Custom beauty? You have probably heard this term recently, with the launch of multiple custom skincare lines. Fresh off the press for us at Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals though, is our new division of Custom Cosmeceutical Makeup. Read on in the first of a 2-part interview with our founder, accredited dermatologist Dr. Teo Wan Lin
What is the Pi-π Cosmeceutical Custom Makeup Lab about?
ThePi- π Cosmeceutical Custom Makeup Lab offers scientifically created skin-tone matched cosmeceutical makeup, including colour correction concealers, as an extension of my established skincare arm, Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals. Our Flagship offering includes an in-house Dr.TWL Lip Lab which features a 100% edible, anti-ageing cosmeceutical, the LipSerum Stick™, which is a solid state lipstick customised to any shade you want! Our advanced colour science system recommends different shades of each color- pinks, berrys, reds, nudes and corals that would uniquely flatter different skin tones.
Why does makeup— including concealers, foundations, lipsticks— need to be customised? Why not a generic “works for all” product, like most mass produced brands?
Why a generic “works for all” product is not ideal for makeup is because of the variety and uniqueness of skin tones. Every individual’s skin tones is different—based on our scientific database, we have on record at least 100 shades of distinct skin tones, whereas most makeup brands have at most 6 or 7 colour shades for foundations and concealers. This variation in skin tones translates into different shades of each lipstick colour that would work ideally for each individual.
What are the advantages of the LipSerum Stick, compared to store bought lipsticks, other than the fact it can be customised to any colour?
Store bought lipsticks cause allergies in individuals with existing lip conditions like eczema and cheilitis. The lips are also one of the first areas to suffer ageing related concerns such as lip discolouration, wrinkles and loss of volume. I then came up with the idea of a topically applied lip cosmeceutical serum with anti-ageing salmon roe DNA, which is also suitable for eczema sufferers, that could also be customised with your favourite lip pigment.
What are the limitations of traditional lipstick selections?
Lipstick brands have a limited selection of colours. Everyone has a favourite colour for a different mood—pinks, berrys, reds, nudes and corals— but did you know that different shades of each can be created to flatter different skin tones? We worked with veteran makeup artists and scientist to create the Dr.TWL Advanced Colour Science System to recommend the perfect lip colour match for each skin tone, whether you want it classic, sweet, sexy or nude.
What’s so unique about this custom makeup lab? Is it just custom blend makeup?
It’s the first dermatologist-led custom makeup laboratory in the world which fuses both skincare and makeup, via the use of cosmeceutical bases and unlimited variations of colours for foundations, concealers, colour correctors to match every skin tone, via our Advanced Colour Science System developed by our team of scientists, in consultation with veteran makeup artists. It’s not just custom blended for you, it’s cosmeceutical base is adjusted to target underlying skin conditions such as pigmentation, blemishes and ageing.
What was your inspiration for the Custom Cosmeceutical Makeup Lab?
My patients who I treat for a variety of skin conditions such as acne, pigmentation, rosacea, eczema and sensitive skin. There is a lack of sensitive-skin compatible makeup for these patients who need coverage and camouflage during the skin healing process. Besides, Singapore has a diverse ethnic mix which includes darker skin tones that many makeup brands do not cater for. I treat a lot of darker skin toned patients in my practice who cannot find their perfect foundation/concealer match.
What were some of the problems with the mass market makeup products that you faced?
Previously, I would recommend patients with sensitive skin/eczema issues to use pure mineral makeup, which has the lowest risk for causing skin irritation and allergies, as pure mineral pigments are chemically stable/inert with no reactions. However, I soon realised that the these commercial brands also had additives such as bismuth oxychloride and talc which function as bulking agents, and these were irritating to skin, with some even reporting that they felt the texture was that of “cut glass”!
Skin irritation? Breakouts? Allergies? Think it may be due to bad diet and unhealthy lifestyle? Or maybe because of your dirty beddings or perhaps pollution? All of that may be possible contributors to your unlikely skin concerns but have you ever wondered that maybe the problem could be in the makeup that you use?
Makeup is all fun and games until you learn about the risk it comes with using them. If using makeup products is part of your daily routine, then it is important to know about what you put on your skin! Did you know that the average woman ingests about 6 tons of lipstick in her lifetime? You may not notice because you don’t literally eat your lipstick, but every time lipstick gets unto your teeth, or whenever it transfers on to your food when you eat, the main thing is it’s now down your tummy! So before anything else, it’s now time to question on whether or not the products that you use are safe for you.
You may be reading the ingredient list of your makeup products but do you think that’s all it is? Some companies hide “certain substances” or mask it under deceptive titles. Others may have listed them, but what’s lacking is that there is not enough information on the potential harm it may cause for their consumers.
Certain ingredients used in the production of makeup and cosmetics can cause more harm than benefits and these can cause problems that may put your health at serious risk. Issues related to the use of products with these harmful ingredients may associate with skin allergies, cancer, weakened immunity, and more.
“For patients who suffer from sensitive skin and allergies, it’s often a vicious cycle with makeup products which are used for concealing the skin imperfections, and the same preservatives and ingredients in these products cause an exacerbation of the underlying skin condition,” says accredited dermatologist Dr. Teo Wan Lin.
How about for those without skin problems? Dr. Teo says, “Makeup is in direct contact with skin, and as skincare can deliver benefits to skin via topical absorption, makeup can also be used as a means to improve the health of the skin when it is incorporated with cosmeceutical active ingredients as an anti-ageing formula— while at the same time offering concealing of imperfections, which can improve individuals’ self-esteem. For products applied to mucosal areas such as the eyes and lips, it’s worthwhile to switch to pure mineral colorants in cosmeceutical bases because these are sensitive areas that are prone to irritation, and have thinner skin that will cause any harmful substances to be directly absorbed.”
We have listed down below the Top 5 harmful chemicals that are used in the production, preservation, and manufacturing of makeup products that you may be using everyday. Guess what, these ingredients don’t have to be present in your makeup— if you switch to mineral makeup for the eyes and lips!
This chemical is most commonly found in perfumes, colour cosmetics, nail polish, and hair care products. Phthalates are linked to endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and cancer. Phthalates may be labeled as phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP and “fragrance”. Some companies intentionally exclude this on their ingredients list. Products that list “fragrance” on the label should be avoided to prevent possible exposure to phthalates.
Paraben…paraben… One of the most famous ingredients for makeup. Though you may not know much about this chemical, you’ve probably heard about this already because you may have previously encountered the term “paraben-free” on some beauty products and wonder what does it mean. Parabens are preservatives used in a wide variety of personal care products and foods to prevent the growth of microbes. Parabens are not water soluble and can penetrate the skin. As a result, repeated application of a product or multiple products containing parabens could mean almost continuous exposure. These endocrine-disrupting chemicals can be absorbed through skin, blood and the digestive system.
Effect of Paraben: causes endocrine dysfunction, interferes with male reproductive functions, and can lead to rapid skin ageing and DNA damage.
Paraben may be labeled as ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, and other ingredients ending in –paraben.
Lead has continuously been a very controversial component of lipstick. But did you know that it is often used in makeup foundation and whitening toothpaste as well? High levels of lead may pose a very serious risk on our health and studies have shown that there is no safe amount of lead exposure as though even at small amounts, lead can be very dangerous. Medical experts are clear that any level of lead exposure is unhealthy. The FDA or Food and Drug Administration has been determined to limit the usage of lead in lipstick and in a variety of other cosmetics. Read here.
Exposure to lead has been linked to a host of health concerns:
Neurotoxicity: It has been linked to learning, language and behavioral problems.
Reduced fertility in both men and women
Hormonal changes and menstrual irregularities
Delayed onset of puberty in girls and development of testes in boys.
Talc is used as an ingredient in face powders, blush, and eyeshadows. The incorporation of asbestos in talc is due to poor regulations involving cosmetic-grade talc, which is also known as talcum powder. Talc and asbestos are minerals that form together. That means talc mined for commercial uses can be contaminated with asbestos — a known cause of lung cancer and mesothelioma. Before purchasing any product that has talc, make sure it is labeled as asbestos-free. Health concerns of asbestos may include skin irritation, cancer, organ system toxicity.
Mainly used for preservation of our beauty products and personal care products such as moisturizer, lip products, hair products, makeup, sunscreen, antiperspirant/deodorant, fragrance, creams. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are chemicals are linked to several health concerns including endocrine disruption and organ-system toxicity.
Don’t get fooled by this because butylated compounds are also used as preservatives in food like meats, sausage, poultry, baked goods, beer, etc.
We have no control over the ingredients or manufacturing of the mass market makeup available in the market, but is that where custom blend mineral makeup can perhaps fill a need? “Custom blend mineral makeup has its advantages especially for eye and lip makeup because pure minerals are utilised. The eyelid and lip area are high-risk locations and naturally have thinner and more sensitive type of skin—known as mucosal skin. “ says Dr. Teo, who remarks that she has been seeing an increasing number of patients in her practice with eyelid and lip eczema, often triggered by makeup products such as mascara, eyelash extensions and lipsticks.
Especially if the sources are clearly labelled and audited, the risk of manufacturing contamination for sensitive products such as lipsticks and eye shadows, which is of the highest concerns to regulatory authorities like the FDA and HSA as well, due to the risk of ingestion and absorption, is eliminated. “When produced in smaller batches, custom blended mineral makeup is preservative free and avoids the problems of lead contamination in mass market manufacturing, which is important in lip products because of the lead content which is inevitably ingested.” Dr. Teo says.
How does one avoid getting these toxic chemicals incorporated into your daily routine? Also, isn’t it time that skincare is infused into makeup, since both are applied for long hours on the skin? Head over here to get your hands on cosmeceutical make-up.
Dr. TWL Dream Concealer™
100% Mineral Pigments Without Bulking Agents
FDA Eye/Lip Approved
LARECEA™ Extract [Regeneration]
PEACH Covers dark circles on light skin
ORANGECancels dark circles brown spots on medium to deep skin
PALE PURPLEConceal brown spots on light skin dullness
PURPLE Brightens/Neutralizes dull yellow on medium skin
PINKBrightens/Neutralizes dull yellow on light skin
BLUE Neutralizes sallowness & hyperpigmentation on fair skin
In my previous articles, I have talked about cosmeceuticals and the importance of incorporating them in our daily routines. However, how do we enhance the skin absorption of these cosmeceuticals? Here I will be talking about the limitations of topical formulations and how we can overcome them to ultimately achieve the results that we desire.
The problem with topical formulations for your skin
The outermost layer of the skin, called the stratum corneum, acts as a natural barrier. It prevents foreign material from entering our system, shields us against environmental factors and prevents excessive water loss. The skin is a formidable barrier to the passage of substances into and out of the body, but it can be manipulated to allow it to become a viable pathway for drug administration.
Drug products applied to the skin’s surface penetrate the skin layers to a certain extent, where they can exert their effects. This is the case for topical formulations for treatment of skin disorders such as acne, dermatitis, and psoriasis. However, very few drugs are suitable for delivery by the topical route, as passive penetration through the skin is limited to very small molecules (<500Da), which are neutral and relatively lipophilic. Some considerations of dermatologists would be the vehicle of the topical, specifically if it is in a lotion, cream or ointment form, in increasing order of absorption and effectiveness. This however, is often limited by user preferences, with ointment formulas (more efficacious) deemed cosmetically less acceptable.
The skin is the largest organ of the human body, comprising 15% of body weight and therefore its use to deliver medicine to the body is not a new concept by any means. Advancements made by modern science are improving the skin’s potential as a route for drug administration. Dermatologists are at the forefront of research relating to transdermal drug delivery, given the unique accessibility of the largest organ of the body.
Owing to the drawbacks of topical formulations, transdermal patches have been developed to improve drug delivery through the skin and this is an area that my team has actively researched in the last year as an adjunct to our cosmeceutical formulations.
I have always been interested in finding new methods to allow my patients to achieve optimal results from our cosmeceuticals, thus in this article I shall share some tools which I employ in my clinical practice to achieve optimal absorption of cosmeceutical active ingredients.
Wet Wrap/Occlusion Skin Therapy & Facial Masks
A well known method employed by dermatologists to treat severe eczema known as wet wrap is actually a simple process involving applying a wet textile together with topical medications to skin, to increase absorption of skincare. An example of how and when wet wraps are used— during particularly intense eczema flares with severe itch or pain, wet wrap therapy rehydrates and enhances the absorption of topical medications applied on the skin. The fabric wraps are soaked in water and applied to the affected skin on the body. Wet wraps are best done after bathing, moisturising and applying topicals, then left overnight.
Wet wraps work via 3 different ways:
● Cooling — as water gradually evaporates from the bandages this cools the skin and helps relieve inflammation, itching and soreness
● Moisturising — cosmeceuticals covered over with wet bandages are deeply absorbed in to the skin to provide a longer-lasting moisturising effect
● Absorption — enhanced absorption of any topicals into both the superficial and deeper layers of skin where inflammation is present
Facial sheet masks work in a similar way, on the basis of occlusion. This means that when there’s a topical which is applied on the skin and also in contact with something moist such as a sheet mask, there is increased absorption of the topicals by the skin. In my practice, whenever I want to increase absorption of cosmeceuticals and moisturisers that are dispensed to patients, I would advise them to apply a wet cotton sheet (as a wet wrap) on to their face to increase absorption.
I would consider masking as something which is very good to do if you are already diligent with other aspects of skin health such as cleansing and applying cosmeceuticals. Using a face mask would deliver moisture and clinically active ingredients to the skin—so it is important to look out for ingredients such as glycerin, ceramide and hyaluronic acid, as well as evidence-based antioxidants for anti-ageing such as oligopeptides, vitamin C ( I use sodium ascorbyl phosphate which is a neutral, rather than acidic form of vitamin C, that has minimal skin irritation). Here’s a tip, use a cosmeceutical moisturiser like the Radiance Fluide™ and increase your skin’s absorption by applying it on damp skin, plus a soft wet cotton towel over it.
Performing a facial massage, such as with the aid of a facial roller before application of cosmeceuticals could increase the skincare absorption, leading to better effects of the anti- aging skincare. Local massage is an established treatment method of improving surgical scars, by stimulating blood flow and improving wound healing. A peer-reviewed study published in a medical journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine led by author Miyaji Akane at the Institute for Liberal Arts, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and colleagues at Tokyo Healthcare University and the Research and Development Center, MTG Co. Ltd. in 2019 had examined the effects of using a facial roller on facial skin and blood flow. The study concluded that there was significantly increased vascular (blood vessel) dilation with use of the facial massage roller. This means that there will be increased absorption of any cosmeceuticals applied on the face following the massage.
My recommendation would be manual rather than electric facial rollers as the latter may cause excessive pressure and irritation (being automated) and is also dependent on user training as well as the manufacturer’s settings, with a potential risk of overheating of electric components. Manual facial massage is a self-regulated process as the user can immediately sense irritation and apply just the right amount of pressure.
Transdermal medications (usually in the form of a patch) are a little more modern and complex. Great strides in transdermal drug delivery have been made since the first transdermal drug was approved by the FDA in 1979.
Transdermal drugs bring medication through the skin, to the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, the ingredients circulate and take effect at a targeted location. Medication is delivered steadily and can be stopped simply by removing the patch. Since your body doesn’t have to digest the medicine through the stomach, a higher concentration reaches the bloodstream. The medication permeates the skin in a controlled fashion thus attaining more ready levels of the drug in the body.
The science behind polymers and transdermal drug delivery systems
Polymers are vital in a transdermal drug delivery system. Systems for transdermal delivery are assembled as a multilayered polymeric laminates consisting of a drug reservoir sandwiched in between 2 polymeric layers:
● An outer impervious backing — prevents the loss of drug
● An inner polymeric layer — functions as an adhesive and rate-controlling membrane There are 3 types of transdermal drug delivery systems:
● Reservoir systems
In this system, the drug reservoir is embedded between a backing layer and a rate-controlling membrane.
● Matrix Systems
In this system, the drug reservoir is either dispersed in an adhesive polymer or in a hydrophilic or lipophilic polymer matrix.
● Micro-reservoir Systems
This system is a combination of the above 2 systems. The drug reservoir is formed by suspending the drug in an aqueous solution and then dispersing the solution in a lipophilic polymer to form thousands of microscopic spheres of drug reservoirs.
Polymers used in transdermal delivery systems should have biocompatibility with the drug and other components of the system. They should also provide consistent, effective delivery of a drug throughout the product’s intended shelf life.
An example of a common polymer used are silicones, also known as polysiloxanes, made of many repeating units of siloxanes. Siloxanes are chains of alternating silicon and oxygen atoms that are often combined with carbon and/or hydrogen.
Medical grade silicones are silicones that undergo specific testing for their biocompatibility and have been deemed appropriate to be used for medical applications. Topical silicone therapy is often used by plastic surgeons and dermatologists to treat and heal scars.
Key considerations of a polymer patch used for transdermal drug delivery would be —conformability of the material to be applied to irregular skin or scar surfaces, sensitive regions such as the face/eye area and the overall durability and biocompatibility of medical grade polymers.
The process of skin ageing relates to the ability of the body’s natural healing processes. The same cells which are activated during cell injury are the ones which lose function with ageing, and are responsible for loss of collagen, elastin and the overall loss of volume and elasticity of skin. Specifically, antiageing cosmeceuticals target and stimulate cells known as fibroblasts, which are best thought of as the “soldiers” of wound healing which produce collagen to seal up injured or damaged skin. Injury to the skin occurs over a gradual process in the case of ageing, due to the slowing of one’s biological clock and photodamage.
For the last year, my team and I worked with a material scientist to develop a transdermal delivery patch, the QRASER™ Transdermal absorption patch, launched in July 2019. This patch works via a matrix system of drug delivery. In this system, the drug reservoir is dispersed in an adhesive polymer matrix. The transdermal delivery patch uses a unique polymer technology that mimics the natural hydration and homeostasis of the skin barrier, to enhance cosmeceutical absorption. The focus is on improving absorption via optimisation of the skin healing microenvironment.
The result? Healthy collagen production thus reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
In conclusion, cosmeceuticals in the arena of dermatologist-led skincare research will be increasingly prominent in the next decade of “smart skincare”. This should be emphasised along with understanding of how these topicals work, the limitations of skincare absorption and potential technologies such as transdermal delivery patches which can optimise the anti-ageing benefits of cosmeceutical skincare.
Dr. Teo Wan Lin, founder and medical director of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, is one of Singapore’s prominent dermatologists specialising in medical and aesthetic dermatology. She is also the founder of Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals which specialised in cosmeceutical skincare. In July 2019, a material science arm Dr.TWL Biomaterials was launched focusing on novel biomaterials for skin and hair application. Click here for the links to our product and here to read more about Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals and here to read more about Dr.TWL Biomaterials.
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With Singapore’s humid weather, most of us fall back on body lotions and moisturizers to keep our skin smooth and hydrated all year round. Yet, faced with a multitude of choices for body moisturisers, we may never know where to begin – here are some quick tips to help guide the choice of body moisturisers.
Read the product’s ingredient list
This is no easy feat, but it pays to know what is in your product. You need not know all the ingredients in detail, a simple trick would be to scrutinise the order in which the ingredients are presented. Right at the top would be the ingredient with the highest percentage, and the concentration of each ingredient decreases with a descending order of mention in the ingredient list.
The first five ingredients or so usually make the bulk of your product. Given that, it does not necessarily translate that an ingredient has to be in greatest concentration for the most impact. Certain ingredients work well at low concentrations.
One tip would be to watch out for creams or lotions that have the highest concentration of water or plain silicones. While these constituents may give the instant feel of moisture, they quickly disappears and do not repair our skin barrier.
How do moisturizers work?
The most essential feature is to increase the water content of the stratum corneum. The ‘valleys’ between skin contour ridges smoothen with hydration, allowing the skin to be more soft and supple.
Ingredient you want in your moisturizer: ceramides
Ceramides are an essential lipid component of the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of our skin that is largely recognized as the skin barrier. Preventing unwanted materials from entering, it can be seen as our skin’s first line of defense. Ceramides contribute to the permeability of the skin barrier by mediating with cell signaling and with processes such as cell growth, differentiation, proliferation and cell death as a lipid messenger.
A deficiency of ceramides in our skin causes a decrease in water-holding capacity and barrier function. Conversely, with a topical application of phytoceramides, barrier abnormalities are improved and impaired skin barrier function can also be repaired. Thus, if you are looking for a good body lotion or moisturizer, phytoceramides definitely should be on your ingredient check list.
Phytoceramides: What are they?
Phytoceramides are derived from plant-oil and it mimics the lipid component of our skin barrier. With an equivalent function of restoring the skin integrity, we can rely on moisturizers with phytoceramides to repair our skin barrier as do synthetic ceramides do.
Ingredient you want in your moisturizer: glycerin
Glycerin is a natural humectant found in our skin and contributes to normal hydration levels of our skin. Topical glycerin helps to correct the hydration abnormality in our skin, causing glyercol to be included in topical dermatological preparations.
Humectants are hydrophilic compounds that hydrate the stratum corneum when they form hydrogen bonds with water molecules. Glycerin is a typical, yet effective water-binding agent. Humectants draw water to our skin from two difference sources: from a humid environment or from deeper layers of our skin. By absorbing water from these sources, it locks in the moisture in our skin.
According to Dr Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre, she said: “Glycerin may accomplish more complex mechanism beyond water absorption. It may interact with the skin lipid structure and alter their water-binding properties. This effect causes an expansion of skin cells on the outermost skin layer, and between those cells, leading to a visible full thickness of the skin layer. With an improvement of water-holding abilities, it results in more effective moisturization of the skin.”
Repeated applications of lotions with high glycerin content have been found to improve skin hydration.
Ingredient you want in your moisturizer: squalane
Found in certain fish oils such as shark liver oil, squalene is a polyunsaturated hydrocarbon. As squalene is unstable and oxidizes easily, squalane has gained more attraction in the area of cosmetics. As a saturated derivative of squalene, squalane’s inert properties and low toxicity have paved its way into the cosmeceutical industry, favoured over its unsaturated analog, squalene. Although squalane is produced naturally by the body, we experience a slower production of this hydrocarbon when we hit thirty.
Squalane has high emollient properties, being absorbed easily by the skin without leaving an oily residue. An emollient helps keep our skin hydrated and supple by reducing water loss from the epidermis. Squalane increases skin hydration due to skin surface occlusions. Occlusives provide a layer of oil on the skin surface to reduce water loss from the stratum corneum.
These properties accentuate the moisturizing effect of squalane and coupled also with its stable nature, have contributed to a continual rise in demand for squalane in cosmeceutical approaches.
To round things up, make a mental note to check the ingredient list before you purchase your moisturiser. A good moisturiser would contain at least one of these ingredients: squalane, glycerin or ceramides. Even better, the Multi-CERAM moisturizer contains all 3 ingredients and more. This makes the Multi-CERAM a popular choice with our dry skin and eczema patients. With these points in mind, a good moisturiser can be easily differentiated from the plethora of options out there.
Do you suffer from symptoms such as skin redness, flaking, itch or stinging pain? Did you have eczema, asthma or sensitive nose when you were young, or have a family history of eczema or sensitive skin? Does your skin get red and itchy when you use makeup or skincare products, or when you are exposed to a dusty or sweaty environment? Does your skin act up when travelling to a cold or dry climate?
Dermatologists diagnose true “sensitive skin”, with a medical condition known as eczema, where common exposures to the environment or skincare and make up can trigger off flare-ups.
2. What Is Defined As Sensitive Skin Then?
People with sensitive skin are likely to have atopic dermatitis, which is a genetically determined condition where the skin is deficient in certain fats. The skin acts as a barrier to the environment and, without a proper functioning skin barrier, any dust, climate change, pet fur, or even emotional stress can trigger off a flare-up.
If you have never had any of these symptoms and suddenly experience “sensitivity”, especially soon after using a new skincare or makeup product, it might actually be a form of allergic contact dermatitis to an applied substance. This would be best reviewed by a dermatologist who might suggest a patch test and also receive appropriate medical treatment.
Undiagnosed and untreated skin sensitivity can become chronic and may result in scarring such as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation which results in dark marks on one’s face.
Your dermatologist will prescribe you anti-inflammatory creams such as topical steroids of the appropriate strength and ceramide-rich emollients that replenish the skin barrier. In the case of any infection, oral antibiotics to clear the skin infection would also be prescribed. Oral steroids may also be required for severe eczema.
Here are three of the best skincare tips for people with sensitive skin:
1) Look for “dermatologically tested and formulated” labels that are produced in certified laboratories and that work with dermatologists rather than cosmetic brands.
2) Get your dermatologist to recommend a gentle cleanser formulated for effective cleansing of eczema-prone skin.
3) Get your sensitive skin treated first before using anti-ageing products
Many anti-ageing products contain stimulating ingredients which may worsen sensitive skin. If you do use them, look for a product that’s recommended by your dermatologist.
Meet with Dr. Teo Wan Lin, founder and Specialist Consultant Dermatologist of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, an accredited dermatologist specialising in medical and aesthetic dermatology. She integrates her artistic sensibility with her research background and specialist dermatologist training, by means of customised, evidence-based aesthetic treatments using state-of the-art machines, injectables (fillers and toxins) which work synergistically with her proprietary line of specialist dermatologist grade cosmeceuticals Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals.
To book an appointment with Dr. Teo, call us at +65 6355 0522, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you may fill up our contact form here.
Whether you are a local, or an expat that lives in Singapore, one is struck by the stark weather of this equatorial city- constantly humid with temperatures rising above 30 degrees celsius. The cause of our sweaty pimply skin, simply put, Singapore’s weather causes bad skin-acne on the face, pimples on the chest and back. True or false?
Also, too many aesthetic clinics and medi-spas are advertising some sort of acne treatment for our humid climate, how does one know if it’s going to work? Does bad skincare cause problems and what exactly constitutes good skincare?
As many of my patients have asked, I share my top skincare tips on maintaining good skin in Singapore (which you could achieve on your own), and how to get treatment when you really need it.
Skincare Tip #1. If it’s bothering you, you may have a real skin problem. Do see a dermatologist.
Do you suffer from any of these: sensitive skin and break-outs if the products were not right? Constant red face? Having flaky itchy skin whenever you’re traveling? Always having a pimple breakout at that time of the month?
Acne on the chest and back is often actually a fungal infection known as pityosporum folliculitis. This sort of chest and back “acne” requires treatment with specific antifungal lotions and creams. People who are at risk include athletes or those living in a humid country like Singapore, as the constant sweating and the moist environment worsens it. When chest and back acne or fungal infections are left untreated, it leaves bad scars and even develops secondary bacterial infections.
If you always have a red face you may likely suffer from rosacea. Rosacea treatment is with correct oral antibiotics and creams before anti-redness lasers (to eradicate the blood vessels) are used. Rosacea is triggered off by hot climates, spicy foods, emotions in certain people who are at risk. It is likely to be related to increased blood vessel sensitivity as well as certain mites that live on your skin (demodex mites).
If you have any such symptoms, stop all skincare products and promptly seek the care of a dermatologist rather than self-medicate, or adopt a “wait-it-out’ attitude. Some skincare tips: Look for the labels “dermatologically tested and formulated” when it comes to choosing cleansers, moisturisers and cosmeceutical products. Avoid testing many different cosmetic products which have no scientific evidence proving effectiveness. Finally, where possible avoid dust, extremes of temperature and humidity, prolonged contact with sweat as these tend to worsen skin sensitivity.
Skincare Tip #2. Don’t use just any wash on your face, use a dermatologist-tested and formulated cleanser.
It almost feels like because Singapore is so warm we constantly need to keep washing and keeping clean because of the sweat! As a dermatologist, I’ve heard from many patients with acne how they struggle to wash their face 3 times a day and are puzzled that they still have pimples. Cleansers perform one function, they emulsify the dirt, oil and bacteria in the foam which is rinsed off with water. Acne not due to dirt or bacteria, although they both can worsen people who already are prone to acne, such as those who have a family history of acne, so no amount of washing can actually get rid of acne.
There is a difference between normal cleansers and those which are dermatologist-tested/formulated. Cleansers approved by dermatologists are gentle on the skin, due to a good balance of the lathering agent and use of quality ingredients that do not strip the skin dry of it’s natural moisture while cleansing effectively. I personally formulate a honey-based cleanser which is suitable for both oily skin and sensitive skin types in Singapore (honey is a natural emulsifying agent which also has anti-bacterial properties) for my patients. Here’s a skincare tip, cleansers that leave your skin feeling squeaky clean is usually a bad sign. Stop using your supermarket cleanser and start looking carefully for those “dermatologist-tested and formulated” labels.
Skincare Tip #3. Don’t buy more scrubs or clay masks to clean your face better.
It amuses me that most of my patients are shocked when they hear this from me, their dermatologist, almost as if I am wrong to say that. Dermatologists do not agree with a lot of what beauty companies/aesthetics providers (who are not qualified dermatologists) are telling the public. The beauty industry is limited by what they are allowed to use in their salons (none of the prescription medications that would actually work is found in these places) and are are very happy to include more products in your regimen to earn your dollar.
Dermatologists have seen way too many complications because of an incomplete understanding of the actual science of how skin behaves. Scrubbing with harsh beady grains of sand would work if your skin was made of wood, like sandpapering it down. In reality, you do not brighten or “exfoliate’’ your skin with that but rather you are causing damage and irritation to your skin, that’s maybe even the cause of your sensitive skin and red face problems.
Clay masks? Totally unnecessary even for oily and acne-prone skin types. The skincare tip here is to know that it’s actually the salicylic acid content in these masks that causes your acne to get better, but not without really dehydrating your skin after that (these masks are dry out your skin with an astringent). Most of my patients end up with a red itchy flaky face, on top of acne after they go on a clay-mask spree hoping that it would cure their oily face and acne.
Dermatologists do not prescribe clay masks for any skin problem because there are much more effective options for treatment of oily skin and acne. What counts in a skin treatment product is the active ingredient in these masks and products. So the skincare tip here is to start looking down the ingredient list of your next bottle!
Skincare Tip #4. Use cosmeceuticals but do thorough brand research first.
Haven’t heard of cosmeceuticals yet? It has become quite a fashionable word amongst the dermatologists community (for those in the know). It’s a marriage of two words “pharmaceuticals” and “cosmetics”. It’s actually referring to skincare with active ingredients best for skin that’s backed by dermatologists.
Am I too young? Or too old? Do i even need to get started? As a skincare tip for best results, start on cosmeceuticals early, in your twenties for maintenance of your youth. If you are already in your thirties and forties or beyond, fret not, cosmeceuticals are a useful adjunct to the laser/filler/botox treatments recommended by your dermatologist and help to enhance and maintain the effects of such anti-aging treatments.
There are a myriad of cosmetic brands that claim wonders. Unfortunately, cosmeceuticals are not regulated by the HSA and so are not bound to their claims. Hence, it’s difficult for the consumer to know if a given product can do what it claims it can do, contains the ingredients it claims to, or if the ingredients are even active forms?
Moreover, if the ingredients have phototoxic or photo reactive properties when exposed to the sun, among other concerns. What then? There is true evidence for the anti-aging properties of cosmeceuticals, but you are wise to consult a dermatologist before you buy. The HSA does not regulate the effectiveness of anti-aging products available without a prescription.
Skincare Tip #5. Go for a chemical peel or a medi-facial monthly at your dermatologist’s office in your twenties. Lasers in your thirties and beyond.
What is true about acne and the humid Singapore climate is that it all encourages the build up of dead keratin (read: skin flakes) which plug the pores and cause inflammation. Even if you don’t have acne, the build-up of keratin on your face with reduced skin turnover as one grows older, or due to environmental conditions such as exposure to pollutants and to sun. All these cause free-radical damage and accelerated aging, makes one’s face look dull and hence lose the bright complexion of one’s youth.
One of the best skincare tip we can give is a regular chemical peel (salicylic, lactic or glycolic acids as suited for your skin type should be determined by your dermatologist) or a medi-facial (I would use a vacuum handpiece with customised chemical peel solutions for patients), would reduce your chances of having oily acne-skin breakouts and reverse early signs of mild aging. It’s affordable as well. However, this alone will not work for a lot of patients with more severe acne/oily skin, for which they may require laser treatments to shrink oil glands or take oral isotretinoin for control of severe acne.