CALL/WHATSAPP: +65 9728 6734

How to Treat Pigmentation on Sensitive Skin: The Art & Science Explained by a Dermatologist

September 17, 2023
Skin Masters Academy Skincare Formulation Series

If you are wondering how to treat pigmentation on sensitive skin, this tutorial is for you. Part 2 of the Skincare Formulation Series by Skin Masters Academy brings you the delicate art of treating pigmentation while balancing the needs of sensitive skin.

This series is written for advanced skincare practitioners who are interested in the use of cosmeceuticals including non prescription topicals as adjunct therapy for various cosmetic skin concerns. 

Listen and learn. Follow us on Spotify podcasts for your complimentary access to skincare tutorials for advanced practitioners. 

Bite Sized Beauty: At-a-Glance FAQ With Dr.TWL 

How do you treat pigmentation on sensitive skin?

The needs of both must be balanced. Sensitive skin is caused by a dysfunctional skin barrier, which means that the superficial corneocytes have lost their ability to adhere together. This results in a leaky epidermis. External allergens can trigger immunological reactions resulting in redness, itch, stinging and flaking. Moreover, ingredients used to treat hyperpigmentation can penetrate deeper and quicker if the barrier is breached. It’s key therefore to choose only non-irritating actives that treat hyperpigmentation. This excludes the use of retinol and retinoids for those with sensitive skin. Vitamin C serum formulations should have low acidity—if possible, choose neutral compounds like sodium or magnesium ascorbyl phosphate instead of L-ascorbic acid based vitamin C serums. 

Skincare Ingredients Dictionary
Discover the Skincare & Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary—an entire course workbook and textbook, complete with online lectures created by a board certified dermatologist for advanced skincare practitioners.

Which cream is best for pigmentation skin? 

In terms of traditional cosmeceuticals, hydroquinone and retinoid based formulations work best for stubborn pigmentation such as melasma. However, these are particularly tricky to use in sensitive skin types. Hydroquinone is known to breach the skin barrier and also causes a paradoxical rebound phenomenon if used inappropriately. For this reason, dermatologists recommend using hydroquinone based formulations for 6 months maximum—requiring a break in between or there could be a condition known as onchronosis that results. Retinoids are troublesome for those with sensitive skin—they do damage the skin barrier and should be used with care under the supervision of a dermatologist. 

Newer non-prescription alternatives have emerged in cosmeceutical research over the years which include melanogenesis blockers like kojic acid, arbutin and novel inhibitors that we will cover at the end of the tutorial. 

Take the Skin Expert & Medi-Facial Course by Dr.TWL, the only certificate course created by a board certified dermatologist for aestheticians and advanced skincare practitioners.  

Which acid is best for hyperpigmentation for sensitive skin?

Traditional chemical peel acids like salicylic, glycolic and retinol peels can adversely affect the skin barrier of sensitive skin types. Lactic acid is a gentler alternative although newer formulations now include plant enzyme peels like pineapple and papaya derived bromelain and papain respectively. Hydrodermabrasion is a form of physical exfoliation which can also improve the surface quality of sensitive skin types. By the infusion of antioxidant serums that contain plant actives, vitamin C—there can be a simultaneous benefit that targets underlying processes responsible for melanin production. 

Barrier Repair Speed Guide
Sign up for our free Skincare Blueprint: Glow Up From Within newsletter to receive our welcome gift pack.

    In-Depth Skin Science With Dr.TWL

    Skin Science with Dr.TWL Dermatology Essentials for Advanced Practitioners
    Ready for some skin science? Follow me on IG and TikTok for this brand new series The Slideshow With Dr.TWL.

    Physiology of Sensitive Skin 

    Sensitive skin is a state of hyper reactivity. Key to understanding this is the concept of barrier function. We already know about the brick wall model of skin, which means that once the skin barrier is damaged, the proteins associated with the structure of this wall also changes. Ultimately, this is what stimulates inflammation, leading to tissue damage. This is further exacerbated by what we call the itch scratch cycle. It is helpful to know that neurological factors play a role when it comes to sensitive skin. 

    new skincare bible cover front
    Skincare Bible Workbook Cover
    previous arrow
    next arrow

    New in! The Skincare Bible textbook plus workbook set is now available as a box collection on Amazon in Kindle and paperback forms. 

    How to Treat Pigmentation on Sensitive Skin Tip 1: Patch Test

    Understand the physiology involved—skin barrier dysfunction is what triggers sensitive skin reactions like itching, redness, flaking and stinging. Knowing what to look out for is important to monitor for adverse reactions when using a new skincare product. Patch testing before using the product on the affected area is key. Use a small amount on an inconspicuous area such as under the jawline and monitor for any adverse reactions overnight. 

    The Sensitive Skin Model

    In dermatology research, the sensitive skin model is what scientists use for testing—essentially a skin model that mimics actual skin barrier damage. 

    With this, researchers proceeded to investigate the effect of cosmeceuticals on the damaged skin barrier. 

    @drteowanlin Physiology of Sensitive Skin Sensitive skin is a state of hyper reactivity. Key to understanding this is the concept of barrier function. We already know about the brick wall model of skin, which means that once the skin barrier is damaged, the proteins associated with the structure of this wall also changes. Ultimately, this is what stimulates inflammation, leading to tissue damage. This is further exacerbated by what we call the itch scratch cycle. It is helpful to know that neurological factors play a role when it comes to sensitive skin How to Treat Pigmentation on Sensitive Skin Tip 1: Patch Test Understand the physiology involved—skin barrier dysfunction is what triggers sensitive skin reactions like itching, redness, flaking and stinging. Knowing what to look out for is important to monitor for adverse reactions when using a new skincare product. Patch testing before using the product on the affected area is key. Use a small amount on an inconspicuous area such as under the jawline and monitor for any adverse reactions overnight. #skincareroutine #skincareactives #skincareactives101 #skincareingredients #skincareingredient #singaporedoctor #dermatologist #singaporedoctors #skincare #dermatologist #tiktoksg🇸🇬 #skincareroutine #skincaretips #skincare101 #skincareproduct #dermdoctor #learningsfun #learnontiktok #sensitiveskin #sensitiveskincare ♬ original sound – Dr.TWL Dermatologist

    List of Cosmeceuticals Identified in Research for Sensitive Skin Treatment 

    The following are a list of extracts that have been identified for its efficacy. We have oat extract, olive leaf extract, brown algae, stachycose and erythritol. These extracts are chosen for

    • their ability to scavenge free radicals
    • inhibit hyaluronidase, the enzyme responsible for the breakdown of a hyaluronic acid

    Hyaluronic acid is an important structural protein in the dermis.

    Art & Science of How to Treat Pigmentation on Sensitive Skin

    How to Treat Pigmentation on Sensitive Skin Tip 2: Ingredients to Avoid

    Avoid acids and retinol/retinoid products. Many skincare products formulated for the treatment of hyperpigmentation include peel acids like AHAs, BHAs as well as retinols. These damage the skin barrier and are not suitable for treatment of pigmentation on sensitive skin types. 

    Which cream is best for treating pigmentation?

    How to Treat Pigmentation on Sensitive Skin Tip 3: Go Low & Slow 

    Apply the product in a gradual, incremental manner. Go slow and low. Non-prescription actives have the potential to cause skin irritation as much as prescription actives in sensitive skin types. If you have sensitive skin and are using a low concentration of glycolic, salicylic or lactic acids for treatment of hyperpigmentation, play safe by starting at a once-a-week frequency.

    Remember tip 1–which is always begin with patch test first if you have sensitive skin. After that you can proceed to monitor your skin for up to a week after you use the product on the target area. I would then increase frequency at a weekly interval i.e. from once to twice a week, then three times a week, alternate days before using it on a daily or twice daily basis. 

    Bacterial Ferment Filtrates in Functional Dermatology

    I want to now draw your attention to what I call functional filtrates. These refer to bacterial ferments such as those from galactomyces and lactobacillus. 

    The Origins of the Discovery 

    Elderly sake brewers were observed to have a wrinkle free, youthful looking skin on their hands which were in constant contact with the sake fermentation process. This was in contrast to their faces which were wrinkled and filled with pigmented spots. 

    Research on the Sensitive Skin Model 

    Clinical studies done by scientists then demonstrated that galactomyces and lactobacillus ferment filtrates were able to improve fluctuations in redness, roughness and pore size. They were also helpfil in alleviating mask-induced skin irritation in the era of mask wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    The Science behind Bacterial Ferment Filtrates

    How exactly do bacterial ferment filtrates work? First of all, they upregulate ceramide production via filaggrin gene expression which is what we know as the key player in healthy skin barrier function. They are also what we consider Tapinarof or TAMA-like. These have been used as alternative therapeutics for inflammatory skin diseases in dermatology like psoriasis and eczema. 

    Therapeutic Skin Benefits of Ferment Filtrates 

    Ferment filtrates are nature’s very own TAMAs. Beyond that, bacterial ferments have an inherent antioxidant capacity. This additional antioxidant effect is what neutralises damaging free radicals. One of the ways it does it is by blocking key mechanisms in the process of inflammaging, for instance cell senescence, the process of cells falling asleep. By doing so, we are reducing stress in the skin and enhancing skin cell repair. 

    Cosmeceuticals containing bacterial ferments also demonstrate increased caspase 14 enzyme expression, which are essentially enzymes that are activated by the phytochemicals present in plant extracts. There is also increased expression of tight junction molecules. These affect the connections between the cells that make up the skin barrier. This ultimately affects the permeability of the barrier and helps to restore healthy skin function. 

    Are Ferment Filtrates the Answer?

    This may be the key to bridging the gap between the needs of hyperpigmentation sufferers and those with coexisting sensitive or reactive skin. Understanding the science behind cosmetic formulations is a start.

    In summary, we have discussed the latest research in skin barrier function, the basis for functional dermatology actives that target hyperpigmentation. Ingredients tested on damaged skin models in the laboratory setting can be of significant use to those seeking alternative tyrosinase inhibitors.

    Botanicals, phytochemical extracts and bacterial ferment products can target multiple pathways of skin inflammation and reactivity.

    If you have both pigmentation and sensitive skin

    How to Treat Pigmentation on Sensitive Skin Tip 4: Use Moisturiser Liberally 

    The problem with sensitive skin is that it never seems to break out of the vicious cycle of barrier dysfunction-environmental trigger-immune reaction—all of which result in perpetuation of the itch scratch cycle. Pigmentation is most often at the superficial layers of skin, though in conditions such as melasma it can go deeper in the second layer known as the dermis. Skincare actives that treat pigmentation can penetrate deeper if the skin barrier is breached—though by the same reasoning we can expect an elevated risk of skin irritation. Liberal, frequent use of a ceramide-dominant moisturiser can mitigate this risk. 

    Advanced Techniques for Skin Experts How do you treat pigmentation on sensitive skin

    How to Treat Pigmentation on Sensitive Skin Tip 5: Dedicate Time to Masking Properly 

    Masking is truly an underrated skincare step. It might sound simple enough, but it works via the basis of wet occlusion therapy—a well founded dermatological principle. In dermatological therapeutics, wet occlusion is an applied technique that helps treat eczema by enhancing absorption of skincare actives. When a wet layer of textile is applied on skin, this improves the permeability of the skin barrier. However, one caveat is that you should use purely hydrating actives in your face mask and avoid retinols, salicylic acids and glycolic acids. 

    Polysaccharide Face Mask
    A mask made of polysaccharide offers significant benefits over traditional single use sheet masks. First of all, the dehydrated form means it has a longer shelf-life compared to those infused with facial essences. It is also customisable, meaning that you could use your own moisturiser with it instead of purchasing expensive serums or lotions. On its own, polysaccharides are also an effective moisturising ingredient—they create little pockets or “mini-reservoirs” that trap moisture at the skin surface.

    Case Study: Sensitive Skin & Hyperpigmentation

    This case study involving an ideal cosmeceutical regimen for those with eczema and coexisting hyperpigmentation can direct of future research in this field.

    There are a few keys that form the foundation of such a product. The ideal skincare formula targeting sensitive skin and hyperpigmentation includes ceramides, natural moisturising factors and bacterial ferments which addresses hyperpigmentation. Critically, sensitive skin users ought to go retinol and retinoid free— as these are well known to cause skin irritation. 

    Beyond that, I am excited to share with you the exciting world of functional dermatology—one that shows the way to alternative tyrosinase inhibitors and novel melanogenesis blockers—each playing a key role in the future of cosmeceuticals.

    5 Best Skincare Courses Online for Skin Experts 

    September 1, 2023
    Dr.TWL Skin Masters Academy Skincare Courses

    Skincare courses by Dr.TWL Skin Masters Academy offer an in-depth study into the science of skincare and practice of basic dermatology taught by board-certified dermatologist Dr Teo Wan Lin. As an international beauty KOL, Dr Teo has collaborated with leading skincare brands such as Eucerin, Skinceuticals, L’Oreal Paris to name a few on her podcast Dermatologist Talks Science of Beauty.

    @drteowanlin Bakuchiol is an effective retinol alternative. It is recommended because it does not cause skin irritation like retinols/retinoids, while being able to work at the same cellular pathways. This means it stimulates collagen production, reducing the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Additionally, bakuchiol, unlike retinoids have anti-inflammatory properties. This means that it doesn’t just stimulate collagen production, but it also naturally reduces redness, stinging flaking- skin markers of reactivity, sensitivity and inflammation. Now in our custom CC serum foundation @Dr.TWL Dermatologist Skincare #bakuchiol #bakuchiolserum #retinolskincare #retinol #skincareroutine #skincareactives #skincareactives101 #skincareingredients #skincareingredient #singaporedoctor #dermatologist #singaporedoctors #skincare #dermatologist #tiktoksg🇸🇬 #skincareroutine #skincaretips #skincare101 #skincareproduct #dermdoctor #learningsfun #learnontiktok ♬ original sound – Dr.TWL Dermatologist

    Our beauty promise: on-demand skincare courses online 24/7 designed for skin experts by a board-certified dermatologist

    In this guide, we’ve put together the best 5 online skincare courses by the academy, created especially for skincare professionals. As a skin expert, make constant learning a priority—the world of skin science is evolving rapidly in a highly competitive industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars today. These courses are designed by a leading international beauty KOL to help position you as a thought leader and skin expert wherever you are.

    @drteowanlin Skincare Ingredients 101 Retinol alternatives: an asian beauty take Follow for more in this series! #skincareroutine #skincareactives #skincareactives101 #skincareingredients #skincareingredient #singaporedoctor #dermatologist #singaporedoctors #skincare #dermatologist #tiktoksg🇸🇬 #skincareroutine #skincaretips #skincare101 #skincareproduct #dermdoctor #learningsfun #learnontiktok ♬ original sound – Dr.TWL Dermatologist

    Our promise at Dr.TWL Skin Masters Academy: the best skincare courses delivered by a board-certified dermatologist.

    Dr Teo Wan Lin is the author of published research on the skin microbiome. Her work as chief scientific officer of Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals, one of Asia’s prominent clinical skincare brands has been published in leading dermatology journals such as the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and the International Journal of Dermatology. 

    Skincare Courses Recommendations

    Skincare courses recommendations from students

    1. Skin Expert & Medi-Facial Course (Certificate Course)

    Skincare Expert and Medi-Facial Certificate Complete Course

    This is the most comprehensive course on medi-facials you will find. Dr Teo Wan Lin shares the exact blueprint for her proprietary 7-Phase Medi-Facial system developed for her own dermatology practice, with a step by step protocol designed to take students of all skill levels to complete mastery. She covers common dermatological conditions such as acne and eczema, how to identify and design compatible skincare routines as part of a comprehensive treatment regimen. 

    2. Holistic Acne Treatment Course & Advanced Cosmetology

    Holistic Acne Treatment Skincare Course

    Searching for online skincare courses? Get access to a dermatologist’s tips on skincare formulation and clinical techniques at Skin Masters Academy. 

    For those interested in holistic acne treatment, this course offers a complete guide to a complementary approach to the management of the commonest dermatological condition—acne. Whether you suffer from acne, are a parent of a teen who does, or if you are a skincare professional looking to offer evidence-based advice on skincare routines that target acne, this course offers pearls of wisdom direct from a dermatologist. 

    Natural Beauty DIY Skincare Book

    Natural skincare courses created by international beauty KOL and founder of holistic skincare brand Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals now online. 

    3. Skin Barrier Repair Course: Clinical Techniques for Skin Healing By a Dermatologist

    Skin Barrier Repair Intensive Course

    Dr.TWL Skin Masters Academy is a leading provider of skincare courses online. Discover the best in skin science education from an international beauty KOL, board certified dermatologist Dr Teo Wan Lin. 

    This highly rated course lays the core foundations for skin experts looking to specialise in barrier repair. Discover why the K-beauty skincare routines that took TikTok by storm aren’t fads—layering skincare is actually backed by solid dermatological principles. Learn directly from the skin expert herself how to effectively heal the skin barrier without prescription medications. You’ll access evidence-based clinical techniques for barrier repair and also gain confidence in your own practice. 

    4. Anti-Aging Skincare Course: Harness the Mind-Skin Connection for Inside Out Beauty

    Anti-Aging Skincare Masters Certification Course

    Skincare courses near me: access on-demand video courses by leading skin training institute helmed by Dr Teo Wan Lin. 

    @drteowanlin Skin Cycling Asian Beauty Style This book reveals how the hidden intelligence of plant extracts in the field of ethnobotany facilitates a natural skin cycling regimen. In fact, the better way is to identify whole plant actives that are nature’s ready made skincare active, known as an adaptogen, that works on multiple cellular pathways to mitigate irritation and are universally tolerable. #learnontiktok #learningisfun #resveratrol #resveratrol🍇 #resveratrollift #learningisfun #learnontiktok #instantglowingskin #sgdoctor #instantglowing #instantglowup #homefacial #skincare101 #skincaretips #sensitiveskincare #skincarehacks #skincareroutine #dermdoctor #dermatology #singaporedoctor #singaporedoctors #skincycling #skincyclingroutine ♬ original sound – Dr.TWL Dermatologist

    Explore skincare courses online conducted for skincare professionals by Dr.TWL Skin Masters Academy. 

    Want to know a dermatologist’s beauty secrets? This course is a never before in-depth exploration of Dr.TWL’s own best practices for inside out beauty. From tackling emotional regulation with mindfulness practice to the science behind beauty sleep, join the dermatologist on a healing journey as she takes you through the art of inside out beauty. Anti-age your mind, skin and body with holistic wellness approach. 

    5. Skincare Ingredients and Cosmeceutical Compounding Course

    Skincare Ingredients & Cosmeceutical Compounding Course

    Advanced skincare courses now online at Dr.TWL Skin Masters Academy

    Are you a beauty entrepreneur? This skincare course is the most comprehensive on skincare ingredients, complete with an online learning portal. Designed for serious learners, this course takes you through in a systemic way the foundations of skincare formulation. Learn from the chief scientific officer of Asia’s leading clinical skincare brand the art and science of cosmetic formulation. This course offers an in depth look into the behind-the-scenes of niche beauty—custom skincare formulation and the art of hand blending compatible actives. 

    @drteowanlin The Skincare Ingredient Dictionary: A Millennial Edit Discover State-Of-The-Art Functional Dermatology The must-have skincare ingredients handbook with the latest in bacterial ferment filtrates, aquaporin regulators and granactive retinoids. Created for skin experts, this book is jam-packed with core and specialised cosmetic formulation secrets by the chief scientific officer of leading Asian clinical skincare brand Dr TWL Dermaceuticals. Includes resources for creating a custom skincare line catered for small business owners or DIY beauty enthusiasts. Ditch outdated textbook or dictionary-style rote learning, this is a course created for true content mastery—a skincare dictionary essential for millennial beauty experts Become a skin expert under the Dr.TWL Skin Masters Program Optimised interactive learning program with workbook Systematic foundation building course created for true mastery Takes you from beginner/intermediate to advanced without difficulty Outstanding visuals for attention retention Content blueprints, speed guides for quick recap & reference Bullet-style lecture notes Flash cards(cut-out), mind-map method worksheets Module-specific video workshops & community access Divided into 10 modules, the Skin Masters Program introduces must-know skincare actives in the context of skin physiology & functions, taught by a board-certified dermatologist. Skincare ingredients Skincare ingredients Not to mix Skincare ingredients Checker Skincare ingredients You can mix Skincare ingredients To avoid Skincare ingredients To combine Skincare ingredients Check Skincare ingredients And what they do Skincare ingredients For acne Skincare ingredients Must haves #skincareroutine #skincareactives #skincareactives101 #skincareingredients #skincareingredient #singaporedoctor #dermatologist #singaporedoctors #skincare #dermatologist #tiktoksg🇸🇬 #skincareroutine #skincaretips #skincare101 #skincareproduct #dermdoctor #learningsfun #learnontiktok ♬ original sound – Dr.TWL Dermatologist

    Are you a book lover? Discover our Beauty Bible Series now available in hardcover paperback and kindle edition, with select free online skincare courses accompanying the textbook material. Get your highlighters and pens ready as you join Dr.TWL on a fun filled learning journey—become a master of skin science, an expert in your field. 

    Ask A Dermatologist Forum

    The Beauty Bible collection features an online learning portal which allows you to post your skincare and beauty questions in a dedicated forum—get them answered by Dr.TWL. Offering the best online skincare courses internationally, Skin Masters Academy prides itself as the leading provider of skincare educational resources helmed by a board-certified dermatologist. 

    Barrier Repair Speed Guide
    Sign up for our free Skincare Blueprint: Glow Up From Within newsletter to receive our welcome gift pack.

      Learn from the best. Subscribe to Skincare Blueprint, the fortnightly newsletter by Dr.TWL herself for bonus content including free skincare courses, masterclasses and workshops tailored for skincare professionals. 

      Private Label Skincare Manufacturer: Dermatologist Formulated K-Beauty Products

      June 28, 2023
      Dr.TWL Pharmaceuticals Skincare Manufacturer

      Dr.TWL Pharmaceuticals Corp. is a dermatologist-formulated private label skincare manufacturer with a presence in Singapore and home of K-beauty, Korea—it is the parent company and manufacturer of prominent clinical skincare brand Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals, established since 2016. Jointly led by board-certified dermatologist Dr Teo Wan Lin and pharmaceutical engineer Mr Teo Zhi Liang, Dr.TWL Pharmaceuticals provides a one-stop OEM/ODM service for skincare brands, with expertise in dermatologist-formulated cosmeceuticals/dermocosmetics as well as skincare/haircare devices. 

      1-Stop Skincare Manufacturer

      With existing EURO ISO22716 manufacturing facilities & R&D headquarters in the Asia-Pacific region—Seoul, the hub of K-beauty and the luxury skincare market in Singapore since 2016. The corporation draws on its wealth of expertise to provide premium private label skincare and haircare services in the highly competitive luxury skincare market. 


      Businesses only with valid business registration. For enquiries and a quote: please fill up the following form. We will get back to you within 3 working days. UPDATE: Enrolment for OEM/ODM 2024-25 is full. To apply for distributorship of our in house Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals brand, fill up the form here.

        Skincare Manufacturing Collaboration Opportunities

        Who we serve

        We are the skincare manufacturer behind prominent clinical skincare brand Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals, an in-house cosmeceutical brand tied with one of Singapore’s top dermatology practices. Our B2B services are set to launch in Q4 2023—offering private label OEM and ODM services for skincare, haircare and device manufacturing.

        Dermatologist Formulated Private Label Skincare Manufacturer

        Why choose us: dermatologist-formulated cosmeceuticals

        As the manufacturer of one of Asia’s most prominent clinical skincare brands, Dr.TWL Pharmaceuticals offers dermatologist formulated private label skincare manufacturing for aesthetic and dermatology clinics. 

        Skincare, haircare, devices and makeup manufacturing with international doorstep fulfilment 

        Choose us as your one-stop skincare manufacturer—our in-house team will be able to advise you on private label home devices engineered under our Biomaterials arm.

        For those who are interested in lower MOQ/trial basis, find out more about our B2B custom makeup and medi-essence service at +65 97286734 (Mobile/WhatsApp).

        Top Haircare & Skincare Devices Modeled After Clinic Technologies

        Hypoallergenic sensorial skincare

        We specialise in the creation of dermatologist-approved, minimally allergenic sensorial skincare in keeping with top-of-line cosmeceuticals with enhanced cosmetic accceptability. Our hypoallergenic fragrances have been extensively studied and tested to be safe on universal skin types, including problem skin. 

        Cosmetics made to pharmaceutical standards

        As a private label skincare manufacturer, we provide established aesthetic, skincare and dermatology practices access to dermatologist-formulated cosmeceuticals. Our dermocosmetic formulations have been tested extensively as adjunct treatment for dermatological conditions such as acne, rosacea and sensitive skin.

        Enhanced co-operation: OEM/ODM services with flexible MOQ

        Unlike traditional private label skincare manufacturers, our model allows for rapid turnaround time for dermocosmetic/product design to keep up with the highly competitive skincare industry—clients will be able to draw on our highly evolved R&D capabilities for product design. 

        Leader in cost-efficient ODM: MOQ 1000 and above 

        The industry standard for ODM starts at 10000 MOQ which is a significant barrier to entry for aesthetic clinics. Dr.TWL Pharmaceuticals is able to draw on our existing facilities, raw materials, in-house specialists—as the premier dermatologist-formulated private label skincare manufacturer in the APAC region with stringent pharmaceutical controls. 

        Private Label Dermocosmetics

        Our streamlined approach allows for maximum cost-efficiency and rapid turnaround for skincare, dermatology and aesthetic practices

        What to expect when you work with us

        • Private-label skincare manufacturer with an established streamlined process
        • In-house team with extensive supply-chain and logistical support serving the international/APAC region 
        • Quick turnaround time with low MOQ
        • Dermatologist-formulated private label dermocosmetics to complement your aesthetic practice 

        Quality audits and dermatologist testing

        Our capabilities range from dermocosmetic formulation to clinical testing and quality audits.

        Development of private label skincare, haircare, makeup and home-use devices 

        Choose us as your one-stop private label skincare manufacturer and get access to our haircare, makeup and device manufacturing services. 

        Prototype Development for Korean Medifacial Countertop Device

        EUROISO22716 manufacturing facilities

        Our biotechnology facilities encompass pharmaceutical-grade raw material extraction, cosmeceutical design and device manufacturing. 

        Dermocosmetic compliance checks by private label skincare manufacturer 

        Leverage on our in-house expertise for FDA/HSA ASEAN COSMETIC DIRECTIVES compliance checks. 

        5-STEP Private label skincare manufacturing process

        1. The initial consultation maps out client requirements/needs (ODM packaging/blank bottle options)
        2. In-house research and development for ODM
        3. Development of samples and clinical testing 
        4. Client receives samples for final testing and approval 
        5. International delivery/fulfilment 

        About us

        Mr Teo Zhi Liang, a chemical engineer by training with over a decade of experience working in the pharmaceutical and petrochemicals industry is the director and head of Dr.TWL Pharmaceuticals. Mr Teo graduated with first class honours from Nanyang Technological University and was accorded the gold medal in pharmaceutical engineering. 

        Dr Teo Wan Lin is a board-certified dermatologist and author of published research on the skin microbiome in top journals like the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and the International Journal of Dermatology. As an internationally renowned beauty KOL, she is sought after for her expertise in Asian skincare markets. Dr Teo has collaborated with leading skincare brands such the AMORE-PACIFIC group, Beiersdorf, L’Oréal Paris and LVMH. She serves on the board on a consultancy basis for R&D and ODM. 

        The brother-and-sister duo are responsible for taking Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals, one of Singapore’s leading clinical skincare brands from its inception in 2016 as a startup to a 7-figure beauty empire

        previous arrow
        next arrow

        L’Oréal Paris

        previous arrow
        next arrow


        previous arrow
        next arrow
        • Philosophy
        • Eucerin
        • Laneige
        • Foreo

        Press Features

        Dior Beauty X Dr.TWL as seen in Elle China, Elle Netherlands, L’Officiel Malaysia, Marie Claire Brazil, Harper’s Bazaar Germany

        Dior Beauty X Dr.TWL as seen in Elle China, Elle Netherlands, L’Officiel Malaysia, Marie Claire Brazil, Harper’s Bazaar Germany

        Founder of Prominent Asian Beauty Clinical Skincare Brand Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals

        Founder of Prominent Asian Beauty Clinical Skincare Brand Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals

        Custom Skincare Makeup Lab as seen in Cosmetics Design Asia

        Custom Skincare Makeup Lab as seen in Cosmetics Design Asia

        Beauty entrepreneur as seen in Her World, The Peak Magazine, ICON, A Magazine, L’Officiel USA

        Beauty entrepreneur as seen in Her World, The Peak Magazine, ICON, A Magazine, L’Officiel USA

        Lofficiel Dr.TWL Feature

        Skincare Ingredients Checker Simplified: A for Aloe Vera

        June 24, 2023

        Dr.TWL’s Skincare Ingredients Checker is a series covering a dermatologist’s top picks for common skincare actives found in skincare. Get the brand new release Skincare and Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary by board certified dermatologist Dr. Teo Wan Lin, a never-before skin expert’s handbook for mastery of skincare ingredients. 

        Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder (Aloe Vera)

        What is it?

        Aloe vera has been used for various medicinal purposes from ancient times. It is prominently featured in traditional eastern medicine, with ethnobotanical roots in China, India, the West Indies, and Japan. In the west, aloe vera has been grown mainly to supply the latex component of the leaf to the pharmaceutical industry.

        Skincare Ingredients Checker Skin Masters Program
        “A-Z dictionaries are passé—the internet is a searchable trove of information. In the Skincare and Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary, I present a compilation of cosmeceuticals that you must master—from an analysis of over 300 skincare brands,” Dr. Teo Wan Lin, chief scientific officer of Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals.

        Where is aloe vera derived from?

        • Powder form of the aloe plant
        • Obtained from dried leaves of the aloe plant and functions as a skin-conditioning agent

        Skin benefits

        • Several anti-inflammatory components (among others, it contains salicylates, polysaccharides, magnesium lactate and C-glucosyl chromone)
        • Aloe-derived ingredients enhance the appearance of dry or damaged skin by reducing flaking and restoring suppleness
        Skincare Ingredient Checker Concept Maps
        A skincare ingredient checker like no other. This skincare ingredient dictionary is precisely written to help you master and apply skincare formulation knowledge with neuroscience-backed techniques, including learning aides such as an interactive online learning portal with video workshops, flashcards and mind maps.

        Aloe vera is a medicinal and perennial plant that belongs to the Liliaceae family. Aloe stems store water, creating a clear, gel-like substance in the leaves, which contains vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and amino acids.

        The main feature of the Aloe vera plant is its high water content, ranging from 99–99.5%. The remaining 0.5–1.0% solid material contains over 75 different potentially active compounds including water- and fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, enzymes. The bioactivity of aloe can be attributed to the inner gel of its leaves. 

        Dermatologist's Cheat Sheets & Protocols
        Skincare ingredients checker: get access to a comprehensive course covering cosmeceutical actives taught by Dr.TWL herself.

        Aloe vera promotes wound healing

        Aloe vera can be used to retain skin moisture, integrity and prevent ulcers. Its regenerative properties have been studied in the context of radiation damage—the gel form has been reported to exhibit a protective effect against radiation damage. Research has also shown that aloe vera can inhibit thromboxane (an inhibitor of wound healing), reducing inflammation and improving the wound healing process.


        Aloe’s regenerative properties are due to the compound glucomannan, which is especially rich in polysaccharides like mannose. 

        Glucomannan stimulates collagen production

        In addition, glucomannan affects fibroblast growth factor receptors and stimulates their activity and proliferation, which in turn increases the production of collagen. It can also change the composition of collagen, increase collagen cross-linking and thereby promote wound healing. Aloe stimulates fibroblast which produces the collagen and elastin fibers making the skin more elastic and less wrinkled. 

        Skincare Ingredient Dictionary Interactive Workbook
        More than a skincare ingredient dictionary. This comprehensive skin expert handbook is more than a dictionary, it teaches you exactly the skills required to master these ingredients as a skin expert. Join Dr.TWL as she spills the secrets on the formulation strategies behind the best-selling skincare products.

        Aloe vera has anti-wrinkle effects

        Aloe stimulates fibroblast which produces the collagen and elastin fibers making the skin more elastic and less wrinkled. 

        Aloe vera softens skin 

        Skin-softening is another cosmetic effect of aloe when used regularly. Aloe vera has cohesive effects on the superficial flaking epidermal cells by sticking them together, which softens the skin. 

        Dr.TWL Make Your Own Skincare Cocktail Formulation Secrets
        Skincare ingredient checker: what goes into the best-selling face serums? In this book, Dr.TWL shares her notes on specific formulations that actually work. Learn how to pair ingredients, select raw materials and even custom compound cosmeceuticals using the CUSTOM MEDI-ESSENCE System.

        Aloe vera helps tighten enlarged pores

        The amino acids present in aloe soften hardened skin cells. It is also particularly rich in minerals such as zinc, which acts as an astringent to tighten pores.

        Amino Acid 360° Mask with Aloe Vera
        The Amino Acid 360° Mask contains Aloe Vera which is anti-aging with it’s anti-wrinkle and barrier-repair properties, and anti-acne with it’s pore-tightening and anti-microbial properties.

        Aloe vera’s moisturising/skin barrier repair properties

        Aloe’s moisturizing effects has also been studied in treatment of dry skin associated with occupational exposure where aloe vera gel gloves improved the skin integrity, decreased appearance of fine wrinkle and decreased erythema.

        Skincare Ingredients Memory AIdes
        A skincare ingredient checker like no other. This skincare ingredient dictionary is precisely written to help you master and apply skincare formulation knowledge with neuroscience-backed techniques, including learning aides such as an interactive online learning portal with video workshops, flashcards and mind maps.

        Aloe vera’s antimicrobial properties for infections and acne treatment

        Aloe vera is known for its anti-inflammatory, skin protection, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, antiseptic, and wound healing properties. It can be incorporated into skincare products to exert an anti-acne effect

        @drteowanlin #facemask #skincareroutine #acnetreatment #dermatologist #foryou #fyp #doctorsoftiktok #whattowatch @drtwlderma #skincaremask ♬ original sound – Dr. Teo Wan Lin – Dr.TWL Dermatologist

        Possible side effects of aloe vera 

        Aloe vera is generally a very well tolerated active that is dermatologist recommended for calming sensitive skin. However, rarely, contact allergy may occur in those who are prone to allergies. Allergic reactions are mostly due to the anthraquinones present in aloe vera, such as aloin and barbaloin. In this case contact allergy may manifest as localised skin irritation such as redness and burning or stinging sensations. 

        Skincare & Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary
        The Skincare and Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary is a textbook that takes you through the study of skincare ingredients in a stepwise manner—through the tutelage of internationally renowned beauty KOL, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Teo Wan Lin. We hope you enjoyed our first installment of Dr.TWL’s Skincare Ingredients Checker—sign up for Skincare Blueprint to get access to bonus study material created for skin experts. For more skincare classes, head to the Skin Masters Academy, home to the best online skincare masterclasses.

        Resveratrol Skincare: The Anti-Aging Hero Dermatologists Recommend

        June 10, 2023
        Resveratrol Skincare Face Serums
        Resveratrol skincare products are proven to work on multiple pathways in cell aging. Resveratrol is an ingredient that benefits all aspects of human health. As a well-known cardio- and neuroprotective ingredient, it also has been found to display a wide range of positive effects on cell functioning. Resveratrol benefits are not just specific to the heart and brain, it extends to skin health as well.

        Resveratrol for Skin

        What you will learn:

        • What are the benefits of resveratrol?
        • What is resveratrol used for?

        You feel like your skin is aging….too fast. If you are bothered by dark spots, uneven skin tone and dull skin, cosmeceuticals can help. I’m a board-certified dermatologist and author of multiple scientific papers on the skin microbiome published in top dermatology journals such as the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and the International Journal of Dermatology.

        My research includes that in the field of quasi-drugs and ethnobotany, which is the modern day scientific study of how traditionally cultivated herbs and plants impact human health. The field of functional dermatology encompasses the use of plant bioactives in skincare for treatment of skin diseases such as acne, rosacea, sensitive skin and photoaging. In this edition of Skincyclopedia, we unveil how resveratrol is a must-have ingredient in your skincare routine.  

        Get a complimentary 30ml full-size mask peel kit worth $180 with $350 spend at the pharmacy. Use code <mela> or <sebo> in order notes.

        Resveratrol was isolated from white hellebore in 1940, and from polygonum cuspidatum roots in 1963. The latter, a commonly used herb in eastern medicine with anti-inflammatory properties. It is found in over 70 plant species and especially concentrated in grapes. In plants, resveratrol acts as a phytoalexin that is synthesised in response to physical injury, UV-radiation and fungal attacks. Synthetic resveratrol is engineered from yeast species known as saccharomyces cerevisiae. It is a phytochemically rich compound with over 92 new resveratrol derived compounds identified to date. In this article, we cover some of the most frequently asked questions about resveratrol.

        Barrier Repair Speed Guide
        Sign up for our free Skincare Blueprint: Glow Up From Within newsletter to receive our welcome gift pack.

          Resveratrol Formulation Secrets
          Resveratrol skincare products can include natural or synthetic sources, but my preference is for natural sources which often contain other bioactives that act on skin holistically.

          Resveratrol and Aging: FAQ

          Is resveratrol anti-aging? Can resveratrol reverse aging?

          Yes. Resveratrol increases the lifespan of cells. Aging involves a process known as cell senescence, which is a key contributing factor to cell death and age-related diseases. Many people relate aging merely to physical changes such as the development of lines, wrinkles and spots. The truth is, the aging process is far more complex and involves damage to DNA, proteins and cell parts such as the mitochondria, also known as the energy factory of cells. In this sense, resveratrol can be considered truly anti-aging. 

          How does resveratrol reverse aging?

          • In lab models, resveratrol has been shown to increase the lifespan of organisms
          • Protects against age-related heart and brain degeneration
          • Reduces chronic inflammation, hence directly affects inflammaging processes which are key to aging cells 
          The Science Behind A Best Selling Serum
          Resveratrol skincare for anti aging: does resveratrol boost collagen? Yes! This is one ingredient that packs many different phytochemicals which all help to increase the body’s reserve of collagen. The Elixir-V serum contains a plant source of resveratrol– polygonum cuspidatum.
          Resveratrol Skincare derived from Japanese Knotweed
          Resveratrol skincare products derived from Japanese knotweed contain trans-resveratrol, a highly bioactive form of resveratrol.

          Does resveratrol make you look younger?

          A youthful appearance is usually attributed to the following

          • Plump, elastic skin 
          • Absence of photoaging signs such as wrinkles, spots and sagging

          Via the above molecular pathways described, application of resveratrol-based serums can reverse aging cellular processes. However, as photo damage and biological aging is an ongoing process, medium to long term use as part of a dermatologist-recommended cosmeceutical regimen is necessary before results are seen. 

          Resveratrol Cosmeceutical Science
          The benefits of resveratrol skincare include stimulation of collagen production as well as antioxidant activity that protects against cell damage.

          Does resveratrol increase collagen production?

           Yes. Resveratrol contains many phytochemicals that 

          • Stimulate skin cells known as fibroblasts to produce collagen 
          • Prevents breakdown of collagen by enzymes known as collagenases

          Overall, it exerts a positive effect on aging skin by improving skin texture and appearance by enhancing collagen synthesis in the deeper layers of skin. This results in a plump and elastic appearance associated with youthfulness. 

          Resveratrol Herbal Formula
          Trans resveratrol skincare benefits include potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Incorporated into serums, resveratrol is an efficient anti-aging ingredient.

          Trans-resveratrol vs Resveratrol

          Trans-resveratrol is an active form of resveratrol which is naturally occurring in polygonum cuspidatum and the skin of red grapes. There are two forms found in nature, the cis- and the trans- resveratrol versions. It is the trans-resveratrol form that is considered bioactive as the cis-form is highly unstable and is converted to its trans-reseveratrol counterpart when exposed to standard environmental conditions such as UV light. Trans-resveratrol also shows estrogenic activity which is beneficial for improving the softness and smoothness of skin. 

          Resveratrol: Application in Dermatological Settings

          Does resveratrol get rid of wrinkles?

          Wrinkles are a result of collagen loss that occurs with aging. When we smile, frown or laugh, our facial expressions are formed when muscles contract. These muscles are connected to surface skin tissues known as the epidermis, dermis and subcutis (fatty layer). Aging causes the skin tissues to thin, a process known as atrophy. As a result, the same muscle movements involved in facial expressions are more visible—eventually leaving a “mark” on skin, known as wrinkles. Resveratrol works on multiple cellular pathways which actively blocks skin atrophy while promoting collagen growth. Including resveratrol in your cosmeceutical skincare regimen can slow down the development of wrinkles. 

          Sirtuin, the youth protein 

          The sirtuin family of proteins are an important target of antiaging and skin cancer research. Specifically, sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) is a NAD+ dependant acetylase which regulates multiple biological pathways involved in aging cells. By modifying SIRT1 activity, the lifespan of organisms can be prolonged. This is where the study of botanicals such as resveratrol becomes relevant—several plant compounds have been proven to directly impact SIRT1 expression. 

          Resveratrol Holistic Effects on Skin Physiology
          Resveratrol skincare benefits include skin lightening, evening out skin tone and improving the appearance of dark spots.

          Does resveratrol lighten skin?

          As a potent antioxidant, resveratrol engulfs damaging free radicals which attack the surface of skin, resulting in oxidative stress. This protects skin cells such as the melanocytes from injury, which means it prevents UV-induced hyperpigmentation and photoaging.  

          Is resveratrol good for dark spots? Does resveratrol lighten dark spots?

          Resveratrol can be combined with other potent antioxidants such as ferulic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E for an added advantage. This specifically targets dark spots such as age-related solar lentigenes as well as hormonally induced hyperpigmentation such as melasma.  

          How long does it take for resveratrol to work?

          Cosmeceutical regimens take about 27-28 days for full effects to be seen, which is about the length of 1 skin cycle. However, at-home skin devices utilising technology such as microdermabrasion and microcurrent can significantly increase transdermal delivery, i.e. absorption via the epidermis. This can significantly shorten the time taken for results to be seen. 

          The Case for Plant-Based Skincare
          Resveratrol skincare products are ideal for sensitive skin types who may not tolerate conventional anti-aging actives such as retinol or retinoids.

          Is resveratrol good for your face?

          Yes. Resveratrol is an excellent cosmeceutical that provides all-round benefits targeting common skin concerns such as

          • Photoaging (lines, spots, uneven skin tone)
          • Pigmentation i.e. post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, melasma 

          In addition, resveratrol is helpful for those suffering from oily, acne-prone skin as well. Excess sebum increases oxidative stress via lipid peroxidation, which worsens skin inflammation. Because of its antioxidant properties, it also helps to prevent and treat acne scars. 

          • Hyperseborrhea-related oxidative stress 
          • Acne scars

          Does resveratrol increase estrogen?

          Trans-resveratrol is known to have estrogenic properties. 

          What is the resveratrol lift?

          Certain skincare products containing resveratrol have been marketed as a form of face-lifting product. While not exactly a face lift, resveratrol’s skin-lifting effects are attributed to stimulation and growth of proteins in the deeper layers of skin, such as collagen and sirtuin, aka youth proteins. 

          Does resveratrol tighten skin?

          Yes. Skin sagging is due to tissue loss as aging occurs, due to increased breakdown of collagen molecules which form the bulk of the dermis. Resveratrol promotes the growth of new collagen and prevents the breakdown of existing collagen—which has skin tightening effects.

          Resveratrol Must-Know Skincare Tip

          • What is the best way to absorb resveratrol for maximum skin benefits and for skin lifting?

          Use a facial massage tool before application of serums. I recommend a mechanical jade roller which is gentle on all skin types including sensitive skin. The massaging action improves local blood circulation for enhanced skincare absorption. When performed correctly, the massaging action also stimulates collagen production which lifts and tightens the facial appearance of aging skin. 

          • Sources (Natural vs Synthetic)

          How can I get resveratrol naturally?

          Resveratrol was made prominent in 1992 as researchers unraveled the “French Paradox” which associated health benefits with moderate wine consumption. Turns out, grapes contain this key ingredient resveratrol which has potent physiological effects throughout the body. The key actives are known as polyphenols which belong to the stilbenoid group of compounds. Resveratrol exists in 2 forms, as the active trans-isomer and the inactive cis-isomer. Over 70 plant sources of resveratrol exist, the most prominent of which are grapes (found in the seeds/skin), red wine, peanuts and soy.

          Skincare Geeks, Have you heard of the French Paradox?
          Resveratrol skincare products are key in cosmeceutical regimens recommended by dermatologists.

          What foods are highest in resveratrol?

          Spanish red grapes are considered the richest source of resveratrol.

          How Resveratrol Works
          Resveratrol skincare science demystified

          Mechanism of Action / How it Works

          Resveratrol for Anti-Aging

          Resveratrol is a well-rounded skincare active that has holistic effects on skin. The “anti” effects are as follows: as an antioxidant which neutralises cell damaging free radicals, an anti-inflammatory agent that reduces inflammation in various skin diseases, and also as an anti-cancer agent which prevents the growth of abnormal mutant skin cells. There are other specific “pro” effects such as promoting wound healing (minimising scarring), cell repair which slows down photoaging and also promoting cell metabolism for healthy skin functioning. 

          Mechanism of How Resveratrol Works as an Antioxidant
          How resveratrol skincare products work

          Wound Healing 

          Wound healing involves a complex interplay of factors that requires sufficient blood vessel formation, antimicrobial activity that prevents skin infection and a balance of inflammatory responses that result in wound closure. Problems arise when the tissue is either too little or too much—leading to improper wound healing. 

          Mechanism of How Resveratrol Works in Wound Healing
          Why choose resveratrol skincare products

          How it works?

          Resveratrol exerts potent effects that contribute towards healthy skin repair and functioning. For instance, it promotes cell stability by protecting collagen, stabilises the deeper structure of skin known as the extracellular matrix and also exerts antibacterial effects superior to topical antibiotic creams when it is used on wounds. Additional skincare benefits include scar lightening, barrier repair and UV-protection. 

          4 'A's of Resveratrol Benefits
          Benefits of resveratrol skincare products

          Crucial to a solid grasp of this aspect of how reseveratrol works is the understanding of UV-related skin damage. You may have heard of oxidative stress, as well as the term antioxidant. These terms are meaningful only when you understand how UV-damage actually occurs.

          Here is a step-by-step explanation.

          How Free Radical Damage Occurs
          1. UV rays reach skin
          2. Free radicals are produced
          3. These highly unstable molecules cause oxidative stress at the skin surface 
          4. Skin produces antioxidants to neutralize free radicals
          Balance of Free Radicals and Antioxidants Determines Cell Damage

          The balance of free radicals and antioxidants is what determines if cell damage occurs:

          • Free radicals > antioxidant reserve → cell damage
          • Free radicals < antioxidant reserve → cell protected
          Resveratrol Skin Effects
          Clinically proven effects of resveratrol skincare products

          Dr.TWL’s Formulation Secrets

          Proanthocyanidins: Nature’s Anti-aging Fingerprint 

          @drteowanlin 7 steps to skincare perfection with me @drtwlderma #antiagingskincare #liftingserum #fyp #foryourpage #serumviral ♬ original sound – Dr. Teo Wan Lin – Dr.TWL Dermatologist

          The best-selling Elixir-V Serum contains Japanese Knotweed, also known as polygonum cuspidatum. It is a source of trans-resveratrol which is an active form of the compound. It is lesser known in western pharmacology but is well established in ethnobotanical applications. Biochemical analysis has shown it to be a rich source of proanthocyanidins, a potent antioxidant, specifically found in the roots of the plant. 

          Proanthocyanidin Bioactive Compounds

          Native to East Asia, Japanese knotweed is an invasive plant that also has medicinal properties. Chromatographic studies have isolated the following biologically active phytochemicals.

          Proanthocyanidin Holistic Effects on Skin Physiology

          By virtue of proanthocyanidins being a whole plant extract rather than a chemically synthesized copy, there are additional benefits such as holistic effects on skin physiology.

          Skincare & Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary

          The Skincare & Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary by Dr. Teo Wan Lin is a must-have skincare reference book created for skin experts. Master skincare actives and learn about the latest updates in bacterial ferment filtrates, aquaporin regulators, granactive retinoids and other cosmetic formulation secrets by the chief scientific officer of leading Asian clinical skincare brand Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals. 

          Retinoids Ruined My Skin Barrier: To Hell & Back

          June 6, 2023

          Why a dermatologist ditched retinoid skincare products for good

          Retinoids Ruined My Skin Barrier Visual

          The retinoid family of chemical compounds includes Vitamin A also known as retinol, derivatives of which are — retinaldehyde, retinoid acid and retinyl esters, amongst other synthetic versions of retinoids. Retinoids are essential to various biological processes.

          I’m a Dermatologist & I’ve Stopped Prescribing Retinoids

          Retinoids ruined my skin 8 years ago. I’ve healed it but….retinoid worshippers, pay attention.

          This is a story about how I broke my decade-long addiction to retinoids. At first ashamed, I tell of how I regained my dignity. Seven years ago, the day I decided to banish my tubes of tretinoin to vanity drawer purgatory….

          Flaky, An Observation

          It was 2015 and I was already out in private practice. One afternoon, a surgeon colleague of mine commented that my (usually pristine) facial skin was flaking.

          “Do you mean my sunscreen? Or my…ill-fated BB cream? It does pill sometimes, you know.”

          “No. It’s your epidermis.”

          He was right. Later that evening, I skipped my usual dose of tretinoin 0.05% (0.1% typically causes a chemical burn like reaction — never met someone who tolerated it), and applied copious amounts of moisturiser before going to bed.

          Three days later, my skin did look less angry, less painful but just…slightly flaky. That though, was enough to convince the addict in me that my epidermis was ready again. But the good dermatologist decided to halve the dose of tretinoin this time — just 0.025% will do. Lots of moisturiser too.

          By the way, skin cycling was invented the same time retinoids were — over 2 decades ago. So we already knew what to do.

          Retinoids for beginners
          Retinoids for beginners, are they worth it?

          The reason retinoids are recommended by dermatologists are:

          1. Retinoids treat comedonal acne
          2. Retinoids help reduce scarring and post-inflammation hyperpigmentation (PIH) by regulating cell turnover
          3. Retinoids before and after: Retinoids are known to enhance skin glow aka the “retinoid glow” which is due to the multiple actions on the epidermis and dermis. Namely, cell renewal rates, enhancing collagen formation for a tighter and more lifted appearance of skin.
          4. Retinoids stimulate collagen production and targets aging skin processes

          Flaky Mind, Flaky Skin

          Except that I never expected that it wouldn’t go away. One month later. Even with 0.01%.

          I had but gone through 4 cycles of stop/start-moisturise-stop/start — the vicious cycle of a dermatologist going insane with practising what she preached. That didn’t work. So you see, whenever the addict did see that her skin was less angry, she couldn’t resist her fix.

          “Your skin. Is looking flaky again.” Surgeon friend muttered. Half mocking, always.

          “It’s retinoid dermatitis,” I cursed.

          That evening, I put away the tube. Stuffed it into the recesses of vanity drawer abyss — praying to God for strength…to never touch it again. It worked. Flaky, red, painful skin never came back. And my repentance was for good.

          Why I’ve Stopped Prescribing Retinoids

          I was what you might call a retinoid worshipper. From my early twenties, I religiously slathered on tretinoin nightly after a bout of teenage acne — also when its merits were preached to me by my dermatologist.

          When I entered dermatology residency, I too began chanting the mantra.

          “Retinoids are good. Retinoids fight acne. And when acne is gone, you’ll find retinoids also keep you young.”

          Also for credibility, you know? Since every dermatologist I apprenticed under said that. Congnitive dissonance is….

          An uncomfortable experience. So the next 6 months I continued prescribing and preaching while my stockpile of 0.025% tretinoin languished in vanity purgatory. I wasn’t prepared for what came next.

          Retinoid side effects
          Retinoid side effects (what dermatologists don’t tell you until…) Well until they become victims themselves.

          The Revenge of Retinoids

          “You can cut down on the dose when your skin gets irritated. Use the 0.01% instead of the 0.025%.”

          “You shouldn’t stop using it. Your acne will come back.”

          “All dermatologists have that…retinoid glow. Where’s yours?” I imagined.

          So like a heretic I searched for retinoid alternatives on PubMed. The search threw up OLIGOPEPTIDES (never heard that mentioned throughout my entire residency program!). Must be fake news…except…that I was now desperate. For a panacea….My conscience. It did quiet a little bit.

          At that time, the international dermatology community wasn’t quite into K-beauty yet. So I was careful never to talk about my private meanderings into the dark side. By then I had also tried a K-beauty product formulated with a bunch of botanicals plus oligopeptides (no retinols/retinoids).

          Retinoids ruined my skin and I’m never going back again

          Retinoid Side Effects #1

          Retinoid Lips

          Retinol purging, retinoid purging (they are one and the same thing)

          The theory is that while retinols and retinoids work by targeting comedone formation, it also triggers off inflammation. This is why dermatologists don’t recommend applying retinoids or retinols when you have active inflamed acne bumps. Ditto for acne cysts.

          What happens if you do so? Well your angry pimple gets even angrier. I.e redder, bigger, more painful…and may even develop into a cyst.

          Six months later.

          “Hey, flaky’s been gone for a while now.” Surgeon mocked.

          “Your skin…is glowing…what did you use?”

          (Not retinoids.)

          I wasn’t ready to give up my secret yet — I labelled my ventures as experimental. Almost…homeopathic (utter at your own risk).

          My Obsession With Skin Barrier Repair After Retinoids Ruined My Skin

          Little Skincare Book Skincare Journal
          The Little Skincare Book for Women includes Korean skincare routines for skin barrier repair, skincare routine checklists and retinoid/retinol-free home facial protocols. In the series are workbooks harnessing the science of the brain-skin connection.

          When you hear something repeated often enough, it starts getting stale. When you find yourself repeating something that isn’t true…it soon nauseates you.

          In 2016, I left the private hospital I was working for and started my own practice. I stockpiled just enough tretinoin to soothe my outer dermatologist, but not so much that it would irk the inner medicine woman.

          Getting Out of the Retinoids Cult

          My dabbling soon turned into dipping. And dipping — into an uncontrollable urge. By the end of 2017 I was fully submerged. As dermatologist-homeopathic-in-private-practice, I found little reason to justify my recommendations beyond — it’s safe in pregnancy/breast-feeding. AND it doesn’t cause flaky skin. Why of course, my skin was glowing! Retinoid-free for 2 years!

          Retinoids Ruined My Skin, Repairing the Skin Barrier Helps
          Retinoids ruined my skin and skin cycling never helped, repairing the skin barrier did.

          Retinoid Side Effects #2 Retinoid dermatitis

          Retinoid dermatitis is an eczema-like reaction caused by retinol side effects. The skin barrier is disrupted in cases of retinoid dermatitis. Retinoids improve the quality of skin by exfoliating dead skin cells. But that also means it breaks down the joints between the superficial skin cells, known as corneocytes. This can cause skin to become sensitive, meaning that it reacts easily to allergens and changes in the environment.

          This is also the rationale for skin cycling with retinols and retinoids — popularised by Tik Tok in 2022. Essentially, allowing your skin to break from irritating actives such as retinoids, retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and salicylic acids. Skin cycling refers to alternating retinoids with moisturisers in between usage and reducing frequency of use.

          The Dignity of an Iceberg

          From my research in eastern ethnobotany, I found that selected botanicals were synergistic — targetting the skin microbiome in ways traditional pharmacology was unable to. The disrupted flora in dermatological conditions like acne, eczema and rosacea were responsible for chronic inflammation — and medical therapy like antibiotics, steroids and retinoids did more than just worsen it. Retinoid dermatitis, steroid induced-tachyphylaxis and antibiotic resistance were just the tip…

          By 2021, I went public. My 2 papers on the skin microbiome (maskne was timely) were published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and the International Journal of Dermatology. I advocated the use of botanical-based cosmeceuticals and functional textiles to treat the microbiome and microclimate, over skin-sensitising retinoids and always-going-to-breed-resistance-antibiotic creams.

          This is the story of how I broke my decade-long addiction to retinoids. (And also how I think I regained my dignity).

          Skincare Blueprint Newsletter

          I’m a board certified dermatologist with published original research on the acne microbiome and functional dermatology. I adopt a holistic approach to dermatology by integrating functional skincare with a focus on skin barrier repair. My podcast Dermatologist Talks: Science of Beauty focuses on skin science as well as the psychology and philosophy of aesthetics. Subscribe to my newsletter Skincare Blueprint: Glow Up From Within for free resources on skincare routines and skin science.

          7 Retinol Face Serum Alternatives For Sensitive Skin—Dermatologist Approved

          May 28, 2023
          Retinol Face Serum - Naturally occurring sources of retinol

          How does a retinol face serum compare with alternatives? If you have sensitive skin, you may want to consider these retinol alternatives.

          Retinol is traditionally regarded as the holy grail of OTC cosmeceuticals. As a derivative of vitamin A, retinol works by stimulating collagen production and targeting skin receptors known as nuclei acid receptors. It’s also associated with the coveted retinoid glow which refers to a lifted, plumped and tightened skin appearance. However, one major downside is that certain skin types do not tolerate it well, i.e. sensitive skin, skin of color. Those living in sunny climates also experience much higher rates of photosensitivity.

          In this edition of skincare encyclopedia, we discuss 7 categories of retinol face serum alternatives that are suited for sensitive skin types.

          Barrier Repair Speed Guide
          Sign up for our free Skincare Blueprint: Glow Up From Within newsletter to receive our welcome gift pack.

            1. Naturally occurring sources of retinol

            The best retinol face serum is found in nature’s actives

            The brassica oleracea genus includes crucifierous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. These are natural sources of Vitamin A found in food. Applied on skin, the body possesses the ability to convert it via a two step process to reach its active retinoic acid stage. 

            Retinol—>retinal—>retinoic acid

            The reason why naturally occurring sources are well tolerated and non-sensitising is because as a whole plant extract, it contains a myriad of other compounds that mitigate skin irritation. For instance, polyphenols with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and barrier repair effects. In addition, these protect the skin from UV damage, which further reduces the skin-sensitising potential of retinol. 

            Retinol Face Serum Alternatives
            The Elixir-V serum contains brassica extract which is a rich source of natural vitamin A.
            Dermatologist Approved Retinol Alternatives

            2. Retinyl Palmitate

            Retinol face serum for acne treatment (without skin purging side effects)

            Retinyl palmitate undergoes 3 steps of conversion before it becomes retinoic acid, which means it is the least potent of all OTC retinoids. This is my top pick for sensitive skin, especially when it comes to active inflamed acne. Retinoids are helpful in the treatment of comedonal acne but is often blamed as the culprit for acne purging—it induces a pro-inflammatory response. Retinyl palmitate is the best retinol face serum active for acne prone individuals. Here’s why: 

            • Exfoliates skin cells to reduce pore clogging and comedone formation
            • Additional antioxidant effects confer UV protection (minimal photosensitivity)
            • Reduces acne scarring by stimulating collagen production and wound healing 

            The Blemish Spot Cream contains retinylpalmitate which has a triple effect on acne spots

            • Gentle skin exfoliation
              • No irritation risk 
            • Scar prevention
              • UV-induced hyperpigmentation
              • Stimulates collagen production 
            • Rapid healing
              • Reduces inflammation

            Examples of key peptides that can be found in face serums:

            • Acetylhexapeptide 
            • Oligopeptides
            Retinol Alternatives for Sensitive Skin

            3. Acetyl Hexapeptide

            Acetyl hexapeptide is also known as topical botox— it works directly on the nerve junctions. Specifically, it blocks the release of acetylcholine. This means it reduces the muscle contractions involved in our facial expressions. It also has a remarkable safety profile, as it does not penetrate beyond the uppermost layers of skin. However, acetyl hexapeptide containing creams have been shown to improve wrinkles by up to 48% within 4 weeks of twice daily treatment. 

            4. Oligopeptides

            The case for peptide serums: anti wrinkle effects 

            One major limitation of retinol use is around the eyes and lips. These are what dermatologists refer to as mucosal areas which means the skin is thinner and also more prone to irritation. This is why many who use retinol containing eye creams develop sensitivity with time.

            Peptides are considered well rounded actives which mimic what is naturally found in skin. It’s also known as nature’s very own anti-wrinkle ingredient—for good reasons too. The best part about peptide serums is that they act holistically. Apart from anti-wrinkle effects, peptides are retinol alternatives that also help stabilise the skin microbiome. This is because they function as anti-microbial peptides (AMPs) which are small, naturally occurring molecules on skin that kill harmful germs that cause skin infections. 

            Retinol Face Serum Alternatives with Case Study Elixir-V Serum

            5. Bakuchiol 

            Vegan retinol that’s suited for sensitive skin 

            Bakuchiol is derived from the seeds and leaves of psoralea corylifolia. It’s also described as a functional analog of retinol—which means it activates the same nucleic acid receptors as synthetic retinol. This has been validated in studies which show similar gene expression profiles. Remarkably, the side effects associated with traditional retinols are also absent, as it is with other plant sources of retinol. The whole plant extracts include antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that mitigate signs of skin irritation such as redness, stinging and flaking.

            4 Pillars of Creation Behind Best Selling Serum

            6. Adenosine 

            Remember adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the molecule you learnt about school? Adenosine is the amino acid present in ATP itself. When it comes to skincare, adenosine was first observed for its ability to penetrate the human stratum corneum. Later scientists realised that it was also an effective anti wrinkle ingredient in skincare. Specifically, it was tested in clinical studies which showed that it significantly improved frown lines between the brows and also crows feet.

            DERM’S PRO TIP: When describing wrinkles on the face, the correct terms would be 

            • Between the brows : corrugators
            • Forehead: glabellar 
            • Around the eyes: crows feet
            • Around the mouth: nasolabial 
            Plant Based Skincare

            7. Sea buckthorn oil 

            A blend of fatty acids, micronutrients and vitamins with skin regenerative properties that targets all signs of photoaging 

            This is a lesser known active that deserves its spot on our list of retinol face serum alternatives. The secret to this anti-aging skincare active is in the balanced composition of fatty acids that mimic the natural lipid ratio of the skin barrier. Specifically, the ratio of linoleic to oleic acids that make up the ideal composition for barrier repair. Sea buckthorn oil has a high linoleic to oleic acid ratio and is particularly rich in unsaturated fatty acids such as omega 6 and omega 7. 

            The second key feature that makes it an excellent retinol face serum alternative is its proanthocyanidin content. These are highly bioactive compounds which target the key source of aging—free radical damage. Free radicals are highly unstable molecules that are formed by environmental stress such as UV radiation and pollution. They are well established in the photoaging process as molecules which actively reduce skin integrity leading to collagen loss, wrinkle formation and skin discolouration. Proanthocyanidins effectively scavenge free radicals, improving skin resilience. 

            Sea Buckthorn Oil Face Oil Serum
            The Miracle Face Oil contains 100% pure extract of sea buckthorn oil distilled according to gold standard EURO ISO22716 cosmeceutical manufacturing requirements to ensure purity, lab-tested for efficacy.
            Barrier Repair Hydration Serum

            SKIN EXPERT FAQ

            What is the best alternative for retinol face serum?

            @booksbydr.twl Retinol is traditionally regarded as the holy grail of OTC cosmeceuticals. As a derivative of vitamin A, it works by stimulating collagen production and targeting skin receptors known as nucleic acid receptors. It’s also associated with the coveted retinoid glow which refers to a lifted, plumped and tightened skin appearance. However, one major downside is that certain skin types do not tolerate it well, i.e. sensitive skin, skin of color. Those living in sunny climates also experience much higher rates of photosensitivity. In this edition of skincare encyclopedia, we discuss 7 categories of retinol alternatives that are suited for sensitive skin types. 🏷What is the best alternative for retinol Is there a natural alternative to retinol Are retinol alternatives as good as retinol Which is safer than retinol? Do retinol alternatives work Natural retinol home made #beautytips #sgbeauty #tiktokshopsingapore #selfcare #tiktokshopsg #sgtoktok #sgdoctor #dermatologist #tiktoksg🇸🇬 #skincareroutine #skincaretips #skincare101 #skincareproduct ♬ original sound – Beauty Books By Dr.TWL

            If you have suffered retinol allergies before, you may find yourself searching for alternatives. Here’s my list of retinol alternatives:

            • Bakuchiol
            • Peptides
              • Oligopeptides 
              • Acetyl hexpeptide

            Also consider actives with retinol-like effects on skin aging such as

            • Sea buckthorn oil
            • Adenosine (amino acid)

            Is there a natural alternative to retinol face serum?

            Plants can be a source of natural retinol. For instance, the cruciferous vegetables are sources of natural retinol which do not irritate skin because these are whole plant extracts which also have anti-inflammatory effects unlike synthetic derivatives.

            @drteowanlin How does a retinol face serum compare with alternatives? If you have sensitive skin, you may want to consider these retinol alternatives. Retinol is traditionally regarded as the holy grail of OTC cosmeceuticals. As a derivative of vitamin A, retinol works by stimulating collagen production and targeting skin receptors known as nuclei acid receptors. It’s also associated with the coveted retinoid glow which refers to a lifted, plumped and tightened skin appearance. However, one major downside is that certain skin types do not tolerate it well, i.e. sensitive skin, skin of color. Those living in sunny climates also experience much higher rates of photosensitivity. In this edition of skincare encyclopedia, we discuss 7 categories of retinol face serum alternatives that are suited for sensitive skin types. My list 👇 1. Naturally occurring sources of retinol 2. Retinyl Palmitate 3. Acetyl Hexapeptide 4. Oligopeptides 5. Bakuchiol 6. Adenosine 7. Sea buckthorn oil Have you tried any of these before? Which is your fav? Let me know in comments below! #skincareroutine #skincareactives #skincareactives101 #skincareingredients #skincareingredient #singaporedoctor #dermatologist #singaporedoctors #skincare #dermatologist #tiktoksg🇸🇬 #skincareroutine #skincaretips #skincare101 #skincareproduct #dermdoctor #learningsfun #learnontiktok #retinolskincare #retinolserum ♬ original sound – Dr.TWL Dermatologist

            Are retinol face serum alternatives as good as retinol?

            The truth is retinol is only as effective as…how well you tolerate it. It simply isn’t true that as long as the dose is low, as long as you skin cycle—that you won’t get side effects. What you can do instead to to switch out of retinol to other alternatives. Retinaldehyde for example is well tolerated even by those with sensitive skin because it requires a 3 step conversion process, which is gentler on skin.

            Which is safer than retinol? 

            Peptides are recommended especially for those with sensitive skin and or a known history of retinol sensitivity/allergy. For areas such as around the eyes or the mouth area, the skin is thinner and may be more vulnerable to irritation. Look for eye creams that contain natural sources of retinol such as brassica or retinol alternatives such as peptides.

            Retinol Face Serum Alternatives Ingredient Pairing

            Do retinol face serum alternatives work?

            Yes. Studies have shown that oligopeptides have equivalent effects as retinol does, sans skin irritation risks. 

            Is natural retinol home made?

            No. Natural retinol refers to plant-based or botanical sources of retinol. Examples are bakuchiol, rose hip seed oil, carrot seed oil and sea buckthorn oil. Proper distillation processes are essential to ensure purity of the product and efficacy. 

            Herbal Formula with Botanical Synergy

            What does retinol face serum do for the face?

            Retinols belong to the family of retinoids which stimulate cell renewal and collagen production. Retinol face serums are over-the-counter cosmeceuticals, distinct from prescription retinoids. The key differences are that retinols are less potent than retinoids and require a longer period of use before results are seen. 

            Is it good to use retinol face serum everyday?

            It depends on how well you tolerate it. If you are using a retinol face serym product for the first time, it is advisable to start at a lower frequency i.e. 2-3 times a week or as directed by the manufacturer. Different formulations of retinol also confer different tolerability levels, so it is best to do a patch test before you apply to the entire face. For example, under the jawline, left on overnight is good practice. Check for signs of irritation such as redness, flaking, stinging or burning. 

            Remember to only use retinols at night because of its sunsensitising potential. Application of sunscreen and sun avoidance is also advisable. 

            Which retinol is good for beginners?

            The dose of retinol affects how effective it is but the benefits are also limited by its tolerability. 

            The lowest doses of retinol begin at 0.01-0.03%. It is good practice to start at the lowest doses if you have never used retinols before. Moderate-strength retinol ranges from 0.03% to 0.3% which gives faster and more dramatic results. The highest doses range from 0.3-1% which should be reserved only for those who have tolerated lower doses. 

            What are the side effects of retinol face serum?

            Most commonly, local skin irritation such as redness, burning, stinging and flaking. Some individuals have true retinol allergy which results in a more exaggerated response. Care must be taken not to apply retinol formulations close to the eye area unless specifically formulated for that region. 

            Should I use retinol or retinoids?

            If you already use retinol, prescription retinoids may be an option for highest efficacy. However, bear in mind that sensitisation can still occur. This is why at the pharmacy, our formulations are all retinol-free. Instead, we focus on non-sensitising retinol alternatives such as bakuchiol, sea buckthorn oil and oligopeptides

            Microdermabrasion Facial vs Chemical Peel: Dermatologist Explains What Works

            May 21, 2023
            Microdermabrasion Facial Exfoliation Guide

            Microdermabrasion facial vs chemical peels? What’s the difference? This week’s installment of Biohack Beauty gives the lowdown on exfoliation…and why you absolutely must do it right. 

            Microdermabrasion facial was created as a gentler alternative to chemical peels and dermabrasion in 1985. We’ve come a long way since. 

            Barrier Repair Speed Guide
            Sign up for our free Skincare Blueprint: Glow Up From Within newsletter to receive our welcome gift pack.

              Exfoliation is one of the most misunderstood steps in skincare routines. Decades ago, facial scrubs with abrasive beads were marketed as a cure for flaky, dull skin. 

              There are several issues here:

              @drteowanlin How to exfoliate your skin Nourishing Brown Mask Peel A Bioactive Mask Peel for Skin Resilience [Aquaporin Upregulation] Intensive Barrier Repair [Adaptogenic Properties] Resilience [Anti-inflammatory] Calms Redness & Sensitivity #dermatologistskincare #sgdoctor #tiktoksg #viraltiktok #exfoliateyourskin #dermatologist ♬ original sound – Dermatologist Dr.TWL – Dr.TWL Dermatologist

              Firstly, skin cells actually “exfoliate” naturally—at its own time. The movement of skin cells from bottom layers to the surface, is also known as cell differentiation, which occurs during the skin cycle. The trouble is with aging, the skin cycle lengthens. The layer known as the stratum corneum accumulates dead skin cells—that’s when skin looks dull. 

              Skin Exfoliation Tutorial by Dr.TWL
              Microdermabrasion is the technique of removing the topmost layer of skin cells, known as the stratum corneum in order to reveal more radiant skin. Compared to chemical peels, microdermabrasion facial has certain benefits such as greater ease of control and predictability when used in skin of color. Pigmented skin tends to develop post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, a problem common with chemical peels which also increases photo sensitivity.

              The Wrong Way to Exfoliate 

              So beauty brands came up with ways to get rid of dead skin—literally by scrubbing it off. 

              Sadly, that’s not how skin works. By scrubbing skin down like sandpapering wood, skin actually gets irritated. It turns red, before it starts to flake and finally. It becomes angry. 

              Skin’s revenge dress (if the scrubbing goes on long enough)

              Skin Exfoliation Disaster
              Microdermabrasion facial is an alternative to chemical peels. Gentle microdermabrasion avoids common chemical peel related side effects, especially when deeper peels are performed. There can be a better outcome in pigmented skin types, when correct techniques are applied.

              That’s not the end of the story. When the dust settles (just call it dead skin)—she actually decides to grow new skin cells. But it’s not what we wanted. Instead of fresh, baby soft skin, you get layers of thickened, dark skin. What dermatologists term at first as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH for short) becomes lichenification—the development of a tree bark-like skin texture. 

              Microdermabrasion Skin Cycle
              The core principles of microdermabrasion facial relate to the natural skin cycle. As skin cells move up from the bottom layers of skin i.e. the stratum basale, they differentiate. By the time it reaches the top most layer, we refer to these cells as the corneocytes. The superficial skin cells reside in the stratum corneum. When one grows older, the skin cells are retained for longer periods of time and this causes dull skin.
              @drteowanlin How To Glow Up in 1 Day Dermatologist Edit- Let’s get to the root cause of dull skin, So we all desire skin radiance translucency elasticity clarity by the way. That’s me too. You must first understand one thing- dull skin is caused by a combination of factors. First, external factors like PM2.5 pollutants, UV damage all cause free radical stress also known as surface aging. At the epidermis,the first layer of skin, dead skin cells also accumulate, known as retention hyperkeratosis, lack of moisture can also cause dull skin. At the second layer, collagen loss and antioxidant depletion occurs with age, worsening the problem. The all-in-1 copper peel comprises of 3 stages Stage one: hydrodermabrasion with antioxidant essences, which essentially is using the power of vacuum to gently physically exfoliate and infuse antioxidants into the skin. Stage 2: You apply the peptide based gel mask included in the kit and microcrystalline copper ions begin to stimulate collagen production while resurfacing skin. The peptides also have a wrinkle-smoothing effect, as they relax the facial muscles and also act as natural Antimicrobial peptides, known as AMPS—that help build a healthy skin microbiome. Actives like vitamin C and propolis further creates the ideal skin healing microclimate for optimal results. Get my free newsletter Skincare Blueprint: Glow Up From Within & skincare routine checklists customised to your skin type 👆🏻 How to glow up in 1 day How to glow up in 1 week #instantglowingskin #sgdoctor #dermatologist #sgtiktok #instantglowing #instantglowup #homefacial ♬ original sound – Dermatologist Dr.TWL – Dr.TWL Dermatologist

              Enter Chemical Peels 

              Glycolic, lactic and salicylic acids are must-haves in a dermatologist’s office. For a good reason—these actually do exfoliate in a way that doesn’t damage skin barrier the way physical scrubs do. Chemical peel acids work at a microscopic level, which means it specifically dissolves the bonds between the surface skin cells known as corneocytes. The result? Renewed, baby soft, smooth skin that will make you glow and others too—with envy.

              The downsides to chemical peels: side effects are real

              Sun sensitivity occurs commonly with chemical peels. As does skin irritation i.e. redness, flaking—as a result of a disrupted skin barrier. The concentration of the peel acid, the duration it’s left on skin affects how intense the effects are. Hence, higher concentration peels (the most effective) must be performed under medical supervision. 

              The microdermabrasion facial miracle 

              So when microdermabrasion came on the scene, it was celebrated as a gentler alternative to medium/deep chemical peels, sans side effects. A technology based on crystal/diamond resurfacing, microdermabrasion facial combined the benefits of vacuum assisted topical delivery with skin resurfacing to enhance absorption. But boy, was it messy. It wasn’t as straightforward as the inventors had made it out to be—crystals flying around…even in the crystal-free systems aka diamond microdermabrasion, it still required skill operators in-office and took 30-60 minutes. 

              Dermatologist’s Pick

              Enter new gen microdermabrasion facial systems

              In the mid 2010s, Korean medi-facials took off with vacuum only skin resurfacing techniques which focused on minimal epidermal disruption and maximum antioxidant delivery. 

              Home Microdermabrasion Set
              Hydrodermabrasion is the technology widely used in Korean medifacials and also in the Universal Beauty Bar. The key difference with this microdermabrasion facial technology is that it does not use any abrasive handpieces at all, compared to traditional counterparts. Instead, vacuum pressure is utilised to enhance skincare absorption. This is a closed loop system which requires a filter.
              At Home Face Peels Home Microdermabrasion Set
              The Universal Beauty Bar system utilises a vortex handpiece which focuses vacuum pressure optimally at the level of the stratum corneum. Sufficient pressure is generated to enhance cosmeceutical absorption. Effective resurfacing occurs with salicylic acid the gentlest of chemical peels.

              Home Face Peel that Works:

              A microdermabrasion facial system for sensitive skin types 

              Dr.TWL Biomaterials Copper Peel System was launched in 2020 as a revolutionary copper oxide based microcrystalline handpiece with the ability to exfoliate, infuse and repair the skin barrier all at once. Designed for use with the 360 Amino Acid Gel Mask, it delivers a suite of benefits in a single application

              • Peptides for anti-wrinkle effects
              • AMPs as a natural microbiome stabiliser
              • Propolis for anti-inflammatory, antioxidant shield
              • Adaptogens for skin resilience 
              Dr.TWL Copper Peel
              The Silk Peel is a novel microdermabrasion facial handpiece features microcrystalline copper oxide instead of the traditional aluminium oxide or diamond tip. The result is an even distribution of microcrystals that is gentler on skin and enhances skincare absorption.

              Want radiant skin? Remember to exfoliate—correctly. 

              Dr.TWL At Home Face Peel Kit

              Get the Dr.TWL At-Home Face Peel Set.

              Bite-Sized Beauty features visuals, skincare hacks and skin science in short form. Written by Dr Teo Wan Lin, author of Skincare Bible: Dermatologist’s Tips on Cosmeceutical Skincare, a complete beauty bible in an easy-to-read FAQ style. Subscribe to Skincare Blueprint: Glow Up From Within for insider tips on skincare routines. Discover skincare courses by Dr.Teo Wan Lin. 

              Sensitive Skin: Beyond the Skin Barrier

              May 15, 2023
              Ceramide Skincare Science Made Easy

              What sensitive skin teaches one about skin intelligence

              As a complete ecosystem, the skin plays host to diverse microorganisms collectively known as the microbiome. Barrier function is a critical component of skin health that ensures the survival of good germs, effective cell communication and self-regulation. Healthy skin barrier function in turn requires ceramides which are key constituents of the skin barrier and which we explore in this article.

              @drteowanlin Ceramides: What You Must Know… to dermatologists ceramide moisturisers are the holy grail of skincare. Expensive ceramide moisturisers are well-known, but what many don't realise is that healthy skin is fully capable of producing its own ceramide ! That doesn't mean you skip your ceramide moisturiser though…for more bite-sized skincare tips, get my newsletter👆🏻 #skincare101 #skincaretips #sensitiveskincare #skincarehacks #skincareroutine #ceramides #ceramideskincare #singaporedoctor #singaporedoctors #skincare #dryskin #dehydratedskin #moisturizer #ceramidemoisturizer #dermatology #dermatologist #dermdoctor #learningisfun #learnontiktok ♬ original sound – Dermatologist Dr.TWL

              Sensitive skin isn’t really all that allergic, it all boils down to an impaired skin barrier

              Decades ago, atopic dermatitis was interpreted as a predominantly allergic type skin condition—it’s true. Sufferers tend to be allergic to house dust mite, pollen and VOCs. They also have associated conditions under the umbrella term of the “atopic triad”—asthma, allergic rhinitis/hay fever.

              Beauty Bible Series

              Then, studies emerged which showed that eczema was really due to a deficiency in filaggrin gene expression—a fact already established in conditions such as icthyosis vulgaris. This led to impaired ceramide production, which meant that the epidermis became “leaky”. Out of this emerged the brick and mortar model of the skin barrier— the bricks are superficial skin cells known as corneocytes, and the fatty lipids which join the corneocytes together, the cement. This lipids known as ceramides could be replenished with ceramide-dominant moisturisers which fill the “gaps” between the bricks. 

              When sensitive skin is treated with barrier repairing moisturisers, it becomes less reactive to environmental triggers. 

              The Art of Replacing Like for Like

              Ceramide Skincare Harnessing Skin Intelligence

              Over 340 types of ceramides exist within the human stratum corneum alone. The composition of which is varied. From the 12 classes identified researchers conclude the following:

              The basic ceramide structure is composed of: 

              • Sphingoid base joined to a fatty acid via an amide bond
              @drteowanlin Ceramide benefits in moisturizer for dry skin Improve skin hydration Reduce water loss from skin Increase skin’s natural ceramides Anti-inflammatory Beneficial for those with eczema, or atopic dermatitis Most ceramides beauty brands refer to are synthetic or animal sources, i.e. bovine in origin—which is also a concern for those preferring a vegan lifestyle. Dermatologist Dr. Teo Wan Lin’s top pick for ceramides is a lesser-known subtype known as phytoceramides. These are botanically derived from plant seed oils and the most prominent phytoceramide of all is shea butter. Derived from the shea tree, shea butter provides a rich source of natural origin plant-based ceramides that can repair the skin barrier effectively. Benefits of phytoceramide skincare Enhance hydration better than synthetic ceramide Improve the recovery rate of damaged stratum corneum Improved immunity Anti-inflammatory #dryskin #moisturiser_for_dryskin #moisturisertreatment #sgskincare #dermatologytiktok #sgtoktok #sgdoctor #dermatologist #tiktoksg🇸🇬 #skincareroutine #skincaretips #skincare101 #skincareproduct ♬ original sound – Dr.TWL Dermatologist

              Skin, your ceramide factory: 

              7 Stages of Ceramide Synthesis

              Ceramide Factory 7 Stage Synthesis
              1. Stratum basale stage
              • Beginning at the bottom most layer of the epidermis, the stratum basale
              • Ceramides are made within the endoplasmic reticulum
              1. Golgi apparatus: sphingomyelin 
              • Converted to sphingomyelin in the Golgi apparatus
              1. Secretory vesicles
              • Packed into secretory vesicles (bubble-like)
              1. Multiply & differentiate 
              • These vesicles multiply as skin cells (keratinocytes) differentiate and move towards the surface of skin 
              1. Release
              • The bubbles burst and release sphingomyelins 
              1. Ceramide conversion
              • Sphingomyelins converted back to ceramides
              1. Compaction
              • Packed into secretory vesicles (bubble-like)
              • These vesicles multiply as skin cells (keratinocytes) differentiate and move towards the surface of skin 
              • The bubbles burst and release sphingomyelins 
              • Sphingomyelins converted back to ceramides
              • Ceramides, free fatty acids & cholesterol are compacted into layers in the stratum corneum to form the skin barrier
              Skincare Blueprint Newsletter

              Bite-Sized Beauty is a short-form feature emphasising visuals that impart skincare hacks and skin science in a digestible format. 

              Get the Skincare Bible: Dermatologist’s Tips on Cosmeceutical Skincare, the only skincare book you’ll need. Part of the Beauty Bible series, it is a comprehensive book on skincare and common skin conditions written in an easy-to-read FAQ style. Subscribe to my newsletter Skincare Blueprint: Glow Up From Within for insights into cosmeceutical science. 

              Discover Skin Masters Program, a suite of skincare courses by Dr. Teo Wan Lin.

              Module 1 Skincare Expert and Medi-Facial Certificate Course

              Module 2 Skincare Foundation Masterclass

              Module 3 Holistic Acne Treatment—Botanicals, Advanced Cosmetology

              Module 4 Skin Barrier Repair Bootcamp

              Module 5 Anti-Aging Skincare Masters Certification: Brain-Skin Axis

              Best Vitamin C Serum: Dermatologist Explains The Ideal Formulation For Sensitive Skin

              May 13, 2023
              Best Vitamin C Serum Characteristics

              Are you searching for the best vitamin C serum formulation for your skin type? Which vitamin C serum do dermatologists recommend? The ideal formulation follows certain criteria which we will go through in this article. 

              We will begin with the science behind how a vitamin C serum works.

              @drteowanlin Which vitamin C serum do dermatologists recommend? Are you searching for the best vitamin C serum formulation for your skin type? What’s in the ideal vitamin C serum? We will begin with the science behind how a vitamin C serum works. It is important to include synergistic actives such as Botanicals Humectants i.e. sodium hyaluronate Full guide 👆🏻 #vitamincserum #sgtoktok #sgdoctor #dermatologist #tiktoksg🇸🇬 #skincareroutine #skincaretips #skincare101 #skincareproduct ♬ original sound – Dermatologist Dr.TWL

              The Science Behind The Best Vitamin C Serum Formulation


              L-ascorbic acid is the active molecule from raw vitamin C which works on skin. It is also highly unstable, meaning it gets oxidised rapidly upon exposure to environmental oxygen. Once it is oxidised, it is rendered useless. By default, all vitamin C serums are packaged in an amber glass bottle to minimise oxidation by light as well. The best vitamin C serum formulations get around this problem by:

              • Increasing the concentration of L-ascorbic acid to ensure there is still a sufficient amount that works on skin taking into account the oxidation process 
              • Ensuring the companion ingredients have anti-oxidant properties i.e. green tea extracts can synergise and boost the effectiveness of L-ascorbic acid
              • Instead of L-ascorbic acid, vitamin C can be formulated as a salt known as sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP) which is highly stable and resistant to oxidation

              In the case of sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP), its functional form is still L-ascorbic acid. It is absorbed via the epidermis and when it reaches the dermis, the enzyme phosphatase transforms it to L-ascorbic acid in a one-step conversion. There is hence no atmospheric related oxidation and the effectiveness is preserved. Clever, isn’t it?

              L-Ascorbic Acid vs Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate


              The concentration of L-ascorbic acid does matter. When L-ascorbic acid is chosen as the active vitamin C compound, concentrations generally are at 20% to take into account environmental loss. However, this also means that the formulation becomes acidic and can irritate sensitive skin. For SAP on the other hand, concentrations at 4-5% are sufficient because there is minimal to no risk of oxidation as it is a stable salt. In fact, concentrations of just 1% have been shown to inhibit the acne-causing bacteria, cutibacterium acnes. 

              @drteowanlin When will my skin stop purging? I answer your acne purging questions in this video tutorial. For more get my skincare blueprint 👆🏻 How to treat purging skin Skin purging process How to stop skin purging Skin purging vs breaking out Dealing with purging Acne purging phase acne purging cause acne purging experience acne purging should heal acne after purging tretinoin results What does purging look like #acnepurging #acnetreatment #acneskin #tiktoksg🇸🇬 #sgtiktok #sgdoctor #learningisfun #learnontiktok #dermatologist ♬ original sound – Dermatologist Dr.TWL

              Acne purging can be a nightmare—it’s also a myth that acne treatments cause purging. It occurs mainly with retinoid treatment. Microcomedones form under the surface of skin 2-4 weeks before they appear, and retinoid therapy drives the comedones to the surface. The beneficial effects occur when it increases skin cell turnover, so there is less follicular plugging.

              But here’s the problem. Retinoids are also pro-inflammatory.  Which means it causes acne flare-ups. Before it even gets to work, we see the side effects first. But here’s a secret—certain botanicals can treat acne without the purging side effect. Berberine for example treats acne by suppressing inflammation and comedone formation. It also regulates sebum production and reduces post-inflammation hyperpigmentation which means your scars heal faster. 


              This refers to the sensitising potential of vitamin C. As an acidic compound, it can irritate skin when concentrations are too high especially when applied to sensitive skin types. This is why vitamin C serums should not be applied to areas of active eczema, raw or broken skin. The exception is with acne bumps and cysts, as vitamin C itself creates a beneficial antioxidant environment that prevents acne bacteria from proliferating.

              Vitamin C also prevents the oxidation of sebum, which contributes to comedone formation. However, when sodium ascorbyl phosphate is used, there is minimal to no risk of irritation. This is because it is a stable salt and the concentrations used are lower. Unlike L-ascorbic acid, there is no need to take into account environmental oxidation.


              What’s in the ideal vitamin C serum? 

              It is important to include synergistic actives such as 

              • Botanicals 

              Certain botanical extracts have an anti-inflammatory effect on skin. For instance our pharmacy’s formulation contains camellia sinesis, sage extract, brassica and belamcanda chinesis root extracts which also create a profound antioxidant environment to enhance the efficacy of the product.  

              Best Vitamin C Serum Dermatologist Recommended

              We know the importance of an intact skin barrier—a damaged skin barrier leads to conditions like eczema and dermatitis. But did you know the skin barrier is also a barrier to absorption? This is why dermatologists are concerned with enhancing transdermal absorption, which refers to the ability of cosmeceuticals to cross the skin barrier into the deeper layers of skin such as the dermis where it exerts its effects on target cells. 

              • Humectants i.e. sodium hyaluronate
              • Occlusives i.e. castor oil 

              Hyaluronic acid is a well known humectant, which means it traps water under the skin. It is a hygroscopic molecule which means it attracts water and in fact is known to hold 1000 times its own weight in moisture levels. The ideal vitamin C serum formula should contain a humectant which can also be polyglutamic acid or glycerin as this enhances the effects of vitamin C on skin—by creating a moist environment it increases epidermal permeability. This enhances absorption of vitamin C via the skin barrier. Plant-derived oils like castor also facilitate transdermal absorption by increasing the overall occlusivity of the product. 

              @drteowanlin How the Vita C Gold Serum by Dr.TWL Pharmacy is formulated as the gold standard in the anti-ageing antioxidant family In this section, I’ll explain why topical vitamin C is considered a key antioxidant in skincare formulations as well as benefits on skin physiology. You will learn how to choose the best vitamin C serum for your skin type and also how to incorporate it into your day and night skincare routine. Get the full tutorial👆🏻 #vitamincserum #sgtoktok #sgdoctor #dermatologist #tiktoksg🇸🇬 #skincareroutine #skincaretips #skincare101 #skincareproduct #brighteningserum #skinbrighteningproducts #skinbrighting ♬ original sound – Dr.TWL Dermatologist

              You may have heard of wet wrap therapy which refers to using layers of wet fabric on top of moisturisers to enhance absorption of skincare. Sheet masking is a concept based on this technique as well. But did you know that when formulating skincare, ingredients can also be paired in order to boost its effectiveness? For instance, vitamin C paired with humectants and occlusives can be better absorbed via the epidermis. When paired with botanicals, it can enhance the overall anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on skin. For acne prone skin ingredient pairing can also help regulate sebum production. 

              • Natural moisturising factors i.e. amino acids methionine
              • Peptides
              Barrier Repair Speed Guide
              Sign up for our free Skincare Blueprint: Glow Up From Within newsletter to receive our welcome gift pack.

                How Vitamin C Can Be Used to Treat Acne Purging 

                Vitamin C serums are underrated, especially when it comes to treatment of acne. I generally don’t recommend application of vitamin C serums on areas of raw or broken skin—but the exception really is with inflamed acne bumps and cysts. Here are the reasons why. 

                Inflammation Related to Sebum Oxidation

                Firstly, the type of inflammation in acne is slightly different from what occurs in eczema or areas of injury. It’s inflammation that’s driven by an oxidative process, namely from oxidation of sebum. Acne prone skin tends to produce excess oil, and this isn’t just uncomfortable. It’s actually driving the inflammation which makes acne flare-ups worse. 

                Vitamin C Serum Benefits UV Protection, Anti-Inflammatory, Sebum Control

                Infection/Colonisation with C. Acnes

                Acne is also associated with bacteria—in particular Cutibacterium acnes. Vitamin C serums create an anti-oxidant environment which inhibits the growth of this bacteria. This means vitamin C serums can be used for acne prevention and long term maintenance treatment as well.  

                Speeds Up Wound Healing 

                Vitamin C is essential for collagen production and wound healing. Acne scars develop as a result of inflammation. The commonest type of scar is known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and fades with time. Using a vitamin C serum can reduce melanin production and this also has a brightening effect on skin. 

                Reduces Scarring

                Deeper acne scars known as ice pick or box car type of scars are due to dermal scarring, for eg due to an acne cyst or an infected acne papule. Since vitamin C stimulates collagen production, it can encourage proper wound healing and reduce the risk of developing acne scars

                Skincare Bible
                In the Skincare Bible, Dr.TWL takes you through a complete study of cosmeceutical actives like vitamin c, hyaluronic acid in an easy-to-read FAQ style.

                Ingredient Pairing Notes

                Vitamin C paired with EGCG results in a complementary effect via the following mechanisms. 

                Focus on Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) 

                EGCG is a well known polyphenol found in green tea. It is primarily regarded as an anti-oxidant ingredient, but it also enhances skin barrier repair. Specifically, by the following mechanisms: 

                1. Enhancing the expression of natural moisturising factor-related genes filaggrin (FLG), transglutaminase 1, HAS-1 and HAS-2
                2. Antioxidant effect 
                3. Prevents free-radical damage associated cell death by downregulating caspases

                A study by Eunji Kim in 2018  found that EGCG exerted a positive effect on skin moisture levels, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation via the above. 

                Vitamin C Serum Benefits Skin Lightening and Anti-Wrinkle

                Why are antioxidants important in antiaging?

                First understand how and why aging occurs. External causes also known as extrinsic aging refer to environmental factors such as UV, air pollution and particulate matter like PM2.5. Intrinsic aging refers to biological aging which occurs because of cell senescence, essentially, when cells grow older they become sleepier. They lose functions gradually until they stop working altogether which is when cancerous cells develop. Aging also causes skin cells to lose moisture, which is why actives like hyaluronic acid are important. HA increases skin moisture by regulating genes known as hyaluronic acid synthase (HAS). Retinoic acid (vitamin A) also effectively regulate HA in the epidermis

                Pre-order Dr.TWL’s upcoming book Skincare & Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary—a comprehensive workbook for complete mastery of skincare ingredients.

                What are natural moisturising factors? How are they affected by UV damage? 

                NMF are composed of HA and filaggrin, which directly or indirectly affect the skin moisture barrier. NMF themselves are regulated by factors which are not clearly defined. However we know that components of NMF are affected by UV radiation. This is a possible pathway that For example, hyaluronidase which breaks down HA is highly altered by UV radiation. When EGCG is added, it prevents the breakdown of cells caused by UV-damage. 

                How does pairing vitamin C with EGCG improve overall efficacy?

                One of the key ways vitamin C works is by engulfing free radicals generated by UV-damage. It is an antioxidant, which means it fights the oxidative stress. However, L-ascorbic acid itself is also susceptible to UV-damage and when it undergoes oxidation, it will become ineffective. Pairing vitamin C with EGCG preserves the integrity of L-ascorbic acid or SAP formulations as it stabilises the vitamin C extract itself. 

                Skincare Blueprint Newsletter

                In the next tutorial, you’ll learn about enhancing serum absorption, how to properly apply serums and the correct steps to include in your skincare routine. Learn to maximise the benefits of vitamin C serum in your skincare regimen and make every skincare step count. Do you want more skincare tips like this? Subscribe to Skincare Blueprint to receive detailed tutorials in your inbox weekly. Follow Dr.TWL @drteowanlin on Instagram & TikTok.

                2022 © Copyright - TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre