 

Sonic cleansing: daily

  • Combination-Normal

Chemical exfoliation: once weekly with superficial acids < 10%

Enzyme peels i.e. papain, bromelain every other day 

Microdermabrasion: weekly 

Hydrodermabrasion: daily 

Sonic cleansing: daily

  • Dry-Sensitive skin 

Chemical exfoliation: omit

Enzyme peels i.e. papain, bromelain weekly 

Microdermabrasion: with gel protection fortnightly or omit  

Hydrodermabrasion: weekly over affected areas 

Sonic cleansing: weekly


Microdermabrasion notes

  • skin resurfacing procedure

  • outpatient healthcare setting I.e. dermatologist practice

  • treat photoaging

    • uneven skin tone

    • dullness 

    • acne scars 

    • wrinkles

  • one of the most common cosmetic procedures 

  • Introduced in 1985 by dermatologists 

  • less aggressive skin resurfacing 

  • popular cosmetic treatment 

    • ease of use

    • minimal downtime 

    • good results


  • release of crystals through a handpiece 

  • combined with a vacuum-assisted process 

  • applies gentle suction to remove the topmost layer of your skin (stratum corneum)

Pharmacy Picks


  • SilkPeel Home Facial Peel System: Chemical Peel Equivalent

Microdermabrasion with similar effects to microscopic skin exfoliation

  • Moisturising NanoPeel

Pregnancy & Breast-feeding Safe Chemical Peel. Moisturise and exfoliate your skin with zero irritation with blend of papain enzyme concentrate and minimum 18 botanical antioxidants for a calming home peel, building your skin barrier

Functional dermatology encompasses the use of holistic botanical actives to build skin resilience 

Subscribe to Skincare Blueprint, my fortnightly newsletter for all your skin needs.

Resveratrol for Acne Scars: The Most Underrated Skincare Ingredient According to a Dermatologist

March 21, 2024

Resveratrol for acne scars: In this edition of Skincyclopedia, we unveil how resveratrol is a must-have ingredient in your acne skincare routine.

What you will learn:

  • ☐ What are the benefits of resveratrol for acne scars?

  • ☐ How does resveratrol work?

You may have heard about vitamin C and hyaluronic acid serums for acne scars, but did you know that one of the most potent anti-aging ingredients resveratrol also works to lighten hyperpigmentation and stimulate collagen?


Acne sufferers worry about dark spots, uneven skin tone and dull skin, and this is how a cosmeceutical skincare regimen can help. I’m a board-certified dermatologist with published research in top dermatology journals such as the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and the International Journal of Dermatology.

Quasi-drugs are the latest buzzword in the field of dermatology and cosmetic science. Many of these are plant derived with pharmaceutical properties and are originally studied in ethnobotany. The modern day scientific study of herbs and plants and how it can impact human health is an emerging field.

Functional dermatology is a holistic approach to skincare that includes the use of plant bioactives. Emerging evidence shows that cosmeceuticals or quasi-drugs play a role in the treatment of skin diseases such as acne, rosacea, sensitive skin and photoaging. 


How Resveratrol Works for Acne Scars:

While resveratrol is best known as an aging skincare active,  the same mechanisms are helpful in treatment and prevention of acne scars.

Resveratrol increases the lifespan of cells by targeting cell senescence, a key contributing factor to cell death and oxidative stress. This is especially pertinent for those with adult acne, as scarring can worsen due to age-related skin changes. 

Overall resevratrol is known to protect DNA, cell parts such as the mitochondria, responsible for cell energy. This directly improves skin’s ability to heal scars. 

The same anti-inflammatory mechanisms by which resveratrol reverses aging is applied to improve acne scar healing

Resveratrol is shown to enhance the lifespan of cells and is perhaps best known for protecting against age-related heart and brain degeneration. Ultimately, it plays a key role in reducing chronic inflammation. 


Resveratrol skincare for acne scars: resveratrol boosts collagen. This is the single ingredient that can help to reduce acne scars by activating collagen production. The Elixir-V serum is formulated with a highly potent  plant source of resveratrol, known as trans-resveratrol from polygonum cuspidatum. 

Does resveratrol lighten acne hyperpigmentation ?

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne scars is the commonest type of acne scarring. Using a potent antioxidant like resveratrol “eats up” damaging free radicals that are the cause of oxidative stress. Acne-prone skin tends to have excess oil production, which causes lipid peroxidation, a known risk factor for triggering inflammation. 


Is resveratrol good for acne spots? Does resveratrol treat inflamed acne?

Yes. As it is a non-irritating active, with additional anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, it can be used to synergistically treat inflamed acne bumps and pimples. Unlike retinol or retinoids which should not be applied on active acne, resveratrol is suited to calm inflammation. In fact, resveratrol can be combined with other antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E and ferulic acid for synergistic, targeted action for acne scar treatment and prevention. 

How long does it take for resveratrol to work for acne scars? 

Cosmeceutical regimens are effective according to skin cycles. Essentially, an average of 27-28 days is required for cell turnover, so that renewed skin cells take the place of old cells that are shed. Adding on an at-home skin device utilising technology such as microdermabrasion and hydrodermabrasion can significantly improve the absorption rate of skincare actives, especially helpful for those with acne scars and would like a gentler treatment option than lasers. Microdermabrasion can enhance transdermal delivery i.e. absorption of skincare active ingredient via the epidermis, accelerating results. 

image5.jpegGet access to more skincare secrets, tips and hacks when you subscribe to Skincare Blueprint, the fortnightly newsletter by a board-certified dermatologist for all your skin needs. 

4 Top Skincare Tips for Glowing Skin: Skin Science Demystified by a Dermatologist

March 18, 2024

image0.pngHow do you get glowing skin? It boils down to 4 key concepts

  • Microcirculation 

Skin tissue is fed with nutrients by blood circulating through vessels, just like any organ. Mini blood vessels known as microvasculature are particularly susceptible to aging processes and metabolic diseases like diabetes that can impair blood flow. Smoking can also have a negative impact. Conversely, exercise enhances circulation, as does an overall healthy lifestyle. 

  • Antioxidant reserve

The antioxidant reserve is the reservoir of free-radical busting agents that supports your skin. This reserve is depleted as you age, but can be enhanced by consumption of an antioxidant rich diet and application of cosmeceutical skincare. Environmental factors like UV damage skin by generating free radicals, but healthy skin is always able to quench the damage with antioxidants. 

Using adaptogens such as botanicals in your facial mist can provide the antioxidant boost for resilient skin.

  • Cell renewal rates 

Cell renewal is the process of shedding dead skin cells to make way for new skin—that appears more radiant, elastic and plump. Our cell cycles lengthen as we grow older, resulting in retention of dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliation with glycolic, lactic and salicylic acid helps with cell renewal rates. If you have sensitive skin, consider papain and bromelain enzyme peels.

  • Hydration 

The skin barrier is made of corneocytes at the top-most layer of skin, joined together by bits of “cement” which are really lipids that prevent transepidermal water loss or TEWL. Essentially, a weakened skin barrier allows for more evaporative loss, meaning water escapes from the deeper layers of your skin. 

Use skin flooding techniques to enhance barrier repair.


2024 Hot New Release: Skincare Decoded Brand New Skincare Course 


Singapore Skincare Tips: Living in Singapore With Oily Skin? Why You Must Still Use Moisturiser

March 12, 2024

Welcome to Skincyclopedia – Singapore Edition by me, board-certified dermatologist Dr Teo Wan Lin. For all who are looking to survive Singapore’s heat and humidity with great skin still, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll be dishing out my skincare tips (nearly) every day and covering the latest developments on skincare and the world of dermatology as well — so stay tuned to this page and also follow me on social media @drteowanlin on TikTok and IG where you can also post your questions and I’ll be sure to answer them. 

EP 1: Oily skin woes in Singapore? Dermatologist Recommends Using Moisturiser to Fix it!  Your skin is always losing water to the environment, it’s known as trans-epidermal water loss. 

Moisturisers for skin barrier repair: reduces trans-epidermal water loss 


If you live in a humid country like Singapore, there is less evaporation to the environment but skin can still get dehydrated. If you choose to use astringent aka drying skincare such as deep cleansing foams and alcohol-based toners to treat oily skin, you may end up with even more oil production. 


Your skin may produce even more oil if you don’t moisturise


Why? This is known as paradoxical reactive hyperseborrhoea. Essentially when you deprive skin of moisture, the oil glands may overwork themselves to restore the balance, leading to dysregulation. 

Moral of the story? If you live in humid Singapore and think you can skip moisturiser because your skin is oily, your skin may produce even more oil!


FAQ Ask a dermatologist: how do you apply moisturiser? 



Pro Tip for Night Moisturiser: for a sleeping mask hack, use a palm sized amount of your favourite moisturiser over your face and leave on overnight 

image1.pngDay moisturiser: choose an emulsion/lotion form which is less sticky in humid climates like Singapore’s and/or if you have combination/oily skin. 

image2.pngTo increase absorption: 

1. Facial massage with a jade roller can increase blood circulation and enhance skin absorption


2. Wet occlusion with sheet masking can also create a moisture sandwich that enhances the humectant and occlusive properties of the moisturiser 

What are your favourite moisturiser brands? Do you have a preferred method of application? 

Stay tuned for the next few episodes where I’ll cover the types of moisturisers to use if you have oily skin. 

Follow me on Tik Tok and Instagram @drteowanlin where I share more of these tips

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