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How a Singapore Dermatologist treats Blackheads

February 24, 2020


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Dr. Teo Wan Lin is an accredited dermatologist and an expert on cosmeceutical skincare research and development. She is the author of  “Skincare Bible – Dermatologist’s Tips for Cosmeceutical Skincare”  which was published July 2019 by leading bookstores Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor and Apple Books and available in bookstores islandwide from January 2020. She heads up Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals, a specialist cosmeceutical skincare line with evidence-based active ingredients for anti-ageing and skin health. Its subsidiaries, the Pi- Cosmeceutical Custom Makeup Lab and the Conscious Mask Bar are part of the Conscious Concept Pharmacy launched in December featuring environmentally sustainable makeup and skincare materials. In this series “Dermatologist Talks” she shares her top tips on common skincare topics. In this article, she shares about the importance of taking care of your neck area.


Treatment of Blackheads

  1. How do I get rid of blackheads?

First and foremost, it is important to know what blackheads are and how they arise. Blackheads, the colloquial term for open comedones, are a type of acne caused by an overproduction of oil, and tend to cluster around areas like the nose. The buildup of keratin and oil around the follicle is oxidised and turns blackish because the oil itself is oxidised by air.

Open comedones are best treated with:

  • A mixture of chemical peels, containing salicylic acid, lactic and glycolic acids to control the oil production.
  • Carbon laser peels to help shrink oil glands and reduce production of oil.
  • Prescription creams, containing tretinoin, that accelerate skin regeneration.
  • Oral medication will be necessary for acne, and a medication known as isotretinoin, may be prescribed to help to shrink your oil glands, which has to be taken under close medical supervision.

I do not recommend manual extractions as they can cause more inflammation, infections, and scarring. I personally treat both open and closed (whiteheads) comedones using a specialised machine with a vacuum handpiece that gently extracts blackheads and whiteheads without pain or scarring, at the same time infusing a customised blend of fruit-based acids that exfoliate the skin. Last year, we launched the Dr.TWL SilkPeel Home Medi-Facial Kit with our biomaterials team.


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The device basically combines the microdermabrasion benefits that we use in our clinic with a very gentle chemical peel effect to increase the absorption of the cosmeceuticals. This allows for the physical removal of the debris from both open and closed comedones (ie. Blackheads and whiteheads), reducing the appearance of blackheads and preventing subsequent formation.

  1. How do I reduce the formation of blackheads?

A good cleanser is important. For cleansers, look for the labels ‘’dermatologist-tested and formulated’’ for maximum clinical efficacy. I personally use a cleanser based on medical-grade honey which I have partnered with a laboratory to formulate, it effectively cleanses away dirt, bacteria and grime, as honey is a naturally derived emulsifier, unlike chemical lathering agents, and also possesses antibacterial properties, without stripping away the skin’s natural oils. Overall, a good cleanser should leave the skin feeling clean (not squeaky clean though as this usually means overcleansing) and also still soft and moisturised. It’s a misconception to go for really ‘strong’ harsh cleansers because it generally strips the skin of all moisture with strong lathering agents like SLS (Sodium Laureth Sulfate) leaving the skin red and flaky while the acne problem doesn’t go away.


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  1. Do over-the-counter treatments work?

Nothing over the counter actually works well.

Pore strips help to physically remove the bits of keratin and oxidised oil but it tends to accumulate again and the problem recurs.

Products which contain salicylic acid usually have too low concentrations to be actually effective and higher concentrations can cause irritation.

Beware of traditional facial blotters to remove oil because it can cause the skin to paradoxically feel ‘dehydrated’ and the oil glands to produce even more oil to compensate. For patients with greasy skin in the day , it may help to just wash the grease off with a good cleanser rather than keep blotting. Either that, or use a fragrance/alcohol-free baby wipe to wipe off the grease before touching up makeup.

  1. How often should I go for treatments?

It depends on your skin condition. We recommend patients to firstly get their skin condition properly diagnosed by an accredited dermatologist, who would then subsequently recommend a regimen most suitable for them.

The Dangers of Dealing with Blackheads yourself

  1. Can you extract them at home?

Never pick your pimples or squeeze your blackheads (or whiteheads) as the bacteria on your fingers will cause infection, subsequently causing inflammation which may result in the formation of cystic acne.

Cystic acne is a severe form of acne which warrants specialist dermatologist care as it can leave terrible scars and can be secondarily infected leading to cysts and abscesses (collections of pus under the skin) if left untreated. See a dermatologist early, you definitely need oral medication and also may need a stronger form of anti-acne medication known as isotretinoin which helps to shrink your oil glands. Isotretinoin has to be taken under close medical supervision as it can have side effects on one’s liver and cholesterol levels.

Do not use scrubs with rough beady material as these only irritate the skin further besides being totally ineffective at removing blackheads, whiteheads and definitely can worsen cystic acne. Persistent acne is not normal and should be treated by an accredited dermatologist to avoid infections and scarring.

  1. What happens if you leave them be? Will they form pimples?

If you leave them alone, there is a chance of secondary infection in which these blackheads develop into active pimples. Otherwise, they remain as black dots on the skin which may be rather unsightly.

  1. Some people think by putting toner, you close the pores. Is this true? 

Toners with an alcohol base as an astringent draws water and oil out via an osmotic difference.  They may provide symptomatic relief right after application, where the skin feels dried up instantaneously and the appearance of blackheads is subdued due to the temporary removal of debris. However, over time, I find that this gives rise to a condition known as reactive seborrhea. The skin being subjected to these harsh agents, decides that it is dehydrated and paradoxically, produces even more oil. Hence, I did not include any toners in the skincare regimen I designed. Instead, my recommendation for people with oily, acne-prone skin with blackheads is the Miel Honey™ Cleanser: a very effective anti-bacterial, anti-grease cleanser which also leaves a moisturising barrier. Medical-grade honey has a humectant property, meaning it is able to trap water underneath the skin. Additionally, we developed a specialised type of blotting paper for people with severely oily skin to help with the removal of oily patches throughout the course of the day. Our Anti-Inflammatory Oil Blotting Linen contains an extract of Cannabis Sativa which helps to restore the skin barrier when it comes into contact with the skin’s oil. This is unlike traditional blotters which dehydrate the skin causing it to produce even more oil. Finally, the use of a very lightweight moisturiser throughout the day, such as our Mineral Booster™, helps to restore the natural equilibrium of the skin with the environment. Overall, I find this cosmeceutical regimen is more sustainable for someone who is looking to reduce the production of oil and the appearance of blackheads, especially when used in combination with topical prescriptive items.

Read more on the Top Acne Tips and Treatments here.

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DIOR Skincare Capture Totale Serum Launch and Press Conference

February 17, 2020

Singapore, 5 December 2019 –

Dr. Teo Wan Lin was invited as a key opinion leader on cosmeceutical skincare at the press conference for Dior Skincare’s Capture Totale Serum, held at Capella Hotel, Sentosa. The author of “Skincare Bible – Dermatologist’s Tips for Cosmeceutical Skincare”, launching islandwide in bookstores January 2020, Dr. Teo shared her thoughts on anti-ageing and the science of cosmeceutical formulations.


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“The earlier we start anti-ageing treatment, such as preventive skincare, the better off we are at combating the signs of ageing.’ Dr. Teo emphasised the urgency of preventing anti-ageing, an ongoing process starting in the mid-twenties and aggravated by biological factors such as genetics as well as environmental exposures.

“My research into cosmeceutical active ingredients demonstrates that when serums are correctly formulated and delivered they are able to fight free radicals effectively, such as that caused by photoageing and environmental stressors”. As a prominent researcher in the area of cosmeceutical skincare, she shared tips on choosing the right skincare products for an efficient regimen.

“Another important concept in skincare is how well absorbed it is- for example, the New Generation Vector biofermented lipo-peptide enhances the penetration of the floral complex by 30%,” Dr. Teo shared that women are extremely well educated on the importance of a skincare regimen these days— starting with double cleansing, application of Antioxidant serums before moisturising and sunblock. A good serum can be efficiently incorporated as a day and night serum in a skincare regimen.


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On the importance of organic active ingredients used in Skincare, as well as the extraction and processing process, cosmetic giants are becoming increasingly aware of clean beauty. “From a dermatologist perspective, it is reassuring that the Dior Scientists maintain purity of these extracts with strict pharmaceutical engineering principles— there are especially critical steps to prevent loss of clinical activity, as well as environmental contamination which can affect the final product.”

Some final thoughts on anti-ageing from Dr. Teo included the following.

A dermatologist’s approach to ageing
“We stage objectively using a scale known as the Glogau Photoageing Scale, named after a dermatologist Dr. Richard Glogau and is graded on a scale of 1-4, with most of us in the audience here today at 2 or a 3, which means we have some early to moderate signs of ageing, such as pigmentation spots, fine lines and some changes in our skin texture.”

The Dior Scientists also created the Dior Skin Scanner with this approach in mind, as it offers the public an objective scientific evaluation which previously was only assessable via a dermatologist’s visit.

This also means that the earlier we start anti-ageing treatment, such as preventive skincare, the better off we are at combating the signs of ageing— this includes the ability of the skin to fight free radicals effectively, such as that caused by photoageing and environmental stressors.

More skincare and cosmeceutical formulation tips can be found in Dr. Teo’s new book “Skincare Bible – Dermatologist’s Tips for Cosmeceutical Skincare”, which is available via www.drtwlderma.com, as an e-book via Barnes & Noble, Apple Books and in major bookstores island wide.

Dr. Teo Wan Lin, Medical Director of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, is an accredited dermatologist , specialising in both medical and cosmetic dermatology. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore, College of Physicians, Chapter of Dermatologitsts and a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons (UK).


Meet with Dr Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, for a thorough consultation to determine the most suitable treatment for your skin.
To book an appointment with Dr Teo, call us at +65 6355 0522, or email appt@twlskin.com. Alternatively, you may fill up our contact form here.

Dermatologist Best Guide to HIFU Sygmalift vs Ultherapy

December 15, 2017
HIFU UltherapyTreatment by Dermatologist

People have been increasingly conscious about aging and the effects of aging on appearance. Skin aging will cause facial wrinkles and decreased collagen. Maintaining a youthful appearance seems to be the trend and many have resorted to skin treatments. There are many treatments like chemical peels, fractional laser and more but recently, ultrasound has been used in new treatments. HIFU and Ultherapy are examples of ultrasound treatments. It has been introduced as non-invasive and effective in having anti-aging effects on the skin.

What is High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) Sygmalift?

High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound also known as HIFU Sygmalift, is used for rejuvenation, lifting and tightening of the facial skin. Research has been done to demonstrate the efficacy of HIFU Sygmalift. It has been found that HIFU Sygmalift is a safe and effective method for facial skin tightening. It can be used not only to improve skin texture, but also contour the upper arms, knees and thighs. Besides facial skin, it can be used for other parts of your body.

How does HIFU Sygmalift work?

HIFU mainly causes cellular damage and reduces volume of the designated area by coagulation and generating instant microthermal lesions. This is done by using high frequency ultrasound waves targeted at the tissue area without causing any damage to the skin epidermis and surrounding tissues. The targeted skin tissues get heated up which causes cells to be activated, generating new collagen to produce a skin lifting and anti-aging effect.

What is Ultherapy?

Ultherapy is a new Food Drug Administration (FDA) approved treatment that tightens and lift facial skin. The treatment is mainly for the eyebrow, chin and neck area but can be used anywhere where the skin is lacking tightening. Follow up treatments are recommended once a year to maintain the effects. The procedure has been used as it is non invasive and hence does not require anesthetic or sedation.

However, it has been said to be painful and it would be better for some to use local anesthetic. It has been said to have no foreign substances or drastic changes but achieves to improve the health of the cells beneath your skin surface to result in a subtle, natural and healthy effect on the outside.

How does Ultherapy work?

Ultherapy is different from the common laser techniques that target the outer layer of the skin. It penetrates the surface and transmits energy to the deeper skin layers. This way, it causes damage to the collagen layers to stimulate more collagen production as the cells are tricked into repairing the collagen. It uses ultrasound technology which has been used in fat burning treatments. With collagen production, it produces skin tightening and anti aging effects.

How are HIFU Sygmalift and Ultherapy different?

HIFU Sygmalift and Ultherapy sound similar in terms of their methodology. Both use ultrasound treatment, a popular choice for non invasive and non-surgical face lifting and tightening treatments. Their main goal is to produce anti-aging effects, helping you to preserve your youthful look. However, there are still some small differences between the two which can impact your decision is choosing the most suitable treatment.

Extent of Pain

One of the main complaints about ultherapy treatment is that it is known to be painful and some people require local anesthetic. However, HIFU Sygmalift is mainly painless because it uses fractionated HIFU. Instead of traditional HIFU techniques which use one concentrated beam, HIFU Sygmalift breaks up the beam into fractions and penetrates the skin at precise extents. People who use HIFU Sygmalift may feel a small sense of tolerable pain but it is definitely less painful that Ultherapy.

Extent of Skin Penetration

HIFU Sygmalift targets the dermis and connective tissues to stimulate collagen production. Meanwhile, Ultherapy can penetrate deeper even into the muscle tissues, which is why some people feel pain. However, both result in skin tightening and lifting effects.

Post Treatment Maintenance

For Ultherapy, most people may see visible results even after the first or second session. To follow-up, they are recommended to go for treatments once a year to maximise the effects. On the other hand, HIFU Sygmalift is used once a month to maintain your skin. Patients of HIFU Sygmalift are recommended to use anti-aging products that contains peptides to complement the treatment, supporting a gentler type of treatment.

Both HIFU Sygmalift and Ultherapy use similar technology and methods with very subtle differences. However, these differences can make a big impact on your comfort with the treatments. Both methods are still safe, striving to produce anti-aging effects on your skin. With the similarities and differences explained, you can now make the best decision for yourself and choose the treatment that suits you the most.

© 2017 TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre. All rights reserved.


Meet with Dr. Teo Wan Lin, accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, for a thorough consultation to determine the most suitable treatment for your skin.

To book an appointment with Dr. Teo, call us at +65 6355 0522, or email appt@twlskin.com. Alternatively, you may fill up our contact form here.